Choosing your Wedding Photographer by GrrlAlex
Weddings – it’s all about the details:
Your wedding is something you are likely to spend a good while planning – thinking through the themes, the colours, the details. With so much to think about and so many important decisions to make to create the perfect day, choosing wedding vendors can seem like a daunting prospect. For many, a wedding seems like an expensive proposition and it can feel like people have tripled the price just because you’ve said the “W” word.
How to choose a wedding photographer:
When it comes to wedding photography choosing the right wedding photographer is one of the most important decisions you will make. There’s only one chance to record the big day and the images you end up with will last you a lifetime. And you know – they should be images you treasure. There are a few points here worth considering:
Firstly, consider what the purpose of the photography is for you – what will it give you? Do you really see yourself going to get that DVD or USB out of the drawer so you can scroll through 2000 digital images of “the day”? Or will you perhaps treasure just five or six of your favourite images and have them turned into prints or canvasses. It’s actually worth thinking about this because many of the ‘moments of the day’ that we like to share on our social media will be recorded by your guests on their phones and digital cameras – and many of those images are ideally suited for that. Choosing a professional photographic artist on the other hand is about finding someone who will take the setting and create beautiful images that you will really treasure. You may wish to use some as framed prints or canvasses to hang on the walls of your home; you may include some in a custom designed hardback photo-book; or look to create a set for a formal album. And it really is worth thinking about printing some of those images: you’ll enjoy them more if they are displayed somewhere. If what you need from your wedding photography is a collection of images that you will treasure, then this brings us on to style.
Most wedding photographers these days offer a ‘photo-journalistic’ approach to shooting a wedding: the photographs will tell the story of the day in pictures. So you will have the photographer with you all day from dawn till dusk and they may take several thousand pictures which will be whittled down to perhaps a few hundred. It’s worth saving only the best in fairness but the more pictures that are taken, the more work there is to process and develop them. And yes, even digital images need to be processed and developed.
How to choose a wedding photographer: how good is their post-production quality?
The difference between an amateur photograph and a professional one is not just in the composition but also the finesse of the final image. A digital image worthy of print needs to be adjusted to reach optimum lighting, tone, and colour production. Most professional photographers will tell you that for every hour of photography there is at least two or three hours on the computer doing the post production. So spending eight hours with you on the day will typically mean spending three days in the studio, working through the images, choosing the best ones and applying the tonal adjustments that bring them to the required quality. This is where you will notice the difference between photographers most. You will see that I personally prefer to use strong colours in my post-production, others may use muted or de-saturated colours: it’s a matter of taste and preference. Two of my associates specialise in the latter style so if you’d like your images produced in this alternative tone then this is easily arranged – as I say, its purely a matter of artistic taste. (View my wedding photography portfolio)
How much does Wedding Photography cost?
Here’s the thing. If a “shoot-&-burn” photographer snaps away all day then drops the images to a CD and posts it out to you the work is done in less than an hour. For a professional photographic artist to work carefully through the set and deliver high quality, retouched images then that may be three or four days work. The balance here is quality over cost, and time is the major factor. Another factor affecting quality is what type of light is used. I like to bring a lighting assistant on the day so we can create the optimum conditions. I also like to bring a second photographic artist to assist me on the day – I can’t always be in two places at once and it offers additional scope to the range of images you end up with. You need to budget enough to ensure sufficient quality is possible. (see my article “Wedding Photography Prices” for more on this subject)
How to choose a wedding photographer – Top-Tip: make sure you like the photographer!
The best photography happens when there is a good rapport between photographer and their subject. It’s perfectly natural to feel a bit nervous in front of the camera so having confidence in your photographer is key to being able to relax and enjoy the day. (See also Do you need a gay weddings photographer to shoot a gay wedding?)
Many people feel awkward in front of the camera – many of us have had truly awful photographs taken (and often by supposedly pro-photgraphers: think school photos here!!) so planning to work with a photographer on your big day needs to accommodate any anxieties you have about how you look in front of the lens. One of the advantages of using a professional photographic artist is that you will have someone who brings their experience and skills in posing you as a subject, skills in framing the shot; skills in post-production *and yep: even photoshop ;)* because the idea is to make images you fall in love with.