Helen Cotton Photography

Cheshire & Staffordshire Wedding Photographers

Choosing your Wedding Photographer!

Wedding PhotographyHelen Cotton PhotographyComment

We’ve had lots of enquiries during the beginning of this year, which has been fantastic and lovely to hear about peoples wedding plans. It’s a great feeling when couples choose us as their wedding photographers!

So we wanted to look into the process of booking a photographer to identify helpful tips on choosing a photographer. It’s such an important decision, there are so many people that we know who have said that they picked a photographer and regretted it.

So here’s a few helpful tips to lead you into choosing the right photographer(s) for yourselves.


Book Early!

So many people are getting married these days that you need to make sure that you book in early. If you love a particular photographers work it’s best to get in there early, meet up with them and see whether they are available. Unless you’re thinking of getting married on a day in the week then you’ll find it difficult if you’re leaving things till the last minute.

Meet Potential Photographers

Don't just fall in love with their work on their website and social media! You need to meet with them to make sure you feel comfortable and confident with them. I always want to meet with our couples to chat about their plans for the big day preferably at the wedding venue. Doing this helps with providing visual ideas of where we think would look great for photographs and gives us an idea of what the couple want from their photography. It also helps that myself and my husband Nick work together as when it comes to the ‘Getting Ready’ photographs, I will meet with the bride and bridesmaids and Nick will meet with the guys, it makes the couple feel comfortable and more at ease having photographs taken by a female & male photographer.

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Here are some of the questions you will want to ask your photographers are:

How many weddings have you photographed? What is your favourite part of a Wedding day?

There is a lot of pressure when photographing a wedding. I always believed that weddings would be the area I would avoid in photography as it worried me being under so much pressure. When I met Nick this changed, we absolutely love photographing weddings, we find it such a privilege when we get asked and we enjoy having the involvement in our couples big day! We find our couples are like us, we treat each other as good friends and certainly love keeping in touch. On the wedding day, we try to make sure that any worries and nerves that our couples have disappear, we’re there from the morning 'til the evening and a lot of the time they turn to us for guidance as they know how important their photographs are. We do have a relaxed style but we also know we need to get as many fun shots as possible, these photographs are the lasting memories of your big day!

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What do you do about light? 

So this can depend on the time of year your going to get married. During the Autumn/Winter months we lose the light a lot earlier, so when booking your ceremony time you need to consider how much light you will have for the remainder of the day for outside photographs. However, even in the summer you need to remember that you’re going to get a lot of glary sunlight on your guests, so the photographers need to make sure that they have shaded areas in which they are going to take these photographs. Quite often when we meet with our couples at the venue these sort of questions come up about the weather etc and this is a great time to go over the options. For example; "If it’s going to rain consistently where can we take the group photographs etc?" Don’t worry too much about rain, you can always work around this and also make some fun creative shots!
Your photographers also should have the correct equipment for the necessary conditions. For example, illuminating a dark church or compensating for bright sunlight. It might be worth finding out what equipment they use?

Katie & Robert's Wedding_Helen Cotton Photography©-708.JPG

What is included in your packages?

We've heard of situations where couples have booked their photographers and weren’t aware that there was then a charge for the release of the photographs to be printed by themselves. So make sure you compare and check what is included in their packages and contract. Our packages are quite straight forward, we offer 3 different options where the only difference is the length of time you’d need us for. They all include myself (Helen) and Nick, for the allocated times of your choice, all photographs edited, at least 700 images, all photographs at high resolution on disc or USB. We also do a little slideshow DVD of some of the best photographs and an online gallery where your friends and family can log-in and purchase any prints. We also include any meetings before the wedding day, especially meeting at the venue to go over the time schedule and the ideas of where best to capture group and individual shots.

This leads to our next question...

How many hours of coverage do we get? And is there any charge for overtime?

The specifics with times should always be discussed before the wedding day, so that everyone has everything correct.

Quite often we’ll get this checked out with the venue, or confirmed with the wedding co-ordinator whilst we meet for the pre wedding meeting. If people want to change their mind this is fine with us but it’s best to let the photographer know exactly when you want them to stay until. We like to make sure the first dance is photographed and the cake is cut!

How do I pay?

A professional photographer shouldn’t really ask for all payment up front on the first meeting! I’d be pretty weary of this if I came across it. We and most photographers I know ask for a deposit (£100) and the rest of the payment to be paid a month or so before the wedding, it’s either a BACS or cheque payment. We also have an instalments process if that helps with spreading the costs.

Laurence & Lindsay's Wedding_Helen Cotton Photography©825.JPG

How long after the Wedding do we get to see the photographs?

I know what it’s like, you are desperate to see some photographs the following morning, whether it be to remind you of the wonderful day you had or to actually remember some parts of the day! :)
One thing I always say to our couples is take 10 minutes to yourselves on the day, as it will go by in a flash, and don't be surprised ladies if you get the wedding blues.... You’ve spent days/months/sometimes years planning for this big day and the photographs are going to be those lasting memories so we know how important it is to see them. We tend to get a preview out within the following week and then taking a month for all the photographs to be fully edited and handed over. If it’s a really busy time we would pre-warn you, but nothing has ever run over 5 weeks.

Do you do wedding albums?

We do supply wedding albums and will always say wait till after the wedding when you have your photographs. It gives you time to decide on how much you want to spend, we also let you chose the photographs you’d like to use. Our average amount of pages is 30-40 pages which can give you from 80-100 photographs, you get to go through the photographs and decide which you would like to use and then send the list to us and we’ll put the design together.

There are so many cover options and styles that this is needed to be clarified at the beginning and then we can put the inside design together for you. Once this is confirmed and you are happy with we’ll get this sent off to print and can take about 3-4 weeks.

Have you ever photographed at my wedding venue?

It quite often helps if a photographer has but it’s not a necessity. Yes they will know the venue inside and out pretty well but I always get really excited if it’s a new venue we’ve not been to before. You’re always going to meet your photographer(s) at the venue before anyway so this is where you’ll discover photo opportunities. You’re not going to know what the light is going to do until the big day so as long as the photographer has back up lighting, if needed for internal shots, everything should be great. I always like to keep in touch with the venue before the wedding just in case they have any parts of the venue that may be off limits to us on the day etc.
Also think outside the venue, some venues don’t have the dramatic scope for photographs so why not venture 10 minutes down the road and see whether theres some interesting backdrops you could use, obviously this is something you and the photographer(s) need to be checking out before the day!

Thomas & Marcia's Wedding_Helen Cotton Photography©44.JPG

What is your style and do I need to have group photos?

I always ask my couples what style of photography are you after? What photographs have you seen that appeal to you? most people respond with relaxed/reportage style which is perfect as we certainly aren’t military strict photographers. We do give out our ‘Wish List’ this is just a general list of photographs that we try our best to get, it includes the basic list of group shots. I know so many people say "we don’t want group shots!" Trust me you will! It’s something that the family will love and it’s also a reminder of those special people who joined you on your day. We do get the group shots done pretty quickly, we know people don’t want to stand around long - especially if it’s cold - so the sooner they are completed the sooner we can concentrate on the more relaxed style shots and also then take you guys out for some time alone.

Are there any restrictions on sharing photographs on social media?

We love seeing our work shared on social media but we really appreciate it if our logo is shown on them or at least a little link saying “Helen Cotton Photography’ took our awesome photos :) It’s a great indication you loved the photos and want to show them off, which trust me we love too.

Will you be the one shooting my Wedding?

This is something I would be a bit wary of. If it’s a company with no direct names attached to it it’s not going to fill you with much confidence. You want to make sure that the person you book your wedding photography with is the person who is going to turn up for you on the day. If it’s a case of needing a back up photographer then this is a different, we do have back up photographers if something happens but we’ve so far (touch wood) never had this situation.

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Do you charge for travel?

Most photographers will include this in their packages but if it’s many miles outside their location there would probably be a fee, especially if going abroad. It’s always best to check with them on this though so you haven’t got any unwanted surprises.

Can I see a contract?

When you’re ready to book a photographer ask to see the contract or make a copy of the booking form. We have TC’s on the back of our booking form which we require a signature so we know you’ve read through them too. This will be sent back to you on the booking confirmation though.

Laurence & Lindsay's Wedding_Helen Cotton Photography©57.JPG

Also ask for recommendations

Photographers get to work with so many different suppliers and are great at getting you the inside info, make sure you ask especially if you’re struggling to decide on suppliers.

In regards to recommendations, this would have to be the key to choosing your wedding photographer! Most of our clients come from weddings we've previously photographed and they have either been family members or friends that then get in touch with us. It's the best way for us to get a booking as people have seen how we work, seen our work already and have already made a great connection with us.

Thanks for reading girls & guys, we hope it's been an interesting read.
Please share and we'd love your comments too.

Thanks again, much love

Helen & Nick



Kim & Rich's Wedding Preview at Sandhole Oak Barn

Event Photography, Wedding PhotographyHelen Cotton PhotographyComment

It was an absolute delight to be asked to photograph Kim & Rich's Wedding, I've known Kim for many years from our school days and I've always seen her smiling. Getting to meet Rich was great and you can see from the pictures that laughter is a beautiful part of their relationship. They both looked gorgeous and I absolutely loved Kim's dress :) With all their close family and friends around they had a fantastic time, and we loved capturing the day for them. 

Sandhole Oak Barn looked stunning as always, we had the privilege of photographing the first wedding of the year for them. We were so lucky that the weather literally stopped raining as Kim walked out of the Granary suite to make her entrance for the ceremony. The Barn looked beautiful, light and open, perfect for the natural shots.

We managed to sneak back a little after the lunch and take some photos with the sparklers - hope you like them :)

Thanks again for having us guys, to see a few more sneaky pictures just head over to the recent weddings page here.

We'd also like to say a little thank you to Sandhole Oak Barn team for making us so welcome and Your Ceremony for conducting the ceremony.

Hair - Dominique's Hairdressing in Kidsgrove
Make up artists - Victoria Bickerton & Helen Neal

Looking forward to seeing you both soon guys and hope you enjoy the preview pictures.

Love from 

Helen & Nick