I’ve seen this question posted online so many times. This question is probably one of the most difficult to directly answer, simply because there are such an abundance of wedding photographers out there, and also because Uncle Bob and his DSLR camera are available, keen, and cheap (free!).
Let me start with this: Don’t ask Uncle Bob to photograph your wedding. There – I said it. Don’t ask a family member or friend to photograph your wedding. There are many reasons…
- Uncle Bob might be decent with his camera. But is he experienced under pressure? Has he been to enough weddings to expect what happens next? There are so many subtle aspects to a wedding that make for the best photo opportunities and memories, that are easily missed by those who are not expecting them. Emotion, reactions of parents and family members, subtle looks that the bride and groom give each other during the ceremony and speeches, not to mention the shy couple whos’ first kiss lasts literally just a split-second. Genuine emotion only occurs once.
- Uncle Bob is also a guest. You want your family and friends to relax and have fun on your wedding day. The day is about celebrating you as a couple, so let them celebrate you! You’d be surprised at how often we run around in a sweat photographing your wedding. We are subtly all over it. Whilst your guests can watch from afar under a shady tree, your photographer cannot.
- This is a difficult point to write; but what if Uncle Bob makes a mistake? What if Uncle Bob misses your first kiss? Does Uncle Bob know how to manage family members whilst taking your formal family photographs? If Uncle Bob makes an error it could be quite upsetting which might test family relations after your wedding (we’ve heard the stories!). Our job as professionals is to get it right, and to get it right every time.
To help answer the primary question, let’s address this first: What makes a good wedding photographer?
A good wedding photographer is technically capable. They understand light. They can ‘paint’ with light. They know how to use their camera so well that they don’t need to look at it to change camera settings. Importantly, they can get it right ‘in-camera’.
A good photograph is created by lighting a subject properly, and framing the subject in a good location with an interesting composition. Photoshop and other tools are available to aid in enhancing good photographs, but you cannot create a good photograph without nailing three fundemental concepts – light, location and composition.
A good wedding photographer is there when they need to be. Meaning, they have the experience to know what to expect, and can get the shot they need when the moment occurs.
A good wedding photographer is a people person. Weddings involve people and portraiture, so working with people is key.
A good wedding photographer has the gear to do the job. I’m not saying that they need to latest camera equipment. They need appropriate equipment that they know how to use well, so that they can take great photographs for you.
So, how do you choose your wedding photographer?
This is a tough question to answer. At the end of the day, you need to like their style and you need to like their photographs. You need to know that their style represents you as a bride and groom, and that they can work well with you to document moments from your wedding day that are captured timelessly.
- Although perhaps hard to stomach, it’s worth paying a little more for a photographer that you like rather than skimping a little to get a second-rate photographer ‘that will do’. At the end of the day, the dress and suit is in storage, the cake is eaten, the wedding cars have driven off… the only things that are left are your memories, and the memories that you relive through your photographs.
- Look at your prospective wedding photographer’s portfolio. Most wedding photographers have sample galleries online.
- Decide if you like their photographs. Do you like the way that they represent their wedding couples in the photographs? Do you like their composition and framing? Do you like the colours in the photographs? Do you think that their wedding photographs are a timeless representation of that couple?
- Here is the big one – Do you think that you would want to see yourself in that photograph, hanging above your fireplace, in ten years time? Remember, your wedding day is just a snapshot of the commencement your lives together… you want to look back at this day through this photograph and remember that you had the most amazing day of your life…