Finding_Your_Wedding_Photographer001

Searching for amazing vendors can be one of the most daunting aspects of wedding planning. This post will help you find the photographer whose artistic eye and personal approach are the best fit you and your wedding.

THINK FIRST:

  • Start with some introspection. Are you looking for traditional, posed portraits, or do you prefer candid pictures? Or a mix of both? Do you want pensive, artistic pictures, or bright and happy photos?
  • How important is photography to you? For many couples photography is one of the most important aspects of the wedding because it lasts not just for that single day, but for generations. If photography matters a lot to you, it’s worth prioritizing photography in your wedding budget.

DO YOUR RESEARCH:

  • Narrow your search down to a few photographers whose work resonates with you. Don’t rule somebody out if you love their work but they aren’t in your area, as many wedding photographers are happy to travel.
  • Look for recent work on the photographer’s blog that matches the quality of their portfolio. Even an amateur can get lucky and snap a few nice shots for a small portfolio, but true professionals provide fantastic images for their clients every time, even in the most challenging conditions.
  • Find reviews of the photographer’s business online, in places like Wedding Wire and Yelp. Are the good reviews about the same kinds of things you care about? If there is a negative review, is the problem something that would affect your wedding?

Finding_Your_Wedding_Photographer001Whether it’s in person, via Skype, or in email, it’s good to have a conversation with your photographer. It’s so important that you and your photographer get along well personally – after all, they will be with you nearly all of your wedding day! It’s also important to ask some key questions.

QUESTIONS TO ASK:

Q: How much experience do you have shooting weddings?

Weddings present a unique set of challenges even for very good photographers, so it’s best to hire an expert in wedding photography specifically. A professional wedding photographer can handle situations that a generalist or an amateur may not understand.

Personally, I shot my first wedding over six years ago and have been exclusively focused on weddings full time for three years. Each year I push myself to improve both my work and my business practices, and clients benefit from that in a very real way. These years of experience mean that I am prepared for the full spectrum of challenges that a wedding might present me with.

Q: What is your approach to photographing a wedding? Do you like to be a fly on the wall, or will you be actively involved in creating moments and posing people?

For me, the best approach is to strike a balance. I spend the majority of a wedding day looking for candid moments and artfully capturing the action as it unfolds. My work has a natural, unposed look to it; I prefer to gently nudge a situation to be its most photogenic rather than controlling or overtly posing people.

The term “fly on the wall” never sits well with me, though – it sounds so standoffish! I like to chat and laugh with your wedding party and family a bit at the beginning of the day to make sure that everyone feels comfortable around the camera.  Then when everyone feels at ease, I step back and let the magic happen.

Q: Do you give clients the high resolution files?

Does a photographer’s price seem too good to be true? Check to see if the edited files (sometimes called “digital negatives”) are included in their packages. Some photographers expect clients to spend additional money to purchase the files on a DVD after the wedding.

Other photographers include the high-resolution files in the wedding collection. My method is to give the final, edited files to my clients and allow them to print and share the photos on social media, but not everyone works this way.

Q: What equipment do you bring to a wedding?

There’s no one right answer to this question, but the photographer should be confident in their equipment.

Professional-level Canon equipment includes the Canon 5D MkIII, Canon 5D MkII, and Canon 1 Dx camera bodies. Professional Canon lenses are called “L-Series” lenses. The Nikon D800 and D810, and the Nikon D4 and D4s are all excellent professional Nikon bodies. Fuji’s smaller, mirrorless camera systems are becoming more popular as well, and somebody shooting Fuji professionally should have an X-T1 camera body.

My gear includes two 5D Mk IIIs, a wide selection of L series lenses, an extensive off-camera flash system for those dark reception spaces, and of course emergency backups for everything (see below).

Q: What backup equipment do you have? What is your plan if a camera breaks or your gear bag is stolen?

I always carry a backup camera and multiple lenses with me, so I am ready on the spot to keep shooting if there is a technical issue. I also keep a third set of professional gear in my car. This may sound excessive, but it means that I am still fully prepared to cover your wedding even if a thief were to walk off with all my camera bags.

Another photographer’s method doesn’t have to be identical to mine. But they should have thought about this issue and have a clear emergency plan, as well as a backup to that emergency plan.

Q: How do you handle low-light situations, especially if there is not a white wall or ceiling to bounce your flash off of?

This is also a question for which there is no single right answer, but it’s very important that your photographer has a good and thoughtful answer of their own. Having the experience to handle tricky low-light situations is an essential distinction between a hobbyist photographer and a committed professional.

I use four powerful, lightweight speedlights on my camera bodies and on stands that are all radio-controlled and synced from a distance. This system’s versatility allows me to illuminate multiple subjects in a flattering light, cover different angles, and respond quickly to the changes in the moment.

Q: Can you send me the link to a complete wedding gallery, so that I can see what a full day of coverage looks like?

A photographer’s main website and blog are only meant to show the highlights, so do ask to see a complete gallery before you book. If you are working with a studio that has multiple photographers, make sure that the photographer you’re considering hiring was the lead shooter for the gallery that the studio sends you. Get in touch via the contact form and I’d be happy to share links to full galleries with you.!

I hope these tips help you in your search for awesome photography. Happy wedding planning!

– Liz

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