Wedding Photography

Page describes how to identify the best Weddding photographer for your day

 

Best Wedding Photographer for your big day

How do you go about choosing the best wedding photographer for your day? The internet is full of advice but a lot of it is geared towards people that have photography experience -  there isn’t really a lot of information out there for people who are at wedding photography square one.  The best wedding photographer for your day, and trust me you can get the best photographer for your day,  is the photographer that exhibits a few constant traits that you can see and relate to - we will discuss this at greater depth below.   Wondering why us click: here?

 
 
Click image to see other portfolio examples

Click image to see other portfolio examples

Best Wedding Photographer for your day

The secret in choosing a wedding photographer is choosing the  wedding photographer that best fits you. Here are the essentials to consider:  

Most of the time when I meet with potential clients, they say the same thing: They want a natural, un-posed journalistic record of their wedding from someone who isn’t going to interrupt the natural flow of the day. When i guide then though my experience of what this means and fully understand what it is that their needs and vision is most couples find their perfect balance between posed and un-posed moments and a good expectation is set for the day.  

Step 1: Posed vs Wedding Journalistic

Many wedding photographers already use a wedding journalistic style of approach to capture the flow of the day "just as it happened" but some photos need that extra guidance from a professional to capture the absolute best possible moment which would just not work if it is not facilitated. it is important to establish this balance so please do ask your potential photographer about this.  Most wedding photographers are approaching their work from a similar logistical standpoint, well, the end results couldn’t be more different. So how do you know what makes a good photo? What should you be looking for when you look at a photographer’s portfolio? Can you tell which of the below photos were wedding journalism and which were posed? 

 

Step 2: As a Wedding Photographer have they mastered the art of storytelling?

Each Wedding Photographer has a unique approach to represent a story through photos. This way is what resonates with you as the viewer and it touches or communicates depth of emotions in split seconds in a context that will connect with the viewer or not. This ability to tell a story will pre-determine how the photographer will position or capture important moments.  Some variables that photographers manipulate to tell their unique take on the event at will make all the difference from one portfolio to the next. Composition, Lighting and Tools utilized is the first points to consider:

 

Composition: Composition is the way the photographer utilized the frame to capture the moment, in other words, how did they set the photo up? The angle and incorporated elements in the frame should tell the story in an engaging way. As an example the below photo shows the brides perspective of the groom but uses the bride and father of the bride as key elements to focus the viewer on the groom and his response in seeing the bride. This guides the viewer's eyes exactly where to go the moment you look at the photo, but it accentuates the story of seeing the groom’s face from the bride’s perspective.

An important question in reviewing a portfolio will be: Are all the photos taken from the same perspective and angle? How does the photographer make things more interesting? Are there moments like this picture below, where they get down underneath the action? Does the photo make you feel like you are part of the moment or removed from it?

 

Lighting: Any experienced photographer will understand not only light but the quality of light, that is how light behaves in certain instances and  where to get the best lighting in any situation. Many people do not understand that it is shadow that defines and shapes objects and not just even or natural light - Shadow can be utilized to shape, accent and even create mood. Photographers instinctively understand how the quality of light will affect or what quality they seek to tell the story that they are capturing - the way a photographer utilizes light will to change scenes from light and open to dramatic and moody or contemplative. When you look at a photographers portfolio look for the way they utilize light. For example, take the photos below. They are of the same brides, taken not long after each other, but the light is totally different, and therefore the photos are totally different.

 

Ideally you are looking for a photographer that can create the mood that resonates with you or a photographer that can work in any kind of light - that is, he has a balanced set of lighting conditions that forms part of his portfolio.  This balance ensures you that your wedding photographer can cope with any lighting scenario on the day. Consider if their portfolio is dark and moody? Bright and romantic? Bland and flat? Balanced and varied -

Some photographers refer to themselves as "Natural light photographers" - Beautiful photos can be taken with just natural light but this can only be taken so far, then artificial light needs to be utilized. It is important that you see work in your photographers portfolio that shows artificial light being utilized both in the day and vitally at night at the reception.  You may ask your photographer if they used strobe, flash or video lighting as part of their typical wedding shoot. Every lighting situation is different for photographers, so make sure you’re looking at photos that have similar characteristics to your venue. An outdoor wedding in the middle of the day with bright sun requires a very different skill than a New Year’s Eve reception in a dark church.

 

Tools: As you’re looking through portfolios, keep an eye out for what identifies the photographer’s portfolio as distinctly their own. It might be that they take super crisp images with really high quality lenses. Or maybe they use their grandfather’s camera to take old school black and whites. A photographers’ favorite tool will tell you a lot about the way they see the world.

 

At the end of the day, it all comes down to storytelling. Sure, according to Wikipedia or any online photography forum, there is a right and a wrong way to take a photo. But when it comes to wedding photography, what you’re really looking for is a storytelling technique that matches your idea of how your wedding will be. 

So ask yourself, does the photo you’re looking at have a sense of humor? Is it romantic? Is there a softness to it? Does it look crisp like a magazine image? The story a photographer tells is going to be your story through their eyes, so you want to make sure that they match up.

The conclusion: if all of this seems like a ton of information to digest, then keep it simple and look for two criteria: Do you like the photos and do they make you feel happy? Not a super visual person? Then it’s totally fine to ignore the first question and move onto the second: Do you like the photographer and do they make you feel happy? More important than lighting, composition, or any fancy technology, those are the power rules to live by.

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Step 3: Settle on a Style

Before researching photographers, you'll need to decide what type of photography style you prefer. This will determine which kind of photographer you'll want shooting your wedding. The best wedding photographer for your day will have a balanced approach and several examples of all of the below. Couples are ill advised to choose a photographer that specializes on just one of these styles unless they have very specific requirements.  Here are some common styles of photography:

Documentary: Instead of a series of posed photos, these photo journalistic in style - it captures the day as it happens with minimal intrusion of people, decor and the action. With a purely photo journalistic photographer, you'll very rarely see people staring at the camera—the photos capture the moments exactly as they happened instead of taking pains to feature anything specific.

Portraiture: Portraiture photographers uses posed shots of the two of you, your friends and family in front of various backdrops or a specific location - group photographs typically fall into this category. While some photographers will pose subjects in more traditional spots and in more formal poses , other photographers take portraiture further into the creative realm with a more dramatic styles, poses and framing of the subjects.

Fine Art:  The photos are dramatic and gorgeous but documentary in nature - licence is given to the photographer to achieve unique points of view , they are—or look as though they were—shot on film with a grainier, ethereal, more matt or muted appearance. 

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Contemporary - Modern: This style of photography, an offshoot of fine art, is marked by outside-the-box, tilted angles (called “Dutch angles") and unconventional framing.  Even a single portrait of a bridesmaid might be shot so that her face takes over only the bottom right of the photo and the rest of the space is filled with the wall or whatever's behind her.

Many wedding photographers can do a blend of portraiture and documentary-style shots, and will do a mix of black-and-white and color images, but if there's a special style you love, make sure to focus on photographers who specialize in it.

 

Step 4: Set Up Interviews

Looks alone are important but it is important to your potential photographers in person. If you like what you see on their sites and they are within your budget range, call to see if they're available for your wedding date. If the photographer is already booked on your date, you may want to see if they have an associate or can recommend another shooter with a similar style. . Be prepared to talk about your venue, your wedding style and what you envision for your photos -  at the end of the day the wedding photographer works for you.

Step 5: Research

Carefully review potential photographers' websites and blogs to check out photos of other weddings they've shot, which will give you an idea of their style.  Is the feedback from previous clients positive? How does the photographer respond to questions, what is their average feedback time? Consider the design of their website, this may hold some clues to their personality and style. Check out their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages too, if available.

Step 6: Ask to see full Wedding Albums

Don't base your decision solely on what you see in a wedding photographer's highlights gallery or album, this usually comprises a portfolio of the best of the best. To get a well-rounded idea of their work ask to see two or three full galleries from real weddings they've shot  so you can get a better idea of what your complete collection of photos might look.  And ask to see at least one or two complete albums of weddings that are in similar settings to yours. 

When reviewing a photographer's album, look for the key moments you want captured.  Also look for sharp images, thoughtful compositions and good lighting. It's also very important that you detect sensitivity in capturing people's emotions; make sure the photographer's subjects look relaxed, and that their are lots of candid moments captured

Step 7: Make Sure Your Personalities Mesh

 In order to get the best photos, go with a professional who has a firm grasp of social graces but is bold enough to direct respectfully while going the extra mile to capture great images. it is important that their demeanor  puts you at ease and doesn't irritate you in any way. - As the photographer will be on your heels for the whole day it is important to be at ease with him, the more at ease you are the better the photos will turn out - this is equally relevant for your guests. To get the best photos, your photographer needs to be assertive enough to seek out great moments, relaxed and easygoing enough to conjure up relaxed smiles and natural stances from yourself and your guests, and calm enough to be a positive influence. 

Step 8: Confirm backup Wedding Photographer and second Shooters

Be sure that the photographer you interview is the lead photographer on the day of your wedding. Since all the above elements determine the way the story develops a different photographer could produce a different style contrary to your expectation.  Be sure to include specific stipulations in the contract about who will cover for the photographer should something happen on the actual day. Check whether the photographer will bring any assistants to your wedding, and if so, how many? If you have room in your budget, consider hiring a second shooter.  The main benefit to having two shooters is that you, of course, get twice as much coverage and you get to see entirely different elements of the day that you may have missed. Weddings with 250 guests or more, might want to consider three shooters so you can be sure to capture the event from all angles.

Step 9: Compare Packages

Packages range from $2,500 all the way up to $15,000 plus on the higher end of the spectrum depending on what your requirements are.  Ideally, you want your photographer to be there for your full wedding day—from when you start getting ready until after you make your grand exit from the reception. While packages vary, most include about 6 to 12 hours to cover everything from pre-ceremony events, such as getting ready and first looks, to the end of the reception. It's usually better to pay for more coverage if there's a chance you'll run over and you definitely want your photographer there until the end.  Also consider whether you'll want to do an engagement shoot or have your photographer shoot other events during your wedding weekend - Bridal Brunch, dress fitting, mock run and setup of venues if this is a family affair. 

 

Step 10: Ask About Your Rights

Most contracts stipulate that the photographer owns the rights to all photos taken at the wedding, even the ones of you. In other words, the photographer can use them for promotional purposes (on their website, blogs, publications and even use them in ads). That also means that you can't just post the digital proofs they send you—most photographers have a policy that you can only share watermarked images or images with their credit on them. Unless you negotiate otherwise, if you want to print the images yourselves or order an album from another source, you'll have to buy the rights to the images.

Step 11: Get the Post production Details

Because Photographers shoot in RAW - a large medium that gives your photographer greater ability to manipulate the digital information to produce the final image. This however means that they require specialized software to upload, process and edit all those files -  It varies, but many photographers say that they spend an additional 40 hours editing images from a single wedding, so it can take up to six to eight weeks, depending on how busy they are, to get proofs back. Talk to your photographer around your time based expectations, you might be surprised at what they can achieve with the correct amount of planning and additional assistance. 

Some discussion points that will be of value:

  • How many images should I expect? Will they be high resolution or low resolution?
  • Will I be able to get prints made myself, or does the photographer retain the rights to the images?
  • Will the proofs I see be the retouched versions, or does that happen after I select the photos I want? Speaking of retouching, ask about retouching options and special effects (which can range from simple white balancing to beauty retouching and stylized art effects like super-saturated colors) and the additional cost for both.
  • Ask about same-day processing and slideshow options at the reception i.e. a slideshow you can show guests within 2-3 hours after the wedding. 
  • Ask about photo booths