Weddings are emotional events and take a heck of a lot of planning, so knowledge is power – the more you’re aware of potential pitfalls when it comes to hiring a photographer, the more you’ll know what to look out for, ensuring you receive the very best photographs of your wedding day!
MISTAKE 1: NOT GETTING TO KNOW YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER FIRST
When you hire a wedding photographer, it’s a little bit like hiring an extra guest to your wedding. Although the difference is this guest will be taking photographs, as well as talking to and getting along with all your friends and family, staying professional and capturing images with a smile on his or her face. That’s why it’s important to meet your photographer first, or at least have a lengthy conversation on the phone with them. You need to know if you’ll like them important events of the day, as well as not upsetting Auntie Mabel immediately before the ceremony.
MISTAKE 2: CHOOSING A PHOTOGRAPHER SOLELY ON PRICE
Let’s face it; in life you tend to get what you pay for. Take luxury cars for example. Would you expect to take a few thousand pounds down to your local Aston Martin dealer and return home with a brand new DB7? Or would you expect to pop in to your local Apple store to purchase a laptop, and leave with plenty of change from £500?
Of course you wouldn’t!
The same applies to wedding photography. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to hire the most expensive wedding photographer out there (if you do, he’s called Jerry Ghionis, he’s Australian, he’s unbelievable and his prices start at around £10,000. Just thought I’d get that out the way first.)
Cheap wedding photography normally means low quality (not always, but you tend to get what you pay for.) Creative people tend to charge what they think they’re worth. Someone who charges £250 to photograph a wedding is basically saying, “I’m not confident in my abilities or the quality of my work, so that’s why I’m charging very little for all day coverage and a disc of images.” When you hire a wedding photographer, you’re not only paying for their time. You’re paying for their expertise, gained from photographing multiple weddings. You’re paying for their creative eye. You’re paying for the beautiful images they create. You’re paying for memories that will last a lifetime.
MISTAKE 3: RELYING ON A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER WHO HAS A “NICE CAMERA”
Technology is amazing, isn’t it? Just think, ten years ago smartphones didn’t exist. Now everyone takes great photos on them and shares their efforts all across the Internet. Also, “entry-level” cameras are now way more advanced and cheaper than they’ve ever been, and to top it off “Auto” modes on these cameras are extremely intelligent and enable most people to take decent photographs. But are you happy to settle for “decent” on your wedding day?
You probably know someone who owns one of those swanky DSLR cameras. You know, the ones with the interchangeable lenses. Great pieces of kit, and as I said above, fabulous technology. But do they know how to really use it? Would they be able to take a sharp photograph in a dark church without a flash, without the resulting photo looking blurred? Can they capture a photo of your first dance by (a) using flash and (b) not making you look like you’ve wandered into a nuclear explosion? Ultimately, can you trust them to capture all these important moments…and more? Are you willing to take that risk..?
MISTAKE 4: NOT BEING SPECIFIC ENOUGH ABOUT THE PHOTOS YOU WANT
I always ask clients when I meet them if there are any specific photos that they’d like. Some of them are so excited they simply say, “Oh, just take beautiful photographs through the day Dan, I trust you to capture everything!” Which is lovely, but not particularly helpful. Of course, I’ll photograph you getting ready. I’ll photograph the rings. I’ll photograph you looking amazing as you walk down the aisle. I’ll photograph the putting on of the rings. I’ll photograph the first kiss and the first dance, and more. However, believe it or not, I’m not a mind reader :)
If Auntie Mabel is flying across from Australia and it’s the first time in 23 years that you’ve seen her, and she’s not very well, and it’s vital that I take a photograph of her with you and your niece who’s just graduated…then please tell me!
MISTAKE 5: PRIORITISING PRODUCTS OVER THE PHOTOGRAPHY ITSELF
Most wedding photographers offer various products as part of their collections, as I do. For example, I offer a folio containing a USB drive and prints, and a luxury handmade, leather bound album (which is utterly gorgeous. When you see it you’ll want one, believe me.) However, don’t lose sight of why you’re hiring a photographer in the first place. It’s the quality of their work. It’s the ability to capture images that you’ll treasure for the rest of your life. Not the products that they offer – you can source those long after your wedding is over, but you can’t replace mediocre photographs from that day.
MISTAKE 6: THINKING THAT BECAUSE A PHOTOGRAPHER HAS EXPENSIVE GEAR, THEY’RE BOUND TO TAKE FANTASTIC PHOTOGRAPHS
It really is no guarantee. I could buy a top of the range Aga, and believe me, you probably wouldn’t want to eat what I could create with it.
This anecdote sums it up best: When the author Jack London had his portrait taken by the noted San Francisco photographer Arnold Genthe, London began the encounter with effusive praise for the photographic art of his friend and fellow bohemian, Genthe: “You must have a wonderful camera…it must be the best camera in the world …you must show me your camera!” Genthe then used his standard studio camera to make what has since become a classic picture of Jack London. When the sitting was finished, Genthe could not contain himself: “I have read your books, Jack, and I think they are important works of art. You must have a wonderful typewriter.”
MISTAKE 7: NOT CONSIDERING AN ASSISTANT PHOTOGRAPHER
Planning is everything when it comes to wedding photography. I’ll always try and meet the client and nail down timings – what time they’re arriving, when guests are due to arrive, when the cutting of the cake and first dance are due to occur, and so on and so forth. This means I can plan where I’ll be, at what time, and what photographs I’ll be taking when I’m there. However, I don’t have eyes in the back of my head (more’s the pity), and they haven’t yet invented a camera with a lens on the front and the back (well, there’s always my smartphone, but I don’t think you’d want me to photograph your wedding using that..!)
I always try and recommend my couples pays a little extra for an assistant photographer. This means you’ll obviously have two pairs of skilled eyes watching proceedings unfold – while I’m photographing the first kiss, my assistant is capturing the beaming smiles and tears of joy amongst your wedding guests. While I’m capturing the bride and groom walking down the aisle towards me, my assistant is capturing the reactions of your guests, the confetti throwing and so on. While I’m capturing a close-up of the cake cutting, my assistant is taking a wide photograph of everyone in the room.
MISTAKE 8: LEAVING ALL THE DECISIONS TO THE PHOTOGRAPHER
As mentioned above in point 4, there are a number of “must-have” photos that I’ll always capture, although I recommend my clients to provide as much input as possible when it comes to their photographs. I’ll recommend poses and locations for your photos, but let me know what images you’d like. Set up a Pinterest board with wedding photos you love and share it with me (just bear in mind that if you pin photos from a beach wedding in Belize and you’re getting married in Bromley, you may be disappointed. Be realistic.)
Trust in my expertise, certainly, and the more ideas you can provide me with the better.
MISTAKE 9: INSISTING ON TRENDY PHOTOS
Around ten years ago “selective colouring” was all the rage – you know, a black and white photograph of a bride holding a bouquet, but the bouquet is in colour (it’s been selectively coloured in Photoshop). A couple of years ago it was vintage – desaturated / washed out photos of trendy couples holding Rolleiflex cameras. The problem with photographing in a style that’s currently trendy? It dates. Badly. In ten years time your photos will look “of a time” and definitely not timeless. After all, brown corduroy flares were hip at one point in history (so I keep telling myself as I once owned a pair. Anyway, moving on..!)
MISTAKE 10: NOT REALISING JUST HOW IMPORTANT YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHS ARE AND WILL BE IN THE FUTURE
This is a summary of all the points above. Make sure you hire someone you can trust to capture beautiful wedding photos. Put quality above price. How do their photos make you feel? How does the photographer make you feel when you meet them? Your wedding only lasts a day, and memories fade over time, but your photographs should remind you of your wedding day for the rest of your life.