Wedding Photographers in Dublin: Mike & Jill O’Dwyer
Finding the Best Wedding Photographers in Dublin is the subject of quite a few pages and articles recently. In amongst all those pages and articles about Wedding Photographers you will find plenty of ideas, so we’ve put together our own wedding photography FAQ to save you time. This FAQ is a good Guide to Wedding Photography as it is based on hundreds of conversations we’ve had with couples over the years, and it covers most things they ask us about, and some things we think they should ask but don’t.
On your wedding day you will probably spend more time in the company of your Wedding Photographers than with almost anyone else, so take the time to meet with them as early as possible. Most meetings we have with couples fall into two types: they come out to meet us at our photography studio in Dublin, between Swords and Ashbourne; one of us will meet them at their wedding reception venue and we’ll all walk through their wedding day together.
If we haven’t been to a particular wedding venue before we always like to meet there and chat about that couples’ plans for their day, after all they’ll have chosen their wedding venue for good reasons and knowing what appeals to them about a location can be a great help to us as wedding photographers in Ireland. Venue meetings usually take 30-45 minutes as we walk and talk, and then Mike or Jill might then spend another while just pottering around on their own to get a feel for a new place and asking the staff some relevant questions (venue staff are great to chat to as they’ll all have their own favourite places that they like).
Meetings at the studio are a bit more leisurely. Time flies when people come to visit and have a chat over a cup of tea or coffee, and we listen to everyone’s ideas - if Mum or Dad want to come along too, that’s cool, and don’t worry if you have kids either. It doesn’t take long to get a sense of what kind of wedding photography people have in mind, and we’re always excited if they plan something that is unique to them.
We’ve photographed all sorts of weddings, in all sorts of venues: intimate ceremonies with just two people whose dream was to elope to Ireland to be married; exclusive Irish Castle Weddings with hundreds of guests by a forested lake shore; foodie weddings with the very best of VIP treatment at amazing restaurants; country manor house weddings in Ireland with fabulous settings for couples who want to get away from it all and have some privacy with friends and family; and, of course, city weddings for lovers of all things metropolitan.
It is hugely important that couples feel at ease with their wedding photographer, that they’re not going to be asked to do something they don’t want to or feel badgered into spending more time than necessary having their photographs taken. Choosing a wedding photographer means you’re trusting them not to spoil your day, they should be professional enough to keep things on track and get what they need without becoming the centre of attention, or becoming flustered and making people uncomfortable.
Not only will your favourite wedding photographers have to be able to get on with each couple, they’ll also have to be able to blend in with the guests and be at ease talking to strangers. Professional wedding photographers have to be able to get along with everyone, after all, no couple just wants a series of wedding photographs of only themselves, they want to capture the whole day with their family and friends and the sense of occasion. Aside from shooting wedding portraits of couples we do a huge amount of work photographing people relaxing and being themselves, anything from informal photos of groups to set up shots of people being silly and having fun. Especially on the dance floor, which can provide some wonderful examples of people ‘expressing themselves’ with an absolute and unrestrained abandon.
Couples who are getting married will look through a number of wedding photographers hoping to find ones who can create the kind of lasting memories that they’d like to have. One piece of advice when looking for a wedding photographer in Ireland is to make sure the photographers they have shortlisted can provide recent examples from the previous 12 months of complete weddings they’ve done from start to finish - not just selected highlights which might contain one or two of their very best photos from a handful of weddings (which might come from 5 or 10 years ago) that they like to use over and over.
There are plenty of good wedding photographers in Ireland, each of them with their own distinctive shooting style, so couples should make a decision first about what style of photography they like. Some wedding photographers are very hands off and like to work as documentarians, shooting with documentary wedding photographers in Ireland might mean getting fewer posed photos and having everything photographed just as it happens. The idea of this can sound brilliant, but it does put the onus on the couple to be sure they will get what they want from someone who might be very good at creating great documentary wedding photographs but maybe not so great at interacting with people and getting that side of the day.
Other photographers work in the realm of fine art wedding photography, their work can be heavily stylised using processing techniques they’ve developed themselves or via LUTS and actions they’ve bought for creating a certain colour graded look - or they might photograph weddings on film, which can be expensive. The question couples need to ask themselves is whether a certain style or look will retain its appeal after ten or twenty or more years, when wedding photographs really do come into their own; fashion is a fickle thing and what’s looks #instawedding trendy today can feel dated tomorrow.
I think we fall into the category of editorial wedding photography the most, we like to tell a story about each couple’s wedding day and keep things simple. Because there’s two of us, and our approaches are different but complementary, all of our weddings tend to be photographed to include a wide variety of shots. Mike is more of a documentary wedding photographer, adept at capturing whatever happens about him - more often than not without looking through the lens. Jill’s not just wonderful at making people’s nerves disappear but she’s terrific at organising people with her bubbly enthusiasm; she might also come up with those bonkers last minute what-if ideas that you want from an editorial wedding photographer. We work really well together because we’re slightly competitive wedding photographers and will always try to get the better shot on the day, even if that means gently needling each other for a psychological advantage - it works for us!
Mike and Jill have both shot weddings as single shooters, for friends and family because we’re awesome wedding photographers ;) and care deeply about the people we love. While some wedding photographers are great at working alone, we prefer to work as a couple because for us it’s a huge amount of work to cover everything as a lone shooter. There’s also far less stress involved working as a team, we know we have plenty of coverage from two different points of view - we shoot the same thing from two different viewpoints so we can generally get through things faster with a wide variety of wedding photographs. It also means we have plenty of back-up equipment on hand - usually we have 4 Canon 5D camera bodies with us, two working and two spare, as well as a selection of fixed and zoom lenses - because Mike prefers f1.4 fixies and Jill prefers f2.8 zooms.
More than anything we try for emotional wedding photography, we’ve shot hundreds of weddings and it’s still beautiful thing to be a part of. Laughter and hugs are brilliant, but happy tears are the very best. Your wedding photographs should capture the best of every moment so that in the decades ahead you can look back and have those very same emotions be there to tap into. After all the decorations have been taken down and the music has faded, the things you will be left with are just the memories of one of the most important days of your life and photographs of the best moments will bring it all flooding back like it was yesterday.
We know not everyone is comfortable in front of a camera, unless you’re a celebrity you’re probably not used to having cameras pointed at you for any length of time - not to mention a whole day of it. You’re not alone. We regularly hear comments when we meet couples along the lines of ‘can you make me look…’ or ‘can you fix….’ this that or the other. The answer is pretty much a ‘yes’, Mike has years of experience retouching corporate and advertising images for publication. Do we retouch wedding photographs? Not a lot, no. Honestly, we generally spend more time retouching nervous Groom’s faces who’ve cut themselves shaving in the morning than any other single thing. Brides look fabulous on their wedding days, always. They have hours of hair and make up and really put the effort in to looking good, so all we have to do is photograph them in good light and let their natural selves shine through. We will fix minor things like a wayward spot, a random scratch, a splodge of lippy staining a tooth, and other fecky bits like that because it’s effortless and takes no time at all. One groom had lost a tooth the week before his wedding and couldn’t have it replaced until after, so we sorted that too. Generally though, there’s really no need to fake it. You’re fabulous just the way you are.
We like to work within a radius of 90 minutes drive from Dublin Airport, which means we’re primarily Dublin Wedding Photographers. We’re also wedding photographers in Meath, Kildare and Wicklow, counties with a huge amount of wedding venues close to the capital. Of course, we’ve also been wedding photographers in Louth, Cavan, Monaghan, Westmeath, Laois, Carlow, and Wexford. We’re happy to split ourselves between the Bride and Groom in the mornings, with Jill going to the Bride and Mike to the Groom, as long as they’re reasonably close by.
It’s not just Irish couples who live here that we photograph on their wedding day, about 20% of our customers come from abroad. They’re either Irish people living around the world or international clients coming home to be married and looking for wedding photographers in Ireland - we’ve had an English Groom and American Bride who decided Ireland was a good place to bring both sides of their family together in order to avoid an international incident. If you’re looking to for Irish Wedding Photographers who can work with you whether you’re based in New Zealand, Australia, the USA, Canada, the UK, Europe or the Middle East, just drop us a line and we’ll talk you through how we handle things.
We prefer not to work from a shot list when we’re photographing a wedding for a couple of reasons: firstly, if we’re constantly ticking off shots it means we’re not paying attention to what’s happening other than in a specific shot we’re trying to get, and we can miss those spontaneous moments that really capture people at their most natural and unexpected best; it’s hugely inefficient and time consuming, worse still, everything can look set up and forced. Weddings are fluid things, times shift because of a number of things outside anyone’s control - we’ve had Bridesmaids forget to bring their dresses; wedding cars break down, don’t panic, it’s very rare; a car crash, rarer still; a wedding car take the couple to the wrong venue, not rare enough; and that’s without even getting to mention the weather not playing nice. Stuff happens that’s no wedding photography list can account for, so we like to stay flexible. If there’s a particular wedding photograph you want (with a relative, or at a location, or a certain pose, etc) by all means let us know and we’ll do our best, we’re not monsters, but if you have a list of 150 set-ups we’re definitely not the wedding photographers you’re looking for.
That said, we do like to plan a wedding photography schedule for every couple in a way that leaves lots of room for flexibility, randomness and like minute sparks of what-if intuitiveness. A couple of weeks before every ceremony we send out our wedding form just to make sure we have all the details right, start and end times, Eircode/GPS locations, contact details, and a list of required groups photos. Once we get that back we’ll put together a wedding photography schedule so you can see what we expect to be doing at various times throughout the day. Lots of our wedding couples have told us they really appreciated this as it gave them a guideline for the whole day, and they knew what to expect from one hour to the next. It is a long day, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be fun.
In 2019, the average spend by couples on their wedding, according to Weddingsonline, is €28,462 - including the honeymoon - which is an increase of 9% on 2018. The average cost of a wedding photographer is €1671, so we’re a bit under that and there’s two of us. According to the Irish Independent in January 2019, the average cost of a wedding photographer, including high end wedding albums and parents books, working from prep to first dances is between €3000 and €4000 - as high end wedding albums and two sets of parents albums can cost anywhere from €1000 to €2000+, depending on your definition of high end, we’re probably not far off the digital only end of things which is where we like to operate.
We keep our Wedding Photography Prices sensible because we minimise our expenses: we don’t do wedding fares; we don’t advertise in costly print publications; we don’t pay for joining various wedding hub websites (we tried that avenue for a year and the ROI wasn’t worth it, for us); we process all our photography ourselves, so we don’t have the expense of third party suppliers and it means we can keep an eye on quality at all times; we’re married, so the cost of a second shooter isn’t extra, we really do enjoy working together; we don’t travel far to shoot weddings, staying reasonably local saves us time and money (there are perfectly good photographers over the west, down south and up north); we limit ourselves to 30-40 weddings per year, so we book up usually between one and two years in advance - if we need to we can fill in any gaps during the year if we feel like it. Which is nice.
Of course, doing a limited amount of weddings means were usually booked out a year or two in advance. Because of that we realise things can change, a couple might change their venue or something comes up and they need to change the date. That’s rarely a problem. As long as the venue is still within our comfort zone of 90 minutes from Dublin Airport, we won’t charge any extra fees. If the date changes, and we have availability for the new date, we won’t charge any fee for that either. It’s happened a few times that couples who book us for our Day rate have later asked us to cover the preparations and/or the evening’s entertainment, in which case there would be a change in the fee to whatever that package rate is at the time we’re notified.
That’s all folks.
If you get this far, fair play, we hope we’ve given you enough to think about when it comes to choosing your wedding photographer. If you have any questions or want to see if we have availability for your wedding date just drop us a line.
Remember, we do run a 10% discount on wedding packages which are booked during January (the wedding dates themselves can be any date) for couples that are following us on either Facebook or Instagram.