The photographs from your wedding day will be a timeless memento of a truly special day. Wedding photographers can be very expensive, specialise in a number of different styles, and offer a variety of levels of service. Choosing a wedding photographer takes careful thought and consideration about what sort of pictures you want to document your wedding day. Do plenty of research and interview a number of candidate before making your choice.
Finding Wedding Photographers#1
Decide what style of wedding photography you prefer. There are a number of different styles of wedding photography, and different photographers will specialise in different styles. Take some time to read up on and learn about the different styles and think about which one suits you best. Some of the main wedding photography styles are as follows:
• Traditional, or classic: here a photographer will work from a ‘shot list’ to make sure that they capture all the traditional pictures, and those the couple have specifically requested.
• Photojournalism: this is more of a documentary-style, where the photographers will follow you and take fewer ‘posed’ pictures, instead trying to tell the story of your wedding in a normal naturalistic style.
• Illustrative photography: this style is a combination of the first two. It includes posed pictures, but there is more emphasis put on relaxed and informal poses, albeit still with careful composition.
• Fashion: this style tends to be more dramatic than the others, and will make the subjects appear more glamorous and styled.
Start looking early. Booking your wedding photographer should be one of the first things you do after you have booked your venue. Wedding photographers are in high demand, especially in the busiest times of year for weddings, and many of the best ones will be booked up a year in advance.
• If you are having an out-of-season wedding, or getting married on a Sunday, a top photographer will be easier to find at relatively short notice.
• For weddings at the most popular times, look at least a year in advance.
• For weddings at less popular times, six months might be enough.
Ask for personal recommendations. The best wedding photographers will tend to develop a reputation, and may be known locally to your friends are family. Start your search by asking people you know and trust if they have any recommendations, either through personal experience, or word of mouth. Talk to people you know who have got married in the last few years and ask about their experience.
• If a friend recommends the photographer she used for her wedding, ask to look the album of photos.
• Bear in mind that people have different tastes and ideas for what makes good wedding photography.
• You can also ask any other professionals you are hiring to work on your wedding. A wedding planner will have excellent contacts.
Avoid hiring family or friends. It may be tempting to hire somebody you know to be your wedding photographer. You may be drawn towards hiring someone you trust, who knows you and your partner well, and you think will understand what kind of pictures you want. While this might turn out perfectly well, it is highly likely that this person will not have the technical skills and experience to give you the best photos.
• Consider if this person has the technical knowledge of light and photography to anticipate and quickly correct any problems that may occur.
• Ask yourself if she has a spare camera of high quality.
• Does she have experience working with large groups of people?
• Would she be able and happy to spend all day, maybe 8-12 hours, behind the camera and not participating in the wedding as a guest?
Search online. A great way to search for wedding photographers is to look online. There will be a very large number of people advertising their services, so think about how you can focus your search more closely and narrow down the results. Look for people with plenty of experience and lots of information about themselves and the photography they produce. You should also look to see if they work with an assistant or solo.
• You can search for people in a specific location, like your city.
• Look for photographers according to their particular style.
• Think about your budget and pay attention to the rates quoted by the various photographers you find online
Examine a photographer’s online presence. As with anybody advertising themselves on the internet you will need to think carefully and critically about how they present themselves. Try to find reviews of the people you are interested in by searching for their names. You should be cautious with reviews and be prepared to make up your own mind, but the more information you have the better.
• Be cautious of being influenced too heavily by images on the website of a photographer.
• Although this is a great way to get a feel of the photographer’s work, there have been instances where people have stolen or bought photos taken by somebody else, and presented them as their own.
• Try to research the candidates fully to avoid any potential scams or tricks.
Create a shortlist. Once you have been through the profiles and seen some of the photography of a number of wedding photographers, you need to narrow this down to a manageable number. Then you can arrange to meet, interview, and inspect the portfolios of your chosen few. Think carefully about who you want to interview, and consider what elements are most important to you.
• It can be hard to judge somebody from a website, but you should be trying to get a picture of their personality, as well as their technical skills and personal style.
• Think about whether you want contemporary, documentary, or perhaps fashion-style photographs.
• Consider including somebody on your shortlist who is a little over your budget. It could be useful exercise to evaluate what each photographer provides for the money charged.
Interviewing the Photographers#1
Prepare thoroughly for the interviews. Once you have drawn up your shortlist and arranged the interviews, you should spend some time preparing together with your partner. You will need to draw up a list of specific questions that you want to ask, as well as thinking about the soft skills that you will want your photographer to possess.
• Talk it through carefully with your partner to make sure you both understand each other’s concerns before the interview. • Consider whether to meet the photographer at her studio, or ask her to visit you at home.
• Be sure to take plenty of notes during the interview so you can look back and discuss them with your partner.
Talk about the photographer’s style. The first thing to discuss is the style and ideas of the photographer. You will have seen some pictures, but you will be able to get better and more complete understanding by talking it through in person. Ask the photographer to describe the style they shoot in, and be sure to ask any further questions if anything is unclear to you.
• Having a good understanding of the different wedding photography styles will help you have a better conversation.
• Present your ideas, but try to keep an open mind and listen to what the photographer has to say.
Ask about the photographer’s experience. One of the key things to talk about in the interview is the level of experience each of the photographers have gained. You should ask how many weddings the photographer has shot, and how many similar to yours. Different weddings have can hugely different requirements and expectations, so it’s important that you understand how much experience they have that is especially relevant to you.
• Find out if they are a specialist wedding photographer, or if they photograph various different events.
• A specialist whose style and experience is closely related to what you want from your wedding photos is the ideal scenario.
• Be sure to ask for a list of references from the photographer.
Ask if the package includes an assistant. You should always ask the photographer if the deal they are offering includes an assistant to help them with the work on the day. Having an assistant, especially if the wedding has more than around 50 people, is likely to be an important addition.
• It won’t be possible for one person to capture everything.
• Having an assistant will mean you get pictures of the bride and groom saying the vows, as well as the reaction of the guests.
Find out about the post-production. You should ask about how the photographer does the post-production on the photos, or if they do any post-production on the photos at all. You may get the photos straight from the camera, which may not look as good as those which go through post-production.
• Colour correction is a basic part of post-production, and can make a big difference.
• Be sure you are completely clear on the photographer’s practices.
• If post-production is not included in the main price, ask if it is an optional extra.
Ask about what the photographer will do on the day. It’s important to find out detailed information about how the photographer will work on the day of wedding. You need to determine whether they are prepared to stay a little later if it runs on, and how they plan to interact with the guests. Will they be taking lots of candid shots, or will they be corralling people around a lot.
• If they are going to very hands-on and active, you should make sure that this won’t be a distraction or annoyance.
• Don’t forget to ask how they plan to be dressed, and be sure to make your expectations clear.
• If you have specific sartorial requirements you should explain these and be sure the photographer understands them fully.
Determine how you will receive your pictures. Find out how long you can expect to wait for the pictures, and in what format they will be presented. You need to make sure you know what your photographer will pass on to you at end of the process. The number of photos, the format and resolution of the photos, as well as the way they are presented are all crucial questions.
• Ask the photographer to go over any details that you are unsure about.
• if you don’t have a good understanding of different formats and resolutions of pictures, ask the photographer to show you examples from a portfolio.
Coming to a Decision#1
Examine the portfolio. Your potential photographers will bring along a portfolio of their pictures to the interview. It’s important that you spend plenty of time looking through this in detail with your partner. Ask the photographer to give some context for the pictures, including asking about the style used, and the type of wedding it was.
• The portfolio is a crucial document that gives you the best idea of what sort of style you photos will be getting.
• The pictures will have been carefully chosen to represent what the photographer considers her best work.
• Ask yourself if the pictures in the portfolio move you, or you think they capture the magic of the wedding.
• Be sure to ask if the production values on the pictures in the portfolio are the same as in the deal you are discussing.
Evaluate your interview notes. Spend some time looking back through the notes you made during the interview to help you decide. These notes are a record of the interview that can give you a good idea of the impression you got from the photographer. You can compare the scores across the different shortlisted candidates with your partner, and evaluate their relative strengths and weaknesses.#3
Consider the value of the photos. Price will no doubt be a factor in your decision, but try to think carefully about the value of these photos to you. It will be hard to value them quantitatively, as they are a record of the biggest day of your life, which you will always look back on. You will want a photographer that will capture the emotion of the day, as well as all the key moments.
• Some people recommend putting aside at least ten per cent of your wedding budget for the photos.
• Don’t rush the decision, and try to weigh up all of the different factors, including cost.
Think about how personable the photographer is. You will use the interview in part to determine the technical skills and style of the photographer, but it is also an invaluable opportunity to assess her soft skills. Think about how personable the photographer is. If you take a disliking to her for whatever reason, this could create a negative dynamic or atmosphere on your big day. Keep in mind some basic questions, and discuss your response with your partner after the interview.
• Ask yourself simply if you liked the photographer.
• Do you trust them to handle all the pressures and stresses of a wedding and still deliver great pictures?
• Do you feel comfortable around them? Will your friends and family be able to relax and have a good time?