For the past few months, I’ve been on the search for a wedding photographer for my own wedding (7 months to go baby!), and I’ve learned a lot in the process. I’ve gathered a few pointers and a whole new perspective by being a photographer on the search for a photographer, and I felt that a lot of my brides and all the other lovely brides out there need some pointers on how to choose the perfect photographer for the Day.
Wedding photos cost a LOT. Heck, I’m a wedding photographer and I still didn’t want to bite the bullet and shell out a bunch of cash for one. I was determined to find an amazing wedding photographer, with great experience, wonderful portfolio, and awesome personality, and a knock-your-socks-off-its-so-cheap kinda price. Guess what? I didn’t find one. Then I realized that its my WEDDING DAY. And I was going to look at the photos and cherish them for the rest of my life. I’ll show them to my children and grandchildren, and have them hanging in my living room for decades to come. I wanted them to be special. I wanted them to be perfect. And as I continued searching, I ended up finding an amazing photographer that broke my meager budget, but that was ok. Sacrifices must be made, especially for something as important as this. And not only did I realize that finding a good photographer might break my budget a bit, but I would also have to provide opportunities for her on the wedding day that would ensure the very best photo. Throughout the past few months, I’ve realized that good wedding photos result from a 50/50 effort between the photographer and a couple. A good wedding photographer puts their heart and soul into each photograph they take, but sometimes it takes partnering with the couple and outside forces to achieve the perfect photo. It’s a joint effort. Here’s what you can do to ensure that you have the perfect wedding album at the end of your big day.
1. Don’t skimp on a photographer
Wedding photographers are expensive. Heck, weddings are expensive. I’m planning my own right now, and I’m starting to weigh the options of selling a kidney. I would have loved to spend $10,000 on one of my favorite, world-renowned photographers. Was it doable? Heck no. But I knew the style I wanted, and searched for more doable, budget-friendly options. Find the photographer you love, and check them out. If they’re in your budget, great! If not, photographers are usually thrilled to send you a few suggestions that might be more in your price range. Sometimes you can find yourself a super talented, super cheap and super reliable newbie. But that’s more rare and lucky than it is common.
2. Make sure you’re photographer is cool
Don’t just pick a photographer because they’re popular and cheap. Make sure you and the photographer “click.” They’ll be spending the entire day with you, and you’ll see them more than the groom or any of your wedding guests. You want to make sure that they know you, your personality and your style. And vice versa. If you’re comfortable, cool and casual around the photographer, you’ll get more natural-looking photos and have a lot more fun in the process.
3. Think about the light
That yummy, soft, delicious light. Yes PLEASE. I once begged a bride to do her “putting on the big gorgeous ball gown” photos in front of giant, floor-to-ceiling windows. But she didn’t want anyone to see her so we resorted to a poorly lit room with lots of distracting furniture and clutter. Not ideal. Don’t get me wrong, the photos still turned out beautifully. But that window would have been the cherry on top. Listen to your photographer and TRUST them. If they ask you to get dressed on the back porch, where the flowers and trees are creating all sorts of shade, soft light and colors, DO IT. You’ll get the prettiest photos, and they will be 10x better than if you were in a dark bedroom.
Keep in mind that the prettiest photos happen an hour before sunset, where the light is golden and soft. If you’re planning an outdoor ceremony, opt for the evening instead of in the middle of the afternoon when the sun is blaring. I’ve even had couples sneak out of the reception to get some bride and groom photos in the pretty sunset. And when you’re looking at venues, think about what window light you have. Window light is seriously the most flattering thing ever when it comes to portraits, or really any photograph. It’s soft, bright, and makes the skin smooth and flawless.
4. Get engagement pictures
The engagement is the best part of getting married. Besides getting married and partying, that is. You have constant butterflies in your stomach, you’re madly in love, and you just found the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with. So get some pictures taken. Warm up in front of the camera in preparation for the wedding. By the time the wedding comes around, you’ll practically be models. You’ll know how to pose, how to smile, and which side of your face is more flattering. Most importantly, you’ll know your photographer. It will give you and the photographer a chance to socialize, get to know each other, and learn how to work with one another.
5. Have a first look
Seriously, ever time I have a consultation with a bride, my fingers are crossed when I ask “Are you two planning on a first look?” Usually, the answer is “no”, and it’s heartbreaking, guys. I’m about to do a whole big post on a first look, so I’m not going to elaborate a ton here, but DO IT. The dream of every couple is walking down the aisle and seeing each other for the first time. It’s exciting, romantic, and traditional. But so is a first look. It allows you to be YOU. You both see each other, can spend time with each other, and are hidden away from all the chaos of the wedding day. It allows you to really lay eyes on each other for an extended amount of time, instead of just the 20 second walk down the aisle. It also allows the photographer to capture the expression, reaction, and love that is emanating from both of your bodies. You’ll get sweet, natural, loving photos together, because you won’t even notice the photographer is there, and the photographer has more than the 20 second aisle walk to capture the moment.
6. Appoint a shouter
There’s one in every family. The loud, slightly obnoxious one. This person is the photographers best friend during family photos. Photographers try REALLY HARD to remember names, but there’s a lot of people, and a lot of talking. And for photographers with terrible memories like me, it’s a hard job. So take that loud family member and pair them up with the photographer before family photos. They can be the photographers second voice and wrangle all the extended family members together a little more easily than a photographer would be able to.
7. Gather the details
Rings, dress, shoes, garter, perfume, veil, necklace, earrings, lipstick, socks, cuff links, tie- you name it! You don’t realize how many pieces you use and touch on a wedding day that complete the smoking hot package of the bride and groom. And most likely, you’ll forget later on in life which cufflinks you wore or which perfume you sprayed. I love photographing details. It really completes the story. A lot of times, the bride and groom have sentimental value in the details as well – like the groom’s grandfathers cufflinks or the bride’s moms earrings from her own wedding. Express the sentimental value to the photographer, and appoint a bridesmaid or maid of honor to gather all of the details before the photographer arrives. It allows us to shoot faster and we don’t have to bug the bride while she’s getting all prettied up by the hair and makeup team.
8. Ignore the photographer
To an extent at least. Documentary/lifestyle photographers like myself love capturing the raw, organic moments that happen throughout the day. We’re unable to achieve this when the bridesmaids and bride are smiling or constantly looking at the camera. It’s hard to ignore us, but just pretend we’re a fly on the wall. And grooms, I know you hate getting your picture taken. Most grooms do. But seriously, if we’re in the middle of a photo shoot with you and your new wife, you can ignore us. Grab her by the waist, pull her close and tell her she’s gorgeous. The reaction on the brides face and the intimate moment between the two of you is exactly what we’re looking for. Kiss her whenever you want, make her laugh. Make her feel comfortable and you will too.
9. Have fun
It’s your wedding. Party, laugh, cry. It seriously is the best thing you can do to ensure that you have amazing photos. And let the photographer in on the fun. Feed them, hand them a drink, treat them as a guest and as a friend. They’re there to document your love story, and travel on the adventure with you.