Planning a life time experience such as your wedding, at all times you’d want to avoid unnecessary stress, and the knowledge that you got the right vendors involved in the making of your immensely important day will protect you from those worries.
Your photographs are the eternal memories and the visual account of your once in a life time event. Make sure the responsibility doesn’t fall into the wrong hands!
As photography – and wedding photography in particular- is often very expensive, and sometimes allocated as much as a quarter of your total budget, many couples look around for alternatives that are more affordable, perhaps seeking photographers who are just starting out in the trade and want to work at a lower fee to gain exposure. Which can seem great in terms of savings – but it is also very risky.
How can you be sure that they are actually good enough, that they are accomplished both in the technical, artistic and social aspects this job requires, if they don’t have much wedding photography experience in their portfolio to show for?
The world of photography has become extremely competitive, as photography with cell phones has become a way of life. Many in the photography industry feel the pressure to scoop up whatever business opportunity they can.
Weddings is such a subject! As a lucrative field of photography, why wouldn’t anyone with a camera like to have a piece of the cake? For you this means they might say they can do something which they are not quite skilled enough at.
Don’t get trapped with wedding pictures that you don’t want to show anyone or ever again look at yourself. These pictures are the account of the day you worked so hard to achieve, planning for months – maybe even a year or more – and spent lots of money on too! Is it worth the risk?
We are not implying that every photographer is useless and they all have malicious intent. But you need to know beforehand that your photographer’s style is going to suit your wedding, that he or she is qualified for the job and that you are both on the same page before the event takes place. And that your chosen photographer possess the ability to deliver the pictures you want.
Below we will share with you all you need to know about possible pitfalls, so that you can spot the suitable from the not suitable ones, and avoid the disappointment of an unfavorable outcome.
Don’t trust a recommendation immediately
A friends recommendation is always a good indication of a vendor being trustworthy – or is it, really? Before you make the call, ask yourself if your friend had the same factors and wishes as you in her wedding. Or did she/ he use this photographer in a wedding at all, or for a baby photo shoot?
Don’t be oblivious just because you had a friend recommending the photographer – always do research beforehand no matter what.
Don’t make assumptions
Even if you had a very positive vibe from the photographer in your first meeting, doesn’t immediately imply 500 perfectly edited images delivered on time, with the shot list you provided fulfilled. You need to have a common understanding, details outlined clearly and everything in writing, even if this person appears really nice and trustworthy.
Be 100% sure that they understand your wishes
Wedding photographers are not mind readers (especially not if they are not wedding photographers at all). Be crystal clear in all your communications, and ask them to confirm that they have understood your shot list, timeline, your intentions and expectations.
Do you like their edit and colors? Is their particular photography style suitable for the mood of your wedding?
This is super important. Carefully inspect their previous wedding photography (not just landscape or studio photography) and be 100% in love with their style before you book. No one will change their editing style just for your wedding. Nor are they likely to even be capable to achieve what you’d like them to achieve, unless you have seen visual evidence already.
Look at the quality of the images – are they grainy or clear? Which do you prefer?
Do you like the colors, or lack of colors?
Is the vibrancy –glow- appealing to you? Too dull or too yellow?
Are they using a lot of contrast, or a more matte style of photography? How would you like it?
Most importantly, how do faces and fabrics look? Are they even in focus?
Look for any distracting objects – could they have been edited away or avoided being snapped?
Are they nice to liaise with?
Is this person polite and forthcoming? Are you getting genuinely good vibes in all communications? If they at any point behave arrogantly or dominantly, it’s time to immediately find someone better. You do not deserve to deal with large egos or difficult attitudes – this is your day and you need to be taken seriously at all times.
ALWAYS to a test shoot – your engagement shoot
In order to understand what it is like to work with the intended photographer, it is vital to do an engagement shoot beforehand. This is the perfect opportunity to feel what it is like to be professionally photographed, meaning you’ll be more comfortable with the idea on the Big Day. You’ll also get a direct experience of the photographer’s way of working, their edit and ultimately their way of operating. Only proceed with this particular photographer if everything felt and looked how you wanted it to. Rather do two engagement shoots in order to get the right person, as you only have one chance to capture good wedding photos.
Make sure you know what you are getting
What is included in the package? How many photos, what resolution and by when will they be delivered? Don’t get caught in a situation where you are waiting for the photographer to send you whatever he or she likes. Before you get married, be sure you know how many photos you will get, post editing timeline, what resolution pictures and mode of delivery.
Sign a contract!
As a backup of the previous point, always sign an agreement beforehand which describes exactly what the deal is. Your agreement is your only proof of the deal should you ever need to back it up.
Don’t assume they will do what you have asked them to
Again, you have to make sure that everything you have asked to photograph is also captured in writing. Yes this is a photographer, but it is also a complete stranger. Don’t trust them to interpret the dearest photos that will ever be taken of your relationship (and the most expensive too). Always provide a shot list, if you have certain must-have photos.
Are they -actually- skilled enough?
You don’t need to be a trained or even great photographer to have an amazing instagram account full with compelling images. Even fancy cameras have automated settings, which many cell phone cameras nowadays are able to compete with, and with a multitude of free filters available it is quite straight forward to take great pictures!
The skill a wedding photographer needs to possess goes beyond camera settings and artistic angles:
-They need to know what moments to capture in a positive and timely manner.
-They need to have people skills.
-They need to be able to tell your sister that flew in from New Zeeland apart from one of the groomsmen’s + one.
-They need to ensure your white dress doesn’t disappear against the background, or over expose your face or plant unflattering shadows.
-They need to be able to guide you during the couple photography to make sure you are happy and smiling, and not feeling awkward.
-They will need to multitask at a whole new level than if you are a studio photographer with only one object in front of you against a flat background.
-They need to be able to make you and your groom feel reassured and comfortable.
-They need to be able to be mentally and physically present so that every significant moment in your wedding is captured as they occur.
Being a wedding photographer -any photographer- goes beyond pointing a camera. It is about professionalism; joy of interacting, and of course quality delivery without any hassles.
Don’t be afraid when you look for a wedding photographer – we are just advising that you should be mindful and selective. With the tips we hint that it is better to be a bit protective of your day as opposed to too trusting. We have made a worksheet with all the questions you need to ask right here so you can tick off all the unknowns one by one.
As long as you stay informed, have a healthy assertiveness and ask the right questions you will find the perfect photographer for your needs, and once you have ensured yourself of the above, please trust your chosen photographer and rest assured you’ll have an amazing outcome!