What To Look Out For – Top Tips on Finding a Wedding Photographer.

Choosing a wedding photographer must be tremendously overwhelming. Put a post on social media asking for a wedding photographer recommendation and you will be bombarded by a very long list! So where do you start? A wedding photographers portfolio is a showcase of their finest work and this will be your ‘go to’ in terms of looking for the STYLE of photography you want. But what warning signs do you look for to suggest that the photographer may not be as experienced as you want? This blog will give you a few tips on what to expect from a professional photographer.

 

1. Image Style

 

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Image Style: This will be the first thing that will compel you to like or dislike a photographer, and this is very much to do with your personal taste. Do a quick cull of your  list of photographers by getting a feel for their work. Experienced photographers as with any creative professional will develop a personal style over their years of working. Some photographers lean towards more formal photography, others ‘relaxed storytelling’, some may love drama, some may sway towards the natural, romantic look. To a certain extent this decision is based on your gut feeling and how you would like your final wedding to be remembered. There are many great photographers that would photograph the exact same wedding and the end product would be completely different in style and feeling but still delivered to a high standard. This part is very much up to you.

 

 

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2. Experience and Qualification

 

So you now have a list of photographers that you like the ‘look and style’ of. Where do you go from here? Go to their website and see if there is an ‘About’ Page with details of experience and qualification. Look for information on their background and training and be wary of photographers that do not have this information. Photography is a very technical skill and to accurately balance lighting and compose wedding portraiture requires training, even self-taught photographers would need a lot of experience before being ready to photograph a wedding. Be wary of those that suggest photography is a lifestyle choice rather than a career that they have invested time to train in. There are a variety of Professional photography membership bodies that photographers can become members of, The Guild of Photographers (The Guild), The Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers (SWPP), The Royal Photographic Society (RPS) to name a few, anyone can pay to become a member but to become a QUALIFIED member you have to be judged on your ability to produce work to a particular standard.

If you are on a very tight budget  you could consider a cheap photographer with less experience. You may find someone early in their career, keen, determined and willing to spend the day with you to expand their portfolio at a very low cost, every photographer has to take that leap at some point.  If you do this you must have a realistic expectation of the end result. Be warned though, you do tend to get what you have paid for, and whatever their level of experience always check your photographer has the correct insurance.

 

3. It’s All About Light

 

We have whittled our list down now and have those that we like the style of and we have lost those that lack qualification or experience. The next thing I would look out for is LOW LIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY. Photography is all about light and how it translates in camera and how the photographer shapes and handles it. It is relatively easy to take good looking photographs of a bride and groom in all their finery on a well lit day.  Taking photographs in churches with little or no light, or of evening celebration showing mood and ambience takes a great deal of skill. Are there images of the first dance?  Are their any images of church photography and how well are these lit? Have a look for flash shadow, this is a very basic error made by inexperience photographers who are not able to control their flash. The flash shadow can show behind heads of couples on walls and is very unattractive in portraiture. Have a look for winter weddings, light fades fast in the winter months and photographing well during the winter months and capturing the beauty of those sparkly Christmas scenes and low light evening portraits takes skill and experience.

 

Knowing how to use natural light and balance ambient room lighting (‘mood lighting’) in camera with flash in low light situations is key to understanding the craft of photography and personally I think it is essential in photographing professionally at a wedding.

 

 

4. Colour Balance and Skin Tone

Photographing in a variety of different locations with different lighting conditions can play havoc with something called ‘white balance’. White balance is a camera’s interpretation of true ‘black’ and true ‘white’. Every camera has an ‘automatic’ setting which even professional photographers use without it being a problem. Understanding white balance  and how to correct it if it is not right is an important skill. Skin tone varies between people and obviously nationalities but skin should not be bright orange (unless too much fake tan has been applied!) or any other unnatural colour. Room lighting and even wall coverings like dark wood paneling or brightly coloured wallpapers/paints can create colour casts to skin tone and the overall image. Understanding how to photograph in these situations to avoid white balance issues or how to correct them in post production is a necessary skill in shooting a wedding. So look for skin tones, are they even, pleasing and natural?

Watch for the ‘Filter’ Photographer: Be wary of photographers that add ‘filters’ or overuse photoshop to give their images a certain look. The look may be trendy now, but will it be cool in twenty years time. Your bridesmaids dresses have been chosen carefully and their colour should be translated accurately in the images your receive. Some photographers create a style that can alter the true colour of fabrics. This is personal choice, but make sure you are happy with the ‘look’ before you book.

 

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5. Beauty and Creativity

 

Hopefully you have whittled your list down further still, if you are still undecided look for a photographer that goes the extra mile in terms of composition and creativity. An image of a bride and groom holding hands at a magnificent stately home is bound to look stunning, delivering a collection of beautiful images at the local hotel or on busy street at the back of the registry office need a skilled and quick thinking photographer to deliver a  memorable portfolio of images despite the un-glamorous location. So if you are still struggling to decide look for the interesting compositions, the unusual angles taken at what would be an uninspiring location. A professional photographer should know how to bring beauty and a creative flare to the most dull of locations!

 

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6. Image Variety and Storytelling:

 

A final decision would be to look at the overall IMAGE VARIETY in their portfolio. A good wedding photographer will deliver a complete set of images. Every unfolding moment of the wedding photographed as well as the next. Does the portfolio have a balance of images? If they are all of group shots, how well is the candid photography photographed? If they are all of candid photography how good is the photographer at composing groups! Wedding photographers should deliver a balance of candids and formal, bride preparation and ceremony, speeches and first dance, the photography is a document of the whole day so make sure your photographer will capture all of it equally well.

 

And Finally….do you get on!

 

The final thing to do is to MEET UP with your photographer. Do you get on? You are going to be spending a very large part of your day with your photographer you don’t want them to irritate you all day. A photographer with a loud hailer may not be your cup of tea so after you have whittled your list down, go and meet with them, have a chat and talk about your plans. Most photographers offer free consultations to go through your wedding  plans so make the appointment and see if you get on.

I hope that has helped all couples feel a little less overwhelmed by the prospect of finding a professional wedding photographer.

 

This list of course is not definitive, there are many more things to consider, will the photographer be any fun? do they have quality albums or products? are they insured! But hopefully this is a start and the rest will fall into place. Of course if you would like more information about my wedding photography service you can contact me HERE. Please note I am fully booked this summer and am now taking bookings for 2018 but am taking bookings for this coming autumn/winter.

 

Kyra.