When it comes to finding the best Sydney Wedding Photographer for your wedding, it can be quite a daunting task. If you have never hired a professional photographer before then how are you going to know what to look for, which questions you should ask or the type of due diligence you should be doing. This is more important today than it ever was in the past. This is because anyone can simply buy a camera, create a website, organise a styled shoot with some models, upload a few photos and call themselves a professional wedding photographer. At Lonely Hunter Weddings, all I want is for you to book a photographer (if not me) who is not only going to deliver an exceptional experience but also a collection of photos that you will cherish! So I figured, the best way I could help was to create this ultimate guide on 'How To Find The Best Sydney Wedding Photographer'. Hopefully, this will not only clear up any misconceptions regarding wedding photography but also provide you with the tools to locate, identify and book a great wedding photographer.
When Should You Begin Looking?
Timing can be everything when it comes to finding your desired Sydney wedding photographer. Especially if they are established, well known or only take on a certain number of bookings per year. Another factor which should also be taken into account is the time of year you are planning to get married. Some months are more popular than others and photographers may book out much quicker during these months. If you're curious as to what some of the popular months maybe, you may like to check out our article which outlines some of the 'The Best Months To Get Married in Australia'. As a general guide, based on our own enquiries, we usually recommend booking at least 12 months in advance. If you really want to ensure that you don't miss out your desired photographer, then booking 14 or so months in advance would be advantageous. However, in saying that, there will be a limit as to how far in advance you can book. Some photographers may not take bookings which are more than 18 months away. This is because it's hard for us to know exactly where we will be or what we will be doing this far in advance. The same can ring true for engaged couples and you wouldn't want to lose a deposit if your circumstances happen to change.
Where To Start Looking For Your Sydney Wedding Photographer
Simply making a start with research is the best thing you can do when it comes to looking for a Sydney wedding photographer. If you are confused as to where to look, there are a number of great platforms available which will definitely aid in your search. We have listed these below. But rather than simply stating the obvious, I thought it would be best to dive into some the reasons which can influence a photographers visibility on the platforms/publications below.
Google can be a great place to start when it comes to finding established photographers. When it comes to finding your wedding photographer here, you want to look for the photographers who Google organically positions on the first few pages. These are photographers who Google trusts and who have earned the right (usually over a long period) to be positioned there. On the other hand, there are photography businesses which pay to be listed here as well. These photography businesses are usually positioned at the top and bottom of the page and feature an 'Ad' icon next to their listing. Photographers may pay to have their listing displayed here for any number of reasons. The two obvious ones though could be they either aren't receiving enough bookings organically or maybe they are new to the industry. This is why it's best to stick with the organic results.
Magazines can also be another great source for discovering your Sydney wedding photographer. Some magazines will have both a print publication and an online platform by which to display the work of photographers. Usually, if a real wedding submission doesn't make it to print, the magazine may choose to display it via their website. In a way, a magazine will somewhat vet the photographers they publish as they don't promote just anyone. Usually, they like to make sure the photographer has quality work and that their photographs align with their brand. In saying that though, just because a photographer is continually promoted or published by a magazine, doesn't necessarily mean they are the best. What you need to remember is that a magazine is a business, so in most instances, they are going to feature the work of photographers who pay to advertise with them over a photographer who may not.
One of the many places engaged or pre-engaged couples begin looking is social media. This can include some of the obvious platforms like Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest. While these are great to get a general overview of a photographers style, the way they shoot and how they edit, these platforms should only be used to discover photographers before taking a closer look at their work. I feel I can almost hear the sound of you scratching your head. Let me explain.. These platforms act as somewhat of a portfolio for photographers. A portfolio is a place where each photographer displays the best of their work. What I'm getting at is, you should not book a photographer based solely what's seen here. Instead, do a little more research by looking through some of the blogged weddings on their website.
Word Of Mouth
If you have had friends or family who married recently, this could be a great place to start. Word of mouth referrals are usually pretty solid! They will no doubt give you the honest truth as to their experience with the photographer they used. This may include some aspects they loved and others that they didn't. With the information they provide to you, it's still worth doing your own due diligence though. This is because their experience may be different from the experience you are after. Just because they selected a photographer based on a style they liked, doesn't necessarily mean that their photographer's style will also suit you.
These referrals usually come from other businesses in the industry, we call these vendors. A vendor usually won't add a photographer to their recommended suppliers unless they have worked with them a few times and would be happy recommending them. This gives each vendor the ability to see first hand how each photographer operates and what's delivered at the end of the day. Another positive aspect of referrals is that when a recommended suppliers list is provided to a couple from the vendor, this also means they are putting their business name on the line when it comes to vouching for the business they are recommending.
So You Have Made a Shortlist Of Sydney Wedding Photographers, Now What?
Look Through Their Website, Wedding Blogs & Portfolio
Now that you have made a shortlist of Sydney wedding photographers, it's time to take a deep dive into their work. From here you want to go through their website and look at some of the blogged weddings they have featured. These wedding blogs will usually contain anywhere from 70 to 150 photos from a given wedding. This is a great place to start when it comes to getting a better idea of how they shoot and edit. It's also worth noting how many of these 'real weddings' they have featured on their website. If they only have a select few, there is a likely chance they are only putting their 'best of the best' on display. As a wedding photographer, I can understand the method behind this but I can't help but feel it's not an accurate representation of what would normally be delivered. So pay close attention here as this is (in my opinion) ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT STEPS that I feel couples tend to overlook time and time again. From this point, what you should do is ask to see at least 3 full wedding galleries that the photographer has delivered to their clients. This is the only way to get an accurate idea for what your Sydney wedding photographer may potentially deliver to you.
Read Reviews & Testimonials
This is another very important point when it comes to doing your due diligence. It's a good idea to see what other experiences people have had with the Sydney wedding photographer you may be looking at. For this, I wouldn't just read the testimonials on their website, I'd recommend looking at their Google business reviews as these aren't filtered. Here, you should find unfiltered reviews from other couples who have hired the photographer you're researching.
Make An Enquiry
When you make an enquiry, it's important to share as much information about yourself and your wedding day with the photographer as possible. This will not only save the photographer time with back and forth emails but it will also help the photographer get a better idea of whether or not you could be a good fit.
Once you have made an enquiry, it can also be a good idea to pay attention to the time it takes the photographer to get back to you. Yes, we do have a life as well, but in most cases, your photographer should be aiming to get back to you within a 24 hour period, this is considered pretty normal. If for some reason they can't get back to you straight away, then ideally, they should have an 'out of office' email that you receive back letting you know when they expect to get back to your enquiry. The time taken to respond to an enquiry can often lead to a few questions.. Are they overloaded with work and don't have time to write back to an email? Is communication in the lead up to your wedding always going to be like this? Is that going to contribute to a pleasant experience in the long run? Is the situation going to be similar when the time comes to receive your photos? These are all questions worth asking yourself if the time taken to respond seems somewhat unreasonable.
It's probably also worth talking about template or automated emails as this is another aspect of the enquiry process worth discussing. Automated emails aren't necessarily a bad thing, well at least for the first response anyway. Many Sydney wedding photographers can receive multiple emails a day from couples who may be 'price shopping'. From a photographers point of view, this is to be expected as weddings aren't cheap and most of the time engaged couples are working to a budget when planning for their wedding. While it may not seem like much work from the couple's point of view to receive a customised email response back, the time it takes to write these can add up, especially when the photographer receives multiple enquiries on a daily basis. It's for this reason that you may find the first response email to be a template or automated email which contains some general information and the photographers pricing and packages. Following a response back from the couple here, the photographer will most likely write customised emails from this point onwards. So there's no need to be alarmed if you receive one initially.
Understanding Prices and Packages
After sending out your pricing and package request emails, you eventually hear back. Sometimes you may open their pricing list and think "Wow they are expensive! How can they charge so much?". On the contrary, you might think, "This price is too good to be true.. is it?". Well, there can be a number of reasons as to why their prices are either really cheap, really expensive or located somewhere in the middle. To help breakdown the misconceptions about wedding photography pricing we wrote another article 'Why Wedding Photography Costs So Much'. This article should help give you an inside look as to how photographers can arrive at these prices and the amount of work which can go into being a Sydney wedding photographer.
The price a Sydney wedding photographer can charge can easily range from $1500 all the way up to 10K+ but this can be dependant on a number of factors. This can include but is not limited to the hours of on day coverage, the number of images delivered, the number of photographers shooting, the optional extra included (albums, framed prints, cards etc) or whether you have enquired with a studio or individual photographer. Some other factors which could also influence the price is their experience, the time of year (high season or low season), how many weddings they shoot per year, how well they are known in the industry, if they have are 'in-demand' or whether they have won awards for their work in the past.
To help give you some idea of what to expect, the price an average full-time wedding photographer will charge for a 6 hour day would usually start around the $3000 mark and head upwards from there depending the amount of coverage and inclusions requested. This is their cost of doing business. If you are budget conscious, you may be able to find a photographer who charges less if they just getting started in the industry or only shooting part-time.
Questions & Requests You Should Make Before Paying A Deposit
Request To See Three Full Weddings
I did mention this point earlier but I'll go over it again just in case you missed it. Once you have found a photographer, I recommend that you request to see at least 3 full wedding galleries that they would have delivered to their clients. Most wedding photographers would be more than happy to share some of these galleries with you. These galleries will usually contain anywhere from 700-1000 images per wedding but this will be dependant on what the photographer normally delivers. This is the most accurate way to identify what you could potentially receive from the Sydney wedding photographer your enquiring with.
Organise A Meeting
While you may want to pay a deposit immediately because the photographer you love is available, it's important to not jump the gun. At the very least, you should have a chat with them over the phone. I recommend doing this as it will not only help to answer any questions you have in one sitting, but you will also get an idea for their personality and the kind of energy they may bring to your wedding day. After all, this is a once in a lifetime event and you will be spending the majority of the day with this person, so you want to enjoy it! Another benefit to having this chat, is that it will help you gauge how they make you feel. Do they put you at ease? Do they make you feel comfortable? Or was the conversation strained? You can only tell so much about a person via email which is why at Lonely Hunter Weddings I always recommend having a chat over the phone.
Once you have organised a time for a phone call or meeting with your Sydney wedding photographer, the next thing you should do is make a small list of important questions to ask them. This should include any questions that you can't find the answers to within their website FAQ. Quite often, I have couples come to a meeting and say "What questions should I be asking?". So to avoid this happening, I've decided to give you a helping hand. I have list some questions below which could potentially be worth asking. You may only find some of the questions relevant or you may want to ask them all, I'll leave that up to you:
- Can you tell me about your image redundancy plan (back-up), from shooting through to storage? Each Sydney wedding photographer should be shooting with a minimum of two cards in each camera at all times. So that in the instance one breaks/fails, there is another back up of your images. The same should be said for when they return home following a wedding, images should always be downloaded and stored on a minimum of two separate hard drives. Preferably 3 where possible - two on-site and one off-site.
- How would you categorise your shooting style? If you are unaware of the different shooting styles a photographer could use, you may want to have a read of our article which explains the different 'Wedding Photography Styles'.
- How many images can we expect to receive? This is important as it can vary from photographer to photographer. They won't be able to give you an exact number but they should be able to give you an average depending on the hours of coverage.
- How long will it take to receive our wedding images once the wedding has finished?
- What happens if you get sick leading up to the wedding? This answer will be different from photographer to photographer but one you need to be comfortable with.
- What happens if it rains on our wedding day? What's your normal procedure? Do you have a backup plan?
- Do you charge any travel fees? This question is only applicable if the wedding is located some distance away from the photographers home/office.
- Do you help with the wedding day timeline? Most wedding photographers will want some input here to ensure that everything runs smoothly on the day. But if not, you could potentially do this yourself by using our article 'How To Create A Wedding Day Timeline' which outlines the process.
- How much time do you recommend allowing for different sections of the day?
- Can you suggest some locations for the portraits? This question may be applicable if your ceremony and reception are in different locations and the wedding isn't held just at the one venue.
- Albums, prints, cards etc, how much do they cost? This is would be applicable if these optional extras aren't included on their pricing and package list.
- How many photographers will be shooting on the day? If only one, do you feel we need a second photographer? Once again, every photographer may have a different opinion here and their answer can vary depending on things like time constraints, the size of the wedding or how far apart the bride and groom are getting ready if both are to be captured etc
- When editing, do you perform any work in Photoshop? This is different from standard editing. You will probably find most photographers won't perform Photoshop work unless it's a quick fix or it's a hero image. This can be because it's quite time-consuming to Photoshop 20-30 consecutive images in a set let alone a whole wedding. It's not as simple as many people may think.
- What is the ratio of colour images vs black and white that we can expect to receive?
Some Common Myths Regarding Wedding Photography
It's Better If The Photographer Has Worked At The Venue Before
This one most definitely isn't true. It really doesn't matter if a wedding photographer as never photographed at a certain venue or if they have been there 20 times before. The truth is, most Sydney wedding photographers, myself included, will either head out to the venue before the wedding day or will arrive extra early on the day of with enough time to have a good look around and formulate a plan. A few other ways we can do our research is to look through social media and other wedding blogs to get some ideas for what others may have done. Just to clarify, this does not mean we will be replicating shots. It simply helps us to better prepare and familiarise ourselves with the venue.
You Should Provide Your Photographer With A Shotlist
Usually, if a couple provides a shot list, it's because they have read this on a wedding blog which explains that if you don't want your photographer to miss a shot, then you need to provide them with this shot list. This couldn't be further from the truth. Most shot lists that you see written on these blogs are pretty standard photos which we take on a daily basis. We don't keep these written down on paper as they are front of mind when we shoot. Sure, if there are one or two shots that you would like to recreate then most Sydney wedding photographers will do their best to help recreate it for you. Or on the other hand, if you decide to send through some images as a source of inspiration i'm sure most would be happy to take this on board. Rest assured, you have picked your photographer for a reason. So trust in them and their vision and if you do, I guarantee you, this will provide much better photos than if you handed them a shot list.
Higher Prices Means Better Photography
There can be some truth to this myth as the price, in some instances, can be directly related to the quality of photography you receive. So to respond to this myth correctly, I probably need to give you some context. When it comes prices in the range of $500 to $3000 then yes, there is a very likely chance, the price you pay may correspond to the quality of wedding photography you receive. But at some point, there will be a ceiling. By this, I mean, once you reach a certain point, let's just call it $6000 for argument's sake, the quality of wedding photography cannot continually keep improving. Instead, you may find that if a photographer charges up and above this point, the packages will come with more bells and whistles. This could potentially include things like two days worth of coverage, an increased number of images delivered, the number of photographers shooting on the day, inclusions like framed prints & fine art albums factored into the package etc. Do you catch my drift?
But if the packages supplied still look to be fairly 'standard' then you may have enquired with a studio rather than an individual photographer. I hope that didn't confuse you? Let me explain, a studio is a photography company which will usually have a storefront or a space they operate out of. Where as an individual photographer may work from home. The truth is, the photography that you receive from a studio vs an individual Sydney wedding photographer will most likely look no different. "Why do they charge so much more then?" you ask. Well, the simple reason is, they have a storefront, this means they will have additional overheads (rent, electricity, water etc) which need to be cover. These are costs a photographer won't have if they work from home. This contributes to a higher cost of business doing business for the studio.
Wedding Photographers Only Work On The Day Of The Wedding
This is also incorrect. If only it was that easy! On average, a Sydney wedding photographer can spend around 40 hours on a single wedding. This common misconception is usually due to the fact that most people only tend see us for an 8-12 hour period on the wedding day. In actual fact, there is a lot of work which goes on behind the scenes. Both, in the lead up to your wedding and following your wedding. You may have seen a link earlier in this article titled 'Why Wedding Photography Costs So Much', this does explain how much work goes into a wedding from the moment we receive an enquiry all the way through up until your images are delivered.
Getting married is a once in a lifetime event so it's important that you take the time to do your research and make the right decision. I hope you manage to take something from this article to aid in your search for a Sydney wedding photographer! Whether you choose to enquire with myself or someone else altogether, that's perfectly okay. The main thing is that you find a wedding photographer who is right for you and your wedding. At the end of the day, all I want is for you to be happy with the outcome! At Lonely Hunter Weddings not only do we shoot Sydney weddings but we equally love photographing weddings which take place in the Hunter Valley, Southern Highlands and South Coast areas. I'm also available for destination weddings, as there is no distance I won't travel. As you can probably tell, I am a pretty open book, so if you would like to send me an enquiry using the form below, I would love to chat with you about your wedding day!