Wedding days go by in a blur. That’s why it’s important to have great pictures you can use to look back on the occasion as years go by. But just like anything else with a wedding, you need to find the photographer who is the best fit for you.
Style and artistry are not the only things you should be looking at with your wedding photographer. Sandra O’Claire, owner and photographer with Eau Claire Photographics, recommends meeting prospective photographers beforehand. Have a cup of coffee with them to see if their personality gels with yours.
“You’re spending your entire wedding day with them,” O’Claire said. “You don’t want to be aggravated by them.”
Beebe Tran, owner and photographer at Studio Tran, added that the relationship between a couple and their photographer goes well beyond the wedding day.
“Photographers and videographers are the vendors clients deal with the longest,” Tran said.
O’Claire recommends asking for a photographer’s full selection of photos from a wedding. On a website, you’ll only see a handpicked selection of the photographer’s best work. You should see how they performed for an entire wedding day. Be sure the photographer’s style matches what you want. Photographers have different styles and skill sets. You wouldn’t ask a hip-hop group to play Kenny Rogers or Dolly Parton songs at your wedding and you shouldn’t expect a photographer to work in a completely different style.
“Hire someone for who they are and what they’re showing you,” O’Claire said. “Make sure you really love their style.”
Wedding venues can vary wildly in terms of size, lighting and architectural quirks. While it is not a necessity for your photographer to have experience shooting in your venue, it certainly doesn’t hurt. O’Claire recommends doing a walkthrough of your venue beforehand with your photographer if your photographer has not shot in your venue before.
People’s expectations can be higher than ever for their wedding photos thanks to social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest as well as wedding blogs. While it is fine to want beautiful pictures at your wedding, remember that many pictures on these websites are from super expensive weddings.
“You have to visualize the wedding you’re having, not other people’s weddings,” O’Claire said.
Tran said wedding blogs and social media sites can provide some inspiration for wedding photos, but if you are having a night wedding, you should not show your photographer pictures of sunset or daytime weddings as guidance.
It is also a good idea to ask photographers ahead of time what they are willing to do in post-production. O’Claire said it’s routine for her to touch up photos afterwards, but some people will ask for more labor intensive tasks like photoshopping people into photos or taking weight off people in photos. For her, the latter tasks require an extra charge. So it is best to check your contract for what your photographer is willing to do for free after the wedding.
In an increasingly online era, many people store their photos on the web or social media. Carolyn Arthurs, owner of All About Events, said this should not be your sole method of photo storage.
“There is no guarantee that it won’t be lost somehow,” Arthurs said. “Believe in the power of Zuckerberg or not, you can’t realistically think Facebook or YouTube or Snapchat will survive forever. Archive your memories in the most permanent way you can.”
Videographers are more expensive than photographers, but Arthurs said it can be a worthwhile investment for you and future generations. She said she was delighted to see a color video from her parents’ 1965 wedding. It was nice seeing her parents when they were young, but it was particularly emotional to see her grandfather, who she had otherwise only seen in black-and-white photos, in color and moving. It made a man she never knew other than from her mother’s stories real to her.
“Videographers are expensive, but the moving memories you capture can be priceless … Don’t spend more than you have,” said Arthurs. “If you can’t budget for a pro, hire a film student, or at minimum, have family or friends capture some video clips throughout to show who was there, alive and well and happy to celebrate with you.”