Choosing the Right Photographer, part 1

With the "wedding season" approaching rapidly, I am reminded of the joys and stress of wedding planning. Although my role was more of a support person and ideas generator, I am very aware of everything that went into planning our wedding about 4 years ago.

Unlike other vendors you would decide upon for your wedding, photography and videography aren't tangible purchases - at first. A lot of what you get from a wedding photographer and videographer is obtained after the fact. With that being said, there are a number of other characteristics that you might consider when deliberating over your right wedding photographer

I've narrowed it down in this three-part blog, and have laid it out in detail, all from my personal experience. Hopefully this can help to remove the shroud of uncertainty in choosing a wedding photographer, and at least make this step in wedding planning a lot easier.

PHOTOGRAPHIC STYLE

A lot of photographers these days will define themselves as their style of photography. This can help you because a lot can be said about a photographer by the style in which they choose. I found this fun infographic, courtesy of Simply Bridal, defining wedding photography style into three categories: photojournalism, classic and artistic. Through the humorous approach, there is some truth to these photo style definitions. 

PHOTOJOURNALISM

This style can be likened to a documentary. Photographs are taken in the moment, rarely is any photo staged. The photographs are taken in a way that will retell the story. Key characteristics of a photojournalistic approach is that moments are often spontaneous and candid. Photographs might include scenes of your wedding venue with guests at the bar, family members dancing at the reception, conversations at during dinner and laughing. 

CLASSIC

Think traditional, posed portraiture. Although you might be thinking of your parents wedding album or even your high school prom portraits, there is still a lot of room for creativity through this style. Photographs of this nature are generally posed in traditional settings, while other photographers will take creative liberties to find dramatic scenes staging beautiful bride and groom photographs.

ARTISTIC

While most of the typical shots are still covered through this style of photography, the creativity is noticed by the approach and angle at which the shot was taken. Rather than a head-on shot of the couple at the altar, you might have an over-the-shoulder shot from the groomsman's perspective. This style is marked by an out-of-the-box thinking, with dramatic angles and unconventional framing to create the photograph.

Understanding these styles will help you to discover what you want in a wedding photographer. Although many photographers will blend styles and utilize multiple styles during a wedding, you will want to do your homework. Often times a photographer will default to what they are best at, and you will want to find a photographer that can focus on what you want out of your wedding photography.

RESEARCH

As with any business today, there are numerous resources available for customer/client reviews. When I'm travelling and I need to find a great place to eat, I will usually default to what I know or look into social media platforms with customer reviews and ratings (ie. Yelp, Foursquare). Almost every time I am pleasantly surprised by the accuracy of the reviews and walk away feeling like a winner.

The same thing goes for wedding photography. Do your homework. Photographers are often listed on numerous sites, where customers have the ability to leave a review for them. Read the reviews. 

Visit their website. Often times the design and style of a website will clue you in to their artistic style. Check out their weddings that they've shot. Photographers will always put their best foot forward, so take a look at their style, this can give you a better picture if they will be the best fit for you and your wedding.

MEET THE PHOTOGRAPHER

Choosing a wedding photographer should not be done based on the images alone. Your wedding photographer will be alongside you throughout one of the biggest days of your life, so you will want to meet them in person.

Key things to bring to a meeting with a potential wedding photographer include - wedding date, venue location and details, wedding style and potential style you desire from your photos. Ask questions, and get to know your wedding photographer. Are they confident enough to present their suggestions clearly? A professional photographer needs to be bold enough to get the right shot while remaining tactful without overtaking the moment. You need to be comfortable with your photographer as they will be shadowing you throughout the day. The more comfortable you are with them, the better your photographs will turn out after your wedding.