Nowadays couples have a seemingly unlimited choice of suppliers to pick from, but all of them the photographer is the single most important. He has the power to freeze a moment in your life and create art you'd happily look back on forever. And this is what you want on your wedding day, isn't it? But how can you find someone who's the perfect match for you? What are the qualities of a good wedding photographer?
Let me share a few tips to help find the right person for you!
How many weddings do you do a year?
Many people look on the prices first, but what you really should focus on is value. You wouldn't want to compromise the quality of your wedding photos and would fairly expect your photographer to focus on you. If your photographer did 3 weddings in a row before yours, there's just no way they can put as much attention into the details as let's say someone who's been preparing to your wedding all week. That being said if your photographer does a hundred weddings a year, that is never a good sign. This usually means shortcuts here and there, or maybe outsourcing the work to someone else. (Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but would you rather buy a great photographer's signature looking work, or someone else's you never met who produces images on a conveyor belt?)
For this reason the best photographers do no more than 20-30 weddings a year, in full time - which leads to the next question.
Are you a full time photographer?
This one is the extension of the previous question, so not much more to elaborate on this really. What to consider here that if your photographer has a day job, then how can they ensure to put up with all the duties, plus working on your photos in their free time? Not to speak against myself - as pretty much everyone starts out like this - or anyone who's living a busy family life and working day and night to provide to them. But it might worth a question if they specify a deadline in their contract. Heard many stories that wedding photos or videos were delayed for months. Hell, I still know of an instance where the videographer hasn't delivered after almost a year, yet!
Do you work alone or with a second photographer?
This one is a huge deal when it comes to quality. Not uncommon that photographers take on an assistant or team up with a second shooter. They usually specify this in their contract, or provide an option for a second shooter in their packages.
I cannot exaggerate enough how important this is! A photographer who works alone simply can't be everywhere, can't possibly cover all aspects of your day. Imagine if there's a photographer duo, they can cover different angles for a greater variety of pictures, or split up and share the work.
It is very common that the couple get prepared in different locations, so one of them can stay with you, while the other takes pictures of your partner. Or at the ceremony and reception, one can focus on the couple and the formal shots, while the other can capture those candid moments of the guests. It is also beneficial to have a hand when doing the creative shooting, as an assistant there carrying gear and putting up lights can vastly improve the quality of your photos. Again this is not necessarily a bad thing if someone works alone - as pretty much every photographer starts out like that -, but as you go up in the price range you'd expect to see the option for a second shooter more and more as a standard.
What happens if it rains on your wedding day?
This is a good one, as it will separate the seasoned photographers from the newbies.
An experienced photographer is easily adaptable and can make intriguing pictures in the rain. They can use the lights creatively to produce interesting imagery that really stands out, and they offer interesting solutions for the different weather conditions.
Also this one really depends on the willingness of the subjects, as not many would risk getting soaking wet on the same day, but it is a great opportunity for something unusual in the "trash the dress" sessions after the wedding.
Can we see your portfolio after the dark parts of the wedding day?
Most of the couples never ask this as it never really comes in their minds, but it is an important one to ask.
A lot of fun and activities take place at the reception party, so can they demonstrate a beautiful nighttime portfolio?
Can your photographer produce quality photos after the sun has set or in poor indoor ambient lighting? The best photographers can make real art with off-camera lighting, and they love doing it! As opposed to that if someone says they don't use lights, that is usually never a good sign, be it a photographer or videographer.
How do they interact with you on your big day?
Choosing someone you like is as important as their portfolio.
You’re going to spend a significant amount of time with your photographer on your wedding day and they are the person that you are trusting to capture priceless moments and memories.
This is why it is important you get to know each other a bit, preferably beforehand - on the engagement shoot session or on the consultation - and make sure they're compatible with you as a couple.
There are two different approaches here you may want to consider. If you're looking for someone non-invasive who doesn't approach you too often during your wedding, you should try to hire someone more of a documentary-style.
Or if you like the idea of being able to chat with, and creating a good working relationship with your wedding photographer, pick one who is more of a people person.
Also consider what your quests are like you invite? You don't want a shy photographer if you have a young and rowdy crowd.
And you probably don't want a noisy extrovert if you're having a quiet, intimate wedding.
Do they have the people skills?
On weddings there are a few occasions when stepping up as a leader is crucial to achieve the desired effect. Like when you do the formal family photos, the group shots, or the confetti throwing / sparkles in the evening. This is when the guests tend to be scattered and it is just so much easier if you don't have to wait long to gather all the people you want in your photos. It is better if things stay in motion.
But who ensures all this goes smoothly? Usually it is your photographer. Or your wedding planner, if you have one. Or rarely I meet couples who are not afraid to be loud. :)
One note here I can't say enough times that is I always ask the couple to communicate to the quests loud and proud what do they expect from them at any part of the day. For example everybody should get the message before leaving the church, that we're having a confetti throw outside and everybody is expected to line up on the sides. Rather than catching every individual on the way out... So always announce these activities just before.
These are the tips I highly recommend asking from your photographer before hiring them. Hope it helps picking the best one for you!