Weddings are a nightmare. Well, okay, that’s not explicitly true; a wedding has the potential to be one of the most glorious celebrations of love and friendship that you can ever experience, but achieving harmony between all the moving parts that go into wedding planning can be a monumental task.
Possibly the biggest challenge, besides saving up a lot of money, is that you’re relying on all your various relatives to come together in the same room and get on with each other for a full day. When you’re not juggling requests about who they’d rather not sit next to, you’re fielding their opinions on every single detail from the dress through to the champagne.
And when it comes to opinions, people tend to get fairly combative on the subject of wedding photographers.
There are some that will caution you to budget more for your wedding photographer than for your wedding dress, as a good photographer can make a cheap dress look good and not vice versa. There are others, though, who blindly assume that because everyone, including Auntie Janet, can operate an iPhone these days, there’s no need to draft in a pro.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the right approach is probably on neither the “bankruptcy”, nor the “just wing it” end of the scale. That being said, finding the right photographer for your event can still be quite a big project.
Undoubtedly, for one of the most important days of your life, you’ll need to turn to a professional wedding photographer to capture the moment. That’s a given. But which wedding photographer to choose? And how to go about establishing the best relationship with them?
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We’ve drafted in professional wedding photographer and Rangefinder ‘Rising Star’ Nigel John to help you navigate the photographer-booking minefield and to ensure you put your best foot forward on the day itself.
How can you tell whether someone is a good photographer?
What makes a “good” wedding photographer is quite subjective, so I’d just say do your research.
Take time to look through a selection of photographers’ websites, including their branding, social media, full galleries and if everything is cohesive, then you’re onto a winner.
Also, communicate – email, speak, meet with your photographer wherever possible, it’s just as important to get a good vibe from your photographer as it is to appreciate their portfolio.
How important is it to spend time with a prospective photographer before the event and what should you be looking out for?
I think it’s really important to build a rapport with a couple before the wedding. I like to have an actual conversation, in person if possible, but over the phone or Facetime if it’s not.
The couple need to feel comfortable, as they’re inviting the photographer into one of their most intimate events, into their family, and often also in their home. So, it’s vital that everyone feels at ease.
Wedding photographers are pretty fluid geographically these days too, so don’t rule out a photographer from a different area to your wedding.
How should you decide which style of photography you want?
There’s a really large variety of different wedding photography styles out there, be it differences in composition, tone or light. Whether a photographer shoots reportage, fine art or with some sense of humour, for example.
Each photographer has their own unique take on a day and working under pressure or shooting in the moment always brings out something stylistically different or distinctive to each wedding.
It’s important to do your research as to what style you, as a couple, are drawn to, as it’s never a one-size-fits-all situation. But also, you have to remember to be open minded.
Go with your instinct on what draws you in initially. What is it about that photographer’s work that makes you stop and look again? How does it make you feel? Can you imagine yourself in the pictures?
Do different styles suit different types of event?
Personally, I don’t think they do. Trust in your photographer’s vision and aesthetic and they will deliver.
As a wedding photographer, you’re there to document a couple’s day, and it’s their day, so upon delivering a wedding you want to be able take the couple back to the moment and the way they felt.
Just be mindful of all the different variables of the day which can affect the photos, anything from changeable weather, different locations and even ceremony times that will all bring about changes in light. If you book a wedding in winter, when the skies are likely to be overcast, don’t expect lots of sunbursts or light leaks. Your photos may end up with a moodier or more dramatic feel to them, as reflects the day’s atmosphere.
A 4pm ceremony in peak winter will inevitably shoot differently to midday in July.
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What should you expect to receive in a wedding photography package?
Every photographer has their own way of delivering their photos and some offer different packages, so it’s incredibly important to ask about this up front. Get a prospectus for their deliverables. You can ask for this information long before you book and indeed it might inform your decision.
I’d say, at a minimum for full day’s coverage, expect 350+ images and a final slideshow delivered digitally. Then usually, a USB in the post, although in a digital age these are increasingly becoming redundant.
In their prospectus, a photographer should also give you some guidance about time frames. They will know best their own work loads and so can give you certain assurances about when you might expect to receive your wedding photos.
A photographer’s work doesn’t stop the moment the wedding is over. Editing is a lengthy process, especially when you know how high a couple’s expectations are likely to be of their wedding day! Delivery can be anything from six weeks to six months later, so it’s always best to ask.
What are the sorts of extras that it’s ok to ask for from a photographer?
The couple should feel totally confident to ask anything. I’m sure most photographers will do their best to accommodate you, as long as they’re realistic requests.
Out of interest….
What are your favourite kind of shots to take?
The in-between moments, the candid moments after moments, and the moments that’ll stand the test of time, that the couple and their friends and family will relate to and talk about for years to come.
For me, light is key, and if I can mix this with composition and emotion then I’m onto to an absolute winner.
’As the photographer, I really like it when…”
…Couples are willing to give me creative freedom, and trust me.
Having experienced a lot of people’s weddings, do you have any advice about how NOT to go about things?
Every wedding is different and every family is different, but I always try and get across the importance of slowing down, taking things in, not wishing for things to be over.
Immerse yourself in every part of the day and don’t put pressure on it all (easier said than done, I know) but it’ll be over before you know it!
From: ELLE UK