Selecting Your Wedding Photographer.

Possibly the hardest decision when preparing for a wedding is the selection of the wedding photographer. A wedding is the most expensive party you will ever throw and once it is over, all you have are your memories. Your photographs should be something quite special.

So how do you select a photographer? Generally, the best way is by personal reference from a friend or colleague who has had experience with a photographer. If you ask around, check the images that were taken, ask how it was on the day and how well the process went. Selection comes down to the style of photography, the personality of the photographer, cost and how well you get on with the photographer when talking to them. You must meet with the photographer and spend some time getting to know them. It will make it easier on the day. If no one has experience with a photographer,then a google search or yellow pages is next. Most photographer will have a web page and the best way of narrowing it down is to search through their web pages and look at the images. How do they look? Are they well composed? Is there detail in the dress? Do they look natural?

There are two distinct styles that wedding photographers fall into. The photojournalist who tries to be the fly on the wall and capture events as they happen and the traditional wedding photographer who directs and poses. Most photographer fall somewhere in between these two using a combination of photojournalism and traditional photography. It comes down to personal choice and what you like in your photography.

Consider also the impact that the photographer will have on the actual day. How long do you want them there, do you want both bride and groom getting ready images, do you want a real cake cutting and bridal waltz? All very important to the day but will impact on cost. The reception is a big part of the day but often forgotten. A new product on the market is the photo booth, a really fun way to get images of your guests from your wedding.

So what is your money paying for? A wedding photographer requires many skills. The most important is seeing light and their ability to use the light. In photography, light is everything and the way a person is positioned within the light can be the difference between an average photograph and an amazing photograph. Photographers need equipment that can handle the different lighting conditions found during a typical wedding shoot and the technical skills that allow them to photograph in all conditions. This means expensive lenses and a variety of portable lighting gear. It takes a lot of experience, training and commitment to do it well.
Further, they need the organisational skills needed to shoot family and group photos, time management skills to get it all the photos needed from the day, problem solving skills as there are always different scenarios that arise during the day. After the wedding, there is post production, editing techniques, graphic design for albums and canvas prints, and the ability to pull it all together. Print quality and album quality is everything if your memories are going to last. Wedding photographers could charge less by compromising on the quality of their products, but it would be the couple who pay for it later.

So how much should you pay for your wedding photography? The Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) states at least 10% of your total wedding budget should be directed towards your photography. Photography, like everything else, comes down to “you get what you paid for”.  A quality photographer costs a little bit more because they bring to the table creative experience, technical experience and spend a lot of time on your images ensuring that they are perfect. They do not compromise on quality, neither should you.

There will obviously be a huge difference in the final images and the products when comparing an $800 photographer with a $5000 photographer. This difference will be in quality, quality of the actual image, quality of the albums and prints and the quality of service. This is one of the most important days in your life, do not compromise on quality. There can be no greater disappointment then getting your photos after the events and thinking “I wish I had of gone somewhere else.”

All of these factors are important, however if you do not get on with your photographer it will be a long day. You must meet with your photographer before the day and you need to get to know them. You have to trust that they know what they are doing and enjoy their company. With wedding photography, there has to be a lot of trust involved. If you do not believe in what the photographer is saying, it will show in the photos. Many photographer offer an engagement shoot as part of the package. A great way of getting to know them and see how they photograph.

Timing on the day is vital. A run down of the day should be organised before the big day, timing, locations and events. This should include any special needs you may have for the day. Locations you like, people you want photos of. This needs to be locked down before the day, it goes to quickly to make it up as you go.

Look for photographers accredited with the AIPP, these photographers are part of an education system that allows photographers to improve their skills while being mentored and taught by the best photographers in the business. There is also an accreditation system in place that you must pass to become accredited.

Wedding days should be fantastic days, select your photographer carefully and you will have photographs to treasure forever. Remember, don’t let little things spoil your day. Enjoy every moment so when you look at your photos, the memories come flooding back.

Malcolm Gillham

Leiden Studios

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