Choosing the right wedding photographer for your big day
Finding the right wedding photographer for your big day is a bit of a challenge. After all photography is not like other elements of your big day such as music, flowers and cake. You cannot hear, smell or taste or even see the finished article until after the event. This is why initial research is vital to ensure you get someone with the right skills, artistic style and most of all someone you like and who gets you as a couple, someone you can work with.
1. Choose Your Style
The first decision you need to make when choosing a wedding photographer is the style of photography you like. This may be the first time you’ve even been made aware tat there is more than one type of photography so to help you out here are the three main types:
If posed photos don’t do it for you and you dislike the wooden look of all your guests being placed in readiness for a shot then this could be the style for you.
Documentary style photography focuses on catching spontaneous moments with shots that are read, not styled. These will include shots of your wedding guests and main wedding party, pre wedding prep, decor and action.
When you think portraiture, think of the finished album your parents had from their big day. A much more traditional approach consisting of a series of posed shots on various backdrops throughout the day. This is not limited to posed only and does allow some creativity with some photographers choosing unusual backdrops for a more dramatic effect to create more memorable shots from your wedding but the basic principal is that these shots are staged not naturally occurring.
Similar to documentary this style of photography gives greater artistic license to the shooter, giving them the opportunity to add their particular point of view and style into the picture. So while the photos will reflect reality it will be the photographers vision of it.
The images produced from this type of photography tend to be dramatic but gorgeous all at the same time and look as thought they were shot on film with a grainer, more muted vintage style appearance. Motion appears very natural where stills tend to focus on the key subject blurring out the background of the shot. Often a photographer will prefer to shoot this style in black and white, however some will mix colour in too. If you would like the majority of your shots in this style but it is important to certain family members to capture the traditional groups style shots consider hiring a second photographer with a different style or ask if your chosen shooter can alternate between styles.
Bold and Edgy
A spin off from Fine Art photography this style is defined by the use of outside-the-box thinking, tilted angles and unconventional framing. These style shots can be seen as a little adventurous catching traditional shots at unusual angles with an unusual point of focus.
This may well be an experimental style to add to your wedding day using a second photographer rather than pinning all the shots from your big day on this unusual style.
In a nutshell
Most photographers can and will switch between the main styles of photography and offer both black and white and colour. However if you have your heart set on a particular style ensure you make the right choice when it comes to choosing the photographer for you big day.
2. Research, Research, Research
Ensure that what you see on a photographers website is what you will get when it comes to your wedding day. Read as many recent reviews as possible to see the feedback from other people who have put their wedding photography n the hands of your shortlisted choices. Look at as much of their work as possible to make sure their style fits with what you are looking for. Visit their website and see what sort of personality shines through, as well as their social media pages to see how active they are and their responses to reviews and customer feedback. Again these creative outlets will also help you gauge personality and sensibility.
3. Meet with Your Shortlisted Photographers
Just because you love the work of a particular photographer and they appear to sit within your budget don’t go ahead until you’ve met them face to face. In fact any photographer worth their money would insist on meeting or at least holding a Skype call if the distance is too far. If the date for your wedding is taken see if they know someone else with a similar style they would recommend.
The main thing is not to make any rash decisions. Meet with at least three photographers that hit the mark on style and price and take a further look at their work and the end product, such as the album quality they will be producing once the wedding is over.
Be prepared to talk about the day you have planned including the wedding venue, the style you’re going for and the type of photos you expect to see after the big event.
4. See the Finished Article
As touched on previously don’t rely on online galleries alone to make your judgement on a particular photographer. The likelihood is they’ve chosen their best and favourite shots as feature images. Ask to see the images not available on their website and examples of what is included in the package for your money. This includes, finished wall prints, the quality of canvases and the print quality on them and most of all your wedding album. The last thing you want is something produced as though they simply uploaded your photos to a well know phonebook site when you’ve paid ten times the cost of doing it yourself.
Also think about the type of wedding you’re having whether it’s on a beach, in a dark listed building or somewhere with great natural daylight. Ask to see examples of these types of weddings to see how your chosen photographer deals with the differing lights and situations that match the vision for your special day.
5. Be Critical
When looking at the work of your chosen photographer think about the type of shots you expect to be captured to ensure the photographer has a similar eye to that of you and your partner. Did they capture the key moments you hope they will at your wedding. The first time you set eyes on each other when you walk into the ceremony room or church, your first kiss, the emotion held on key peoples faces throughout the day? Are the images crisp and in focus? Are the photos well edited; is the colour good and sharp, that are the composition of the images like?
Make sure what you’re looking at is everything you would hope to receive from the style of photography you’ve chosen for your wedding.
6. Avoid a Personality Clash
So the style of your chosen photographer is spot on and the end product looks perfect but what if you don’t mesh well when it comes to your vision and personalities clash? The long and short of it, think very carefully about employing this person as your chosen photographer. After all they will be by your side most of the day and they need to gel well with your guests to get the most out of their shots as well as having the ability and thoughtfulness to go the extra mile to complete the vision of your final album, the story of your big day.
You need someone up beat, confident, thoughtful, positive. Someone who asks questions and listens. Someone with a warm personality to draw the best out of your guests for the ultimate shots.
7. Make Sure You’re Getting Your Chosen Photographer on the Day
Ensure that the work you’ve fallen in love with is that of the photographer who will arrive at your wedding to shoot the story of your special day. Many larger photo studios have more than one photographer so you must ensure you specify and it is marked in the contract who is your chosen photographer to avoid disappointment.
If there needs to be a stand in ensure you have also noted them on in the contract prior to signing. Make sure it is also clear if there will be one or more shooters on the day. Many photographers do include a second photographer within their price and of course you will benefit from double the coverage as well as different styles and greater detail of your big day.
If you are going all out and your guest list is 250 or more the advice is to go for up to three photographers to ensure you don’t miss a second on film.
8. Compare Packages
It’s important to understand what is included in the basic package so that all bases are covered before adding extras. Make sure you stipulate the amount of coverage required (full day, whole weekend, etc), whether you expect an engagement shoot beforehand, how many albums will be required and sizes and if there are any other elements you’d like captured in the build up to your big day. Maybe an engagement party, celebratory meal, hen or stag events. Most packages include 6-12 hours of coverage with a higher hourly rate for overtime and cover from pre-wedding through to the first dance or end of the evening. All things to bare in mind.
9. Know Your Rights
Most contracts stipulate that the photographer own all the rights to the images. This enables the photographer to use them on their website and for marketing materials and publication. It may also state that you may only post images that hold their watermark on them or where they are credited in some way. It may be that you would also have to buy the rights should you wish to print your own albums, etc after the event.
10. Understand the Post Production
Be patient within reason of course but understand it could take up to 8 weeks to get your final images. This is due to the fact that photographers shoot using a RAW file format that takes far longer to download and upload as well as edit. It may be that once they have edited your images you will then get the opportunity to choose the images that make up your final wedding album along with any additional prints.
So that you’re clear on what to expect after the long anticipated wait ask the questions:
- How many images should I expect?
- Will they be high or low resolution?
- Can I get the images printed or does the photographer retain the rights to the images?
- Will the proofs be retouched version or will this be done afterwards to avoid editing all images including unwanted ones?
- Ask what is the focus when it comes to retouching images. Will it be basic editing or will beauty and stylised art effects be taken into account as part of the cost?
For more hints and tips for planning your day take a look at our other blog posts http://www.chezbec.com/blog/