HOW TO CHOOSE A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER?
Your wedding will be a joyful celebration; a day packed with emotions, personalities and connections. You’ll have all your loved ones in one place, looking their best and being their best. It’s a dream day and you’ll want those delicious memories preserved in all their glory.
Here are some tips on how to choose a wedding photographer who will capture those moments that take you back to the day, who will make beautiful portraits that reflect you, and who will fill you with trust so you can relax and enjoy the day.
1. LOOK AT REAL WEDDINGS, NOT ‘STYLED’ SHOOTS
These staged sessions are a collaboration between wedding vendors to show off products and services such as wedding gowns, florals, theme decorations, and venues. It’s very much a commercial endeavour and of course, they would want to present their offerings in the most pleasing way and under the best conditions, including the use of professional models.
In this age of social media and the chase for popularity, many new photographers are chasing the easy win by doing ‘styled shoots’ and presenting them as real weddings and there is a huge skills gap between the two: Styled shoots are done without time constraints and under controlled conditions with pro models whereas real weddings are fast moving in every way: locations, lighting, timelines and sometimes lots of stressed people. The ability to maximise photographic opportunities under those conditions require skill and experience.
Ask your prospective photographers you’d like to view their complete galleries – the ones they deliver to their couples. Any professional would be happy (and quite proud) to show off what they’re capable of, unless the only pleasing work they can show are their styled photoshoots.
2. DON’T JUST LOOK AT THE PICTURES, SEE THEM
Look at the pictures: I know, stating the obvious, right? But what I mean is to really look at the pictures. Don’t get bamboozled by marketing spiel, fancy logos and a rock ‘n roll attitude. Make sure the photos stand on their own. If they say they’re a documentary style photographer who can present candid moments artistically, but mostly show couples posing, then ask yourself why? All this fancy schmanzy is designed to entice and persuade, but quite often there’s a lack of correlation between what they say and what they show.
Again, ask to see some full galleries and look for consistency, quality and approach throughout the day.
3. TRAVEL INTO THE FUTURE
Go back 20 years and you’ll see wedding pictures drowned in sepia, 10 years ago it was vintagey processing. The current trend for photos is for warm orange / soft caramel tint that make everything look autumnal brown.
It’s kinda nice now but ask yourself, will they stand the test of time?
Travel to the future. Imagine yourself 10, 20, 30 years from now and you’re going through your wedding pictures. Do you see your pictures standing the test of time? Do they still glow after that initial wow factor? Do they hold a timeless appeal or will they disappear in a cloud of blue and pink smoke bombs and mirrors?
4. HOW IMPORTANT ARE PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS
Disclaimer: I’ve won awards and will continue to enter them because of my creative ego. However, if I was looking for a wedding photographer, awards wouldn’t be high as a deciding factors on whether I want to hire them or not.
Here’s why: The majority of wedding photographers don’t enter awards. You’re missing out on a lot of talented image-makers if you’ve set awards to be a criteria. Many of my industry friends don’t enter them because they don’t want to pay to enter or they feel the aesthetic criteria of a ‘winning’ photo’ is not the artistic merit that they aspire to. Art is subjective, after all.
However, the right kind of peer recognition is rewarding and could be an indicator of talent and consistency and striving for constant improvement. One such awarding body is The Wedding Photojournalist Association(WPJA), who are dedicated to improving and promoting the art of natural wedding photography and whose judges are often Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalists themselves.
4. GET TO KNOW YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
You’re going to have someone pointing a camera at you and your guests during one of the most important, tender occasions in your life so make sure you get along with them. Talk to them, meet for coffee or schedule in a video chat. Getting to know your photographer is much more than finding out what camera equipment they use or how many photos you’ll receive. I’d argue that the personal level, the human level is far more important.
Do you have to like your photographer? You absolutely bloody well do! The best photos are made when you are relaxed in yourself, at ease with a camera in proximity, and comfortable with the person operating it. Some couples want an expressive photographer to be the life and soul of the wedding party, others want a quiet reassuring presence. Make sure you hire one that you could see yourself spending a whole day with.