Choosing your perfect wedding photographer isn’t as simple as, say, deciding on your wedding cake or picking out your ideal wedding dress. You can taste the cake before committing, and you’ll more than likely try your dress on a million times before the big day. With wedding photography, the fruits of their efforts are only seen once you’ve cut the cake, danced the night away, enjoyed a romantic honeymoon, and returned to the normality of your lives.
Choosing a wedding photographer is tough – we’re not going to sugar coat it. However, there are key characteristics you should look for, and vital questions you should ask, before committing to a photographer. So, here’s what to look for in a wedding photographer:
Summary of What to Look for in a Wedding Photographer:
- Make sure the photographer’s style matches the style of photographs you’re looking for
- Ensure your potential wedding photographer has professional photography equipment
- Be sure to find out about your wedding photographer’s past experience with weddings like yours
- Assess your wedding photographer’s service packages to make sure their prices match their level of expertise
- Ask important questions when first meeting with your photographer, before putting pen to paper.
Wedding Photography Style
Arguably the most important thing to look for in your wedding photography professional is their photography style. They should have an online portfolio where you can take a look at photographs from some of their previous weddings, and these images should be in high-resolution. A wedding photographer’s style is a critical consideration, as your wedding is more than likely going to be captured in similar fashion. There are many wedding photography styles used in the industry, but these are the three most commonly adhered to:
Traditional: These are your standard wedding photographs, where you’ll see a few photographs of the rings, posed photographs of most people attending the wedding, and a few ‘lifestyle’ shots of the bridal party at various stages of the proceedings.
Modern: Modern wedding photography has taken a step away from the traditional, and focuses more on capturing moments traditional photographers would rather not: like when the bride smears cake icing on her groom’s nose, or photographs of the groomsmen pulling their pants down to expose their bottoms.
Integrated: Most wedding photographers today choose an integrated approach, where traditional photographs are taken alongside quirky modern-style ones – leaving you with a range of shots for various uses. For example, grandma wants the prim and proper traditional family photo, while you’d probably prefer a more fun, natural-looking family photograph.
The main thing you need to look at is if your photographer is going to capture your personality. This is why an initial meeting is critical, where you can get your personality traits across to the potential wedding photographer, and they can get a feel of what types of photographs you’ll be looking for. It’s a relationship, and both parties need to be comfortable with each other.
The next thing to look for in a wedding photographer is the type of equipment they’re using. A wedding photographer can by no means be judged on their photography equipment, as capturing those precious moments on your special day is about so much more than just the camera or lens being used. However, the quality of the camera and lens WILL affect the image quality once developed. Depending on the types of photographs you’d like, some wedding photographers will make use of the following less-orthodox wedding photography equipment:
Drone Photography: A trend emerging in the wedding photography world is the use of drones to capture stunning landscape venue photographs, and unique photos from angles not usually achievable (unless your photographer has a helicopter). If your potential wedding photographer offers drone photography, make sure they are licensed drone operators.
Gimbal Sticks: You’ve heard of selfie sticks, but what about gimbal sticks? These are stabilising hand-held portable camera mounts, usually used in film videography and by the more serious selfie enthusiasts. Some wedding photographers will utilise both high-end digital cameras and top-quality smartphones (attached to a gimbal stick) to shoot unique material at a wedding. They might pass the gimbal stick around the dancefloor, capturing stunning footage of guests having a blast!
Videography: It might cost you extra, but a videographer is able to capture your special day in a way a photographer cannot. With more and more people wanting to watch highlights of their wedding like they would family videos, many wedding photographers now offer videography as an optional extra. With a video camera shooting video while a photographer captures stills of the same scene, you truly get the best of both worlds.
The Photographer’s Experience
A wedding is not only stressful for the bridal party, but photographers feel the pressure too! Quite often a photographer will be required to step in to search for missing family members, coordinate happenings, keep an eye on children, and sometimes even make an announcement or two as an MC would. For this reason, if you’re looking for a high standard of wedding photography, consider a wedding photographer that has experience.
Ask your wedding photographer for references of small, medium and large weddings they’ve photographed, and be sure to actually make contact with the references. Keep an open mind, as most brides and grooms remember very little of their wedding day. Another way to gauge the level of expertise you can expect from a photographer is to ask community members on social media, who’ve dealt with the photographer, about their experiences.
Wedding Photographer Packages
A final consideration when choosing a wedding photography team, and probably the most obvious, is what their wedding photography packages look like. Your potential wedding photographer should offer you options when it comes to fees, and should be willing to work within your budget. Most photographers have a base-line when it comes to their charges, as shooting a wedding involves much more than most of us think.
A good idea is to look at the photographer’s offering holistically, comparing their prices to the quality of their work, their standing in the community, and their offered services. Compare a few photographers, and find one that suits you in terms of personality, photography style, and budget. Remember: cheap photographers are usually either inexperienced, or do not offer a full wedding photography service package. Ask yourself if you’re willing to risk it, as your wedding photographer will only have one chance to get it right.
Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer
To ensure that you don’t encounter any unforeseen issues on your wedding day, or once you receive your wedding photographs, consider asking your photographer a few important questions when first meeting with them. These include:
- How big is your photography team?
Capturing a wedding is a tough task, so most wedding photography teams consist of at least two people. If your photographer is planning on flying solo, make sure they’ll be able to handle it.
- What happens if you’re sick on the day?
Does your photographer have a contingency plan should they fall ill on the day of your wedding? If they plan on using a backup photographer, insist on meeting them and seeing their photography portfolio.
- What types of weddings have you photographed?
If you’re planning a traditional African wedding, and your photographer only photographs traditional western weddings, this could be a problem.
- What are you willing to do on the day (other than photography)?
Photographers are often called on to find missing family members and make announcements. Make sure yours is willing to go above and beyond for you!
- What does your post-production process entail?
Ensure you find out exactly what the wedding photographer’s post-production process is. Are they willing to colour-correct? Do they use Photoshop?
- How do you deliver the photographs you take?
Most wedding photographers will deliver your wedding photographs on a flash drive, while some will simply share a DropBox link with you. Be sure to find this out early to avoid disappointment later.
- What is your per-hour charge?
With everything that has to happen on the big day, be sure to ask what your potential wedding photographer’s per-hour rate it – in the event that you’d like them to stay a bit longer to , for example, photograph the dance floor in full swing.
- What is your photography team’s dress code?
More often than not, a wedding is a formal affair. If your photographer is planning on arriving in slops and shorts, they might stick out like a sore thumb.
- When can we expect to receive our photographs?
You’d ideally like to see your photographs upon returning from honeymoon, but photographers often have a backlog when it comes to processing your photos. Be sure to get a delivery time-frame.