It’s finally happening!... you’ve got the engagement ring, you’re narrowing down wedding dresses, you’ve got some colors picked out and I KNOW you’ve already been all over Pinterest and that your Wedding Board has exploded with pins. You probably have an idea of whether you want a country rustic feel or chic and elegant for your day which has helped you narrow down venues for your ceremony and reception. Now you’re faced with the task of choosing a photographer which can be super overwhelming. After asking hundreds of brides, “Do you know what you’re looking for in a photographer? In your experience with them? In what they offer?” 99% of brides answer something like this, “Well, I’m not really sure… I know I want good pictures.” So based on my experience as a wedding photographer AND as I was a bride myself, these are some guidelines to keep in mind as you look around for someone to capture one of the most important events of your life. Ask yourself:
what is their style of photography?
Ok before I talk about different styles of photography, stop reading for a second and go pull up your Pinterest Board or your wedding binder and look at the images that you’ve pinned. What type of pictures have you put together? Do all your pictures have common themes such as soft and sweet or do they all have bold colors? Are your pictures particularly staged and posed? Or are they candid and in the moment? Ok now let’s jump in to the different styles I’ve observed:
1. What is their Style of Photography?
2. What is Their Personality and Customer Service Like?
3. What Products Do They Offer?
Let’s break these down into more tangible ideas.
What is Their Personality and Customer Service Like?
Ok, this is a big one that many don’t consider. Equally as important as a photographer’s portfolio is their personality. Think about it, out of all the people you hire for your wedding, you are going to spend the most time with your photographer. You won’t be with the florist, the baker, the caterer, the priest, the DJ or even the wedding coordinator for 10 straight hours like you will be with your photographer.
On that day, you’ll want someone who is friendly and polite to your mother and your guests and won’t push people out of the way to “just get the job done”.
You’ll want someone who is socially aware who knows when to add to the excitement of your day but also knows when to step back and let a moment happen.
what products do they offer
Lastly, find out what type of products you’d like to walk away from your wedding with. Are you looking for a beautiful album that tells the story of your day? Would you like a Cluster of Wall Art to display in your living room? Did you want an Engagement Photos Guest Signing Book so all your guests can see your engagement pictures? Does your mom want a parent album? Maybe you are hoping your photographer makes custom Thank You cards so you don’t have worry about handwriting 100 cards when you get back from your honeymoon! Make sure you look for a photographer that offers tangible products and not just a USB of pictures. And if you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for, my best suggestion is to attend a Bridal Show, walk around, meet all the photographers, ask them what and why they offer the things they do. And really, if you find a photographer that you’ve just fallen in love with but maybe aren’t offering exactly what you were hoping for, ask them if they’ll do something custom for you!
So as you look around for someone to capture the memories of your day, keep these three guidelines in mind:
1. What is Their Style of Photography?
2. What is Their Personality and Customer Service like?
3. What Products Do They Offer?
Hopefully this will give you some good ideas of what to look for and lead you to just the right person for you! And if after reading this you have more questions, feel free to jump on over to my Contact page and shoot me an message! I’d love to hear from you.
Also do you prefer pictures that are black and white? Have clean backgrounds? Use bold colors? Warm colors? Use sunlight? Are soft and airy? Portraits that are up close on people’s faces? Portraits that incorporate the landscape?
Now, I’m going to mess with you a bit. Most photographers use a MIX of these three styles. But what you need to do when you figure out which style you prefer most, is pay attention to each portfolio that you look at to discern which style the MAJORITY of images are. Talk with the photographer and ask them to describe their style. Ask them what they love about photography and what they love about wedding photography. This will give you a good idea of their style of photography so you can see if it matches your own.
A. Traditional – This is exactly what it sounds like and is probably the style you’ll find in your parent’s wedding album. Everyone is standing in a line, the tallest person in the back, “everyone look at the camera please, no blinking and smile!” We also call these types of pictures “Camera Aware” because the subject in the person is usually aware of the camera and looking right at it. The traditional style is all about posing. Traditional shots are great for Family Formal pictures and are usually the shots that end up on the mantel in your parent’s house. So ask yourself, are the majority of my pictures traditional, camera aware shots?
B. Fashion – also called Glamour or Editorial. This style is a relatively new style to the world of photography and has its roots in magazine spreads and fashion shoots. Often the subjects in these pictures are posed though usually not camera aware and have a very serious look on their faces. Capturing a few of these pictures during your wedding day really takes advantage of the fact that not only are you in a beautiful gown but you’ve had your hair and makeup professionally done and you’re looking your very best. These photos can add a very high end feel to your album. Fashion photography doesn’t match everyone’s personality and style and not everyone is comfortable posing like a model.
C. Candid – also called Photojournalistic. This style has its beginnings from photographers who would document events for the newspapers. Often these photographers will be a step back from the events of the day and capture natural moments just as they are. They aren’t obtrusive, always interrupting but observing relationships and interactions to capture pictures that “feel real”. A photographer with a candid style will not only capture moments such as your reaction to the Best Man’s joke during his toast but also conduct your portraits this way. If the photographer is getting pictures of you and your bridesmaids, she will get you all interacting as friends having fun, then step back and start snapping! If she’s working on getting pictures of you and your groom, she’ll get the two of you interacting naturally and capture memories as such. As opposed to give specific directions on where and how to stand, these pictures look natural, organic, unstaged and highlight the subject’s personalities.
You’ll want someone who is confident who can efficiently organize your huge extended family for pictures.
You’ll want someone who clearly communicates with you from the day that you make initial contact. Do they call you back in a timely manner? Will they walk with you throughout your wedding planning process and answer your questions and offer helpful tips?
You’ll want someone who is organized, who has a contract, knows the timeline of your wedding day forward and backwards, knows what family pictures that you’d like, who backs up the backups of your wedding images that night before she goes to bed, and the list goes on.
You’ll want someone with experience who has shot so many weddings that they know when and where to anticipate moments and be ready for them when they happen. You’ll also want someone with experience so you aren't worried that they’re not going to get the right shot or not give you any direction during your portraits.
Lastly, you'll want someone you’re comfortable with, someone whose personality clicks with yours. A wedding can be a very emotional, intimate day and if you’re not comfortable or don’t trust your photographer, it can lead to more tension on the wedding day. On the other hand, if you are very comfortable with your photographer and perhaps have even begun a friendship with them, then you feel comfortable really being yourself and expressing your emotions freely. And let me tell you now, this will make the BEST pictures.
So when looking for a wedding photographer, don’t look only at their work, but set aside some time to sit down in person and meet. Chat with them, get to know their personality and ask them as many questions as you want. So if you want great pictures, hire a photographer that you can trust.