Weddings are awesome, fun-filled events where you can proclaim your love to the whole world, surrounded by those you love the most. Wedding planning, however, is synonymous with stress. When you're planning one of the biggest days of your life it can be very easy to become overwhelmed by all the vendors competing for your time and custom.
There are many different types of wedding vendors but because I am a wedding photographer, I'm going to talk about photographers specifically. What should you look for when you want to hire a photographer? What are the pitfalls that await the unsuspecting bride and groom? Read on, and I'll go through five questions you should ask yourself, and of any potential photographer, before you put your money down.
Do I like their style?
If you don't like the style of photographs that a particular photographer produces, it's a bad idea to hire them. This is probably obvious, but it bears repeating. If you don't like their style, you won't be happy with hiring a particular photographer.
- How do they use colour, are the photos vibrant or more restrained?
- Are they very modern or does their style have more of a retro feel to it?
- Do they use a lot of shallow depth of field/blurry backgrounds, and do I like that?
What type of photographer are they?
There are plenty of different types of wedding photographer, but two broad methods among them. Pay close attention when you talk to a wedding photographer or visit their website to their use of terms. Reportage refers specifically to a more journalistic style (hence reportage - reporter) with a focus on candid photos of people enjoying themselves with the photographer generally trying to stay out of the way as much as possible. Traditional wedding photography is generally more nebulous, but generally has emphasis on posed portraiture.
Lots of photographers (myself included) do a mixture of these, but there are some photographers who will only really do one or the other, so be careful when you book. If you want fabulous bridal portraits you may be disappointed if you hired a reportage photographer. Likewise, if you want special candid moments you might not want to choose a more traditional photographer.
What type of person are they?
This is one you might miss, but it can have an impact. If you're a very energetic group then a photographer who is quite low-key and reserved might struggle to provide what you're looking for. On the other hand, if your group is quite restrained and conservative, a photographer who's the human equivalent of a bouncy ball might grate on you.
This one is only particularly useful if you met the photographer at a wedding fair; it's hard to tell someone's personality solely through text on a website, so bear that in mind.
Are they equipped for what I'm asking of them?
Wedding photography is a tough field to work in, and while I'm definitely not interested in being a gear prescriptivist, there are a few things you should look out for. Their main work camera ought to be a DSLR or a Mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses. There are of course other cameras that fall outside of this particular rule (Fuji X100's, for example).
They should realistically have two DSLRs, or a DSLR and a mirrorless/high end compact as a back-up. If their camera goes kaput during your wedding if they don't have something to fall back on, you'll get no pictures and be rather peeved. It doesn't happen often, but why take that chance?
If you want portraits with off-camera lighting you should ask them whether they're capable of providing that before it comes to the big day.
How are they going to provide me with my pictures?
This varies quite a bit from photographer to photographer. Some photographers are perfectly happy to hand over printable digital files on a USB stick or DVD as part of their package (this is what I do), whilst others might hold back their digital files as an added extra. If you get digital files of your wedding coverage and intend to print them, ask the photographer if they will be in a hi-res 300dpi format. If they aren't you will struggle to print them any larger than a beermat.
Likewise, if you intend to print them you should ensure that your photographer will provide you with a print license. You might think that you can just pop down to Boots and get photos printed however you like, but with wedding photos the staff will sometimes ask you to provide proof that you're legally entitled to print the pictures you want. This is because by copyright law, photographers retain all rights to the images they make, even when working for a client.
Other photographers will prefer to give you a printed product after your wedding, an album for example (I do this as well!), with additional prints/canvases/wall art available to buy direct from the photographer. This has its pros in that photographers who are willing to sell you prints after will often charge less to cover a wedding in the first place, and the quality will be higher as we have access to professional print labs and suppliers. The cons of this model is that photographers will expect you to buy something and therefore be very keen in selling to you.
Some photographers will not provide digital files at all, some photographers will only provide digital files, make sure you know which one you want before you commit to a deposit.
Those are my five questions couples need to ask themselves when it comes to booking a photographer for their wedding. I hope they prove useful to you when it comes to making this difficult decision, and makes planning your wedding just a little bit easier.
If you have any questions for me, please don't hesitate to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07413 008100