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Deciding on Which Wedding Photographer Is Right for You

First of all, the single most important thing about the photographer you hire is just how well you as the client and he/she as the service provider get along. Its important that both parties be able to communicate comfortably, the reason why I say so is because if both parties get along then the quality of communication between them is sufficient for both parties to understand their needs, fears and desires. This goes without saying if you’re a photographer, especially if you’re a photographer who makes their living out of photographing people. If I were an animal or pet photographer, it’d be most important that I get along with animals…

The next most important thing is, obviously, the quality of the photographers work, and this is a very subjective topic. What one person regards as good photography, is not necessarily what everybody else would consider good, this explains why there are so many wedding photographers who are quite frankly bad photographers (or not real photographers at all) but still seem to make boat loads of cash doing it. If you’re happy hiring someone who creates mediocre imagery by over-photoshopping their pictures, by all means hire them. On the other hand if its important to you that you continue to admire your wedding photographs years later, then try to look for someone who creates work that really impresses you.

In order to spot someone who claims to be a wedding photographer but is actually just a poser, or not experienced enough, there are a few things to look for in their work that are telling signs. These are a few of them:

  1. Look for pictures that were taken with head on flash. In other words, a picture taken with the flash while the flash is attached directly to the top of the camera. What this does is create unflattering light because the light from the flash is coming from the same direction from where the picture is being taken from. It requires quite a bit of experience with a TTL enabled flash to bounce the light from the flash off of walls and ceilings effectively thus creating a more flattering appearance of those photographed.
  2. Look for pictures that look as if the wedding took place in dark room. It requires experience to balance the light coming out of the flash with the ambient light in the room. An amateur will underexpose the ambient light in their exposure making the background in the image pitch black, which is very ugly.
  3. Poor cropping is another sign of inexperience. If you’re not a photographer this might be a little difficult to spot, but if the important elements in the image are not arranged in a nice way in the picture, the photographer is probably not experienced.
  4. The Decisive Moment. This is an obvious one, if a lot of the pictures have people in them that were half way through blinking their eyes at the moment the picture was taken, don’t hire this person. Being able to see a moment in which a good photo can be taken and then taking the picture at that exact moment, is a skill someone is born with, if this person does not have this skill, don’t hire them.

To finish off, the most important factor in photography is, LIGHT. If the photographer can prove a beautiful and flattering style in their use of light, you will most likely end up with wedding photographs that you’d want to brag about. And as a photographer I can tell you, that it is very satisfying if you find out through the grapevine that a former client of yours was bragging about their wedding photos.

Keep your wits about you and don’t just sign with the first photographer you meet with.

My Thoughts On Asking A Family Member Or Friend To Be Your Wedding Photographer

Is it a good idea to ask a friend or family member to photograph your wedding in order to keep the costs down?

Having been a photographer for both friends and family I believe I can comment on this and help you make the right decision when considering your wedding photographer. When building my wedding photography portfolio I had the opportunity to photograph weddings for my sister, brother and other close friends. I found that having such a close relationship to the bride and groom and all of the guests affected my performance when taking photographs. While I was not the only photographer covering the wedding I still felt I had a job to do, especially when I needed to expand on my portfolio, but it wasn’t as easy as I had thought.

In my opinion I either need to be a guest or photographer. To be a guest at a wedding you need to sit and watch the ceremony, you need to talk to relatives you haven’t seen for a while, you need to be part of the dinner service, enjoy the speeches and have a few too many drinks. all of these things cannot easily coincide with taking professional looking photographs.

While I was able to provide some nice photographs to my family/friend, I was unable to photograph key shots like the group shots, the ceremony etc. as I needed to be part of these celebrations and was not in the right mindset to manage a crowd and organise a large group of people. If you feel you need to save money by hiring a photographer who is a friend, I would advise you to find someone who isn’t a close friend e.g. a friend of a friend. That way the photographer won’t feel obliged to take part as a guest and only take part as the wedding photographer.

Be careful – even though you know the person photographing your wedding don’t just assume they are up to the job because they have a hobby in photography or own a decent camera. Experience is essential and without it you may end up with wedding photographs you never want to look at. Be sure to have a good look at what the person has photographed in the past, and decide whether it is relevant to what he/she needs to do on the day.

One last pointer – if you decide to hire a friend in order to save money, make sure to treat them as you would a professional. By this I mean make sure they know what sort of shots you want, who is going to be in what group shot, how early they will arrive and what time they will leave. This will both help ensure you get the photographs you want and will put the photographer into the right state of mind.

How to Pick the Right Wedding Photographer

Picking the right wedding photographer is a three step process:

1. Connect with the photographers work. Are you moved and captivated by the images or do they look like every other photographer you have looked at? Look at many sites and check the photographers blog to see current images in addition to just the best pictures on the website. Look for consistency by viewing many images from each wedding. Also look for pictures that have real emotional and romantic moments as they will mean more to you than a picture of yourself smiling at the camera.

2. Meet or talk with the photographer. They will be around you more than anyone else on such an important day. Go with your gut instinct on whether you feel they can be trusted with the emotions you will show. You must be comfortable and excited to have them cover your wedding. Try to see their work in print. Do their images look as nice as on the computer screen? Are you impressed with their sample albums of complete weddings?

3. Budget. Yes money matters but keep in mind the more distinctive the work, the more of an investment is required. Photography is the only purchase for your wedding that is forever, and will also increase in value to you over the years. Try not to settle, there is only one chance on this day and your images will be priceless in the future. Any amount spent today is a bargain for the enjoyment you will have for the rest of your life and future family members. If you have a very tight budget try not to focus so much on products. You have the rest of your life to get a nice album. Great images are a smarter first step.

Take care and I hope you have an incredible wedding!