Being the groom or suitor lands you with tasks, either self selected or in most cases forced(in the nicest possible way) but in my case I wanted to have a large input choosing our wedding photographer. I must stress that A: I did not get many wedding jobs and B: I did not really have the task of choosing the photographer on my own as its important for both parties to like the photographer and as the controlling party she was inevitably involved. This task was the one thing from our wedding that I was passionate about as the photos allow you to relive the day. The time on the day goes by so quickly you miss much of it due to everything going on. Actually the most important piece of advice that many of our friends gave us was to enjoy the day as time go by so quickly and before you know it the day you have been planning so long flashes by, you forget to embrace it all. If this is the only thing you take away from reading this article it will serve you well, after all it should be a joyful and momentous occasion so try and enjoy it.
So what are the traits of a decent photographer? There is the obvious one…..
1. Not just another idiot with a camera- I am going to be frank here, anyone can learn to take a good photo but not everyone can capture a moment that brings a tear to your eye when you see your wedding photos a few months later. I think photography is like painting, anyone can put brush to canvas but it does not make them Picasso. In my opinion the best photographers naturally have the eye for it. The best just know which light works with which shade which ultimately works with which person.
2. Sociable nature goes a long way – The photographer at your wedding will often be from outside your social circle thus it is imperative that people at your wedding actually get on with this person. This individual will be orchestrating scenes that you don’t know are actually happening until after the event. An easy audience helps however the person has to be quite persuasive at times. Even if you have a documentary photographer (more on that lower down) there will be organised photos which requires patience and likability. If your guests don’t like your photographer getting the organised photos will take longer which will cause delays on your already busy wedding schedule. A sociable/friendly character can get the best photo opportunities from your guests which again reverts back to skill.
3. Moments- The best wedding photographers can fill in the blanks from the little moments during the day that you have not seen or experienced. As mentioned before the day flies by and you cant be everywhere. There will be tons of photos of you but knowing that others were enjoying themselves at your wedding through those captured moments creates a story, a spectacle. The day is about you but trust me you will be pleased knowing that every had a great time.
How to find your moment capturing genius?
Google has made things easy for you but you need to embrace the inner Sherlock Holmes and ask around. Friends and acquaintances may know of a decent photographer, they may also be able to narrow down your list by telling you which ones to avoid. Someone on your Facebook friends list may know of such a person so post a status about your search, you never know your photographer could be on your friends list.
We found ours through searching for local documentary photographers on Google. Its important to know what sort of photographer you want. Documentary photographers are able to create a story of your day by taking snaps of those picture perfect natural moments that are not posed. They will take staged/organised photos but the best of them use the surroundings to make you and your guests look amazing without you actually doing much. They create a story hence “documentary”.
The only catch with documentary photographers are that they can be a little bit more expensive. Through my personal experience I feel that they are undoubtedly more capable of recreating your day and get those “wow” photos which ordinary photographers find hard to get. One of the key reasons we chose a documentary photographer is that we wanted our wedding photos to be unique to our day. The “gather round everyone…..say cheese!” photos every will have, the once in a lifetime moments where your Nan kicks a random football toward her grandson…priceless. That’s what we wanted.
We met a few photographers but ultimately it came down to the quality of the photos we had seen them take. Our guy was also very friendly and ultimately at the top of his game and only getting better judging by his latest stuff.
Narrow it Down!
Once you have a list of the possible people contact them first for availability. This can more often than not reduce your list significantly depending on how long before your wedding you leave this decision. My advice would be to choose your photographer early, I mean really early as the best can get booked from 6 months to a year or more in some cases so if your photos are important to you think about it pretty much at the same time as the venue. A good photographer can make an average venue look amazing so thinking about both at the same sort of time helps, perhaps the photographer you had in mind had photographed at the venue before, it all aids in choosing the final candidate.
Once you know they are available, meet them somewhere to see if you like them. Don’t waste their time though so be 80-90% sure which two or three you like. We were a little unsure at first as some of the ones were we looking at sell a good photo but ultimately only take an average one so we had to see the photos they did not have online. Our guy did not push the sale, he offered to take a photo of us there and then making the most of the surroundings…and the photo was better than anyone else could offer. Even the £3,000 photographer whom was according to his testimonials meant to be the best was not what we were after.
Like all weddings you need to know how much you can afford. More advice coming your way; Get the best photographer your budget allows and don’t be stingy if you don’t have to be. We were lucky, our guy was worth in excess of £3000 perhaps even £4000 and we paid less than half that, perhaps it was because he has only been doing it a few years but this did not affect the decision as his previous work sold the package. Don’t be fooled by what photographer’s charge, the more expensive ones do not always get you the best photo’s, the skilled and passionate ones do so look for these. Research pays off which is true for all aspects of wedding planning actually so don’t be afraid to get your investigation skills out, its actually easier than you think once you know what you want (knowing what you want is the tricky bit though).
If you need help with this task send me links to your possible photographers, ultimately the decision is yours but consider a Documentary Photographer, you won’t be disappointed.
*Photo used was taken at my wedding, simple but creatively stunning.