Five things to consider when choosing your Wedding Photographer
Congratulations – you’re engaged now there’s a wedding to plan!
Organising a wedding is not for the faint hearted….with so many things to consider in advance of your big day it’s easy to get into a bit of a panic about what needs to be done. Most people choose a wedding venue first, which allows them to set a date. OK – maybe that’s not strictly true as I know many brides-to-be who make shopping for their wedding dress their first priority! Once that’s settled then there’s the evening’s entertainment, flowers and photographer to consider. Booking the photographer often comes fairly low on the list, perhaps because its not a legal requirement (I think it should be!) or because it’s seen as a bit of an extravagance. However, when the flowers have wilted, the food has been eaten, the band packed up and left, all you have left will be your memories, the rings on your fingers and your wedding photographs. A good photographer will capture images that allow you to relive those special moments of your wedding day for many years to come. Indeed, the wedding images will become a treasured heirloom that are passed from generation to generation. Imagine the thrill of sitting down with your grandchildren in the future and showing them how beautiful you looked as a bride and how handsome your groom was, and trying to remember all the names of your wedding guests! So please take care to think about how much the photographs might mean to you not just weeks or months after your wedding (though there is something special about showing a bride and groom their wedding photographs for the first time when it brings then to tears of happiness) but in the years and decades to come.
So how should you go about choosing a photographer for your wedding? Firstly, think about the type of photography or approach that you want to have at your wedding. Yes – that’s right – there are different approaches to wedding photography and it pays to make sure you choose the right one for you.
1. What style of photography do you want?
Reportage or Documentary style photography. Taken literally, this means using photography to record the story of your wedding day. Usually, this will involve a more unobtrusive approach by the photographer as they await for events to unfold before capturing the “decisive moment”. This requires skill and practice on the part of the photographer as they have to anticipate what will happen next and which people are likely to interact. Sometimes this can be relatively predictable, for example, the father of the bride welling up with tears as he gives his lovely daughter away (as a father of two daughters I can imagine I’ll react just like that!). Other reactions and interactions are difficult to predict, so a reportage photographer has to be alert to events as they unfold. In order to raise the photograph above the ordinary, the photographer will aim to use the available light to their advantage and frame people in the context of their surroundings, using depth of field to control what remains in focus and what is rendered out of focus. This approach is becoming more popular recently as many people value the lack of intrusion by the photographer into their day – a point of view that can be as result of a bad experience at a previous wedding….
Reportage Wedding Photography to capture memorable moments from you Wedding Day
A modern approach to traditional wedding photography
Traditional wedding photographers will use similar skills to create their images, with the major difference that they will interact with the couple and guests, to pose them to create a particular “look” – which may be romantic, arty, fun, stylish or sophisticated (limited only by the photographer’s and couple’s imagination!). The advantage of this approach is that it can sometimes be easier to make the couple look their best and the situation can be manipulated to give the desired result. Classical bridal portraits, portraits of the bride and groom in the beautiful surrounds of their wedding venue, or group photographs can be hard to capture without at least some input from the wedding photographer. The best photographers are imaginative and skilled at capturing images with a style that may be influenced by sources as diverse as classic artists or by the fashion industry. However, many couples would rather not pose for the camera, and as such reportage photography may be more able to capture their genuine emotions on their wedding day.
Personally, my preference towards Wedding Photography
is to combine a little of both approaches. A reportage approach is used to capture the preparations of the bride and groom, the ceremony, speeches, first dance and all the details of the day. Clearly some intervention is needed to capture group photographs, but this is kept to the minimum, and generally this is done while having fun – with a bit of banter helping to produce more natural smiles! Most couples like to spend some time to create some artistic, fun, romantic images that will take pride of place either framed on their wall or as a large image in their album. This can take as little as 20 – 30 minutes and most couples appreciate this opportunity for a little face to face time during their wedding day away from the rest of their guests (kissing and romance to be encouraged!).
2. How do you want your images to be processed?
This probably isn’t something that most couples planning a wedding would consider, and in most cases you won’t need to. Most wedding photographers will edit their photographs to produce the final finished image. The extent to which different photographers do this will vary. For example, some photographers will go to considerable lengths to ensure that the images are artistically perfect, even going to the extent of changing the skies in their image. Many reportage photographers process their images largely or exclusively in black and white (although all digital images are captured in colour).
Recently, there has been a trend towards processing images to give a “vintage” appearance. These differences will become apparent as you view different photographers’ web sites.
3. “Seek and you shall find” or “Google and go get”!
When you have decided on the type of photography that you like and think would most suit your wedding then use the web to search out photographers that offer what you want. Take time to look at the online portfolio of those you are considering and if possible view a full gallery of images that were captured from a complete wedding – this gives you a good opportunity to know what you can expect to receive at your own wedding. Wedding fairs also provide a good opportunity to meet photographers from your local area, and venues often have display albums from photographers that are available to view.
Narrow your choice down to a few that you like and contact them to check that they have your wedding date free. Obviously your own personal budget has to be taken into account, but remember that once your wedding and honeymoon are over, your memories and your photographs will be all that you have left (well probably some presents too!). So consider juggling your budget or perhaps even moving your wedding to a midweek day to save on other costs.
4. Meeting prospective photographers
The next step is to meet the photographers on your shortlist. Contact several by email or phone and arrange some appointments to meet them. If you are considering buying an album then ask to see examples of their work as different photographers have different approaches to album design. If you are considering a “digital only” package then does this come in a custom made case and is a slideshow that can be played on DVD player or computer included? Do you want framed images or photographs to display on the wall – while you can of course organise this yourself, professional photographers have access to photographic laboratories and suppliers which supply a greater range of products than are available directly to a consumer. Does the photographer recommend a pre-wedding (or engagement) photography session? This can be a great way to see how your photographer works and get to know each other so on your big day things are much more relaxed. Clearly for reportage photography this is less important as it’s unlikely you’ll want a photographer following you around your house, or the supermarket, for the afternoon! Do the photographers make your images available online for you to share? This can be a great way to make images available to family and friends who have travelled back home to far flung reaches of the UK or abroad.
If you like a particular set of images then be sure to ask the photographer how long it would take to get those pictures on your own wedding day. Most photographers will not want to take over your day but they do need enough time! Make sure you are prepared in advance, as it’s far easier to juggle the timing for the wedding in advance rather than being in a rush on the day. This can be particularly important for winter weddings where light can disappear rather quickly, and a photographer that is skilled in the use of additional lighting can be desirable at such times of year.
5. I’ve found a photographer I like but it seems quite expensive.
Wedding photography should not be thought of as a cheap commodity. You are paying someone to record special images from one special day of your life which will last you a lifetime and beyond, to become family heirlooms. Consider moving your wedding day to a weekday – this can cut costs of the whole wedding considerably. Most guests don’t mind the excuse to take the Friday off work too and make a long weekend of it! Look at packages offered by your photographer, often these will offer excellent value for money when purchased in advance. When considering the training, insurance, professional equipment, backup equipment required (in case of accident or malfunction) and overheads associated with any business, the costs of photography should seem reasonable when the longevity of the images and photographic products are considered. What price can you put on showing your daughter or granddaughter just how beautiful you looked on your wedding day?
Once you’ve found a photographer that you get on with and whose style you like make sure you pay the deposit to secure the date as soon as you can. You don’t want to lose out to another couple! This is particularly important on the busier weekends of the year. That being said, there are lots of excellent wedding photographers who will be delighted to work with you on your wedding day so don’t panic if you have left it a little late!
Well done if you read this far! I hope you found this post useful. I would be interested to hear how people chose their wedding photographer and if there are any other tips which prospective brides should consider. Please feel free to comment below.