How To Hire The Wrong Wedding Photographer
The most important part of a wedding is you and your fiancée! That is what this day is all about. Full stop! However, when it comes to planning the big day, you will speak to a lot of vendors including venues, entertainment, florists, bridal boutiques, caterers, stationery designers, etc. The list goes on and all these people will tell you how important it is to get their particular aspect right. Getting the right room, the perfect flowers, the best food, and so on… This is good. You want to work with passionate people and you are getting ready to spend some real dough! However, are these items the priority when planning your wedding? Of course, they should be all be given serious consideration without exception. But, aside from hiring a great wedding planner to begin with, are any of them more important than the wedding photography?
Too often I hear about a lot of couples who only have a small budget left for their photography. Couples who have left this decision till last and sometimes shortly before the wedding date. Couples who have a friend or relative doing it for free or “cheap.” Even, believe it or not, some who are not having a photographer as they just cannot afford one. In my humble (yet experienced) opinion, these couples have made a terrible mistake by not putting much importance on photography…
WHY IS HIRING A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER SO IMPORTANT?
Is wedding photography the most important thing when it comes to your wedding? Not necessarily. However, it should be up at the top of the list of things to look at, budget for, select, and confirm.
Wedding photography is important because it will capture your day, it will capture your memories, it will tell a story, and not just any story. It will tell a beautiful story of your special day; a day you will never forget. A story that you can show friends and family, your kids, and grandchildren. Something you will have and can treasure forever.
You see, your flowers will wilt, your drinks will be drunk, your cake will be eaten, and the music will stop playing; Your dress shall be worn once, those shoes shall go back into their box… One very magical day and Poof! It’s Gone! Get where I am going? This isn’t me trying to be glum and miserable. This is about perspective. This is about helping you focus your budget on things that you may not put importance on, such as wedding photography.
ONE DAY; A TON OF MEMORIES
Unfortunately, there is a natural tendency to minimize the importance of the wedding photography; Even among those who do think it is important, except less important to the other considerations. This is because on the actual wedding day itself, you don’t really have anything tangible. The venue will have a beautiful room and grounds, the florist will create a bounty of flowers, your cake maker will make the most delicious and gorgeous looking cake for your day, the list goes on. These are things and items that will be there, for you and all your guests to enjoy on your wedding day. People will comment on these things and talk about them throughout the night. Yet when it comes to wedding photography, you are paying for something you won’t see till well after. Moreover, the best wedding photographers will go unnoticed; your guests won’t even know they are there.
WHAT ARE YOU PAYING FOR?
When it comes to wedding planning, it is more than just one day. It is about a lifetime of memories. It is about capturing moments, it is about capturing emotion, it is about being able to relive the day and share it through beautiful images. It is about smiling at moments that you never knew happened, seeing the emotion on your family and friends faces, and most importantly of all, having a story you can treasure forever.
If you are just thinking about your wedding and looking at your budget, make sure you maximize your budget for your wedding photography. It’s not just a few photos of you and your partner on your wedding day looking beautiful and happy. It is about a beautiful story of your wedding day, from getting ready and smiling with your bridesmaids and groomsmen, to the emotion on your dad’s face as he sheds a tear and looks on with pride. Capturing the beautiful details as the day unfolds. Capturing the emotion of your guests, the nervousness of the groom, all the way through to that first dance. This is not just any story. THIS IS YOUR STORY!
Make sure you capture your day, and your story. Don’t regret not hiring the perfect wedding photographer.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Maximize your budget. Will the guests notice if you saved a little money on your flowers? Will they really notice if you cut out an appetizer or two? Will they notice if the cake (which shows up at the end and then gets hauled back to the kitchen) is 4 rather than 5 tiers high? Save a little where you can and maximize your photography budget. It is the only thing you will have left at the end of the day. And to that end, don’t go overboard the other direction either. Do you really need 500 images? Maybe 250 or even 150 images will be more than enough and save you money. Maybe lose the second photographer and optimize the schedule with the primary photographer. You didn’t hire the primary photographer based on the second shooter’s portfolio anyway. And… do you really need video? When was the last time you heard of someone sitting down and watching their wedding video?
Find your style. There are hundreds of wedding photographers to choose from, and many of the best ones will travel all over the country and even abroad. Take time to decide on a style you like and find a photographer that reflects this. Make sure you view a lot of their work and examine their versatility. Why? Because no two weddings are, or should be, alike. You don’t want one or two beautiful photos. You want a beautiful story that is of high quality throughout; From beginning to the end.
Book quickly. The best wedding photographers get hired and booked up to 2 years in advance. So, once you know the date, find your perfect wedding photographer at the same time you are finding your venue, and get them booked.
HOW TO HIRE THE WRONG PHOTOGRAPHER…
Believe it or not, the best information to be armed with when choosing your photographer is to know “how to hire the wrong photographer.”
- THEY ARE CHEAP
When choosing your photographer, don’t just pick them based on price and what is bundled up in the package. Don’t get me wrong. It’s fine to customize and purchase a package based on what you really want so that you can get better pricing. However, make sure you know what you what portion of the cost is specifically for the photographer’s services, skills, and talent, and not just all the extras. A few warning signs to consider… If the photographer is cheap or the cheapest alternative, there is a reason for that. It is possible they want to be extra kind or they have a sudden cancelation. But, there may be another, more concerning reason (because good photographers do get booked at their regular or slightly discounted rates). Be sure to read reviews and maybe ask for a reference if you are still unsure. It is also possible they don’t have insurance or the right equipment; or they don’t spend adequate time editing your images. If a photographer is “cheap,” they have to be cutting corners somewhere. Just like any “super-sale” item. Either they have excess inventory that few people want, or their is something wrong with the merchandise!
If their work matches your style, you know you can trust them, you feel relaxed and at ease with them, you are getting close to the right choice. All these things will make for an easier day, and also better and more natural photos. Maybe one of the most important attributes (assuming they are very talented) is their personality and people skills. If you don’t get an instinctual feeling about these attributes from your first conversation, then don’t wait for it. Personality is an energy. If you don’t feel it, it ain’t there. If you do feel it and it is neutral or negative energy, it isn’t going to turn positive. First impression is the only impression.
- THEY ‘WILL DO’
When planning your wedding, there are a million and one things to think about. The list seems endless and sometimes you may just think that this person ‘will do’. You may be looking at lots of photographers and struggling to find the time to talk with them and to view their work. It can feel overwhelming. Nevertheless, it is important not to pick a photographer just because it is taking some time and seeming like an endless task. Take your time and ensure you not only find a wedding photographer’s work that you love, but also a person behind the camera you love too. When you find them, you will walk away feeling like you have just been speaking to a close friend. It is so important and makes a real difference to how you feel and come across in front of the camera (And how your family and guests respond to him or her as well).
The best photographers love what they do and it will show in every aspect of dealing with them. They have a passion for the industry and a passion for capturing beautiful images. You may be feeling stressed and many photographers will understand and be able to relate. Just ensure you find the right photographer for you. One that matches your style and one that you can trust and feel relaxed with. Go with your gut! If you have no doubts, then get them booked! But don’t just say ‘they will do’.
- BUYER BEWARE! THEY HAVE ‘Some’ STUNNING PHOTOS
Most photographers (even hobbyists) will have a least a photo or two that will make you say, Wow! This is great and you should find a photographer whose work you love and makes you go wow. However, you don’t want one image that makes you go wow. You want a Wedding Story that makes you go WOW! The point here is coverage and consistency. That is to say, covering the important moments and producing a consistent style (that you identified with in the first place) across your portfolio.
When viewing a photographer’s work, ensure you see a full body of their work; And not just their wedding photography and not just their most recent work. Try to connect what they say they do and how they got there, with what they actually do as seen through a history of their work and experience. For example, if a photographer claims to have a documentary style, then they should be able to show you documentary work that they have done, especially outside of wedding photography (e.g., street photography, reportage from the field, candids, etc). Otherwise, they are just marketing to you; even if you do like their work. It is like when food companies say “all natural ingredients.” We don’t even know what is really “all natural” because the terminology becomes so ambiguous and almost meaningless. It is important to recognize that “style” has no relationship to the type of gig (e.g., weddings or portraits or products…). A style is the photographer’s signature. The more talented the photographer, the more recognizable their signature (and the potential to blow up the internet when you post!). Not all photographers, even those well-trained and decades of wedding photography experience, have a signature. That doesn’t mean they are not good or won’t appeal to you. Simply put, their work is not going to be distinguishable from many of their peers. Just like there are musicians, and then there are artists; and then there are stars and superstars! The question you should ask yourself when reviewing a photographer’s work is, “Can I pick their work out of a stack of images?” This is really what you are paying for at the end of the day and separates the wheat from the chaff in photography.
- THEY ARE RECOMMENDED BY THE VENUE
So you have picked your wedding venue and booked the date. Depending on the venue, they may have a list of recommended suppliers, from catering, florists, planners, photographers, etc. This is a great starting place however; it is important not to just go off this list and not open your eyes to other alternatives. In fact, open up the possibilities for this important hire and try to make it an adventure. Don’t compromise on your wedding photographer by just reviewing ones recommended by the venue. Ensure you get the best photographer you can afford and the one you want.
- MY FRIEND HAS A NEW CAMERA
Be it a friend or your Uncle, wedding photography is more than just a camera. Just because they may have an expensive camera doesn’t mean they have the experience and knowledge to go and capture a wedding. They may love photography, going out at weekends capturing landscape shots, or pictures of the kids playing in the park. However, when it comes to weddings it is a challenging and dynamic event.
The camera is just a tool and means for capturing the moment. The skill, knowledge and experience is the key to wedding photography (and any professional assignment in fact). You only get one chance. So ,your photographer needs to be in the right place at the right time and capture that one moment beautifully. You want to ensure you have a wedding story that will help you relive the emotions and happiness if your wedding day.
All this planning is for one day only. One day you marry the partner you wish to spend the rest of your life with; One day you share this beautiful moment with all your family and friends that you love. Make sure you hold onto those memories and don’t look back and wish you had hired the right photographer.
Remember you only get one chance when it comes to your wedding photos and after it is all over, the photos are the one thing that will stay with you forever. Ensure you hire the best wedding photographer you can afford and hire the best person to capture your wedding day. It is an investment that you will be glad you made years down the road when you look back through your photos, reliving those special moments and emotions.
Wedding Photography is about unique moments. The love, the tears, the laughs, the action, the obvious, and the unnoticed. It’s about being able to relive the day through beautiful photos and having a story that you shall take with you forever…