5 Things To Look For In A Wedding Photographer


Ilumina Studios

5 Things To Look For In A Wedding Photographer

So you’re planning your big day? So many decisions need to be made before the actual day comes around. The venue, the meal plan, the flowers, the dress, the guests, the rings, and the list can go on and on.


One of the most important decisions that you will have to make is choosing who will memorialize your special day. You will want your wedding to be perfect and have it be an image of your couple, your love, and the life that you share together. Some couples stick to the traditional type ceremonies and others desire a more unique and personalized celebration. These different styles usually require different photographers. It is very important to pick the best photographer for you. The photos of your wedding day will be passed on from generation to generation and it is imperative that they expertly portray the event. An experienced and skilled photographer will provide that. This is absolutely not the place to be stingy in your wedding budget. Believe us, not all photographers are created equal.


You may get the friendly offer from your uncle Bob who just purchased a DSLR and thinks that he can take great photos. Try to politely decline this wonderful offer and go the professional route. Trust us! The equipment does not make an amateur shooter a seasoned wedding photographer. There’s a reason why some professional photographers niche into wedding photography. It takes more than a good camera and good techniques to become an excellent wedding photographer.


It’s best to shop for your wedding photographer several months in advance. Look through online portfolios, Facebook pages, and Instagram accounts of photographers that are in your area. Maybe you have a friend who recently hired a wedding photographer and had a great experience? Ask around. Meet with at least 4-5 photographers and request to see complete wedding albums that they have done. This way you will get a better sense of their style and if they are consistent with their quality or not.


Let’s take a look at a few things to be aware of when shopping for your wedding photographer. Being armed with the best information will minimize the risk of getting unwanted surprises when you receive your final photo album.


01.

Creativity

Being creative means more than showing a few out-of-the-box shots. Creativity comes in all shapes and is interpreted differently through individual styles. Being creative as a wedding photographer means having the capacity of grasping a moment and shooting it in a way that others have not thought of. For wedding photography that means getting angles and points of view that are unique but still fulfill the goal of illustrating the meaning accurately. A close-up of the father through the bride’s veil, lovingly looking at his daughter. A photo taken of the hand-written note the bride wrote that morning to remind herself of the things to do that day that is simply laying on the desk next to her jewelry box. When looking through the photographer’s portfolio look for unique and strong shots that you have not seen in other portfolios. Can the photographer grasp the meaning of an important moment and shoot it in a special way? Can the photographer work with natural light creatively using it in interesting ways to create patterns in the photos? Look for photos that convey feelings in exceptional and unusual ways. This will tell you that the photographer is creative.


02.

Style

Photographic Style is a HUGE factor in deciding a wedding photographer. Photographic style often defines a photographer and some even live by it. Here is a breakdown of some of the most popular wedding photography styles..


Photojournalistic/Documentary

This style has grown over the last years as the to-be-wed couples are demanding photographs that don’t look like their parents’ wedding photos. They want more spontaneity in their photo albums and less traditional posing. This means that the photographer will simply document moments as they happen during the day and will not dictate poses for the couple or the guests. This takes a photographer with a good eye to catch moments and especially be aware of the key opportunities during a wedding in order not to miss the important shots. A photo in this style may be a shot of the bridesmaids in an explosion of laughter, one of them helping the bride slip on her shoe. Another may be a candid photo of the couple stealing a kiss after the dinner celebrations where everyone is dancing in the background. Go over your wedding details with the photographer to make sure they understand your wedding sequence perfectly.


Fine Art

This style is similar to the photojournalistic/documentary style but introduces a more individual style from the photographer. The photos are frequently taken in candid form and are not traditionally posed subjects smiling for the camera. Often times, photographers who offer fine art wedding photography shoot with film, although more of them are shooting with both film and digital now. These photos tend to be dreamier or vaguer, often shot in black and white. As you go through the photographer’s portfolio, check for creative shots where the light is very well interpreted and be aware of the feelings that you get when looking through the photographs. You will want to choose a photographer whose photographs evoke emotion in you. Are the photographs dark and vague? Are they lighter and more dreamlike? Make sure to choose a fine art wedding photographer that shares your vision and style.


Dramatic

Dramatic wedding photography requires a photographer who has mastered off-camera flash lighting. The photographer will use artificial light to create vivid effects in their shots. This will tend to be staged a little more as the light has to be directed and placed accordingly to the photographer’s vision. These wedding photo albums are always visually fascinating. Make sure to look at a good amount of photographs from this type of wedding photographer to make sure of the consistency of the work. Ask if they have pre-determined ideas that they will want to use with you or if they act spontaneously depending on the situations that arise.


03.

Experience

An experienced, and possibly award-winning photographer is a sure bet that you will not be making a mistake in choosing them. The more weddings a photographer has shot, the more understanding and ease they have to shoot great photos during the ceremony and also throughout the celebration. The more weddings they have shot means that they have been trusted over and over to photograph those special days. Ask for references and read reviews and comments that previous clients have left about the photographer. If they continuously get rave reviews from previous wedded couples, then this is a good sign that they are easy to work with and will do a good job at capturing your special day as well.


04.

Passionate About Photography

This goes without saying that you need to hire a professional photographer who absolutely loves their career. Ask the photographer about their other photographic interests and what do they shoot when not shooting weddings. Ask why they niched into wedding photography. If the answer is because “the money is good”, then maybe this is not a passionate photographer to work with. Discuss other photographers with them and ask where their inspirations come from and who their favorite past or present photographers are. When you start talking photography with a passionate photographer, you will quickly see the enthusiasm for the discourse and the knowledge they have about the topic. A passionate photographer is oftentimes obsessed with getting the “perfect shot” and will always be alert to the possibilities arising around them. You definitely want this type of photographer for your wedding!


05.

Good Communication Skills

This is by far one of the most important key personality traits that you will want in your wedding photographer. The photographer needs to have good social skills in order to make you and your guests feel at ease in front of the camera. None of you are professional models and should not be expected to act as such. It’s actually very normal to feel somewhat uncomfortable and self-conscious while being photographed. You don’t know how to stand, where to put your hands, where to look, and basically what to do. All this is normal. The photographer who has a friendly demeanor and has good communication skills, verbal and non-verbal, will make you feel comfortable and help you with these awkward moments. When you meet with the photographer, you will get a feeling in the first few moments if this is an approachable and friendly person or not. Usually, photographers who niche into wedding photography tend to have these sociable personality traits. Needless to say, you need to “click” with the photographer that you eventually choose to shoot your special day. Do they answer all your questions? Do they listen and understand all of your needs? You must feel comfortable and confident that you are choosing the perfect photographer for your special day.

Sometimes photographers will recommend using an extra photographer. They call these “second shooters”. If your venue is big and you have a considerable amount of guests, then this is probably a good idea. The second shooter will take instructions from the photographer and will get shots at different angles. They may be instructed to photograph all the small details of your event. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about this photographer and if you can meet them before the wedding.


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© 2016 Sandra Roussy