There once was a young couple who hired a renowned New Orleans wedding photographer with a fancy office on St. Charles Avenue to shoot their wedding at the New Orleans Museum of Art. A few days before the big event, the renowned photographer’s office called the young couple to say that there’d been an unfortunate scheduling mixup so a backup would be coming to do the job instead. The new “photographer” was in fact the pro’s cousin who was an accountant by trade and only took photos for fun. The end result? The wedding was truly historic but the pictures were a disaster … and, perhaps fittingly, they were all destroyed by Hurricane Katrina flood waters a few years later.
Don’t let this happen to you, dear reader!
Follow the rules of finding the right photographer for the job:
Look online and in magazines to find the style you like best (formal or candid, traditional or edgy and so on). Find photographer candidates in New Orleans Bride Magazine or on wedding planning websites like theknot.com. Read reviews and pay attention to ratings. Schedule in-person interviews so you can look through entire photo albums (and not just a few pics posted online) and get a sense of the photographer’s personality and how you get along. Pay particular attention to the way subjects look in the photos: are they happy and relaxed or do things look … awkward? Once you’ve found your favorite candidate, review the plan, price and delivery details and then get the whole deal in writing so there are no surprises or last-minute changes.
Best Friend for the Day
Nichole Cannatella, owner of Belle Amour Photography in Mandeville, said it’s important to remember that the photographer is the one vendor you’re likely to spend the most time with at your wedding so you want to make sure you “click” with each other.
“Find a photographer that you feel comfortable with,” she said. “Find someone who complements your personalities as well as your vision for the wedding. You need to be able to trust your photographer so that you can relax on your Big Day. Meeting in person — while sporting a mask, of course — is a great way to meet and see the photographer’s work firsthand.”
Robert Welch of Welch Photography & Video (based in Covington) seconded that notion and added that you need somebody who’s great at keeping things on track so you can just enjoy being the center of attention for a day.
“The main thing for the bride and groom to do during a wedding is to enjoy themselves, and by doing so their guests and family will be able to enjoy the celebration as well,” said Welch. “This is the most important aspect of making a wedding successful and memorable. To this end, the photographer and videographer are typically the participants that will accompany the bride and groom the most throughout the day. Finding a professional who is adept at helping keeping the day flowing, stress free, and is experienced enough to guarantee his or her work should be the key quality to look for.”
Noel Marcantel of New Orleans-based Noel Marcantel Photography also stresses the importance of meeting your photographer beforehand and making sure you hire someone who makes you feel comfortable.
“’Highlight reels on websites alone can be deceiving,” said Marcantel. “Also, it’s great to meet face-to-face with your photographer so you can get to know one another. A photographer who knows you and hears about your relationship and family will catch moments others might miss.”
COVID-19 health restrictions mean a lot of weddings look different than they did a year ago. Many people are inviting fewer guests or choosing outdoor venues so guests can be spaced out as much as possible. Some people have gone to extremes and are hosting virtual weddings over Zoom or other video conferencing platforms. The end result, in many cases, is weddings with more intimacy and less pomp and circumstance. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, said Robert Welch, but you need someone taking pictures who knows how to capture the magic of a smaller event.
“A professional photographer and videographer who is adept at capturing genuine candid moments will be better able to accurately reflect the unique aspects of these weddings,” he said.
Noel Marcantel said it’s difficult for couples to scale back their wedding plans but it’s the photographer’s job to make everything look spectacular no matter what the situation.
“An intimate wedding can be beautiful with the right decor,” he said. “String lights, for example, are a great feature to fill space and create great photographs — and they add a wonderful touch to the event itself.”
And, said Nichole Cannatella, some new wedding traditions have sprung up during the pandemic that are a lot of fun.
“All my couples want to take a group shot of all the guests wearing their masks,” she said. “Why not make the best of the situation and document this moment in time?”
Most important, make sure you kick back, relax and throw a party worth documenting.
“Make it unique to the two of you,” said Cannatella. “Don’t want to wear normal attire? That’s OK; be true to you. Unique catering like food trucks are another way to make the day more fun. Some of my couples have even hired belly dancers. Find a non-traditional venue or location, hire local musicians, make sure to have some amazing cuisine for your guests, and don’t forget the second line to see New Orleans in a way you will never forget.”
Yes, of course you can be on trend and ask your friends to document everything on social media with their smartphones — or go retro by handing out disposable cameras – but, ultimately, you should rely on a talented professional to take care of the most important job of the day: preserving it forever.
“Snapchat and Instagram stories are exciting ways to document your big day in stride,” said Marcantel. “But years later you’ll be glad you had professional vendors to capture the true beauty and story of the day.”