How to choose a wedding photographer that isn’t going to disappoint or rip you off .

Posted in AT Your Service, special event photography, Wedding Photography on December 26th, 2014 by John Coxon

(Cautionary free advice  from reliable, trusted  and long experienced ( 40 years plus) and committed Greater Manchester based wedding photographer  John Coxon)

john coxon  greater manchester wedding photography

Choosing  the right  wedding photographer for your big day  can be a minefield.  With the number of bargain fairly decent digital SLR cameras available with built in do it all for you modes  and the ease , for example, of creating a credible website there are  now so many people out their offering their services often with somewhat limited experience. ( It is not uncommon for such dodgy photography websites to actually use images to illustrate their websites stolen from other legitmate photographers )

Many are offering a  variety of packages essentially designed to increase the costs /income for the photographer of course at your expense- as you get down to  what you really want the costs rack up dramatically. I am sure you want the best but also value for money so do be very cautious before you make your final choice as to who to trust to photograph this so very important day!

Please click on this image to view a  video illustrating samples from weddings I have photographed.

Please click on this image to view  from my You Tube playlist  videos illustrating samples from weddings I have photographed more recently.

Buyer  beware Sadly there are  also an increasing number of  amateurs posing as professionals and offering greatly reduced rates in an attempt to undercut seasoned professionals and often disappointing people with less than the consistent high standard of photographs they hoped for and deserve . (An amateur is essentially someone whose hobby is photography and their results are far more likely to be hit and miss . The definition of professional is actually based on photography being their main source or sole source of income. )

weddimng photography service greater manchester

Beware of non-specialists  as the market for the many and  various subjects photographers used to be able to cover for income has shrunk so dramatically in the last decade  and a number of technically proficient photographers have often seen weddings as an “easy” option to fall back on and yet may lack the committment and interpersonal skills the role really does need. You really need a people person to photograph your wedding !

  john coxon wedding photography manchester group shot

You certainly don’t  want a photographer to turn up in jeans and a tee shirt ( amazingly some do!) and you want to be sure that the person you hire for your event is genuinely experienced, highly competent and can guarantee that all the photos they take on your behalf are to a very high and consistent standard . Equally important you need  someone  that  looks and behaves in a professional manner at all times , someone who is approachable ,confident, good-humoured and skilled with people and able to make them all feel at ease.

weddimng photography service greater manchester

Meet and talk to any photographer you are considering hiring. 

It is essential to meet up with any photographer you are thinking of hiring they should show you a portfolio, testimonials and give you a clear idea of what they are going to do for you at what cost. Meeting up will also enable you to get an  impression of what kind of person they are as, in my view, technical skill and experience of photography need to be matched by very good interpersonal skills. The interview should be about what you want and expect not about what the photographer can and will do. If you don’t feel at ease with them how are they going to put you and your friends and family at ease on the day ?


salford wedding photograpy service  John coxon

Although I began, first as a semi professional ( i.e. part time )  in marketing, media and sport photography way back  I actually began specialising in weddings and family event photography almost by accident. This photograph , one of an albumful of photos I took on  that day was actually not as the hired professional but as a family guest. Fortunately I took my pro camera gear with me!

wedding photography service greater manchester

Sam had hired a  professional she had found in her local yellow pages and he wasn’t cheap. She I think had presumed he would comforably cover all the formal stuff , family and friends in groups etc  but also the informal shots they wanted both before, during and after the ceremony and the reception and family and friends  fun aftewards.  She took me to one side quietly in a bit of a tizz as they guy they had hired did not do and would not do when asked , any  informal shots ( I suspect it was out of his comfort zone and I had personally found him very reserved and more than a little pompous! )  and was also nowhere to be seen at the reception venue.

I never saw his finished efforts but  suspect they were competent without being exceptional  and  likely lacking warmth.  When I finally sent my photos to the happy couple it was those informal moments I captured that they cherish to this day.  From that day hence I focused on the craft of professional wedding  and social event photography with that valuable timely lesson in how not to approach the role !! Over a decade later I still love the job and truly believe it was what I was born to do!  It is a service you provide , the privilege of meeting other people’s needs not gratifying your own.

john coxon wedding photography ,manchester father of the bride happy


What will it cost and what will you get for your hard earned cash ?

You want a set of memories to treasure  showing you, your family and friends at their best . You will likely and quite reasonably  be hoping  for photos , both formal and informal , that wouldn’t look out of place in a country set magazine but also know that such coverage on average can  cost you  between one and two thousand pounds where the national average according to the most recent survey is £1400 so it wise to shop around with caution.

weddimng photography service greater manchester

Watch out for strings, the extras  that are designed to rack up the cost once you are hooked !

Before the advent of professional quality cameras that could more than compete with the best professional film cameras , wedding photography had a range of extra costs and since the photographer kept the negatives you  were essential forced to end up paying a lot of  extra money  for example for additional prints as would your guests.

Even now many professionals are reluctant to hand over all the digital files and operate website shopping galleries so they can earn addtional income say from guests who want copies.  I took a view early on when I turned to specialising in weddings some fifteen years ago to share copyright with my clients and give them copies of all the edited images on a number of DVD’s so they could copy and share them with family and friends.

weddimng photography service greater manchester

Be cautious when presented with a range of packages at different costs  – the incriments tend not to reflect that much more value  in addtion for example for the photographer covering your day for more time. Some photographers increase the cost dependant on how much of the day you want covering, and many double the  cost if you want an album.

In contrast I will  negotiate a one off cost with my clients  covering  the day from bride’s house  to ceremony venue arrival, the ceremony, group and informal shots before during and after the ceremony, reception and the full evening  including speeches, cake cutting, first dance etc. I tend to stay later than the majority of my colleagues and only leave when I am sure I have covered everything and everybody. Not all brides want photographs taken at their home or hotel room as they and the bridesmaids get themselves ready but I am always happy to cover that too on request at no extra cost. I see that as a great opportunity to get to know people and put them at ease.

john coxon wedding photography manchester bride home shoot

Do you really need to pay over the odds for a wedding album ?

A number of professionals offer packages which include a limited number of selected prints at various sizes  and depending on the package will tempt you will a lovely album and it is not uncommon for that product , with a number of images  of your choice printed off  for that item to actually double the total cost and I always thought that was unfair.

I tell my clients that I don’t offer albums because I believe it is an unecessary cost and also suggest where to find a selection of high quality wedding albums at reasonable cost.) In the early days I did include a fixed number of high quality prints which I carefully printed myself but these days I provide all the original high resolution  images on DVD’s and in movie form on request also.



The fact is that many of us now prefer to view photographs in digital form via  our TV, DVD player, on our phones and laptops etc and may want to  frame just  a few shots . Getting prints , if people want that option, couldn’t be easier , either from on line companies or on the high street  and usually without compromising quality and my clients can do that far more easily and cheaper than I can! Moreover of course images in digital form can be e mailed, shared on social media etc.

Checking photography websites – GOOGLE with caution!

When trying to find a wedding photographer in your area likely you will run a Google search and check out promising websites .Google search listings these days top rank photographers  who have paid  to come at  the top of the rankings and its no gaurantee that they are any better or worse than one’s who come further down.

Check a number of sites and of course take a look at the photos which give you a flavour of the style and quality of what is offered and check and compare the costs of packages looking out for hidden extras and other strings attached. Check out to see if the local photographer you are considering hiring has a photography blog or Facebook and also how long they have been photographing weddings. it takes more than a couple of years to learn the craft!


In my own archives I have  many thousands of images  from the many weddings  I have covered over the last decade and a half  and of course a huge task to pick out a small selection which show my work. Easy for us all to cherry pick but are all the photos I finally present to  clients are all of the highest standard . My business depends on it and whover you are you will always get my best and I will meet and exceed your expectations in terms of consistent quality, enthusiasm and energy.  All my photos are meticulously edited to maintain my consistent high standards.

You are not going to publicly display all your work from an event on social media if  all the shots aren’t to a great standard and word of mouth recommendations are how I get bookings. Essentially I don’t do paid advertising – my work should speak for itself . I have a number of glowing unsolicited testimonials and in fifteen plus years I have never had ay negative feedback from weddings or indeed other social events I have covered.

Many photographers have carefully chosen short  galleries as samples that you can see but have a closed area for clients making it harder to see how consistent their work is.  You might also be cautious about the blurbs where some professionals and closet amateurs describe themselves , how they got into the trade and what they aim to do for you. I would tend to take what they say with a pinch of salt! Check too how long they have been in the business. One local photographer in my area has covered weddings for less that three years which hardly seems enought experience to do the job most effectively as she is in her early twenties !

Check out the opinions of other people who have used a photographer you are thinking of hiring.

A far more reliable indicator of how good a job various photographers can do is simply word of mouth recommendations  and unsolicited testiomonials and some like me include testimonials on my web pages. I am always happy when interviewing couples to show extensive samples of my work, testiminonials and provide contact details for previous clients on request.  You can of course learn a lot about a person by actually meeting and talking to  them face to face and I advise always meet up with your chosen photographer before committing to using their services .

I always visit couples at home prior to the big day to listen to their needs and reassure them. I am naturally sociable , friendly and open. Your photographer ought to come over as a  good listener, I’d say be likeable and friendly and inspire your confidence. They ought to radiate enthusiasm about photographing  your big day and I am certainly sincere in that regard as Ilove my work and meeting and exceeding people’s expectations.

wedding photography service Greater Manchester

Click to view a short sample video from Nathan and Lisa’s wedding – background audio is of the voice of the bride singing beautifully and played just before the actual ceremony !


Social media is a great leveller for small one man independent businesses like mine (and bigger ones ) & a great tool for those researching who to hire for important moments in their lives.   So easy now to make or get someone in to make a flashy website to make you look good at what you do but look out for a professional photographer active on Facebook and maybe with a blog as well as the standard website thing. So easy to dress things up on a website, harder on social media unless you are entirely genuine. 

wedding photography service greater manchester

(Click image above for a short sample video of photos from Craig and Hannah’s perfect day )

Despite the internet’s amazing reach, word of mouth is the photographer’s best friend and if any photographer expects to take your money they better be reliable, honest , open and deliver consistently in front of and behind the shop window!

Find a photographer who is happy to publish their stuff all year round not only on their business Facebook but even on their personal page because if they do give a damn then both are going to celebrate their joy and competence with their camera every day .

I have been amazed to find people claiming to be wedding photographer’s  who boast on their websites they  are and “always have been passionate about photography” and yet even found one locally looking forward to your twenty third  birthday and we should trust them to hire for a wedding? This is not a weekend hobby – it is your life if you actually give a damn.

I actually need feedback not only to let me know I hit the spot, met and hopefully exceeded expectations but also so I can use those comments to show I can be trusted to deliver.

Meanwhile, the fact that, after social events, marriages, christenings, parties, charity events et al, so many people flood my Facebook business page with image likes,so many tag requests and use one or more of my images as their Facebook profile pictures or cover makes me a very happy man. check out my page here

John Coxon Facebook Page.

I  would never knowingly publish any photograph here or anywhere else on line that was not my best or made someone somewhere, king or serf,  garden snail or a sparrow feeding in my garden, look their best. What you see is what you get from me and you would/ could not be happy to upload and show every photo you took from any event you covered unless you were decent , modestly self assured but totally open and very good value for the money !

Recently, in view of understanding of how frightening it is that wedding costs so quickly mount up, I know offer payment in  installments to help those who want the best spread the cost. Call me on my mobile, 079892300104 or message me via my Facebook page if I can help. No weddinhg photographer in my area ( Greater Manchester / North West) offers so much for your big day at such reasonable cost.


Posted in AT Your Service, Business thoughts & my marketing services, opinion on June 27th, 2013 by John Coxon





Dear readers I actually hate most unsolicited attention of  any kind and especially from unknown people selling things via my phone line , door-stepping or spamming my  in  box and I resent most such intrusions  whether it is some suited self- righteous holy pimp at my door on a mission from Salt Lake City  to convert me , (offering  me answers from their book of things to questions I did not even ask) , a “gypsy” selling pegs or “lucky” heather  or someone phoning me about getting my loft or wall insulated for free when here ,everything  is sorted and insulated and I can seriously do without this bullshit on my phone or at my doorstep !


If I have it right, the job of being a phone based  marketeer, so called Telemarketing  “cold caller” is not for the thin-skinned , feint-hearted or pessimist and, OK ,  with the Recession and jobs so hard to find , the cold call centre must be the pits in terms of a career move but these people have to earn a living, yes, but no way at my expense! I’d be disappointed if one of my kids,  on a downward spiral, lapsed into cold calling.

“Cold Calling” is , for me,  such bad practice . It seems  a cheap-skate  random and abusive culture thing and any success it has is actually an abuse of the culture of manners that exists in the UK . Here  so many people are approached and asked questions and actually give away so much.

Out of politeness, actually we often  reveal tub loads of personal information that is priceless to so many industries and yet to which they have no actual rights, and of course will never pay for it ,  so why should we tolerate this practice ? (Whatever you tell them will no doubt be added to some data base somewhere and later sold on so by being polite and engaging them you thereby ensure that you will be thereafter ever spammed and harassed .( If you get one of those mobile text spam messages from a business and respond , that is foolish as it confirms that your number is active and that info will be sold on so the whole techie based scam thing is perpetuated. )

I wonder just how successful this hit and miss “cold call “ marketing ploy really is?

The strategy isn’t rocket science. You hire people, set them up, probably in an office full of young hopefuls, probably  under enormous pressure to hit targets and probably daily  group victims to some over cheerful, hyperactive  slave master enforcing slave group hugs and motivational exercises to keep their spirits up . Tt’s all a bit like the Roman joke  – Caesar now wants to do some water ski-ing so the galleon is going to have to be rowed very much faster. They are probably equipped with headphones and a mike and required  to sit in front of a monitor throughout their shift  with their brand script flow chart on one side and the telephone directory or the electoral register down the other and off they go. It’s computer based percentage tennis.

I have to admit that I am virtually immune to advertising of any kind.

I like to make my own choices and I’ll always simply research any product or service I actually need beyond everyday shopping and also I jealously guard my personal data.  So, a random and anonymous phone call from a cold calling brand , (or more likely a service working on its behalf)  is on a hiding to nothing for starters calling me.  Indeed, these intrusive cold calls are becoming so frequent that I get a kind of guilty pleasure seeing how many seconds it takes me to leave the caller stuttering  and with  no choice but to terminate the faux conversation and be forced to give up and then pester  the next person on that day’s list of unknown people to call!

Alarmingly I would not have to wait long to give you another example and it always starts the same way. I am busy, working from home, doing business admin or on line marketing, gardening , decorating or doing mundane chores. The phone goes, my landline ( although my mobile isn’t immune from such intrusions of privacy) and some irritating chirpy unknown asks me “Is that Mr Hanson?”


Now actually Mr Hanson has never lived here and yet Mrs Hanson, his ex, (with whom I have the honour to share both the mortgage and more importantly my life!) does and it is her name which appears in the land line directory as the householder so clearly publicly available bare-bones information is what this company are using to target its cold call public.

So , politely , I say “No” and wait. “Oh sorry – Are you the householder “ the unwanted caller asks.  (The presumption here is that I am about to confirm who I am and my status and thus provide information that is private and yet  none of this individual’s business.)

As I am getting quite good at dealing with this sort of intrusion now with so much practice and a tad irritated as I have rushed from the garden to the land line thinking it is something or someone actually important to me or my family I am keen to end this politely but quickly.

Cutting to the quick I ask , “ Are you selling something, going to save me money or want me to take part is a survey at my own expense? She replies” No we are not selling anything or trying to save you money “ but “thank you” ,she adds, and hangs up !  Job done and back to work. Maybe I should ask “who are you ?”” Where do you live ?” “Where did you get this number from ?” “Why are you picking on me “ and see how much personal data the  coldcaller is prepared to reveal !

The point is of course she was selling something but her company’s strategy was based on the misapprehension that she could simply call a number and the person picking up has time and the inclination to converse with a total stranger when it isn’t ever convenient and when that person doesn’t even actually know who they are talking to, their consumer wants and needs, like going into a shopping mall with a scatter gun and shooting it off randomly with the hope of a percentage killing.

Cold calling is desperate low grade marketing but must be effective and like door-stepping there must be a high percentage of refuseniks and door in the face slamming but the actually uptake, hooking, must be enough to make this vile practice pay its way. But simply do not call me.


A basic of PR and marketing is understand, know and respect your market and its customers and find appropriate ways to contact them  and present what you have on offer in ways that encourage dialogue , direct or indirect .  Don’t intrude or presume, spam or cold call and do not put anyone’s back up as they have friends who have friends who have friends and maybe they are also active on social media so word of mouth , the brand’s best friend,  could come back and seriously bite you on the butt.

Don’t call me . I’ll call you- end of story!



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