For many people planning a wedding is a completely new experience and choosing the right wedding photographer can be a daunting task. You can find a million posts about why photography is one of the key elements of your wedding day but how do you find and choose the right ones?
1. Chemistry & Personality
You are going to spend a large proportion of one of the most important days of your life with your photographers, choosing people that you like and you get on with is so important. You might think, surely the images I get at the end of the day are the main thing to worry about? but the relationship you have with your photographers will have a real impact on how your photos will turn out!
Make sure you have a proper chat, even if that's over the phone or a video with your photographers. See if you click and whether you get a good feeling of confidence from them, go with your gut feeling, it's usually right!
Your photographers should be there, right from the start of the booking process, to make things as easy and stress free as possible for you. Great communiaton, setting expectations, helping you to plan timelines and really getting an understanding of what you want from your wedding photos are key.
On the day that sense of ease should shine through in your photos. Whether it's the more formal images or the documentary / candid moments you should be able to see the real you coming through and the easiest way to get that is hiring talented photographers that take the time to really get you!
A pre wedding or engagement shoot is also a great way to really see how they work and can be fab for getting you used to being in front of the camera before your actual wedding day, plus you get some beautiful photos to look back on.
For most people this is going to be a key element. Wedding budgets vary for lots of different reasons and choices and the portion of that budget that you assign to photography is a key decision. You can pay as much or as little for your wedding photographers as you choose and prices will vary but so will the photography standard.
It's important to remember that at the end of the day your wedding photos and your memories will be what you have left (and your amazing other half of course!). Photography is powerful and you want to be able to look back over your wedding photos in years to come and relive all those amazing moments (and all the ones you didn't even see on the day!)
3. Photography Style
Now it might be that until you started searching for your dream wedding photographer you had no idea just how many different types of wedding photographers exist but some of the key words you might hear are and our own interpritation.
Documentary / Reportage / Candid - A big move away from more stilted formal wedding photography and definitely something that has born out from the move to digital from film and an the almost limitless amount of photos that can be taken now. Documentary photography involves capturing everything as it happens, the tears, the laughs, the falling through deckchairs, the cake on faces. Your Photographers as a part of the day rather than directing it. Minimal interferance and maximum realism. Your final gallery should show a real story of your day from start to finish. Often it's these photos that are just as emotive as the more dramatic images.
Traditional / Classic - Coming more from the days of film photography, more direction from the photographer of poses and often used to describe more true to colour work.
Contemporary / Editorial - Think more stylised colours, dramatic, something you might see in a magazine shoot. You would expect more posed shots and lots of creativity from the photographer. You would expect to see some really stunning shots that would stand out from more traditional photography and more use of artistic licence.
Fun - Often linked to documentary styles because fun means capturing everything just as it happens! alongside bold and bright colours. Great for having a set of photos to look back on that really shows the joy of a wedding day. A photographer who can really join in and be a part of your day and bring a level of energy.
In reality most photographers will take from a few different styles. A wedding day has so many different elements, ceremony, couples photos, formals, dance floor partying but it's good to understand how your photographer will work and what the majority of your images will be like.
Have a good Google search of portfolios with different styles and see how they make you feel in side and which photos you are drawn to. It's such a personal thing that once again going with your gut instinct is often the best way.
4. Editing Styles
Digital Photography has opens up a world of post processing of images. Wedding photography has advanced and changed so much over the last couple of decades and part of that is down to technical advancements.
Dark and Moody
High contrast, lots of use of light and dark resulting in dramatic images.
Light and Airy
Dreamy, lower contrast, subtler colours and often seen as more of a traditional 'wedding style'
Fine Art - A little bit of a controversial one here, no one in the wedding industry ever seems quite sure what this really means but it seems to lean towards more traditional photography with true to life colours and more traditional poses.
Natural Light - Another slightly controversial category. Most photographers will use available natural lighting but the ability to utilise additional lightsources allows for more creativity and allows the photographer to deal with lots of different lighting conditions.
True to Colour - As a little reaction to the more washed out and desaturated trends a lot of photographers are highlighting their true to colour style. Think greens that are actually green, bold colours showing up.
If your wedding colours are important to you it's worth asking your photographers how true to colour their images are. It's often hard to tell from a portfolio if an editing style has changed the original colours on an image. This is then something they may be able to take account of when editing or they may not be the right photographer for you. Again that fit is so important. Most photographers edit in the style they personally prefer and will be dedicated to that style.
When searching, look for images that again give you the good feels, images you can see yourself in. If you are drawn to a particular style choosing a photographer that matches that style is super important.
Experienced wedding photographers should have a set of reviews and testimonials to show you from previous clients that can give you a real insight into whether or not they are a fit. Recommendations from friends and families and also your other suppliers can also be really useful but do remember a photography fit for one person may be different to what you are looking for yourself.
Weddings are a different ball game to other types of photography for many reasons. You are photographing a hugely important day that can not be redone, you have little control over delays, the weather, drunk guests or the lighting situation. You need to be flexible, in control and on the look out for that perfect shots for a solid 8-10 hours. Each wedding is a new experience and each wedding brings new understanding and learning for all photographers.
An experienced wedding photographer can stay calm, anticipate moments, find the best locations, understand the lighting and help to make sure you and your guests have the best day! as well as making sure you end up with beautiful images that really capture you both as a couple.
7. The boring practical stuff
When you think you've found your perfect photography team, they are free on your date and you're ready to book, just make sure you have all the following info checked out
- Booking fee info
- Backup just in case they can't make it on the day in thr form of a good network of fellow photographers
- Professional level equipment and backup. Camera choice, size and brand mean very little really, its not the equipment, it's what you can do with it! However most professional level cameras have dual memory card slots just incase of card failure and most wedding photographers will use multiple cameras with backups. On top of that a professional should have more than one way of backing up your images before they are delivered. Technology has advaced but system failures can still happen so as much protection as possible.
- A full wedding gallery for you to view. This links into the experience point above but unless this is their first wedding it's worth viewing a whole wedding to understand their style and see how they work with a whole day (not just our favourite photos we've picked for our portfolio or only images from styled shoots)
One final note, does it matter if they have photographed at your venue before? I'm going to say no. There is a small advantage if they know the venue and the best spots but a good, exeprienced photographer should be able to turn up anywhere and create magic. Infact shooting at the same venue too many times could result in a little bit of complacency and maybe a new venue could spark some extra creativity.