Today I want to give some advice on how to choose your wedding photographer. I know I am always going on about making this one of your most important decisions but it is so important! Over this summer I have had a few brides who have just hated having their photograph taken. Choosing the right photographer to work with them has been the difference in having just ok wedding images to brilliant images where everyone looks relaxed including the bride, all wearing happy smiles to boot.
This should be at the top of your list after venue and budget. Your wedding album is the only thing you have left that tells the story of your magical day and all the hard work and planning that went into it. A great photographer can capture the essence of your day and bring it to life in the images for you to treasure throughout the years. I love to browse my album, especially on my wedding anniversary! To live those memories again is just a joy. If I had the choice again I would choose a type of album that can be left out all the time. A coffee type book that is not stashed away in the attic, but that’s just me. As there is so much to cover here I thought it would be good to split this post into two. So today check out styles and what to look for in a great photographer. Next week we can look at pricing and questions to ask.
How to find one?
There is no shortage of photographers on the internet so research is easy. Picking one is not as simple. You can check out wedding blogs where they feature real weddings. There are also many photographers who advertise on wedding blogs. You may have recommendations and of course wedding planners will be teaming with great photographers. Wedding magazines are full of adverts for photographers and again you can browse their real weddings.
Draw up a list of two or three that you really like. Too many will be very confusing. You should visit in person before you book anyone ideally. Here are my top tips to think about when choosing who to work with:
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a photographer is to make sure that they are going to be right for you. You need to get on with them and feel comfortable. The photographs form a critical part of your wedding; they record the atmosphere and emotion of your special day. It is vital to connect with your photographer as you will be spending all day with them. The more relaxed you feel the better you will look in your photographs.
I also think the photographer should have the ability to take charge when necessary without being, (as one of my brides said of her friends' photographer) 'shouty'! They need to be able to anticipate and capture the moments of the day. They should be unobtrusive and not overbearing. The last thing you want is someone herding your guests around and shouting at them. Obviously guests do need to move for photos but there is a way of doing it. It is always a good idea to have a second shooter on the day to help and capture things the lead photographer does not see. Obviously this is not vital but most photographers offer this as part of their package or at an extra cost. Compare their work and see who you feel most comfortable with.
Photographic style & quality of their work
As you do your research and look at various photographers’ portfolios, you'll see that each will have a distinct style of their own. I am not an expert but there are different types of style to consider, including traditional, contemporary, reportage and artisitic. To determine your style, cut out pictures from wedding magazines or websites and keep the ones you like. This will give you an idea of what style you prefer when you look at photographers work. It will also help you recognise their style.
I thought it might be good to explain the various types of style and the impact it has on the wedding day.
Traditional photography is when the photographer takes lots of group shots and the guests and relatives are very posed. The photographer has a list of shots they need and will be very time pressured. They will work to a timeline so it is important that you give them the time to get groups together. This takes lots of time and I would advise appointing someone to help gather everyone up This is often considered quite old fashioned nowadays but if this is your choice there are many photographers out there who work this way.
Contemporary photography is a much more relaxed style and approach. The photographer takes posed shots but they are more fun and stylish. The day’s events are captured in a storybook kind of way. The day is unique and will look a little like fashion shots. The photographer will look for great backgrounds with unusual and beautiful backdrops to the images. This is very common to weddings and the albums are beautiful. There are some formal shots but many less and they are styled to look fun.
Reportage or photojournalism as it’s sometimes called is a very different style. The photographer captures the essence of the day very unobtrusively. There are little or no posed shots. Pictures are taken as they happen in a documentary approach. For the couple there is much more freedom and often guests are not aware of the photographer. This is quite popular but beware - you won’t know what you get until you see the shots. If you absolutely hate to be posed or having your photo taken then go for a photographer that is a specialist in reportage. I worked with a splendid photographer called Jeff Ascough who is one of the best guys in the wedding industry with these skills. Make sure if you want this that your photographer is experienced. It is very difficult to take these shots; you don’t want them to look like snaps.
You may want to consider artistic photography. These images may have lots of intervention from the photographer after the wedding. Check out the photographer’s portfolio first to see if this style suits you.
In any event whoever you choose you absolutely must look at an entire album of the same couple. See if it makes you feel the atmosphere of the wedding, did you notice the detail, are the images sharp and clear? Did they make you smile, cry and feel? It’s easy to show off great shots but to produce an album that tells a story is quite an art form.
Another way to gauge how good a photographer is to ask for references or even speak to the couples they have photographed. A good photographer will have no trouble with this request.
I hope this gives you food for thought, next week I will tackle questions to ask and pricing!
Until next time, happy planning.
Wedding Planner – Julie Dawson - The Wedding Genie