How do you find the ideal person to document your wedding?
Just as there is a skill to taking memorable pictures, there is also a know-how to choosing the person you want to take them. How you conduct your search for a wedding photojournalist can make a big difference in ensuring that you’re more than pleased with your photographic experience on the big day, as well as with the moments and memories captured in pictures.
Wedding photojournalism has become quite the buzz phrase in many circles within the wedding industry, and a great many photographers these days call themselves wedding photojournalists though neither their portfolios, nor their talent attest to such status.
GET A SENSE OF TALENT AND STYLE
The ultimate factor in finding your ideal wedding photojournalist is in the portfolio of your candidates. Through their images you must determine if that particular photographer can produce the type of images that will capture the emotions and other rich memories of the day in a way that will resonate deeply with you for years to come. You’ll need to get a sense of the photographer’s shooting style. Take as much time necessary to peruse their portfolios—a relatively easy task these days, thanks to the Internet.
Viewing just a few photos isn’t enough. We recommend that you look at the pictures from at least one entire wedding, if not several. Anybody who has been a wedding photographer for ten years can throw together a good 50 pictures that are all good – with a whole wedding, you can get a very good idea of their style.
Brides and grooms should in general try to assess the photographer’s imagination; someone who strives to be different rather than shooting the same kinds of pictures all of the time. They should look for humor and feeling in the work. Rather than just looking at the pictures for the content, assess them in the light of how the photographer approached the scene, and whether he or she can do a lot of things well. You also want to make sure your [wedding] photojournalist is a versatile photographer with a lot of skills.
For example, the cake cutting is a routine event that could easily result in a cliché image. We challenge ourselfs to find a kind of cake-cutting photo that’s not similar to other photographers’. We always keep an eye on what happens to the cake after the couple walks away from it. Sometimes, cool images happen where people aren’t looking.
GET TO KNOW YOUR CANDIDATE
Despite its usefulness in viewing photos, and in providing biographical and approach philosophy information about the photographer, a Web site is not the be-all and end-all of wedding photojournalist research. In fact, certain sites can be terribly misleading these days, with some photographers even cutting and pasting from other people’s pages.
For some, it may also be beneficial to meet a photographer in person in order to find out more about his or her personality. The conversation can range from a deeper discussion of your photographer’s professional background, to his or her favorite photographs, sources of inspiration, to the specifics of how he or she approaches the wedding day on a logistical level. Is your photographer planning to show up 15 minutes before the ceremony or two-and-a half hours before? Talk to them about your wedding details and any specific expectations you may have regarding your pictures. Share with your photographer what style and approach you prefer, but more importantly listen to him/her to find out how well your wedding day vision matches their mode of operation.
We recommends choosing a photographer whose working style closely matches your own preferences and personality, rather than hiring a “jack of all trades” who is willing to change his or her normal approach just to please. If the bride and groom have a great sense of humor, and they think that the wedding is going to be funny and fun and loud and vibrant, then they need to hire a photographer who is like that, rather than just hiring someone who will say ‘I can do anything’ or ‘we’ll make it work.
You also should be looking for somebody with whom you can spend the day and be comfortable. And that comfort level works both ways. When everybody is more comfortable, they’re going to open up to you more and not be so self-conscious about it.
Most importantly, you want to choose someone who doesn’t just view your wedding day assignment as simply another business transaction. Finding a photographer who really loves what they do and is very passionate about their work is key. That is the type of person who is going to go the extra mile. The one who will still be shooting pictures even when you’re having dinner.
EXPERIENCE AND BRAINS
Referrals and references are valuable. Talk to friends. The references of sisters, brothers or other brides are some of the best intelligence you can use when focusing in on a wedding photojournalist. You may also check out feedback about the photographer through past client testimonials, which can often be found on the photographer’s web site.
Situations will happen, and you won’t have control over them, so you want somebody who can go in there and won’t be afraid, and just roll with it. You need someone who can make the pictures regardless of the conditions. If a person has been doing professional photography for 15 or 20 years, it’s a good bet that they know how to handle any situation, and when problems come along, they become a problem solver. And ultimately, one of the most important tools a photographer has is his brain, because a photographer who thinks is going to get great pictures.