Wedding Advice from a Wedding Photographer
Wedding photography is often an afterthought to many brides who are planning their wedding. They think they'll find an abundant of photographers fighting for their business online, and to be honest, they're right. There are many wedding and event photographers out there, and finding one won't be hard. But what many brides do not realize, is that their relationship with their photographer is the most important one they'll have during their special day. Your wedding photographer is going to spend the entire day by your side, constantly near you, taking pictures of your day from morning till night. No other person, not even the groom, is going to spend more time with you on your wedding day. Crazy, right? Here are some tips on finding the right photographer for you:
1. Will you feel comfortable spending your entire wedding day with them?
You want to have a great relationship with your photographer, and feel comfortable around them. Just picking a random photographer off the internet and hiring them because their portfolio looks nice is not the way to go. You want to have a conversation with them about your thoughts the on the wedding, the details, and get a feel for their personality. You want to get a feel for how they work, who they are, and if you'll enjoy their company on your wedding. You need to have a great vibe from them, because the last thing you want is stress, awkwardness, or confrontation on your wedding day. Leave that to the family drama! The last person you want annoying you on your wedding day is your photographer.
2. How many weddings do the book each year?
This may sound strange, but you don't always want a photographer who shoots hundreds of weddings a year. You're thinking, that makes no sense! That means they're busy, extremely experienced, and good at their job. Actually, it can mean that they're overworked, overbooked, and lack any enthusiasm for weddings. If you find a photographer who has been shooting weddings for over 10 years and that's all they do, make sure they still love what they do. Sometimes, "robot" photographers have no creativity in them anymore - they simply go through the motions. They shoot the exact same pictures, the same group shots, and cookie cutter poses wedding after wedding. You want a fresh, excited, contemporary photographer who still loves what they do, has a passion for art, and is driven by creativity. You want someone who shoots weddings often enough to be ready for any situation that may arise, and knows the ins and outs of how to get the most out of the day with their camera, but still will go out of their way to experiment and look for cool ways to use your surroundings to enhance your photography.
3. What is the photographers turnaround time for your wedding photos?
My delivery time of edited wedding photography is around three weeks, but I've come across other photographers whose delivery time is WAY longer - they simply have too many weddings to edit, and they keep piling up (see #2 on this list). The more weddings a photographer has, the more post retouching work they have, and the longer you wait for your photography. Let's be honest, your wedding day may very well be the most exciting day of your life - of course you want to see photos and relish in the beauty of your event. Always check with your photographer on their turnaround time with photography. If its longer than month, you might want to reconsider using them. You may think that's not that too long, but trust me, you will be upset that you can't share with family and friends memories of the wedding when it's still on everyone's mind and fresh in their thoughts. I was recently wed, and my photographer's turnaround time? Eight to ten weeks. Ridiculous. I am so sorry I went with that photographer and learned my lesson too late. Two months after your wedding, you will be busy with life and the excitement will have worn off and the photography will not make as large an impact. Do not hire a photographer who can't deliver your pictures within a month of your wedding.
4. Do they rent their lenses and equipment to shoot your wedding?
I've come across some photographers who actually only own a small arsenal of lenses, and rent larger, more powerful lenses for their weddings. I think this is a cop-out. They do not know these lenses, have not spent time gaining experience using them, and therefore can not truly utilize them. You want a photographer who owns and uses their own lenses. They know them inside and out and can quickly change focal lengths like it is second nature. This allows a photographers to capture the perfect moment much quicker. Be weary of a photographer who isn't serious enough about it to purchase their own glass.
5. Do they only shoot in manual because they are strictly about the craft?
Many photographers are super die hard about their gear and the general hobby of photography. They never shoot in anything other than manual mode on the camera. In layman's terms, this is when you must control every aspect of the camera to achieve the shot - you control the ISO, F-Stop, focus, etc. For nature photographers and perhaps still-life photographers who have all the time in the world to achieve that one, brilliant, breath-taking shot, this is understandable and acceptable. For weddings, for a photographer to live by their unrealistic standards and shoot in manual is obnoxious and you want to avoid these photographers at all costs. When they should be in auto, capturing every single moment, and AVAILABLE to grab those special moments, they are instead staring at their camera screens figuring out what adjustments need to be made based on the lighting. Weddings are all about the unexpected extraordinary moments - a tear from a mother, a smile of admiration from a father, a laugh from a groom. The only way a photographer can capture those is by being available at all times to take the photo. You want your photographer shooting in automatic on your wedding day, period. Don't let them shoot in any other setting. You want your moments. Automatic is still great - and with retouching, will turn out stunning.