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How to make sure your wedding photographer took the photos in their portfolio

Guest article by Carl at 166 Photography

What is the worst possible thing you can imagine happening on your wedding day? Your alarm not going off and over sleeping? The wedding car breaking down leaving you stranded? Falling over walking down the aisle? Luckily, these will simply remain anxieties and mainly only happen in gossip magazines and very, very rarely in real life. But what about your wedding photos not turning out very well? How would that make you feel?

Photographs are the most important reminder of your wedding day after the event and looking at them for the first time only to be faced with out of focus images, ones that are too dark or even missing the special moments that you would expect to see must be heartbreaking. When asked after the wedding, the one thing many couples wish they had invested more in was their wedding photography. We totally agree, whilst we spent almost a quarter of our small budget on photos, we wish we had invested more.

The rise of digital cameras means that the barrier to becoming a wedding photographer is lower than ever and there are several people out there who will happily shoot a wedding for a few hundred pounds. The results of these photographers is varied and, while some can be quite good, there are also some shocking examples out there. Whilst if the car breaks down there are other ways of making it to the church on time, If you get the first look at your wedding photos and they are not what you thought, there is no going back.

There is also another technique (trick) that seems to be on the rise among some wedding photographers. This involves using the work of other people on their website and passing it off as their own. It is more common than you may think. To give you an example, I recently saw the following post on a photography group on Facebook.

Are you scared yet? Well, would you be even more scared if I told you that all the images in this blog post are not my photography? In fact I have no idea whose weddings these are. I simply downloaded them from a stock image website called Unsplash. They were totally free for me to use and their license means I can use them for commercial purposes (setting up a wedding photography website) should I wish. If I hadn’t told you this though, would you have just assumed they were mine?

I have seen photographers advertising with images bought from stock photography websites and although the Facebook post above is probably the most scary example I have seen of late, there are so many posts on Facebook photography groups along the lines of “I’ve booked a wedding, what flash will I need to shoot the evening event? I’m worried it will be too dark” or “I’ve booked a wedding, what lens is best for me to shoot it with? Will the one that came with my camera be OK?”

I’ve even seen photographers defend the practice of using these images in adverts when they have been called out on it. They claim they are confident they can “produce similar images” and that “all advertising lies in one form or another”.

As a photographer who has spent years learning my craft, this makes me furious. I feel so upset for the couples who have paid hard earned money for a service, but whose wedding photographs are simply in the lap of the gods. It is one of the reasons good wedding photographers are expensive. To be able to handle the huge variety of different situations a photographer faces on the average wedding day takes training and practice. You are not paying for a photographer to simply turn up and photograph, you are paying for their experience and knowledge of how to make you look amazing on your special day no matter what the weather conditions.

So now I have raised your anxiety levels, how do you reduce the risk of this happening to you? It is as simple as one question. Can we see photography of a whole wedding please? If the photographer you are looking at it just using stock photography, they will be unable to produce a full wedding and therefore you should run to the hills. This will save you from what is possibly the worst thing that could happen at your wedding.

Seeing a full wedding from your photographer will also give you a much better idea of what to expect from them. As wedding photographers, our portfolios are simply our best of the best work. However, by seeing photography of a full wedding, you get to see a whole day for one couple. This gives you a much better representation of their work and should put your mind at ease that you are making the right decision.

So there you go – a simple question to ask your wedding photographer that can save you from a world of pain.

Carl Spring, 166 Photography, who are always happy to send you a link to a full wedding day.

We featured Rebecca and George’s gorgeous Lancashire brewery wedding from 166 Photography on the English Wedding Blog. It’s all kinds of gorgeous and wonderful – you can see it here!

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in 2011 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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