CHOOSING YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER – 10 TOP TIPS
Planning your wedding is such an brilliant time of your lives! It’s a massive responsibility and an exciting prospect of the future ahead. Together! There are lots of decision to be made, but one of the most important of them all is choosing your wedding photographer. I know I am biased, but it’s true. You will look through countless wedding images for your research and inspiration. Just imagine, that your own wedding images might well become an inspiration for someone else.
Pictures can carry so many emotions. It is your wedding photographs that will remain the only tangible thing which will be there after the flowers will fade and cake will be eaten.
Make sure that you choose the right wedding photographer for you! So here goes this list, the rest is up to you…
1. Photographer’s shooting style
Photographers talk about their style a lot. There are so many wonderfully talented wedding photographers out there and each of them is striving to be recognised for their unique style. Inevitably, the words get overused and misused. To help you wade through the overwhelming number of descriptions I can put it for you in three simple categories:
– the photographer shoots your wedding as the day unfolds.
Documentary photographer does not:
– hang your dress on a tree to photograph it,
– tell your bridesmaids where to stand when you are having your wedding dress put on,
– tell your wedding guests to “look over here!” to capture their group while they are having a chat,
– instruct you where to stop and where to look as you are leaving the church…
– you get the idea 😉
Documentary wedding photographer is likely to have little lighting set ups, especially during the day coverage.
Having a purely documentary wedding photographer is a great idea if:
– you know exactly what you want to do on your wedding day,
– you have a person/people running the day for you. The whole day, not just the part when you are at the celebration venue.
– your immediate family is aware that your wedding photographer will be taking no instructions from them.
When choosing your wedding photographer, you will realise that having a purely documentary photographer capturing your wedding is not going to suit every couple. In fact, I’d say most couples will find that they will be happier with a bit of a guidance from someone who’ve done it before.
It so happens that the photographer is the only wedding supplier (I hate that description!) who will be with you the whole day from the morning preparations to your dance. Your wedding photographer can help you plan your wedding day timeline in advance as well as help you stick to it on the day.
– the photographer will direct and pose you and your guests throughout the day.
Traditional photographer does:
– create pleasing set-ups of your wedding details,
– arrange your wedding party into groups throughout the day choosing the background, the light and various props,
– be happy to do a mock cake-cutting,
– Likely to have complicated lighting set up.
Traditional wedding photographers tend to give the impression that they run the wedding. This may well suit you if you are happy for someone to direct your day. But inevitably it will mean that you will feel little freedom on the day.
unobtrusive and natural
When you choose a wedding photographer who is:
– prepared to guide you when necessary,
– capture your day unobtrusively,
– skilfully apply the natural light
and frame images without directing you and your guest, then you are on to a winner.
my personal shooting style
I create natural, unscripted images which are full of emotions.
I capture joyful laughter, quiet stillness, tears of happiness and tears of memories for the days and people.
My picture bring back the energy of the dance floor and the outrageous embracement of speeches.
I shoot images which feel like you – and you alone.
My instagram feed does not look like it came from the same wedding.
My pictures are full of personalities, individuals who bring their unique self to the moment.
2.Photographer’s editing style
Editing style is much easier to recognise for what it is. The key here is to see what’s the most consistent look the photographer has in their pictures. There are a few very distinctive options here:
light and airy
natural with a bit of pop
dark and moody
Perhaps a little side note here needed. Fine Art wedding photography style is probably the most romantic, light, whimsical style of them all. We all know that Caravaggio is definitely none of those airy things despite most certainly being a fine art. We just have to accept that the wedding industry has chosen to assign this description to it’s most soft and delicate of editing styles.
Beware that some editing styles render various colours into tones which look very different to the colours as you remember them. Particularly look at how greens and blues can turn into greys and browns. If that’s what you like – great. However, if the colours at your wedding are important to you, then you are probably better off with a more natural editing style.
When choosing your wedding photographer you will notice that you are drawn to a certain editing look.
3. Wedding portraits
Now you are beginning to narrow down the kind of look of wedding photography you prefer in your quest of choosing your wedding photographer. Time to look at the photographs in more detail. Wedding portraits of you as a couple are super important. These will have to summarise you as a couple on your wedding day. You will have to trust your wedding photographer to get it right.
So what kind of couples portraits you want to have?
relaxed and natural, like a walk in a park
romantic and intimate
dramatic and adventurous
A great wedding photographer will find a fabulous place for your wedding portraits whatever your venue has to offer. You don’t need a Scottish castle, mountains of Iceland, waters of the Lake District, Italian vineyards or a French chateau to have a knockout wedding portrait. You can, but you don’t have to track across the fields and scramble up the hills to get a great view.
Don’t feel that you need to compete with your friends’s pictures or Pinterest and Instagram. Choose the venue for what you value and choose the photographer for the professionalism, the skill and the look they create in their pictures.
4. Family group shots
I completely understand how important it is to have certain family group images. This is one part of the day which you can’t leave to chance. Weddings are such face paced events that you can’t predict if you will be happen to be with your parents and siblings in the same place at the same time sharing a joke while the photographer capturing it all in a documentary style.
However, there is no need to have awkward, forced group shots. If you have chosen the photographer well, you will receive formal group shots where personalities shine through.
Below are some types of formal groups where photographers can help you express yourself. Or keep it traditional, if that’s your cup of tea!
simple traditional lines
giggly and natural set-ups
fancy groupings with chairs and benches
Which kind of family groups do you think I take? The answer is I aim for natural set-ups, trying to keep groups small, so we don’t have to bring benches and chairs. I try to keep the group photos fluid and energetic, rather than prim and proper. I call them informal formals.
5. Full wedding galleries
This is a big one. The reality is anyone can take a handful of great shots at any wedding. The sign of a true professional who will deliver, is the fully consistent set of brilliant pictures. Your photographer doesn’t have present you with a wedding at your chosen venue. At the same time it will be appropriate to see full gallery of images from a wedding which happened at the same season and a similar type of venue as yours.
Winter weddings for example are much tricker to capture because of the short days and little natural light. Do you still want to have wedding portraits done outside or would you rather have all your portraits done indoors, by the fire? Tell this to photographers you are considering and ask about their experience at handling these situations. And ask to see pictures they’ve shot in similar conditions before.
In fact, it’s a great idea to share with your prospective photographers as many details about your wedding plans as you can. Are you having a tipi wedding? is it going to be in a field or in the grounds of a manor house? Will you have an access to this manor house for photographs? What kind of evening entertainment you are having? A jazz band? A Ceilidh band? An African drum band? These details should allow your photographers to show their most appropriate work for you.
6. Detail shots
This is another extremely important point. We are not just talking about pictures of flowers and shoes. You would have put your heart and soul into so many little details of your wedding day starting from the decor and finishing with presents for your other half. Naturally you would love to have all that captured on camera.
You will get some photographers who will set up these details like all-lined-up-in-a-row ducks.
I prefer to captured details in motion whenever possible. Details of your wedding dress – as you put it on. Gifts for bridesmaids – as you give them out. Your wedding flowers – as you hold them in beautiful natural light. Your wedding rings – as you hold each other hands. Carefully selected canapés – as your guests pick them off the platter. Your little nephews – as they play together…
I believe that unstaged wedding detail photos will bring back all the memories and emotions of your wedding day.
There are millions of pictures on social media to inspire you for your wedding day. You may as well use this source of inspiration and the best way to do it is to create your own Wedding Inspiration mood board. Start a board of individual images that you love and soon you will see what style of pictures you prefer.
Go for the overall effect and the style of the pictures that makes you swoon. Try and avoid selecting images because you want to re-create them at your own wedding. You are choosing your wedding photographer, who will listen to you and create the images which will be 100% you.
You need to have a connection with you wedding photographer. You will smile more naturally, laugh at the same jokes and will understand each other just from a look across the room on your wedding day if you have similar personalities. Once you found the photographer who’s work you love, get in touch.
You might want to have a look at their Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook pages for snippets of their personalities. But when choosing your wedding photosphere be aware, that not all of us are happy to share our private lives with people we don’t know. We most likely have personal accounts on social media as well as public pages.
When choosing your wedding photographer, phone or a Skype chat are ideal. You can do it from the comfort of your home and still have a glimpse into the world of the person who you will trust your wedding memories.
Right… you knew I am going come to this, didn’t you?
I am going to make it quick.
Book the best wedding photographer you can afford.
Your wedding images are going to be the lasting memories of your day. You will be sharing them with your children and grandchildren as well as on your Facebook page 😉
Now is not the time to involve the family and friends and rely on someone else’s amateur skills no matter how well meant they are. Nor it is a good idea to ask your photographer friend, who does landscape, fashion or commercial photography. It is not the same.
You might find this little article useful.
10. Questions to ask a wedding photographer
I’ve prepared a list of frequently asked questions over HERE. Have a look!
Do you like what you see on my website and ready to have a chat with me? Get in touch – I’d love to hear about your wedding plans!