Are your wedding photographs destined for the wall, or a box beneath the bed?
Sometimes people get nervous being photographed. Or maybe start off well, with the first few shots, but as the day wears on they get tired, hungry and what they really want is a private moment alone with their partner to take it all in. As human beings, we’re experts at reading feelings into people’s faces. You’ll recognise that tightness in your face and narrow smile in your photographs.
Your favourite photographs will be those in which you recognise moments where the photographer’s caught you and your partner gazing at each other in adoration, or captured children in their fancy clothes spinning wildly across the dance floor, and perhaps your father, standing tall with a serious face and depths of pride.
Choosing a wedding photographer is more complex than simply picking someone with a fancy portfolio and a large lens. The difficult truth is that if you’re tense, uncomfortable or overly self-conscious, then no amount of lighting tricks or post-processing will show you at your best. But if you’re free to enjoy yourself, if you trust your photographer, then the pictures can become something beautiful.
I know I’m much more comfortable at my side of the lens
We’re not all wonderfully photogenic models – most of us need a little time to adjust to being photographed under such pressure. So, I understand when you’re feeling pushed too far or feeling lost, needing guidance. I also know that it’s awful when someone doesn’t notice your make-up has smudged or that there is a sign to the toilet in the background.
As a professional wedding photographer, my initial focus is on developing a connection between us so that when faced with my camera snapping away, you take it as a chance to show off that dress, be playful with your partner and genuinely enjoy the process of being photographed. My job is to make sure that your pictures tell the story that you want to tell.
Choose a photographer who will complement your style of working
As wedding photographers, we are always wary of a bridezilla who’s going to make our day a nightmare, but how do you know that the photographer you select isn’t a control freak or isn’t just taking the photos for their portfolio?
Even a good photographer isn’t going to do their best work if they don’t relate well to the wedding couple. The relationship between the photographer and the couple must chime. On your wedding day, you spend a lot of time in the presence and company of your photographer. It’s worth making sure that you have rapport with the person in question.
To get the most out of your budget, you not only need to like the photographer’s style, but you need to enjoy working with them as well.
If you want to get it right, you have a pre-wedding consultation
A pre-wedding consultation is a chance to meet a photographer to see if they’re the right photographer for you.
I offer a no-obligation, free pre-wedding consultation to all the couples who are considering hiring me for their wedding. It’s always good to both check out a wedding photographer’s portfolio and their personality. Feel free to ask as many questions as you like. If it doesn’t feel right for you, there’ll be no hard feelings.
My preference is to meet in your home or a place in which you are comfortable. Just as you want to get an understanding of how I work and what I can offer you, I want to make sure that you understand my process, know what to expect and will enable me to create the work I want to make.
I’ve got my own taste for what I like and dislike when it comes to wedding photography. I’m not a big fan of posed shots, I prefer candid, natural shots, particularly where there’s something dynamic happening in the frame. I love photos that tell a story, that capture not just profiles, but relationships. I’m a romantic at heart. There’s a natural beauty in two people as they commit to love and cherish one another for the rest of their lives. For me, the job of the photographer is to capture this incredible moment, and hold it still.
Where do you start with comparing photographers?
A decent wedding photographer might get booked up a year in advance, so you need to act early in the proceedings (if you’re thinking of booking three years in advance then you won’t be the first). This is especially vital if you’re planning your wedding for the summer months.
You’ve got a few things to consider before you book someone for your special day. After all, there are many photographers out there willing to shoot a wedding, and they don’t come cheap.
- Do you feel comfortable with the photographer?
- What style of photography suits you?
- How much are you comfortable spending?
- Can you do a pre-wedding venue visit?
- What do you want to walk away with?
You’ll have lots of questions for your photographer, and since they’ve done many weddings, they’re worth engaging in conversation for a bit of guidance. Even if it’s just to check your personalities don’t clash, it’s worth having a decent conversation before your big day.
It’s no surprise when you feel overwhelmed choosing a photographer
Especially considering that you’re doing this along with all the rest of your wedding planning. I’ve worked with laid back clients who are comfortable leaving the details until just before the event and invite me to structure the photography myself, and I’ve worked with clients who think through everything in advance and know exactly what they want. If you’re fretting about your wedding photography, the best thing to do is to pick up the phone and talk.
It’s easy to imagine that with all your questions you’re driving your photographer mad
Yet, with any photographer who really enjoys their work, you’ll find the questions appreciated. The most rewarding weddings to shoot – and the ones that result in the best images – are the ones where your photographer understands your vision of your wedding and the story that you see unfolding.
This is the story that you’ll share with your children and one day perhaps, grandchildren. A snapshot in time. It’s a day you’re going to cherish in your memories. Unlike most of the photos you take, you invest in your wedding photos because they’re a permanent reminder of your love and commitment to one another. You’ll want to create a keepsake that you can turn back to time and time again.
Do you feel comfortable with the photographer?
Most concerns about how you’re going to relate to and find working with your photographer can be answered by meeting them in person. No words on a website can give the same level of understanding as ten-minutes spent face-to-face having a cup of coffee.
Even so, a face-to-face meeting cannot give you all the assurances that you need. When you meet your photographer it’s important to go through the contract and make sure that you understand what assurances they’re offering. Your wedding day is a one-off occasion for which there’s no retake.
But when you find someone who you feel you can trust, and keeping in mind that this is the only person who’s going to see the unprocessed shots, you can let go of those worries. Let the professional do their work.
What style of photography suits you?
Photography, like any other art form, goes through different fashions. You might have put together a beautiful Pinterest board, full of arty shots, but don’t forget how quickly certain styles can look dated. If there’s a certain sort of image you want, your best bet is to discuss it with the photographer in advance.
Those classic framed portrait shots that you’ve probably seen of your relatives, similar to the black and white images of your great-grandparents looking seriously at the camera, are the stereotypical wedding photo. They’re the backbone of your album, but there’s so much more that you can do.
Photography has evolved. We’re used to seeing huge numbers of photos in many different styles, from bleached, over-exposed bright white pictures, to low-contrast pastels, to dramatic lighting in the dark. My typical approach to photographing weddings is journalistic in style. I find that people act differently when they are thinking about the photographer. Photojournalism is the least obtrusive method for getting natural looking photos. It’s important for me to blend in, to not draw excessive attention but to find interesting ways of framing the events as they happen.
What I love to do is to put together a story. Your wedding isn’t simply the exchanging of rings and the sharing of vows. It’s the whole day. The excitement of getting ready, the putting on of the dress taking that first glance in the mirror, the giggles with the bridesmaids, placing the boutonniere in your button hole. A wedding is more than a single moment.
What are you comfortable spending?
There are many people who can take a reasonable photo, cheaply and without much hassle. Photography is no longer the privilege of the gentlemen elite. Flick through your phone and you’ll most likely see a multitude of your own photos. You too are a photographer.
And then there’s quite a few people with big, highly forgiving cameras with a multitude of buttons that they rarely use. These cameras are overwhelming. If they use manual mode, you have to really know your camera and be able to read the lighting intuitively. If you can't, it's a time consuming process to get something that's not blurred, dark or bright white. What looks good on the camera might look out of focus in print. You'll wish they’d just used the automatic mode. Photography is complex. Simultaneously considering the shutter speed and adjusting the aperture to adapt for the light and the subject is something you learn through a lot of practice. Photography as a hobby is great. Just like many professional photographers, it’s where my love of cameras started. But a wedding is a high-pressure environment and to respond to the environment quickly enough takes professional expertise.
Weddings are expensive occasions, and you’re going to have a budget to work to. Different people have different budgets, and different priorities. It’s often best to be up-front about what your budget is.
- Do you know your budget?
- Do you know what your dream package would be?
- Do you know what part of that dream package is the most important to you?
If you can answer these questions, then together we’ll work to create a package tailored to you.
Can you do a pre-wedding venue visit?
What made you choose your venue? Did you fall in love with the high ceilings, old-fashioned stonework, an archway, a gnarled twisted tree, the stained-glass windows or some fancy chandelier?
You want what you love about your choice in venue to be captured in your photographs.
At a venue visit, the three of us, plus your wedding co-ordinator, have the perfect opportunity to see the place together and pool ideas for the photography. On the day we’ll be rushed for time, so this is the opportunity for your creativity to fizz and pop with ideas. We can go through the schedule and discuss the wedding plans. Personally, for me, it’s something I find hugely helpful and highly informative, putting me in a better position to take your perfect picture.
What do you want to walk away with?
You spend all that money planning the fine details – table decorations, flower arrangements, seating cards – you want to capture these little aspects of your wedding which demonstrate your style and captures the essence of the day.
All these tiny aspects of your wedding that you spend so much time on can bring an album to life. You might think it odd when I suggest a picture of your shoes, but it might just be the finishing touch to your album.
- A beautiful wedding album
- A cluster of printed canvases on your living room wall
- Printed thank you cards for the people who helped make your day happen
- Christmas gift pictures for your families of them having fun together
- A framed print for your parents to replace an embarrassing school photo
- Pictures for social media, to share with friends
Some photographers emphasise the importance of prints and an album, others will focus on presenting you with something quick to use digitally, to share quickly with friends and on social media. Most people want something to share quickly that’s digital and a physical keepsake to pass on through the family and cherish. The nostalgia of looking back through your wedding album and reminiscing together is a small way of making that magical day last longer.
How do you want to show off your most marvellous day?
- Adam Pearcey