In contrast to the work done by other suppliers of wedding services, for example flowers, cake and music, photographs cannot be seen, tasted, heard or even seen initially. You do not actually know what you will be given till they are delivered to you. Consequently, it is important to research thoroughly in regard to the professional know-how, personal disposition and artistic style when selecting your wedding photographer. Here are ten steps that will assist you in this process:
Before you embark on researching for your wedding photographer, you must make a decision on the kind of photography you desire because this will assist you to figure out the type of photographer you will prefer to shoot your wedding. Do you find any of the following categories of photography appealing?
Rather than a series of posed pictures, these are a spontaneous or candid photos (which means they are not styled) of the decorations, guests and the wedding activities. Usual shots may include the sumptuous raw bar before the wedding guests begin to feast, a mixed group of your cousins dancing or the bridesmaids dancing while holding champagne. When it comes to exclusively photo journalistic photography, it is rare to find people looking directly at the camera. The pictures record the events exactly as they occurred and together they build a fascinating narrative.
If you like classic portraits (remember the photos of your parent’s wedding) choose a traditional wedding photographer who is a specialist in portraiture. This category entails taking posed pictures of both of you, your family and friends using a variety of backdrops. This does not mean you cannot be creative when using this type of photography. Some wedding photographers will have their subjects posing in more conventional places, for example, outside on the plush lawn of a country club or the wedding ceremony altar or an orderly pose where they stand together as a group. But others use more creative portraiture with more dramatic poses. For example, they may have the wedding couple seated on a lounge chair at the reception venue of their stylish hotel or holding hands right in the middle of an adjacent rough road and mountains as the backdrop.
Although it resembles documentary photography, the fine art style offers the shooter more artistic license to add their style and individual point of view into your wedding photographs. Therefore, the pictures express the reality of the photographer. They are beautiful and dramatic but appear as though the film used to shoot them is dreamier, grainier and they have a more subdued look. Normally the couple (or object) is in focus but the background is blurred. Motion also appears extremely natural in this method of photography. The limited number of photographers who only use film when shooting are likely to belong to this category. Usually, they take black-and-white photos, although some combine this with color photography. Nevertheless, a photographer with a digital camera can also use this style as long as they have the appropriate camera lens and equipment. Furthermore, some photographers will rotate between film and digital. Not every photographer who uses fine-art technique will shoot portraits so if your mum must get posed family photos, find someone who dabbles in both styles. Alternatively, hire an additional photographer for the portrait shoots.
Edgy and Bold
This method of photography is a spin-off of the fine art style. It is characterized by unconventional, slanting angles (or Dutch angles) and unusual framing. Therefore, rather than a straightforward photo of the bride and groom exchanging wedding vows at the altar, the picture may seem tilted, depicting a candle or an item used for the altar arrangement in the foreground. Alternatively, the photographer can take a shot of the bride getting her makeup done from above with the focus being on the eye shadow brush instead of her face. Or one portrait of a bridesmaid may be shot in such a way that her face appears on the bottom right of the picture and all the remaining space is taken up by the wall or the objects that are behind her.
A lot of wedding photographers have the capacity to do a mix of documentary-style and portraiture photos or blend black-and-white with colored pictures. However, if there is a particular style you prefer, ensure that you concentrate on those photographers who are specialists in it.
Begin your search by studying reviews written by newlywed couples and surfing through numerous local listings. Thoroughly review the websites and blogs of the photographers you are considering hiring. Have a look at the pictures of the weddings they have covered to get an idea about their style. How their website is designed may provide clues about their sensibility and character. Also read their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram if you get the chance. Have their clients given positive feedback? What is the photographer’s response?
You cannot rely on looks alone when making your decision. It is important to talk to the photographer face-to-face. If you are happy with what is on their site and their charges are in the range of what you can afford, call them to find out if they are free or they have other commitments during your wedding date. If they are already booked, it would be worthwhile to find out if they have a colleague or they can recommend another photographer who uses a similar style. Arrange to have personal consultations with between three and five photographers who are free on the date of your wedding to see their work and determine if your personalities connect. Be ready to discuss your wedding style, wedding location and what you envisage for your pictures.
Your decision should not just depend on what is shown on the highlights album or gallery of the photographer. Naturally, photographers display their best photos from various weddings which means what you will see is the very best they can offer. But the problem here is that you will not get a balanced view of their work and ability. Request them to show you a couple of full galleries from actual weddings that they have personally shot.This way, you will get a better idea of how a complete set of your wedding photos will look like. If you notice that the complete gallery photos are almost as good as the ones appearing on the highlight gallery, you are headed in the right direction. Ask the photographer to show you a couple of full albums of weddings held in locations that are identical to yours. For instance, if you intend to have an indoor event with dim lighting, do not just focus on weddings shot in the open air under natural light. And if you intend to have your wedding on the beach as the sun is setting, you will need to see examples of photos depicting such a scenario.
As you evaluate the potential photographer’s album, see if they show important moments that you want the photographer to capture. For example, did they get pictures of the first time that the groom and bride looked into each other eyes? Also check for image crispness, attentive compositions (does the picture have too much clutter in the way it was framed?) and proper lighting (look out for faded images where tiny details are unclear, unless you desire such a style).You must also identify sensitivity in picking up people’s feelings. See if the subjects appear comfortable, not like rabbits caught in headlights. Whereas the two of you are the focal point of the event, you also want to see photos of your friends enjoying themselves.
It is important to get along with your photographer. The photographer must be stimulated by the vision you conjure up. Do they offer suggestions confidently, clearly and respectfully or do they seem nervous? Is their behavior offensive? To get the best pictures, choose a professional who firmly understands social decorum but has enough confidence to look for good images and most importantly, makes you relax without annoying you in any way. Remember the photographer will follow you throughout and therefore the more rapport you have with them, the better the pictures will be. Similarly, you do not want the photographer to irritate or offend your guests. Instead, you need them to capture their best attributes in a discreet manner. To take the best pictures, the photographer should have sufficient assertiveness to pursue great moments. They should have the ability to coax natural postures and composed smiles from the guests, and remain relaxed enough to have a positive influence. They must be good listeners and at the same time they should ask a lot of questions.
A lot of the bigger photo studios employ a number of photographers.This means the lead photographer might not be the one covering your big day unless you specify this when signing the contract. Because each professional has a unique personality, style and technique, you must ensure that the one you talk to during the interview and connect with is the one who will appear in your wedding. In addition, include particular stipulations in your contract regarding who will stand in for the photographer in case they cannot make it during the wedding. Confirm if the photographer will come with any assistants to your event, and if that is case, have them state the number that will come. If you can afford it, consider hiring an extra photographer. Most top-grade photographers incorporate a second shooter in the photography contract. However, ask if this is possible if it is not included in the contract. The primary advantage of having two shooters is that you will get two times the coverage. For instance, when holding the formal photo session, the first photographer can take the formal pictures and the second one can shoot background photojournalistic pictures(for instance,photos of the guests intermingling). If your wedding has a lot of guests (250 and over), you can even ask if there is a possibility of having three photographers so the team can record the event from every angle.
You will only confirm the exact amount you need to pay when you establish what you want, the number of albums you need and the operational base of your photographer. Packages start from $2,500 to over $15,000 for high-end services. As you interview potential candidates, request for a broad price range based on the photographer’s normal shooting fee and respective package together with their general rates for the kind of album you are looking for and the level of coverage you hope to book them for (full weekend or day of).You must learn what the standard package includes plus the minimum range for any additional services you may need. Examples of such services include extra coverage, an engagement shooting session or special effects. After finding out, you may then make a comparison of the rates. Specifically ascertain the number of hours of coverage the package includes. In theory, you want the photographer to be present throughout the entire day-from when you are preparing for the ceremony to the time you leave the reception. Whereas the packages may differ, the majority of them run from six to twelve hours in order to record everything -from pre-ceremony activities (first-look pictures or making preparations with the bride maids) to the closing of the reception. If there is a possibility of going beyond the given hours, it is normally advisable to fork out for more coverage. You will obviously want the shooter to be present until the very end- but note that the hourly rates for overtime are generally higher. Also think about whether you will require an engagement shoot or the photographer will need to cover other events in the course of your wedding weekend .Examples of possible additional events include a golf outing with the guys or lunch with the bridesmaids.
Almost all contracts state that the photographer is the owner of the rights to every picture taken at the wedding, including the ones where you appear. To put it differently, the photographer is within his or her rights to use the photos on their blog or website or include them in their ads. This also implies that you cannot just upload the digital proofs that they deliver to you. The majority of photographers have a rule that you are only allowed to share images credited to them or those with their watermark. Moreover, unless stipulated otherwise, you must purchase the rights to the images if you wish to order an album from a different source or you need to print the images yourselves.
Generally, it takes about one month to receive the photo proofs from the photographer. This is because the raw files that they shoot are much bigger than standard JPG format images. While raw files are easier to manipulate and correct, uploading, processing and editing them takes longer. Although it varies from one job to the next, most photographers reveal that they spend an extra 40 hours editing photos from one wedding. This means it may take a maximum of six or eight weeks, or even longer if the photographer has a very busy schedule, to get your proofs back. Concerning post-production, you need to ask several questions. For example it is important to know the number of images you should expect and their resolution and if the photographer will retain image rights or you are allowed to print them. You also need to know if the proofs are the final versions or they will be retouched after selecting the ones you want. In addition, it is important to ask about the special effects and retouching options(which may involve be anything from basic white balancing and beauty retouching to stylistic effects like adding saturated colors).Make sure that you get the extra costs for these options.