Choosing The Right Wedding Photographer For You.
OK, so you found the right partner, the questions been ‘popped’ and you’re getting married, fantastic! You’ve (both) got these ideas swimming around in your head about all sorts of things you would like but everybody has an opinion, your mum, your fiancés mum, the chief brides maid, the best man, your Facebook ‘friends’ and even the postman will weigh in at some point.
All you want to do is make sure you get it right and pleasing everyone is going to be very, very hard. Well…STOP RIGHT THERE!!!
Before you do anything else, find a mirror, look directly into your eyes and say; “the only people to please are my fiancé and myself”…click your heels together 3 times and repeat.
Now that we’ve got that straight let’s start considering how you go about getting the right wedding photographer for YOU.
The first thing to consider and ask yourself is this;
“What do I want to have after the wedding?”
Sounds simple right? Yeh’ it sounds it, but it’s not. This one little sentence conceals a huge amount of choices, decisions and implications that you will have to wade through to focus your true needs, wants and likes to get down to the essence of what you are looking for.
For example, do you like vintage filters or fine art, do you like physical prints, albums – traditional or modern, are you into traditional/formal photography or do you prefer photojournalistic or modern contemporary images.
If vintage is not your thing then you won’t be happy having vintage effect images presented in a decorative faux antique picture box, nor will you be happy if you do love that style and your wedding images are presented in a modern contemporary style with matching, radiantly glossy digital print album.
Each of these concepts will steer you towards a style of photographer that produces imagery that you love and will be presented in a style that you cherish.
But it doesn’t end there either, there’s more, oh so much more.
Do you want a photographer that captures your images, uploads them to a gallery untouched and (if its included) adds them to an album with the absolute minimum of work required to make them presentable? Or would you rather have a photographer that takes the time to ‘see’ your memories in the making, to capture your unfolding love story with complete understanding of light and composition. And then processes these images to enhance and augment the emotion and feeling and produce images that bring that love story back to life each and every time to look at them?
That is a colossal difference in style and product, and generally a big difference in the fees that are charged.
This choice will ultimately determine what it is you are likely to finally end up with long after the food has been eaten, the guests have gone home, the venue has been cleared, the flowers have wilted and the rented suites have been returned.
If you can focus your thinking on this and shape a clearer understanding of what you want you are half way to getting the right photographer for your wedding.
“Half way!?! OMG! What else do I have to do to get the right one for me?”
Well, now you know what it is you want to have after the wedding, you know which style of wedding photographers to look at. Then it becomes about whom you like, whom you have a rapport with. Budgets are important, very important. But it is equally as important not to discount a photographer based on what you may initially consider too high a cost for their services, possibly to the detriment of your future happiness.
After all, remember it’s about what you want to have after the wedding, try not to let what you think you don’t have before the wedding spoil that. There is always the possibility of finding that little bit of extra cash or waiting till after the wedding to actually purchase the album. Have a few less chocolates on the day or forego the Sweet Cart (who will even notice if it’s not there?) and put that into your photography budget, you won’t be disappointed.
So, you think you may have found ‘the one’, and you’re wondering what you should be looking for in the package, what is it that you should expect or will be expected of you?
First off, always be expecting a deposit or booking fee, most photographers will require one, they do need to know you are genuine. A photographer can’t hold a day in their diary on a handshake, if something changes and you don’t follow through they could be thousands of pounds out of pocket.
Secondly, do they include an Engagement or Pre-Wedding Shoot? This is the time when you and your fiancé get to have some fun together with your photographer and you build trust and confidence in each other. This helps enormously on the wedding day, knowing that the photographer is professional, skilled and of course lots of fun guarantees that you will feel relaxed and happy on the big day (about his part of it anyway). Of course you do have to make yourself available, don’t just expect it to happen on a weekend either. You should consider that your photographer has a life too and weekends are just as precious, if not more so, to them, especially as they lose most of them during the summer attending weddings. You may even have to pay a premium to get a weekend slot. Either way, make yourself available, take advantage of the time you will have and get the most you can out of it. It will prove to be priceless when it comes to the wedding day.
People skills are also important, a good wedding photographer will know how to work a crowd, making your family and friends feel comfortable and keeping them all under control without being forceful, you’ll get a good sense of their character on the Engagement Shoot and if things aren’t quite right, better to iron it out and fix it then rather than see if things turn out better during the wedding. After all, we’re photographers not psychics! If a problem or issue isn’t communicated or discussed it can’t be resolved before the Wedding. Good communication is key, from both sides, and Engagement Shoots are a great way to begin that communication.
Thirdly, how fast will the photos be processed. This can vary a lot, with each photographers workflow and with the time of year. A busy photographer with two weddings or more a week through the summer will not be able to process all the images themselves and will inevitably need to farm them out to a third party for ‘culling’, stripping out the images that are not suitable (yes it happens, a lot! Not every photo is perfect when shot and any photographer who says it is, is, well…a complete moron and you should stay well away). This does not mean you won’t get the lovely style of images you wanted, just that you may have to wait a few extra weeks for the photographer to personally edit them.
Conversely, those photographers that send them out to couples almost immediately are unlikely to have done any processing at all – in which case you may as well have put cameras in the pews and on the tables for the guests and saved yourself some money.
Finally, your images are processed, they’ve been uploaded to your private gallery, where you can purchase prints and from which you’ve also selected your favourites for the album (and the smartphone app too perhaps). Again this is photographer dependent, but from here you should be choosing your album details; page thickness (thin, thick or rigid), print style (Matt, Gloss, Silk, Pearlescent or Textured) and of course the album cover (no I’m not going to list them as there are hundreds of styles/combinations to choose from). While this is happening your photographer may be giving the images you selected a little extra processing (see example below; before – out of camera/after – edited for album) and begin creating the design for your album layout for which you will get the opportunity to proof (say you like it or not, make any changes etc), ready to go off to be created by the manufacturer. This may take quite a few weeks depending on which album company the photographer uses.
So, here we are, at the end of the photographic journey. Your wedding album or prints have arrived, you sit down with you new husband/wife to re-live that momentous event that seems like it happened just yesterday, yet feels so long ago, eager to view your precious memories captured forever.
Did you choose the right wedding photographer for YOU? Are these images everything that you both wanted, the keepsake that you can cherish for years to come?
After all, in the end that is all that matters; the final product that you get to keep and look at year after year! So make sure you take the time decide what it is you and your fiancé want and go get it (or rather him, her or them).
Thanks’ for reading and I hope it proves helpful in your quest to find the right wedding photographer for you.