HOW TO LOOK FOR A NATURAL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
Your wedding is going to be a joyful celebration: A barrel-full of laughs, a day packed with joy, and you want all that deliciousness of life reflected in your photos. So how do you go about choosing a photographer who isn’t just full of bluster and bullshit, barking out the next bright idea for a really cool photo? How do you find a natural wedding photographer who is right for you?
-01 It’s all in the pictures
Look at the pictures: I know, stating the bleeding obvious, right? But what I mean is to really look at the pictures. Documentary, reportage, photojournalist, candid etc etc they’re all sexy words from the photographer, designed to entice and persuade, but quite often there’s a lack of correlation between what they say and what they show. Is the photographer telling you how unobtrusive they are and how they can capture timeless natural images, but what you mostly see are posed pictures and cake?
A natural wedding photographer should be showing their best candid work.
“Ask to see some full galleries – the ones they actually deliver to their couples. Look for consistency, quality and approach throughout the day..”
-02 Look at the pictures again
Why do so many photographers who claim to be ‘unobtrusive’ and ‘relaxed’ show posed pictures on their website? Because portraits are scenes that they can control. They’re able to control the pose, make choices on the lighting and even manipulate scenery. Most photographers are able to pull sexy images out their proverbial magic hat when conditions are great and these tend to be the ones they show. Of course we’re all going to show our best work but if they really are an unposed wedding photographer, then candid moments should be the bulk of their best work.
Ask to see some full galleries – the ones they actually deliver to their couples. Look for consistency, quality and approach throughout the day.
-03 Be like Marty McFly
Travel to the future. Imagine yourself 10, 20, 30 years from now and you’re sitting in your vitamin aerated space pod. You’re viewing your wedding pictures being projected in 3D by your lifelike robot helper. Sorry, that’s my Black Mirror moment.
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?
-04 What about wedding awards?
If I was looking for a wedding photographer, wedding awards would be low, low, low down on my deciding factors for various reasons: a) many talented photographers don’t enter awards; b) art is subjective; c) wedding photography awards tend to favour images that shout the loudest: the most emotional faces, the most spectacular scenery, the sharpest and brightest of editing.
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.
-05 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 Skype session. 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 the ones where you’re chilled, relaxed and having fun. 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.
London-based documentary wedding photographer. Pictures driven by moments, made with love, crafted with care.