A wedding photographer is charged with capturing the most important day of your life and immortalizing it on film. With such a huge responsibility and being that you cannot see your pictures before your big day, it can be one of the most difficult decisions you will make for your destination wedding.
With my own experience as a wedding photographer for the last 9 years and having worked with many brides and grooms, I wanted to put together a “What You Need to Know” guide to help you sort through, narrow down, and finally select that special photographer that you will entrust with capturing your wedding memories.
His Style – See photographer’s portfolios:
The most important aspect of your photographer is also the easiest one to evaluate. The style needs to draw you in, speak to you, and make you fall in love. In our profession, we often use words like contemporary, photojournalistic, artistic, traditional, and vintage when referring to styles. In the end, regardless of the description, you simply need to follow your heart when finding the your ideal photographic style.
The best way to judge a photographer’s style is through their website. There, you will find a selection of their favourite shots and get your first glimpse at the photographer’s vision. Portrait sessions require a very different approach than a ceremony or reception, where the photographer cannot stop or control the action. So, it is important that you look through various galleries, including photographs of each stage of a wedding. Too many photos of small details, even if they are good, may reflect a lack of anticipation when action is required.
His Skill – See complete wedding sessions:
Even amateur photographers can capture a few great photos and portfolios are a selection of a photographer’s best shots.
In order to have a realistic idea of what you can expect for your wedding, ask to see a single complete wedding session. Better yet, why not ask if it is possible to see a wedding shotat the same venue you have chosen for your own event. A complete shoot will reveal the photographer’s over-all talent and skill level. While not all photos will blow you away, the general level of the photography should be good throughout. If the assistant photographer’s tools or skill level are not adequate, you will also notice that in a full shoot.
Aside from a website, many photographers nowadays also host an online Blog where you will find large selections of photos from each photo session. Often these shoots will even be sorted by location or venue. Ask about a blog and spend time checking the various locations. You may even find some great ideas or suggestions for your own wedding planning.
For my part, you can watch very large selections of my weddings and Trash the Dress on my blog:
Quantity: 30 to 40 photos/hour from reputable photographers:
It is natural to want hundreds of photos of your big day but with an art such as photography, “the more the merrier” does not always apply. In my experience, a reputable photographer will have 30 to 40 good ideas (i.e. photos) per hour. Many more photos will be taken but only to be sure to capture the right moment and facial expression of each stage of your event. Perhaps there will more photos during the ceremony as a lot of things happen in a short time, but fewer photos per hour during a portrait session, where each photo can be more carefully planned and executed.
While some photography companies will promise packages including 100 to 150 photos per hour many of these photos will be very similar and each photo will not get the time and attention in post-production that it deserves. To get more photo s unless you are hiring multiple photographers to cover your wedding event.
Price – from nothing to $15,000!
Of course, your final selection of a wedding photographer and package will have to fit within your budget. Prices vary greatly from almost nothing to well over $10,000 for a 1-day wedding coverage. Always keep in mind that your photos will be your lasting reminder of that special day for many years to come. Never select a photographer exclusively based on price, especially if you do feel a connection with his work or his personality.
A good photographer will rarely be amongst the cheapest, so be wary of packages that offer a lot for very little. For a high quality final product, the photographer needs to invest in good cameras, use an assistant or second photographer, and spend a considerable amount of time working your photos on powerful computers.
A tip: if your dream photographer is out of your budget, consider adding your photography package of choice to your wedding gift registry. This can also work well for a post-wedding Trash-the-Dress session. Friends and family will enjoy reliving the memories they made possible and helped create.
Some additional tips:
- Main photographer should not be an assistant. Always ask the name of the photographer that will cover your wedding and ask to see only his work when browsing portfolios. Be wary of companies that show you work by their best photographer, yet send only assistants on your big day as they are covering several events at the same time.
- Any questions you need to ask: The best moment to send a message to a professional photographer and get a quick response is at the beginning of the week. Most wedding and events take place on Friday and over the weekends, so if you send a message on Thursday night, you may only receive your answer the next Monday.
- Delivery time: It is normal for a professional photographer to require several weeks before delivery of your final product. Working the photos is time consuming (for myself, a 5 hour wedding coverage would require a week’s work on my computer). A photographer who promises to delivery 200 or 300 photos within a few days, will surely not edit each photo individually and not dedicate the appropriate amount of time to each snapshot of your wedding.
Pierre VIOLLE / Photographer