Your vision of captivating images of the two of you declaring your devotion in a glorious setting may have been once of your primary motivators to marry outdoor. What you need to know is that behind every striking wedding image you’ve ever seen is a brilliant photographer. Finding the right photographer for your event can be time consuming, and their work can be costly. But if you choose wisely, you will wind up with photos and may be even a video to cherish anniversaries hence.
Selecting a of photographer
Photography is part art, part science, and part sport. The best photographers know how to compose interesting candid shots and pose formal portraits. They understand, both technically and intuitively, the results achieved through the combination of shutter speed, aperture, film, lenses, filters, and lighting. They possess a knack for being in the right place at the right time and have the reflexes to capture for posterity scenes that last but a moment in time. As you search for the right photographer, you will need to consider each individual’s style, skill level, and eye for catching a wedding’s most dramatic images.
Style and Substance
Most couples begin their search for a wedding photographer by focusing on a particular style of photography that appeals to them. Just as no two watercolor artists paint in precisely the same way, no two photographers have exactly the same approach. However, wedding photography generally falls into three basic styles:
Traditional: Focused on portraiture, family groupings, classic scenes, and posed images.
Photojournalistic: Designed to be unobtrusive, natural, and documentary in approach.
Artistic: Aimed at capturing one-of-a-kind images in a less traditional manner by zooming in on singular elements, such as the bride’s shoes, by utilizing unique angles, and by experimenting with softer focus, off-center framing, and other creative techniques.
Within these basic categories, you will still find that photographers differ greatly in many ways, such as use of light and shadows, propensity to zoom in or to use a wide angle, use of soft versus sharp focus, emphasis on scenic as well as people elements, and reliance on or avoidance of props. Because many outdoor celebrations tend to be more casual in nature, a photojournalistic approach is often preferred. In the course of their search, however, most couples discover that they would prefer a photographer who can blend several styles. Be sure to see a variety of work by each photographer you are considering as you make a decision about whose style best aligns with your wishes.
Beyond style, it is important to consider each potential photographer’s substance, as well. Seek out a photographer who has extensive experience, not only with weddings but specifically with outdoor weddings. You also want the photographer you select to be reliable, so evaluate how quickly candidates respond to your phone calls or e-mails and how thoroughly they answer your questions. In addition to technical and artistic prowess with a camera, good wedding photographers also have strong interpersonal skills and genuine passion for the work they do.
Costs and Conditions
Sticker shock often accompanies couples’ first meetings with professional photographers. Not only will it cost thousands of dollars to hire a pro to shoot your wedding, the initial fee you are quoted usually covers only the photographer’s time plus film and development costs. Additional charges will apply to all prints and albums you order after receiving your proofs. It is not uncommon for photography to eat up 10 percent or more of a couple’s wedding budget.
Before you contemplate asking your cousin to take on the job of photographing your wedding with her point-and-shoot camera, consider the importance of having a quality visual record of your special day as it unfolds. Your wedding will be over in a flash, but images will remind you and your loved ones of the promise and hope of that day for many years to come. While photography prices may seem exorbitant, take into account the fact that a wedding photographer’s job is not an easy one. In addition to working weekends, lugging equipment, and catering to demanding clients, wedding photographers are under enormous pressure to produce stunning images at every wedding, even though conditions may not always be optimal, and brides and grooms may not always resemble movie stars.
In spite of the cost, hiring a professional is the best way to maximize your chances of getting great photos of your wedding. You will find as you begin to prospect for a photographer that those who specialize in weddings vary widely in their level of experience, their price, and the quality and freshness of their work. Because photography is a demanding profession, many photographers dabble in it part-time or pursue it only for a little while. You will need to manage your expectations a bit. Remember that the photographers who shoot magazine spreads charge even higher commercial rates, working with professional models, jetting off to exotic locations, and not likely spending their weekends trying to get just anyone’s grandma to smile for the camera.
Once you have found a photographer whose style you admire and whose price you can afford, you must still review the contract and understand exactly what you are purchasing. Your agreement should spell out who specifically will photograph your event, the number of hours and rolls of film included, the specific shooting locations, the format via which proofs will be delivered, ownership of the proofs, pricing including any charges for travel expenses, and payment schedule. Carefully read any clauses pertaining to cancellation or postponement of the event and the photographer’s liability for not fulfilling contractual obligations. Be sure to obtain a current price list for albums and prints with a guaranteed date through which these prices will be honored.
As with any wedding vendor, checking a photographer’s references is a prudent step. Be sure to ask not only whether the newlyweds are satisfied with the images they received but how well the photographer fulfilled special requests and interacted with them and with guests. You may also want to ask about the turnaround time they experienced on proofs and their final album.
The Proof Is in the Proofs
Couples are often surprised to learn that it may be many weeks after their event before they see proofs of their wedding photos. When the proofs arrive, they are sometimes equally astonished by the great number of unacceptable images. What happened?
The answer is that even skilled, experienced photographers must take many shots in order to come up with a few winners. This is even more evident when a photojournalistic style is employed and few, if any, images are posed. Keep in mind that you will only select thirty to forty enlargements for your wedding album. The key is to realize that within the hundreds of proof images that you receive, those few dozen gems usually do exist.
Before or After?
For those who choose to include formal portraits on their photography wish list, deciding where a posed photo session will fit into an outdoor wedding schedule can present a bit of a dilemma. There is, of course, a commonly held but somewhat antiquated notion that on the day of a wedding, it is bad luck for a groom to see his bride before the ceremony. However, there are some distinct advantages to getting the formal portraits out of the way before guests arrive and the proceedings get underway.
One primary benefit of posing for photos early is that it eliminates the concern that participants’ appearances won’t be at their best later on in the day. Even if your ceremony is brief, thirty minutes in the beating sun or raging wind can leave hair disheveled, makeup marred, and attire moist. If your formal portrait list is long and requires participation from a large number of family and wedding party members, after-ceremony photos will also delay many people’s enjoyment of the festivities. That includes the two of you, and the time you will have with your loved ones will seem far too short when all is said and done.
Your photographer may also have concerns about the time of day when photos will be taken, particularly if your ceremony is scheduled for late afternoon and the daylight hours remaining afterward may be limited. Be sure to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of various chronologies and to weigh any preferences your photographer expresses. The final decision will be a matter of your own beliefs and desires and the photographer’s availability, but if images are one of your top priorities, you may want to dispense with tradition.