How to Choose Your Perfect Wedding Photographer

Choosing your perfect wedding photographer is a pretty huge decision. I totally get it. Capturing moments. Telling a story. Documenting the day. These are some of the ways wedding photographers try to describe what we do, but being a wedding photographer is really so much more.

We don’t just take photos, we pin buttonholes in suits, put veils in hair, drop flowers to the groomsmen; whatever may be required. In our quest to deliver amazing photographs we might find ourselves running stairs, lying on roads, walking knee-deep into the ocean or clinging precariously to a railing, just to get the right shot. Most importantly, we record one of the most memorable days of your life.  

I was reminded of this recently when looking at my own wedding photos, now 15 years on. Through these images, I can share the day with my children, and I know it shows them the love I have for their mother, and reminds me how much I love her too.


This is the start of your life together as a married couple; a momentous day in the timeline of your life.  The images from this day will be one of the few things that increase in value, long after your wedding. These photos are irreplaceable. That is our huge responsibility and great privilege, and why I love being a wedding photographer.


There are a lot of inaccuracies about wedding photography, and these can be a distraction to couples.  Here are my tips for putting the common myths aside and finding the perfect photographer.

Myth 1: It is important to own the copyright to the photos.
Copyright is usually owned by the photographer. It is your wedding and you are the subject of the photograph, however, the image itself is the creative work of the photographer.  It reflects their ability and their reputation. Copyright simply protects the photographer from having their work used by others without appropriate permission. Watermarking the photographer’s logo across images serves the same purpose – to protect your wedding images from unauthorised reproduction or commercial use. If you are provided with a disk of images from your photographer, then the photographer has passed on permission for you to display and reproduce those images for your own personal use. Owning copyright does not change that.

Myth 2: Wedding photography is overpriced.
It costs several thousand dollars for just a few hours of work. This would be true if the only time your photographer spent working on your wedding was on the actual wedding day. Your photographer will probably spend upwards of 80 hours on your wedding, in addition to the coverage on the day. This includes all the preparation and days of post-production to refine your images and create the products that make up a wedding photography package. Remove the cost to produce your albums and prints, general costs of running a business, and then reduce what is left to an hourly rate, and you will find that wedding photography is not necessarily as expensive as it may seem at first.

Myth 3: I don’t need an album. I can save money by getting the digital files only.
There are many people who, years after their wedding, wish they had purchased an album because their negatives/digital files are still sitting in a box, and they have never quite “got around” to making any prints for themselves. If you only intend to look at and share your photos electronically, then don’t get an album. However, the cost of the digital files alone is not likely to be significantly cheaper than a wedding album.  This is because a quality wedding photographer will spend countless post-production hours on the images they give to you, ensuring that if you do choose to print from your files, that the images will still display their work at the standard they would produce themselves.

There is only a small additional amount of work required to produce an album. Furthermore, in offering you an album, your photographer is providing you with their design experience, and will most likely use archival quality paper and only the best materials. Many cheaper retail album services use lesser quality materials, which may result in prints and albums deteriorating. If your photographer is not spending this time in post-production and simply gives you a disk of images at the end of the day – ask yourself, what exactly have you paid for?

Myth 4: Experience isn’t important if you have a good camera and a shoot list.
The right golf clubs don’t make me a professional golfer.  When everything is running an hour late and rain is pouring on the location shoot, a good camera won’t help.  Experienced photographers bring more than equipment to a wedding. They bring organisation, a back-up plan, the ability to coordinate a large group of people, and a sense of calm. Most importantly, they bring creativity and the ability (honed through years of practice) to “see the moment”.  This is why they don’t need a shoot list.  A true professional will be everywhere when all the important things are happening, yet you will never notice them and they will never impose themselves on any interactions. Only when you see the images will you realise just what it was worth to capture those moments.


So, my first tip: Hire a professional and trust their judgement. Here are a few more tips for finding your perfect photographer:

1.  Create a shortlist of photographers to choose from.

To create your shortlist; get referrals – from your friends, family and colleagues, venue, wedding planner, stylist, dress designer, florist, hairdresser…when a photographer keeps getting mentioned, it probably means they are good, so check them out.
Look in wedding magazines and wedding blogs for “real weddings”. Wedding blogs and magazines are often very selective about the real weddings they choose to publish, requiring the photographs to be high quality and capable of telling the wedding days. It takes a professional photographer to produce images to these standards. If you find you are consistently noticing the work of one or two photographers, put them on your shortlist.
Look for a photographic style that suits your personality and the style of your wedding. If you are comfortable in front of the camera and like to have a bit of fun with posing and props, then seek out a photographer whose work is highly stylised and planned. If you don’t like to know you are being photographed and would prefer a documentary approach to your wedding (where the photographer is in the background capturing moments as they happen), then choose a photographer whose style is photo-journalistic.

2.  View their wedding photography work

Ask to see a full wedding or album.  The photographers’ blog is often a good place to start. While their website might show select images from a few weddings, their blog will often profile a whole wedding and can be a good indicator of the quality of their recent work.  Try to find the finished products that will make up your package – whether that is prints, an album, or a disc of images. You can also ask to see a full wedding gallery. Most wedding photographers put the entire wedding up on a private gallery for the couple to view and download. Ask to see one of these full galleries to see what the entire finished wedding looks like.

3.  Meet Or talk with them personally

Even if this is simply a telephone call, or Zoom or Skype. Not only do you need to like your photographer’s work, but make sure you also like their personality. They will be spending hours with you on one of the most important days of your life. Meeting with them gives you the added benefit of seeing how they present themselves and their workspace. This often indicates the pride they take in their work, and more importantly how much respect they have for you.  

4.  Notice how much they ask about you.

Many couples only discuss prices and package inclusions when they interview a photographer.  I believe this should be secondary to the selection process. If you don’t like the photos or the experience, it really doesn’t matter if you have paid $5000 or $500 – you’ve paid too much. A really good photographer will use the interview to ensure they can deliver what you want. They will genuinely want to know about you, your family and friends, and your wedding day plans.  They will care about your wedding and should regard it with a sense of excitement because they are imagining how they can capture photos you will absolutely love. They will be flexible with offering you a package that caters to your wedding.  If they don’t ask you questions, they probably haven’t thought about your needs or the finer details.

5.  Check their experience

Ten thousand hours. That is a figure that some people say you need to master any craft. It may or may not be correct but in most cases lots of experience equal excellent quality and skill. In my opinion, wedding experience is extremely important. You could be a great landscape photographer, but that doesn’t make you a good wedding photographer. Being an Accredited Member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) is a good start. It shows their commitment to their craft. But I personally left the AIPP years ago due to mismanagement, expensive years fees and no benefit. Look for a photographer with great wedding experience. Someone who is a master at their craft.

6.  Finally, seek out value for money.

This means looking at the quality of each product in your package, and the level of experience and service you will receive from your photographer. Make sure there is a contract of service in place and a guarantee on the products in your package.
The investment you make will be worth it for many years to come.

Wandin Weddings hunter valley

Wandin Valley Weddings

Wandin Valley weddings are some of our very favourite weddings and one of our favourite Hunter Valley wedding venues. We have been photographing weddings here for quite a few years. And we want to share our insight as wedding photographers on how to have an awesome wedding here. So this is your complete and ultimate guide for couples thinking of having a Wandin Valley wedding.

Wandin or Wandin Valley Estate as it used to be called, would have to be one of our favourite wedding venues in the Hunter Valley. Why? Because it is a huge beautiful property! Where your whole wedding day or your entire wedding weekend can take place. All at this one location. It is a really beautiful location for a wedding. And by having your wedding here, you can almost guarantee yourself some beautiful wedding photos.

‘Wandin’, is located in the very popular lower Hunter Valley in the Lovedale area. It is within the slopes of the Molly Morgan Mountains. It overlooks Pokolbin towards the stunning Brokenback mountain range. It’s set on 100 acres of beautiful land and has quite a lot of facilities onsite spread throughout the property. Some of its features include a cellar door, licensed cafe, swimming pool, tennis court, cricket oval… and of course lots and lots of kangaroos.

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History of Wandin Valley Weddings

This vineyard property and Hunter Valley wedding venue was first established back in the early 1970s. And it was originally called the Millstone Vineyard. This is where and when they first planted their first Shiraz and Chardonnay vines. Which was planted by the local potter and winemaker, Peter Dobinson.

In 1990 it was then bought by James & Philippa Davern, for $900,000 who renamed the property to Wandin Valley Estate. James Devern was a television and film producer and had a famous and long-running series called A Country Practice. Wandin Valley was the imaginary town where this series was set. And for sentimental reasons, it is what it was named after this show.

By changing the name, it really put Wandin Valley Estate on the map and it brought in a lot of tourists from all over the world. This, in turn, allowed them to expand the estate and build some of the facilities that you see today. New buildings were built, including buildings for wine storage, tourist accommodation facilities, the main residence, managers cottage and also its famous Cricket Pavilion. This is when weddings and events started to happen on the estate.

In 2010 it changed owners again when Russell & Katrina Leslie bought Wandin Valley for $4.75 million for their Mosman based family wine business Swish Wines. They are passionate winemakers who also did extensive refurbishments to cement its place in the tourism and wedding & events markets.

In 2016 the property was bought for a record $7 million by Lipton Tsoi, a directory of one of China’s biggest animated film studios and toy manufacturers called Alpha Group.

In February 2018 they did a rebrand which included changing its name and domain name to what it is today. It is no longer Wandin Valley Estate… it is now just called Wandin.

According to property reports, in 2018 it was again listed for sale, but after 790 days it was taken off the market.

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The Entrance to Wandin

Wandin Valley Wedding Accommodation

Wandin has some onsite accommodation available for you and for some of your wedding guests. My advice to couples getting married in the Hunter Valley is to always look for accommodation on-site at their wedding venue. It makes it so much easier for you on the day of the wedding. The beauty of getting ready onsite is that it can totally reduce the stress that you might feel on the day. Knowing that all you need to do is to open your door and walk to the ceremony can make all the difference to your mindset.

The villas are also far enough apart that you can both get ready onsite and still not see each other. There is probably not enough accommodation for all your wedding guests, but you would be able to get rooms to cover you and your immediate family.

There is also plenty of accommodation options nearby for your wedding guests. Most couples organise a bus to pick up and drop off guests before and after the wedding so that they don’t need to drive and can really enjoy the party.

There are seven European inspired accommodation lodges on the property.

Alasdair’s Place – Two bedrooms, one bathroom and kitchenette,

Hannah’s Loft – Large studio, one bedroom and kitchen.

Oliver’s Cottage – Private bush setting with four suites, all with their own ensuite and balcony. Kitchen and outdoor bbq. A great option for your wedding party or for your family to stay in.

Villa Angus – Two bedrooms, each with their own ensuite. Kitchen, lounge with fireplace and lovely views of the vineyards. A great option for families.

Villa Clare – Four bedrooms with private gardens and views over the vines.

Villa Isabella – Two bedrooms, a pull-out sofa bed, one bathroom. Beautiful views over the Brokenback Ranges, this villa is ideal for families.

Villa Zara – This villa features a loft, four bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms. Another perfect room for your wedding party to get ready in on your wedding day.

Please note: Book your accommodation early. There is limited villas available and they do book out very early. Half the couples we have photographed there were unable to get any accommodation due to it being sold out.

Olive trees at Wandin

Ceremony Options at Wandin

There are a number of really good options for your wedding ceremony at Wandin Valley weddings. There are three beautiful outdoor locations and one rustic indoor location. It is a huge property so if there is a different location that we haven’t listed here, there is no real reason why you couldn’t have it there. Talk to the coordinators and I’m sure you will be able to work something out. These are the main ceremony locations and they are all wonderful options.

The Eucalypt Grove

This is probably the most popular location for an outdoor wedding ceremony and we have photographed many beautiful wedding ceremonies here. The ceremony is set amongst the Euculyspus trees overlooking the cricket oval and in view of the cricket pavilion. It is shaded, in quite a beautiful location, it has a nice backdrop and the light is generally coming at a pretty nice direction.

This is a really convenient location for your wedding guests as after the ceremony they can mingle in the shade of the trees and walk about 20 metres to the Cricketers Pavilion for drink and canapés. It is a really easy location for your guests. Parking is easy and once they have parked they don’t need to move for the rest of the day and night.

In our opinion, The Eucalypt Grove should be your first choice when having a Wandin wedding ceremony.

Ceremony at The Eucalypt Grove

The Pontoon

You can see this location when you first drive into the estate. It is set on a pontoon overlooking the dam and you can see the Cricket Pavilion sitting up on the hill in the background. It is a beautiful location with a stunning backdrop but it is located further away from the reception venue and there are no toilets available at this location. The main selling point to this ceremony location is the beautiful backdrop. The Australian bush backdrop and the dam make it a pretty awesome option for your wedding ceremony.

The Hunter Valley can be a very hot region, so it is also worth noting that there is no shade at The Pontoon. So you and your guests will be in full sun. I would avoid this location entirely in Summer or at the very least supply each guest with a parasol or umbrella to provide them with shade. And have lots of water available. This would be a lovely location in Winter and the months either side of it.

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The Pontoon in the foreground and Cricketers Pavilion in the background.

The View

This is an unofficial ceremony location at Wandin. It isn’t in their brochure but it could be an awesome location for a wedding ceremony. And we’ve actually had some couples consider this for their ceremony location.

It’s located at the top of the property, outside ‘The Barn’. The beauty of this location is that it takes full advantage of the view that Wandin offers. And the backdrop for your wedding would be mountain ranges, vineyards and trees. It is also located next to one of the accommodation villas, so you could potentially just simply walk out the door and to your ceremony.

The only real issue with this location is that there is no shade. So again, I would avoid using this in Summer or at the very least, provide some shade (umbrellas or parasols) and drinks for your guests. It is also further away from the reception venue.

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The Barn

The Barn is located towards the top of the property sitting high up on a hill and boast some stunning views from the lawn area in front of it. It is an actual working barrel room, fitted out with a 12-light crystal chandelier.

We have a shot a few ceremonies here and my advice is to use this location just as a wet weather back up only. It’s a good wet weather back up, but for a wedding ceremony where you have the option for an outdoor ceremony… we would a 100% be going with the outdoor option.

When you get any more than 30 people in there it gets really cramped and next to impossible for me to walk around discretely and get a variety of angles and looks. The light can also get pretty tricky in there. On a cloudy day it gets really, really dark in the barn and the mixed lighting is not ideal for photography.

So we would recommend to use it for a wet weather option but definitely choose one of the other locations for your outdoor ceremony at Wandin.

Wedding Photos at Wandin

One of the amazing benefits of having your wedding at Wandin is that it is a large property with a variety of locations and photo opportunities. It is 100 acres of land so there is no shortage of locations. We have photographed weddings there many times and we still haven’t been able to get to every location. There are just so many beautiful spots for Wandin Valley weddings.

You can drive around the property or just explore the land on foot. There are rows and rows of vines located all over the property, hills, bushland, dams and some epic trees.

If you love the outdoors and the beauty of an Australian winery then you will love Wandin for your wedding photos. You can almost guarantee yourself beautiful wedding photos by having your wedding at this property.

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If you are a cricket lover or a sports fan there is also the option to use the cricket pitch and oval on your wedding day. Have some fun with your wedding party and your guests and have a game of cricket. Wandin supplies you with all the cricket gear you need. Cricket bat, ball, helmet, pads and gloves. It is also a nice chance to get some genuine moments of you having fun with all your family and friends. You are having your reception in the Cricket Pavilion after all.

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Cricket at wedding

Wedding Reception at Wandin

The Cricketers Pavilion is the location for wedding receptions. This is purpose-built to be a versatile function space that has been designed as a traditional English cricket pavilion. It was designed by architect, David Muir and can comfortably seat 120 guests. It sits right next to a cricket oval on the front side. And it is surrounded by bushland and rows and rows of vines out the back.

It was built in a traditional style with a large verandah which provides great shade in Summer and also acts as the dancefloor for weddings. The interior is stylish and modern, yet rustic. And it features exposed high ceilings with large wooden beams, crystal chandeliers a fully equipped commercial kitchen. It also has lots of natural light.

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The interior is lovely but the exterior of the Cricketers Pavillion is also such a perfect setting for you and your guests. They can relax in the afternoon with drinks and canapés on the lawn. Play a game of cricket or just chat and catch up. It is a gorgeous country setting for a relaxed country wedding in the Hunter Valley.

Real Wedding Feature at Wandin

To help you show off the beauty of this Hunter Valley wedding property, we are happy to showcase this is a real wedding feature of Jesse & James. They had a pretty spectacular day with some beautiful moments. Wandin Valley weddings was the perfect setting for this story. And if you have visited the Wandin Valley website you may have seen their wedding photos there are their feature image.

For this wedding, Jesse & James got ready off-site at Crown Plaza Hunter Valley. They had their wedding ceremony at the Eucalypt Grove. Did some relaxed photos around the property before partying the night away in the Cricketers Pavilion.

It was a pretty awesome day and I think it really showcases what Wandin Valley weddings can be like. So enjoy!

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Wandin

Address: 12 Wilderness Rd, Lovedale NSW 2320

Website: https://www.wandin.com.au/

Thank you for visiting our website. If you are still looking for your Wandin Valley wedding photographer who is candid and creative then get in touch.

We want you to be totally yourselves…

We want the in-between moments, the unexpected tears, the craziness, the imperfection, laughs, the dance party and the connections. When you look back at your photos, we want it to totally represent you and what your wedding day was.

Capturing the emotion and joy and love!