How to choose your wedding photographer
Photography is such a personal thing and it is often said to be the most important investment you will make on your wedding day. These days with all the latest software, technology and equipment there seems to be more photographers than weddings. Everyone seems to be quite good and choosing can be very challenging. After 18 years in the wedding business, even if I am not to be your wedding photographer, here are my suggestions to help make the right choice for you.
1. CHOOSE SOMEONE LOCAL. Although this suggestion is perhaps not in my best interest, but I highly recommend choosing someone who lives in the area or at the very least has shot in the area and venue before. They will know secret spots, know how to make the most of natural light and know the ins and outs and logistics of your venue. Further more, especially in small towns like the Amalfi Coast, locals know locals, which is always more than handy. Knowing the staff of hotels, private villas, venues & restaurants can help things run smoothly and you are more likely to be permitted access to areas that you may not normally be permitted.
2. OFFERING DIFFERENT PHOTOGRAPHERS UNDER ONE NAME. Be very sure who you will be getting to shoot your wedding. Often when photographers have made a name for themselves they try to make the most of their name by offering other photographers under their name. Be sure you see whole weddings (not just one) from the photographer who will be shooting your wedding. Ask to see weddings with bad weather or less photogenic brides. These are sure fire ways to sort the good from the bad. Make sure it’s written in your contract, exactly who the primary photographer will be at your wedding. Be confident that a photographer who shoots over 100 weddings over one summer period in can still gaurantee you quality.
3. A MALE OR FEMALE PHOTOGRAPHER. This is a very personal decision. Some brides feel more inspired by a male photographer as it adds a little sexual tension in the air. However if you are not used to being photographed, are shy or self conscious you may feel more comfortable with a female primary photographer. Women tend to understand complexes, and with a more detailed eye, they notice small blemishes which can be easily concealed with a clever pose. Some brides prefer a female photographer in the room while getting ready, in particular those consider a pre-wedding lingerie/boudoir shoot.
4. THE GUARANTEE OF PRICE AND TRACK RECORD. A photographer who as been working for many years and is still highly priced, usually shows they are worth their money. A young photographer trying to break into the market will offer you a better price, but wedding photography is a bit like face cream, you should get the best for your budget. The internet has created an environment, which means with a simple search you can research someones track record. Someone who has a long sparkling track record is a good bet and there are a few. While young photographers are often fresh & capable they don’t always have the experience to handle difficult situations like bad weather or running really late, which often can arise on wedding days. A seasoned professional has been there before, learnt from past mistakes and will know how to steer the the ship out of the storm.
5. PORTRAITS AND THE STYLE OF IMAGES YOU ULTIMATELY WANT. We all adore reportage photography, but deep down every bride would like a couple of fab portraits of themselves, their parents, the groom and as newlyweds. Check that these photos are present in portfolio pictures and in weddings on your photographers website. Be careful not to be seduced by trendy images which might not cover the basics. Make a little list of what is important to you and make sure your photographer can deliver those kinds of images. A photographer’s ultimate goal should be customer satisfaction so they should be willing to work with your style and consider your photo inspiration board.
6. LANGUAGE. Make sure you and your photographer can have a fluent conversation. Prior to signing a contract, set up a time for meeting, a coffee, a skype call with the actual photographer who will be with you on the day, not just the studio head. I highly recommended avoiding an interpreter. Messages get mixed up, it wastes time and causes confusion. It takes a lot of stress out of your wedding day if you feel like your photographer (and not their assistant) understands you.
7. COMPLEXES. After years of shooting, I know girls and they are a tribe which are very critical of themselves (myself included). Discuss your complexes with your photographer and although photographers are not miracle workers they should have tricks up their sleeves for skinny arms, double chins and larger noses. From poses to photoshop. Make sure your photographer has these skills. Now because it’s a trend and fashionable, most photographers shoot reportage, but if you want truly flattering portraits some posing has to be done. Even a little. Just using light and posing, a photographer should be able to make clients younger and slimer without having to resort to photoshop. Even big ears and noses and be minimised with a clever pose. Posing is tricky and if not done perfectly it can be dreadful and very embarrassing. This is where it’s good to look at as many weddings as possible by your photographer of choice
8. TIMELESS. Instagram has made the use of filters and textures very fashionable in wedding photography, but here I recommend you be very careful. The reason photographers love filters is most pictures can be made to look good with a simple touch of a button. Today it seems most wedding photographs were shot in autumn. Photography is a lot like clothing, if you don’t want to look foolish in the years to come, stick to classics. As close to the real colours as possible and be very careful of overly bleached images since they may not stand the test of time. Although personally I tailor and adapt my shooting style to each individual client request, I highly recommend choosing a timeless style. Vintage is trendy & cute, but imagine yourself in 10 years and how you would see those images. Wouldn’t you want to see the colours? Think of the 1970’s photographs with the soft edges how outdated they now are. Remember to choose timeless over trend.
9. STYLE. A photographer who does not shoot just shoot one style of photography is another guarantee of their professional capabilty. Many photographers have just one style but a photographer who mixes and matches their styles, means they are interested in their clients tastes and are able to deliver diversity.
10. QUALIFICATIONS & BADGES. As I mentioned before, technology, software and equipment have made it inviting for almost anyone to be a photographer. Ask your photographer of their qualifications, their awards and also their professional working history as working professionally to ensure you are making a wise investment. Also always check the validity of their blog badges and symbols, as they can be too easily copied and pasted into emails. It will keep them honest.