So your wedding is over, and you get your photos back after the honeymoon (but hopefully before the honeymoon’s worn off) and you are amazed. How did your photographer get all of these great shots when you didn’t even notice he or she was there? Even your anti paparazzi groom was able to let his guard down! Your invisible photographer seemed to know exactly how and what was going to happen and when. But is it really “just the photographer”?
No, I’m not implying we’re secret agents; I mean to say that we often do the job of a wedding coordinator. Let me explain my first point. I can’t tell you how many times a bride will ask us which leg the garter goes on or someone will seek advice while pinning on the boutonniere or ask how to cut the cake. We photographers familiarize ourselves with customs such as the father putting a penny in the shoe and wearing something old, new, borrowed, and blue. Not only can it help you as a bride out when you’re stumped, but having those photos will help you remember those details you might have put a lot of thought into that you might have otherwise forgotten. Maybe a used handkerchief isn’t something you’d normally pay any heed, but when it’s something borrowed from your great grandmother, it suddenly becomes a big deal. Knowledge of this is crucial for a professional to capture the significance of a custom, and believe me; we’re all about catching details.
Going hand in hand with this is that photographers are constantly aware of aesthetics. You are concerned with the visual outcome and are looking to us as experts to get you in your most photogenic state. It would really be poor service on our part if we failed to notify you of a really large piece of lettuce between your teeth. You as a bride expect us to make sure you look your best. This extends to the surroundings as well. During your consultation (yes, you should have one) you might want to discuss how to beautify the surroundings while you get ready such as hanging your dress on an elegant hanger instead of leaving it in the dry cleaning bag. Also discuss any potential lighting challenges that could be changed such as choosing the indoor reception hall with the beige walls instead of the facility with black walls. Following your photographer’s advice in the planning stages now can make for more ideal photos later.
Many circumstances involve depending on us for direction and here’s where we get into the timing issues. Look at this scenario: We have a DJ/emcee who never announced the first dance when he was supposed to. In fact, he was 45 minutes late and the bride and groom had a schedule they wanted to follow because they only had limited time at the reception. I finally took it upon myself to tell the DJ to go ahead and make the announcement and play their song because I was aware of the bride’s plans. It was much appreciated by the happy couple who were too busy mingling to notice the time. It turns out the DJ didn’t even know they expected him to announce this (rather, he forgot) because of failure to plan. True story. In many cases, other vendors look to us for instruction. We are often asked if it is OK to turn down lighting, announce the bridal party, etc. It is often up to us to help your day flow well and all without you even noticing! After all, we’re probably the only vendor that sticks around the entire day. We make sure we know when and where to be so as not to miss out on crucial photo opportunities (donning the dress, bride’s entrance to ceremony, garter toss, toasts, need I say more?). A good photographer will go over with you an approximate time for group shots, intimate shots, etc. and give you an idea on how long it should take. No one wants to wait on the photographers for an hour of pictures; unless of course, you already knew how long it would take thanks to your conscientious photographer and you prepared to have hor’deuvres served during an official cocktail hour to keep your guests happy.
So you thought photographers just show up and take pictures all day, huh? I won’t even get started on what we do after the wedding is over! That’s the start of an entirely different article.
John Michael has been a Fort Myers, Florida Professional Photographer since 1999. His work has been published in local newspapers, commercial brochures and national magazines. With numerous weddings to his credit, John has established himself as one of the leading wedding photographers in Southwest Florida. Visit www.John-Michaels.com for more information.
How NOT to Choose a Wedding Photographer
By Mike Dubnoff
You may have seen it on practically every wedding photographer’s web page and in bridal magazines. It seems that everyone wants to give the bride and groom advice on how to choose a wedding photographer. Most of what I have read is sound and useful advice, but I thought it might be helpful to write an article that explores this in more detail. So let’s look at the mistakes brides and grooms often make in choosing their photographer.
Over the past several years as a wedding photographer, I have had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of engaged couples. I am always surprised by some of the criteria many of them use to choose their wedding photographer. Here are the top 7 mistakes I feel many brides and grooms make when selecting a photographer for their big day:
1. RELYING ON WEDDING VENDOR REFERRALS. This may be the worst mistake of them all. Many wedding vendors trade referrals with other wedding professionals with no real knowledge of the other’s work. And yes, many times it’s an honest referral based upon working a few weddings with one another. But how much can a DJ, for example, really know about the quality of a wedding photographer’s work? Often times this type of referral is just based on the fact that the DJ has worked with the photographer at a number of events and liked him or her. Did the DJ ever see the final result? Did they see the wedding album? Probably not.
2. JUDGING A PHOTOGRAPHER BASED SOLELY ON A “GREATEST HITS” WEDDING ALBUM PORTFOLIO. There is nothing more misleading regarding a photographer’s talent than looking at a sample wedding album that is a compilation of their best shots at 50 different weddings. An album such as this may be useful in understanding just how great an image they are capable of producing, but that’s really all it tells you. Ask to be shown an album of one entire wedding from start to finish. A good wedding photographer should be able to produce complete albums, which will give you a better idea of how your own wedding will be photographed. Virtually anybody with a decent camera can get one great shot per wedding!
3. PAYING TOO MUCH ATTENTION TO THE SALES PITCH. Every photographer can tell you great things about themselves and so they should. But in your initial wedding consultation, look for photographers who are interested in YOU. A good photographer will want to know the types of photography styles you are interested in and what you are looking for in a wedding photographer. A photographer who asks you lots of questions about your wedding and your preferences will probably also be more likely to listen to you and have a better sense of what you want. If the wedding meeting is just one long lecture from the photographer, move on to the next photographer. Find someone who cares.
4. NOT ASSESSING THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S PERSONALITY. This is a biggie. You will spend the entire day with your photographer. If you don’t get along with him or her, it can ruin what should be the happiest day of your life. Rude and bossy photographers can also cause problems with your guests. Find a photographer who is easy to talk to and who you can establish good rapport with.
5. CHOOSING “UNCLE BOB” TO SHOOT YOUR WEDDING! With digital cameras now in practically everyone’s hands, there seems to be a lot more “wedding photographers” out there. The fact that a friend or relative is good with his new digital camera does not mean he can handle a wedding. And what about file backups? Does your family photographer know how to do a correct backup, or even have the proper computer hardware to do it? In my business, I bring a portable hard drive to every wedding and the images are uploaded and checked on the spot. When I get back to my studio, the images are uploaded to my main computer and then backed up on an external hard drive. Once that is complete, 2 back up DVD’s are burned. Only then will I erase the cards I used for the wedding. You don’t want your memories to go up in smoke along with a burnt out hard drive.
6. CARING ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHERS TYPE OF CAMERA EQUIPMENT. In this day and age, a photographer can make great images with any medium to high quality camera. Wedding photographers who spend an inordinate amount of time discussing the type of equipment they use may not be the right person for you. What you really want to know is what type of images they can produce and if they can show you plenty of samples. It’s the final result that matters. If you are happy with what they show you and everything else checks out OK, you can assume their equipment is adequate for the task.
7. CONFUSION OVER PRICING. If you can’t understand the pricing or packages, keep looking. Package pricing, if flexible, is the best way to go. It allows you to have a better idea of what your final bill will be. Ala carte pricing can confuse and be misleading. You may assume that something you thought was included in their coverage costs extra. Like a wedding album! However, a photographer who only offers strictly structured packages should also be avoided. Ultimately, you want to find someone who will work within your budget and give you exactly what you want. If you don’t see a package that fits your needs, ask the photographer to let you design your own.
This list was not intended to intimidate people in the market for a wedding photographer. It should, however, help you understand what’s important. Find a photographer with a style you prefer and who shows you images that you love. Use that initial consultation as a way to get to know your photographer and develop rapport. Talk to some former clients to get a sense of how the photographer behaved at the wedding. If everything looks good, you are ready to make your decision!
John Michael is a Fort Myers, Florida Professional Photographer. His work has been published in local newspapers, commercial brochures and magazines. With numerous weddings to his credit, John has established himself as one of the leading wedding photographers in Southwest Florida. Visit our web site at http://www.John-Michaels.com for more information.