Updated: May 31
When you are researching how to choose a photographer, it can be a bit of a lottery, unless you have had a good recommendation, which is always the good start, you need to do some research, so here are a my 5 top tips to choosing the right wedding photographer.
First impressions are very important and normally on your first meeting, the wedding photographer will be dressed casually. However, what you need to ask, is what will they wear on the day? I was shocked on one occasion to see a wedding photographer wearing trainers, jeans and a t-shirt with their business name printed in big letters on the front and back to promote their business!
I believe it is important to blend in and dress for the occasion, I always wear a smart suit, shirt and tie and polished shoes. This is a mark of respect. I like to make the effort, as this is an important event but also I become more accepted by the guests; I blend in and it helps me get the candid shots without being obvious.
This is open to interpretation, but the difference between an image can be the difference between an average photograph and something you enjoy looking at and feel a connection.
Creativity is in the full control of the photographer, experience and the right equipment helps, but if the photographer is 'just doing a job' then it is unlikely your wedding photographs will be creative. So what exactly is creativity? It is a photographer who is experienced, knows their craft has an interest in people, always looking to get the best out of each situation and be willing to push the boundaries. However, there is a very fine line here and I have seen some examples where the boundaries have been pushed too far and it feels like the photographer is taking un-natural photographs just for their portfolio.
Taking wedding photographs, has its own time pressure, so you need a photographer who can get the balance right, not be in the way, and get the results. So be careful to look at examples of their work and decide if the style is right for you.
3. Is the photographer a people person?
I don't think I have ever met a wedding photographer who isn't a people person. However, wedding photography can be very stressful. There are so many things that can go wrong, the weather, the running order falling behind, the guests being more interested in drinking champagne and people disappearing, which slows things down. Trust me there are many many more... but that's my job; to use my experience and control the situation in a calm professional way and give people respect and confidence in me. Good photographers often thrive on the pressure of shooting a wedding and the challenges they face. I have had to face many tricky situations, but I always find a solution, without compromising on creativity, invariably when things go wrong it isn't anyones fault, the most important thing for me is not to cause alarm and spoil the day, after all that is what you are paying for, professionalism and experience.
I have seen wedding photographers who get overwhelmed by this and become stressed. This is difficult to hide and people pick up on this. This is a very difficult one to figure out, so it is always best to ask the photographer about weddings they have photographed when things have gone wrong and ask them how they handled it.
4. Working to deadlines
An experienced photographer will know the running order of the whole day, from guests arriving to the ceremony, the wedding breakfast and the first dance. I always have a list of key photographs I want to take through the day, which has already been agreed in advance. In the ideal world everything runs on time and there aren't any problems. However time seems to fly on the day and it is important not to disrupt the schedule, which is often very tight. So planning is of the essence! I am a great believer in the planning and writing it down with approximate times, so I know where I need to be at any point. There can and often are delays during the day, so the plan has to be flexible. The key is communication with the bride and groom to maybe shave off a few of the group photographs or schedule them a little later on in the day. The skill of the photographer is deciding if the job can be done properly and professionally in the allocated time, if not then what is needed to adapt and still get a great set of wedding photographs.
5. Technical ability
Have you ever seen a person walking around with the latest equipment? Does it mean they are professional... very good at what they do?
I once watched a person who looked like a great wind surfer.... they had the best equipment, a great wetsuit a flash car and looked like a surfer. I sat back and thought this is going to be good! I couldn't have been more wrong. This person spent more time in the water than on the surf board. The moral of the story is 'know your equipment and don't try to be a professional until you have had plenty of experience. A top end camera can cost in the region of £20,000 give this to an amateur and they will take average pictures, give a professional any camera even a disposable camera and they will take great pictures. This is because the know 'how to see'. They know the rules of composition, how to pose their subjects and control the camera for the best results.
With digital images, there is also a need for technical ability for editing the photographs, which can really enhance the photographers style. However, editing software won't make a bad photograph good and poor technical skills can result in poorly processed pictures. So to be on the safe side, ask the photographer about their equipment and their editing skills
In my experience, being a wedding photographer, isn't just about taking photographs, it is also the ability to quickly create a rapport with people and put them at ease so they can enjoy being photographed. There is also the question of previous work, so it is important to see examples of weddings they have photographed to make sure you like their style and approach. I also think it is important that once you have seen the photographer, you can take some time to reflect and not feel pressurised into signing up on the spot.
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