So now that we have just concluded another big engagement season and many couples are turning their thoughts to booking their wedding photographer, I thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss: what makes a great wedding photographer?
Here’s my list of things to keep an eye out for:
1) Posed vs Candid Photos
This is all a matter of preference, so hear me out. A great wedding photographer has the ability to do BOTH very well. Your wedding day is not just portraits all your family, dressed really well, standing side by side for the camera. It’s not just photos of the ceremony. No. It’s all the little moments that go by in a flash and that can never be re-created again. It’s that moment when you first put on your dress and you fully realize the gravity of the day that you will marry a person and spend the rest of your life with them. A great photographer has the ability to find and capture the little things as well as the big and obvious moments, like the kiss or 1st dance.
For posed photos, they should reflect your personality and style. The portraits definitely should not just be a bunch of random photos that you or the photographer found on pinterest and you just want to copy.
2) Patience + Flexibility + Personality
The photographer is the only vendor, besides a wedding planner/coordinator, who is with you, the couple, for the entire day!!! The photographer has to have the ability to work with the couple, the mom-zilla, the (frat boy) groomsmen who’s drunk, the aunt who thinks she’s a professional photographer, but only bought the camera the day before, and the DJ who stands over the shoulder of the photographer, during the entire reception photographing all the same angles. So the photographer has to consistently work and manage 100s of different personalities on a given wedding day. Plus, everyone has something different that’s important to them and they have to try to accommodate each request.
3) Be a Problem Solver
Things will happen, little and big, on your wedding day. Sometimes you have a great bridesmaid or buddy who can take care of something. And sometimes you don’t. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have a great photographer (with an assistant) who can tackle the little odds and ends that pop up during the day. Something is not going as planned? The photographer must be flexible and adjust. Moreover, if things run late, for example, hair or make up or there was traffic. Who’s responsibility is it to get you back on schedule? The Photographer.
So yea, the photographer does more than just show up to the wedding and press a button.
We can help the bride plan everything to a T, but I can almost guarantee that little things will pop up and you will wish that you had a great photographer who can help solve those little problems.
4) Doesn’t Use a Stock or Pre-made “Filter” + Does Not “Spray and Pray”
These days everyone has a camera on their phone right? And I’d say that a good 50% of those people use something called VSCO filters on their photos for Instagram, right? Guess what? A lot of “new” photographers are using them on their wedding photos and calling it “their” style. It’s a very popular thing to do in contemporary wedding photoraphy. I can’t blame them, to be honest. A lot of brides like that look, but is it the filter or the photographer that makes that photo? We have a term among photo community and we call it “Spray and Pray”. It’s where the photographers essentially just holds the button down on the camera “sprays” a lot of photos and “prays” that just 1 turns out alright, so that they can drop a VSCO filter on it and say they made a great photo. Where is that line between photographer and technology?
Moreover, many photographers are prone to just testing each of the different filters out on a given set of photos and just picking the one their friends like the best.
Filters and Pre-sets are a necessity in the (digital) photography workflow. It speeds up our work and saves us a ton of time, especially when we have 1000s of photos to process from each wedding. But the key is finding a photographer who developed their own style and not just copied someone or used something cool that was pre-made for them.
Additionally, we believe in a more classic style that will stand the test of time. Many of these VSCO filtered styles of photography will look very dated in just 3-4 years. To give you a basis of comparison, look at the filters you used on Instagram 2-3 years ago. Do they look cool, now? 😉 I bet they look all sorts of old.
To be honest, this is a tough one. When you’re looking at wedding photos, you usually just enamored with all the great work out there that it’s tough to take a step back and look at the photo, objectively. If you have a hard time figuring it out, give us a call and we can point you in the right direction.
5) Takes a Semi-Active Part in Planning
Many photographers will just give you their prices and if they fall within your budget, you book them. And you only hear from them right before your engagement shoot and in the days leading up to the wedding. A GREAT photographer will take a semi-active role in helping plan out a few broad strokes of your wedding. Much like above, the photographer must be flexible, but they should also be doing their best to set themselves, as well as the couple, up for successful photos. If they are just “winging” it, are you going to get great photos, maybe? Could they be better if the photographer provided some input? Most likely. The photographer should be providing feedback on locations, backgrounds, shadows, and light.