Whether it’s the event stylist or caterer – choosing a wedding vendor is never an easy task, but deciding on a photographer might be the most daunting of all.
After all, they’ll be responsible for preserving your memories and converting the emotions of your wedding into something tangible, something that even people who can’t be with you that day will be able to enjoy – pictures.
When I was a bride, I didn’t even know exactly what to look for in our photographer, but
I’ve certainly learnt a lot as wedding blogger. So here are my tips for finding your perfect wedding photographer. You’ll find my personal opinions shine through, but I’ve tried to remain unbiased and respectful of different styles.
The first thing you’ll see of a photographer will probably be their website and/or blog. What’s your first impression? Do you like it? How about the photographer’s logo and the design of their page? Does it resonate with you? Chances are that if you like their site’s visual style, you’ll like their style of photography as well.
2. The photography
After assessing the website and blog design in general, have a closer a look at the actual images. Make sure to navigate from the main website to the photographer’s blog as well, where you’ll find more of their work and, most importantly, the coverage of an entire wedding day as opposed to just a selection of the best shots from different celebrations.
Things you might want to consider:
– Do you like the colors and overall mood of the pictures?
Photography really is a matter of personal taste, so go with your gut feeling. Do you see beauty? Are there at least 4-5 images within one wedding that you’d hang on your wall? Then you’re on the right track…
Train your eye in reading wedding blogs, after a while you’ll know what you’re looking for.
For example, I now know that I prefer romantic and light-filled photography over dark and dramatic shots.
– Is there a balance between black and white and color?
Personally I don’t like seeing an excess of black and white shots, but find out what you like. B&W was extremely popular for weddings a while ago, so make sure that your photographer and you are on the same page here.
– Do the pictures have a “photoshopped” look?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to the use of image editing programs, but I prefer subtle adjustments over heavy instagram-like filters and vignettes. If the pictures look artificial or somehow “off” to you, you probably won’t be happy with them in your wedding album.
– Look at detail vs. people shots
If you spend a lot of time and thought on decor and design, then you will want this to show in your wedding pictures, so the photographer should value details and know how to capture a still life.
3. “Photojournalism” or “poses”?
Back in 2008 when my husband and I looked for a wedding photographer, the only thing we knew for sure was that we didn’t want frozen smiles and uncomfortable poses – we were scared of static and artificial images.
Photojournalism was the rage of the day and in our opinion the answer to our needs: A mere documentation of the day without having the photographer interfere, a collection of well-executed, but natural and spontaneous pictures. Almost like snapshots, reflecting “real” moments.
Today I think that a good wedding photographer needs to do a little bit of both – photojournalism and artfully crafting individual images. Capturing emotions and movement is important, but so are portraits, details and family shots (of which we don’t have any, by the way).
Our fear of poses was not founded. If well-directed, posed portraits can be works of art and just beautiful, far from the stiff shots we used to associate with wedding photography.
A wedding is more than just smiles and tears, and I dare say that all couples want a decent wedding portrait. If that involves the photographer moving you to a different spot into better light, well then so be it (in my opinion). Ask your photographer on their take on this!
4. Film or digital?
There has been a recent “back to film” movement in wedding photography, spearheaded by world-renown artists such as Jose Villa and Elizabeth Messina. But it’s not mere nostalgia that brought back analog cameras, it’s because film photography has clear advantages especially for weddings: Film creates soft colors that digital cannot match (unless processed later in Photoshop). Skin tones will come out softer and more natural, film is more forgiving with uneven skin and it doesn’t burn whites as much as digital.
Also, since film requires a slower and more deliberate way of photographing, the overall quality of your photographs might be a little better.
On the downside, film photography is a little more expensive and the person behind the camera really needs to know what they’re doing, as there are less possibilities to “save” an image on the computer afterwards. Film is also less flexible with difficult light and therefore not apt for a purely photojournalistic approach, which calls for fast and versatile cameras.
Today, I’d go for film in a heartbeat, but you need to find out what your personal preferences are. For more information on this topic, check out this post over on Burnett’s Boards.
Is the communication with your chosen photographer going smoothly? Do you like the way in which they write their blog posts? Do you feel they’re paying you all their attention via email or phone?
Keep in mind that the photographer will accompany you during the entire wedding, an intense and emotional day. That guy/girl with the camera will be present at lots of intimate moments. That’s why chemistry is important. You should feel comfortable and 100% confident with all your wedding vendors, and even more so with the photographer.
Chelsea, one of the first real brides here on the blog, said: “There are two things that a couple should splurge on for any wedding: food and photography.” I couldn’t agree more.
Good photography, like good food, doesn’t necessarily have to be extremely expensive, but it does have its price. The pictures will make your memories of the day eternal – don’t dismiss or belittle this, I can guarantee you that you’ll regret it. Give wedding photography the importance it deserves and allocate the according budget.
So what do you think? Was this useful information for you? Photographers, you’re welcome to contribute to this discussion, chime in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!