This article was published in the Life Magazine (Newcastle/Teesside Edition)
When a couple decides to get married there are a lot of important decisions to be made in the coming months or even years. One of the most important areas is choosing the right wedding photographer. In 10-20 years time the majority of couples will only have their wedding album to remember their special day. This is why it is critical that you choose the one that meets your requirements. I have read in a lot of magazines about how to choose a wedding photographer and they mention do they include disk with all the images on, how many photos will they take and will there be two photographers covering the wedding. In my opinion it’s not about quantity it’s about quality and creativity.
I would definitely recommend choosing a professional wedding photographer rather than someone who photographs wedding at the weekend just for some extra money. You will find somebody purchasing a camera for around £500 and think they can start shooting wedding photography. Buying a good camera doesn’t make you a good photographer! A professional wedding photographer is passionate about their work and will be able to cope with the unexpected i.e. a wet wedding or equipment failure. Would you spend your hard earned money on an inexperienced photographer who has ‘one’ chance to capture your priceless memories?
A very important question you need to ask yourself is what style of wedding photography you prefer. The days of just posed shots are long gone. Virtually all the couples I meet prefer the reportage/journalistic style of wedding photography. Taking candid photographs of people is great for creating a story of the day. I love to photograph the emotion of the wedding day by blending into the back ground and photographing real smiles and laughter and even tears!
You will find a lot of photographers are happy to stick to the candid/traditional way of photographing a wedding. When you look for a photographer check their websites or blogs to see if all their weddings look the same. Do you want your wedding album to look like everybody else’s or do you want a photographer who is creative and will make your wedding photos individual to you? As well as shooting reportage wedding photography I love to try something out of the ordinary. I use off camera flash to create atmosphere even in bright sunlight. I also like to use wide angled lens to give an image a different perspective. This lens is also useful for capturing the big scenes outside and even the large interiors of venues i.e. inside churches. When I visit a venue I’m always looking for different backdrops which makes me stand out from other photographers. I once photographed a bride and groom next a roller shutter door, the image looked great especially once I converted it to black and white. Once the light starts to fade I like to venture outside a get creative with flashes and even a torch. I have been known to use light painting at a wedding where I used a torch to draw a love heart next to the bride and groom and a flash to illuminate the couple!
As well as having a competent photographer for your wedding day, what is their personality like? You will want to choose a photographer you will get on with. Will you feel comfortable around her/him all day; will they make you feel at ease in front of the camera? There is nothing worse than a stressful or pushy photographer! If there is even a possibility of a personality clash - avoid!
I recommend choosing a photographer who offers a pre-wedding/engagement shoot. It is a great way to get to know one another and how the photographer works. The photographer should offer advice on how to pose for shots that are flattering. If you feel comfortable having your photographs taken on your wedding day this will go a long way to having beautiful images that you will treasure. An engagement shoot is a good time to explain to the photographer if you feel uncomfortable having certain shots like having side profile photographs or even some unusual ideas you have thought of for your wedding day. I love it when couples think of a quirky shot they would like to have taken; I’m more than happy to try something different.
Ask about backup equipment. If you get a blank stare you know they are not prepared to shoot your wedding. They should have at least 2 bodies and multiple lenses and flashes. I use 5 different lenses on a wedding day. If was unprepared and had only one camera body I wouldn’t be unable to carry on recoding your wedding day, which would be a disaster! There are many photographers who do not have enough camera equipment to shoot at weddings, so make sure to ask!
What happens if it rains all day? Does the photographer have portable lighting in case of bad weather or in case of a low light indoor location? You want to be sure to hire someone who is prepared for any eventuality. I take five large umbrellas to weddings to hand out to the married couple and a few guests. If the bride and groom are prepared to go outside in the rain you can capture some unique images for their wedding album.
The most common way of looking for a photographer is searching for one using Google. A photographer who has invested in their website is one who has passion and who is concerned with the image they are presenting to the world. A badly designed website is not a good sign and you can usual tell straight away if you are interested in their work. If you get a good feeling from the website, check out the gallery pages and assess the photographers work. Do the images have a clear style? Are they technically sound? Has emotion really been captured? To get a good feel for a photographers work and how good they are I also check out their other work. When you shoot a wedding you don’t just photograph people you have to also photograph architecture and the surrounding landscape. Does the photographer have a blog and is it regularly updated? A busy blog means the photographer is also busy. A photographer who updates their blog regularly is one who loves photography, and gives you an opportunity to see their very latest images.
When looking through their albums, check that the photos are clear and sharp and the colour is natural and true to life. The photographs should jump off the page and move you. Questions to ask: Has retouching been done? Is it included in the price? What type of albums do they provide? Are there any extra fees or costs, such as travel, accommodations, etc.? Ask to see images from an entire wedding (start to finish). Just about anyone can put together a slideshow of good pictures they have taken over the years. But a professional wedding photographer can capture great photos from every part of a single wedding.
Find out exactly what is included in the photographer's price. How will the pictures be sent to you and when can you expect to receive them? Many photographers offer wedding packages, with no album just the high resolution images. Look through the packages and decide which you'd like best. A professional photographer can also customise a package to better suit your needs.
Finally, make sure your photographer prepares a contract and terms and conditions that includes all the services that he/she is providing, as well as the price and cancellation policy.
If you find the right wedding photographer who is passionate about their work, you'll be able to enjoy the moments for many years in photographs that capture the excitement, love, and passion of your wedding day.