Thing's to keep in mind in choosing a wedding photographer

Thing's to keep in mind in choosing a wedding photographer

If you’re planning a wedding, you’ve probably heard this a few or twenty times already: After the wedding, when the flowers are gone and the last favor has been stuffed into your Aunt Jennie's purse, what's left are the photos.

With that said, finding the right photographer is important. It’s can also be overwhelming. There are over 100,000 wedding photographers in the U.S. 

But, some of the most common “selling points” for photographers can actually be things to watch out for in disguise. Here are a few things that should not influence your choice — and what is a good way to pick a winning photographer. 

1. “Our studio shoots 250+ weddings a year!”
Let me tell you, experience is a must. If your putting the job of documenting one of the most important day's they have to be experienced.  You do not want a photographer shooting your wedding for practice. But remember, busier is not  always better. If a company shoots 250+ weddings in a year, they’re probably hiring freelance photographers to fill their dates. While it's not an automatic deal breaker, you should get a feel for how the studio handle's their workload. Are they passionate or jaded? Are you just another bride in the long list of clients they service.  If they’re hiring an associate, is it a talented colleague or just a random freelancer? As popular as this business model is, it's also the riskiest. You only get to have your wedding once and a wedding is not the type of service which should be handled in bulk. Your most likely not going to get the same service or experience on your wedding day as hiring a dedicated full time professional. 

2. “Prices too good too pass up”
A friend of mine planned her wedding on a shoestring budget. She wore a $300 wedding gown in order to afford her first-choice photographer. The reasoning? The right photographer will make a less expensive dress look breathtaking. The wrong photographer will make a Vera Wang dress look tacky. Ask any friend who’s been burned. The price that was too good to pass up is worthless, if you hate your pictures. If a reputable photographer is running a discount (like 10 percent off for Friday weddings), then, jump on it! But don’t let a deep discount be a deciding factor. Professional wedding photographers invest in high-end gear and professional-grade printing. Think about this before you cut corners, where are they cutting corners. Canon and Nikon's flagship camera's cost upwards of 5000 each. Chances are anyone presenting an offer that looks too good to pass up is going to come back later and haunt you. 

3. “Keep it in the family!”
You might have a sister or niece who just graduated from a photography program, or a cousin who does landscape photography or a friend who shoot families and portraits.  They are offering their services for free.  It might seem like a great idea, but you risk ruining that relationship if they screw up. Weddings are a lot of work with a lot of variables — so many that every wedding presents a new set of challenges for a professional photographer. Just because your friend takes beautiful photos outside, it doesn’t mean they knows how to light a reception venue. What do you do, if you don’t love the photos? I've seen that after a wedding, bride's tend to fall into two categories. They either love or hate their pictures.  What if your situation turns into the later?  You might hate your niece or cousin for a year after that. Bottom line: When you’re choosing a wedding photographer, hire a professional.

Remember, your photographer will probably spend more time by your side on your wedding day than your own mom — or even your newly betrothed. You've spent months, even years planning your wedding celebration. Don't leave one of the most important roles to anyone less than a full time professional. Remember this, inexperienced wedding photographers shoot weddings as events, and experienced one's understand that shooting a wedding means bringing the best out in people and shoot moment's and stories. No matter how much you love someone’s work, make sure your personalities click before you invite them along for one of the most important days of your life.

9 things wedding photographers should understand about your wedding

9 things wedding photographers should understand about your wedding

1. Your wedding is about you. Do what you want.

There are no rules when it comes to a wedding day. Every wedding day is different and every couple is different. What’s right for one couple may not be for another. Rules are often made to be broken. Do what you want on your wedding day. A good wedding photographer will recognize this and it will really help you enjoy your day to the max. A wedding is about you and your partner. Everything else is important, but ancillary.

2. Good photos take time. (But not that much time)

Time is the one thing you don’t have a lot off on your wedding day. If your wedding photographer doesn’t recognize this, you might be in for a surprise come your wedding day. A good wedding photographer can get things done timely, effortlessly, and most important efficiently. Some people prefer to take more picture’s and other’s prefer to take less. Either way, time is of the essence.

3. Get ready somewhere quiet

Prep time can be stressful, and it can be doubly stressful when you’re being crowded by a lot of (well-meaning) people. Try to cut the crowd down, so you can relax a bit. If there is one thing a photographer can’t hide, (even the best ones) it’s a stressed out bride.

4. Your dress is probably going to get dirty.

If you repeat this to yourself, it will be much easier to come to terms with it when it happens. If your planning an outdoor wedding, taking advantage of the environment comes first over some dirt on the bottom of the dress. While dresses and shoes are expensive, don’t fret all day about it. A well experienced photographer is aware of all these things and most often will ask you what your comfortable doing and not doing on your wedding day. 

Sometimes, the best picture’s require trekking through a field of dirt or a dirty city street. Embrace it! 

5. Consider banning iphones, ipads etc at the ceremony.

iPads are particularly horrid, especially held up in the air during the ceremony – particularly at inopportune times. 

6. Pick a good photographer and ditch the other lists.

Family photo lists are great – shot lists, not so much. Trying to micro-manage a photographer is not a good idea. If you like the galleries enough to book, you will like yours when you get it.

The photographer needs freedom to do his thing, to shoot what he sees in front of him. All couples, all locations, all moments are different, and it’s the photographer’s task to capture them as they happen, not to manufacture an image from a different place and time, shot by a another person. 

7. Poor Scheduling

There is nothing worse than rushing, especially on your wedding day. A good photographer can help you pick all the times for your wedding. Since this only happens once, you want to make sure you do it well. 

8. Give yourself some time alone on the dance-floor.

For your first dance / bridal waltz with your partner, make sure you allow yourself a bit of time alone together on the dance-floor. Savor it. It’s a few minutes that you should enjoy, alone, and it makes for some beautiful photos. Some of the best shot’s I take are in the second half of the first dance. The first minute is dedicated to the safe shots and the second minute is about the creative ones. If your bridal party swamp the dancefloor too early, you may miss out on that one magic image that could be a treasure to you for the rest of your life. 

9. The right wedding photographer can still make your wedding pictures shine even if you don’t follow any of their advice

Do you know how many couple’s have ignored what I told them? Many over the years, especially early on in my career. Funny enough, over the year's I've learned it doesn’t matter all that much, Now a day's, I've realized most, wedding days are meant to be exciting, surprising, & unscripted. A great wedding photographer goes with the flow. If there was ever a reason to have the right wedding photographer, it’s that. Remember, the photographer is there to stand in the right place at the right time and press the button. 

7 Things I've learned shooting weddings

7 Things I've learned shooting weddings

2016 was an amazing year. I got to be a part of so many wedding days. 59 to be exact—and I learned a whole lot of new things this past year.

One big thing that hit me this year, many brides are overwhelmed with so many choices today.

One of the most important things often overlooked is knowing the depth of your photographer’s skill. If your just looking at highlight images from many different wedding's your not seeing the whole picture. Ask to see the whole wedding. Often times, photographers show their best work but not the entirety of their work and this could lead to unexpected results after the wedding. Do your due diligence. Shooting outdoor portraits, formal church family portraits, and shooting inside dark reception halls are three totally different skill sets and you want to be sure your photographer can handle them all!

2. Make up and hair

You should do a trial run of make up and hair. Get a preview so you aren’t surprised the day off. Working with so many brides this past year I started seeing that great light make a poor job look great. It's crazy how it's taken me six years to start seeing that. Lighting is the key to great skin tones even when the make up is not exactly what you expected. The difference between putting a bride in good light vs great light can make even poor makeup shine. 

3. Preparations

The best wedding photographers will guide you so you never have to worry. They are inherent leaders when they need to be. The best thing I learned last year about preparations is that once you truly understand light, even under the toughest light conditions the photographer will have the additional lighting needed to transform a difficult light situation into a space with better lighting and that is so key to getting great getting ready shots. 

Another thing, have your details prepared in advance and ready to be shot when the photographer arrives. This will help the photographer streamline the process and get things done quickly and efficiently. Time is the most important thing on your wedding day and you want to make sure that you make the most of it!

4. Flowers

I was never a flower person until I started photographing weddings. The simplest of weddings can truly be brought to life with beautiful flowers. Even if you aren't a flower person, I can guarantee that you'll love your bridal party photos even more with nice bouquets! 

Another thing regarding flowers, I can’t tell you how many brides have had their flowers show up on a wedding day and they flat out hated them. Make sure you get a sample in advance and confirm with your florist that it’s exactly what you want. It might cost a little extra to have the sample made, but seriously, what’s the point of having your flowers show up and you hate them. They are a part of so many pictures and I can guarantee you will always remember that you did not like your flowers every single time you go back and look at your wedding pictures.

5. Ceremony & Formal Portraits

The best time for bride and groom portraits is about an hour before sunset. It's important to take the time to look up the sunset time for your wedding day & try to plan your ceremony accordingly. Mid day ceremonies in the summer are most often a tough time to get great shots because the sun is pounding. Not only that, your guests will not be thrilled with the heat and your skin tones will suffer. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes the timing can’t always be exact and having a good photographer is gonna really help with this. Mid day or mid afternoon sun is a challenging time to shoot and if the photographer is not experienced enough shooting in these conditions you might end up getting images that you don’t like on the day of your wedding. A good wedding photographer know’s how to shoot great portraits at all times of the day so if you don’t have much control of your ceremony time, a good photographer will really help here. 

Another thing I love to communicate with my couples is planning for family formals. I have a document online that I have all couples fill out 7-10 days before the wedding. This ensures that no family member is left behind, and helps keep us organized and efficient when photographing family formals. 

This part of the day can be the most stressful for many couples if it isn't planned out well. Make a list (and check it twice) Then make sure to share it with your family prior to the wedding day. Many times, my couples share this list with their family at the rehearsal dinner. That way, each family member knows they are needed and don't disappear after the ceremony during portraits!

6. Weather

Weather sometimes get’s in the way of a wedding. I have definitely experienced all sorts of crazy weather on a wedding day! From rain, to annoying mist, to intense winds, to gorgeous sunshine, I've witnessed it all! Weather changes and things happen, but it's so outside of our control so in reality you should not worry about it. Here’s where hiring a well experienced photographer is going to make or break your wedding album. A good wedding photographer know’s how to shoot no matter what the conditions can bring. They make seemingly challenging situations shine. If you have the unfortunate luck of getting rained out on your wedding day, hiring the right photographer is going to ensure you still get great pictures. No matter what, a good wedding photographer can get the job done well and make the best use of the conditions provided to them on a wedding day. 

7. Sweating the details 

One more really important thing, seriously, don't sweat the small stuff. Just like the weather, wedding days can be unpredictible. Stuff will happen, and handling those situations with patience and grace will make all the difference. My hope is that you wake up on your wedding day feeling calm, relaxed, and confident. You're marrying your best friend, don't let anything steal your joy that day, and remember a good photographer is gonna get the job done no matter what. 

I hope some of this helps put things into perspective. But even more so, my hope is that you enjoy this process. It goes by so fast, and at times you'll wish it away so that you can just be married already. Please know that you're not alone in feeling the stress & feeling overwhelmed. I’ve met so many brides that stressed all the way up to the wedding day and managed to let go of things on the day and I’ve met some that could’t let go on the wedding day. Trust me, it shows in your pictures. Even the best photographer can’t hide a stressed out bride, so take my word for it, spend it feeling joy and excitment. 

At the end of the day, your wedding day will be perfect for you and your husband. No matter rain or shine, it’s about family, friends, and you guys as a couple, not all the other stuff.

Here's to planning a wedding that will go down as one of your favorite days in your life.