Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! The day you dreamt about is finally here. It is one of the most significant days in your life, so understandably you have a lot of important decisions to make this day unforgettable and enjoyable.
Picking your photographer is one of your most important choices, as (s)he will be responsible for crafting your dreams. Your wedding day is supposed to be fun, memorable, a culmination of hope and dreams; you need a photographer who recognizes that. Remember that you will be spending a lot of time with your photographer, so it is important to find someone whose personality matches your own vitality and vision. To help you in this process I came up with a few a few ideas to mull over. The more you have explored offered in wedding photography, the easier it will be to choose the right photographer for you – one who will be able to meet your needs and exceeds your expectations.
The first consideration is what style do you want. Do you prefer mainly traditional wedding portraits, photojournalistic, spontaneous candids or a mixture of the above with a sprinkling of playful and quirky ones? Candids are a great way to capture the mood and atmosphere. Imagine a beautiful bride in profile looking out her childhood bedroom window.
A good photographer will be able to combine his/her expertise and artistic vision with your wishes. (S)he will listen to you and incorporate your desires into her/his work. The photographer should not only offer advice on how to make beautiful photographs, but anticipate any “new” motion or pose you will make. Make a list of the photographs you want: bride’s family, groom with brothers, uncle Ernie and aunt Selma with the bride. Your photographer should meet with you before the wedding to brainstorm ideas and set a schedule for photo shoots throughout the day. Make sure the photographer is clear on the proceedings of the day. Thus (s)he will be able to advise what you need and the best time to do it. If you have a wedding planner, make sure (s)he is in contact with the photographer. It is often harder than expected to gather everyone at the same time and place for pictures. Thus, we suggest that you plan a photo session with the wedding party and family members before the ceremony and festivities get underway. Although this is a deviation from tradition where bride and groom do not see each other before the ceremony, it is the way to get the best shots. Everyone looks beautiful and fresh. It is also a good idea to allow ample time for the party to get comfortable with the photographer, so no one looks stiff and uneasy. An experienced photographer should also be able to do things quickly, lest the process drags on and results in more annoyance than fun. The right photographer knows when to be assertive and gather everyone for a family portrait or when to simply stay in the shadows and take candid shots. If you have time between the wedding and reception, formals can be done then. A viable alternative to seeing the bride before the ceremony is to use the cocktail hour when all the guests are occupied. The garden, if available, can be a lovely backdrop for a portrait. Take a walk through the town, posing by land marks. Take advantage of the city skyline for an informal wedding party grouping. Shoot down a busy sidewalk with the bride and groom as the center piece. This approach yields fun and unusual pictures where members of your party are interacting with each other and having a good time.
Every wedding has its own flow. You need a photographer who is not only flexible, but is also able to adapt to the changing environment on the fly. What if it rains? – Lets have some fun with colorful umbrellas. If your celebration lasts longer than expected or you find yourself wanting that last-minute picture of your high-school soccer team, will your photographer be willing go the extra mile? Discuss this before hand, so there are no unpleasant surprises or unexpected extra charges.
But lets not forget the special moments. There are first kisses and there are tiny kisses newlyweds sneak when they think no one is looking. The way they hold hands and occasionally look into each other’s eyes… The way his hand falls on her waist when they share a dance… The way she brushes his hair off his forehead… – these tell a different love story the watchful photographer records. What about the father of the bride and mother-in-law dancing doing the “bump” or a child taste-testing the cake. The photographer should always be on the lookout for the unexpected and unique. Don’t forget to ask your photographer to take pictures of all the details you spent so much time perfecting. Flowers, wedding rings, center-pieces, place-settings, invitations, service programs – all these are small, but significant parts of your wedding.
It is a good idea to have an engagement session with the photographer a few months before the wedding. This way you can see the photographer in action. You will also experience how it feels to be the subject photographed and find your “good side.”
Another option to consider is film vs. digital. Do you want to be able to view your pictures immediately or would you prefer film? Do you want a leather-bound wedding album or a DVD of digital pictures? Does the photographer offer artistic enhancements? Can you customize the wedding package?
While there are still film photographers, digital has come so far now that the differences are no longer existent. One of the big questions to ask photographers, other than the gear (s)he uses, is what format will the photographs be in. RAW or jpeg? Only the superbly experienced wedding photographers will use jpeg mainly, however, they do know when to adjust to RAW when the situation calls for it. But for safety’s sake, ensure that your photographer shoots in RAW. RAW allows a “safety net,” if you will. It is a large file, but it allows for non-lossless photographs that can be altered as much as the photographer’s eye sees fit. Also, archival of RAW photographs last so much longer than jpegs, regardless of the unit they are stored in.
How will the photographer store these photographs? Will (s)he store it in an external hard drive? What is his/her strategy in storage?
What about timeline? How soon will you be able to see the proofs and receive the final product(s) after the ceremony? Two weeks? Three?
While you are planning your wedding, just remember that this is your day! You deserve to get the photographs you want. I hope this brief guide helps you pick the right photographer. Learn beforehand as much as you can about the options available to you and the services the photographer provides.
Ted Nghiem’s Photography is located in NJ. I invite you do contact me and learn about my wedding photography! For an appointment or have any questions don’t hesitate to call me.