How to choose a Melbourne Wedding Photographer
How to choose a Wedding Photographer in Melbourne
The best guide to help you choose the perfect wedding photographer for your wedding in Melbourne
Weddings can be wonderful, beautiful, joyous events particular in the beautiful light of Melbourne. But as you know, or are soon to learn, they can also be stressful. You have (probably) never done this before and there are just so many options to choose between, decision fatigue will happen. For every aspect of your wedding there are tonne of great suppliers in Melbourne: florists, caterers, seating arrangements, venues, dresses, stationery, even cakes. And then of course there's all the Melbourne wedding photographers. How do you choose?
Before I start giving you my opinion, you should probably know a little about me. I'm a wedding photographer based but frequently travelling interstate and overseas to capture people's weddings. I'm regularly in Melbourne and Sydney and I've shot weddings and elopements in Iceland, France (many times), Ireland, Italy, Greece, the United States and Canada.
I have helped friends and family choose a photographer for their wedding (I prefer to enjoy my friend's weddings) and in many ways the advice choosing a photographer in Melbourne is exactly the same as choosing a photographer in any location in the world.
So here's a little guide, by a wedding photographer, on how to choose the right wedding photographer for your wedding in Melbourne.
These are what I think are the essentials, if you get these right you will be less likely to be disappointed.
1. What Style do you like?
Style is in many respects the easiest thing to get right. With the proliferation of the internet wedding photography styles have formed into a few different schools. If you've looked online, read magazines, started a Pinterest account, you will now know that you either want a photojournalist style, a modern style, or an editorial style.
One style should appeal to you more than another. As a very quick guide here are some of my photos to highlight the difference:
Photojournalists tend to capture what happens with little directing. A modern style tends to be like photojournalism but with more mood and more direction involved. And editorial is usually very clean, bright and features direction from the photographer to the subjects of the photo.
I am more of a hybrid. I predominantly shoot in a photojournalistic style with a modern sensibility. It's also very important to me to create unique photographs that will make your wedding unique not just a replication of every other wedding photographed recently. For example:
If you want to see more of my unique style click here.
So make sure you choose a photographer who shoots in a style you like. It should be pretty obvious from their website, but if it's not or you aren't sure you like their style, move on. There are plenty of wedding photographers in Melbourne to choose from so don't feel otherwise.
2. Quality of the photographer
The second, and in many ways most important, decision you need to make is about the quality of photographer you want. I'm not talking about style here (editorial, photojournalism etc), or cost, I'm talking about the quality of the photographer. How many great photos do they take across the whole day.
Here's an attempt to capture the range of possible photographers for your wedding:
# 1. Uncle Tom. He's always loved taking 'snaps'.
# 2. Jane's cousin Pete. He's a keen amateur who might have even studied photography once.
# 3. A "professional wedding photographer".
# 4. A "professional wedding photographer".
Wait, aren't #3 and #4 the same? No, no, and no!
I'd say 50-80% of "professional wedding photographers" are nothing more than con-men and women who think buying an expensive camera makes them professional.
Buying a scalpel does not make you a surgeon.
Buying a website and putting a few photos on it does not make you a professional wedding photographer.
Becoming a #4 professional wedding photographer takes years of dedication to photography. It takes commitment and passion and a constant desire to improve your art.
So how can you tell the difference between #3 and #4 professionals?
#3 will bambooz you with a great website full of good images from different weddings, they may have slideshows set to music, they will be slick. They may offer you champagne and expensive brochures.
#4 will bambooz you with a great website full of great images from weddings, they may have slideshows set to music, they will be slick. They may offer you champagne and expensive brochures.
Notice the difference? There's a key difference there. #3 will show you images from different weddings. #4 will show you images (especially if you ask) from ONE wedding.
That's the key difference.
A #4 photographer should be able to get good or great quality images across the whole day, not just one of two good images for the entire day.
At Nicholas Purcell Studio I always show potential couples a full example of one entire wedding I have shot; everything from the getting ready shots to the late night dancing I believe this gives potential clients a realistic feel for the quality they can expect to receive across the entire day.
So, my #1 tip in choosing the right photographer for your Melbourne wedding is insist on seeing images from one wedding.
That will give you a feel for how many good quality images you are likely to see after your wedding.
Which leads me to expectations.
Photos by Nicholas Purcell Studio
3. Have realistic expectations
The first thing to know is that photographers, even true professionals with years of experience, are not superhuman, they will not get award-winning, magazine quality images of every single aspect of your day from 8am until midnight. It just doesn't happen. If you are expecting stunning images from sunrise to sunrise, you will be disappointed.
Professional wedding photographers, by which of course I mean #4 photographers, will give you consistently good images across the entire day and this is what you should be aiming for. There should definitely be some great images in there, the sort you will be proud to hang up on your wall.
I know of two immensely expensive US based wedding photographers. Both are at the top of their game, are in huge demand, and both charge over US$25,000 for their basic packages. I've seen a full set of images from a single wedding and I can guarantee you, if you paid that much money and expected every single image to be a prize-winning image, you would be really disappointed. Some images are truly magnificent, most are really good, a large number are just 'snaps'.
If you end up with 5-10 magnificent images, 50-90 or so really good photos, and the rest nice snaps, then you should be happy.
Have realistic expectations.
4. You get what you pay for
Cheap is always cheap. Repeat after me: cheap is always cheap. If you pick a photographer because they are cheap you can expect the quality of your images to plummet. This might be all you can afford/budget for but don't expect miracles and don't expect to be anything but disappointed (particularly if you hope to share the images with your kids and grandkids some day).
I was recently contact by a bride who said she had decided not to use me because I was too expensive but then she had received her photos from her chosen Melbourne photographer and she was appalled, there was a strong red colour cast on all the people in the photos. He wasn't able to fix it (to be honest I don't even know how he could have done that in the first place!).
Do keep in mind though that your wedding is a once in a lifetime event (usually) and it might seem like a good idea to skimp on photography but really after the day is finished, apart from memories, all you have left is the photos. Imagine your grandchildren sitting down to look at your wedding album and seeing cheap photos. Is that worth it?
5. A recommendation from a friend
If you've seen you're friends wedding photos (all of them) and like them then this might be a good way to go. However keep in mind a few things.
1) Did you see all the photos?
2) How long ago did your friend get married (has the photographer aged in energy or style)
3) Ask your friend what the worst thing about the experience with that photographer was - if they suggest irrelevant things like they didn't like the package the images came in, then that's probably fine, if the photographer missed a key photo, that's not fine.
Don't take a recommendation as proof that the photographer is everything you want for your wedding, refer back to points 1-4.
Take these points as a starting point. There is way to find the right photographer for your wedding and I hope this helps in some way.
Or click on the below links to see if I'm your perfect Melbourne wedding photographer.
Nicholas Purcell has been a professional photographer for 15 years. His portraiture has appeared in Harpers Bazaar UK, the New York Times and his wedding photos have been featured in Style Me Pretty and brides.com. In 2015 Style Me Pretty interviewed Nicholas and in 2016 Complete Wedding Magazine called him "One of the World's Best Wedding Photographers".