It is sad to see how often couples choose to save money on their wedding photography, often asking relatives or friends to do the honours – or perhaps hiring a “professional” photographer with the lowest quote. Unfortunately, many afterwards rue the day… and that day will never come again. This is it. The only opportunity to capture the joy and romance of your wedding day. It needs proper consideration, both for the stills photographer and the videographer; these are your memories for the rest of your life.
Stills and Video Photography
You have probably been planning for your wedding for years, maybe decades, while you waited for the right mate to come along. Suddenly, they are here – and the thrill of love, the joy of belonging, the high hopes you are soaring upon, knowing you will be together forever, all deserve the best dream wedding possible. You’ve seen gorgeous images in the magazines, and your mind is drawing you into those pictures.
The Difference between An Experienced Professional And A Youngster Only Recently Set Up
Think hard about what it is in those fabulous magazines that has captured your imagination. Is it the way the couple look? The backgrounds? The atmosphere? The lighting? All these come into play with the tricks of the trade learned by skilled photographers, which the inexperienced won’t know. If you want to look like a supermodel, trust a great person behind a great camera to ensure that happens. If you want your wedding cake to glow, your wedding venue to shine, your lighting to make everything spectacular, every detail from the rings, bouquets, indoors, outdoors, the reception table settings, décor, invitations, party favours, DJ or band, dancing, throwing of bouquets, and much more, to be right there with you forever – please do not ask your nephew Charlie with his new camera to the photos.
Don’t budget for your photography and videos before meeting the person you just know you MUST have, and getting their final quote. There is usually room for a little negotiation – after all, who doesn’t have a soft spot for a bride glowing with joy and high hopes? – but remember, these are professionals, and will expect fair pay in exchange for what they bring to the table. If you have ever watched wedding shows on TV that have made you cringe, you’ll know what’s at stake.
By all means do your initial research online; do searches for photographers and videographers who have studios within range, so that you can visit. Ask for references you can personally speak to – and those contacts should be in the photographs they’re claiming as their own. Don’t rely on online reviews; they are easy to fake. The best references are always personal. If you have friends or family who had great photos done, ask for their photographer’s name. Direct references are always the most reliable.
Be very wary of simply hiring people online. Some may show you beautiful photographs/videos – but are you sure they aren’t cat fishing you, using other people’s images as their own? Online social pages can easily be faked or hacked. You really want to meet the photographer and videographer in person, see their set-up and equipment, judge for yourself if they will deliver what you need.
So combine your online searches with going to studios, meeting the expert, talking to their clients, and trusting your gut.
What To Look For And Expect In Your Photographer and Videographer
- What is their studio like? Small and poky does not necessarily warrant a black mark (they may be brilliant and broke, though it’s unlikely), but should make you look deeper. Large, bright, airy studios with good lighting, and usually an area set aside for shooting portraits or the like, set up with lights and tripods, are a good sign. This person has clearly earned their way, has good experience, and is backed up by plenty of references they are happy to give you.
- Are they pleasant, easy to get along with, laid back but with a confident edge? You don’t want a nervous, sweaty photographer making everyone uncomfortable while ordering them around for pictures. You want someone who is in the moment, happy, warm, smiley, putting everyone at ease and therefore getting lovely shots of happy smiley guests and bridal party.
- Are they team players? Do they intend to coordinate with your wedding planner, cake and flower suppliers, etc?
- You should feel they will be unobtrusive at the wedding ceremony itself. They should know exactly what moments to focus on, while themselves staying out of everyone’s way, blending into the background whenever possible. Experienced wedding photographers will know all the main points to shoot for without being told.
- An experienced photographer will clarify with you what sort of wedding you are planning, the timetable, the venues, and how many hours you will want them there, so that they can put together a properly worked out quote. They should also be efficient time-keepers, ensuring with you or your wedding planner that everything runs on time, and you’re all in the right place as and when necessary.
- There should also be a simple contract they normally work with. This will clarify for you both what is expected, what deposits are required, whether the deposits are refundable, what quality you have a right to expect, mode of delivery (DVD? USB? Prints? Minimum number of final shots they will deliver?), timelines/deadlines, etc. Do not be afraid to negotiate the contract; it is rarely fixed in stone, but is a starting point.
- What sort of equipment can they show you? Is it professional, with a good set of lenses? Or are they planning to use a phone, or cheap digital camera? Research professional cameras online, so you know how to recognise good equipment. You may also inquire if they have the proper equipment to develop film photos or if they partner with another company that offers mail in film photography development solutions.
After The Party
When it’s all over and you’ve left for the honeymoon, a great photographer and videographer now puts in all the behind-the-scenes work. Good photos can be edited to make them great, and the photographer then chooses the best of all their shots for your package. All this takes many hours, so remember this when you get the quote!
The videographer has an even longer task. Out of all the video taken, he must now create a smooth, quality program fit to be shown on television. Much of what they’ve shot will “end up on the cutting room floor”, in film-speak. Their skill is in knowing what to keep, and what to dump. Of course, what you end up with depends on your contract – you may have specified that as well as the edited end product, you would like a full set of everything taken.
So, if your budget is tight, cut down on the flowers, or the banquet, or the cake, or… anything; but don’t skimp on a professional, tried and tested photographer. The best you can find. Choose wisely.