Its your wedding day and chances are you wont remember much of it.The long weeks, months or even years of planning and preparing for it, the stress, the excitement will all conspire to overload every last circuit in your brain.
There will simply be too much information to process and retain.As much as youd like to think youll remember every wonderful or awful moment, you wont.It will all become a blur to you within days of the event.All your friends and family will have their own version of what happened, how you looked.
And in time even that will fade.To truly capture the most important day of your life requires photographs and video.But even it you dont have video of the event, a photograph truly does tell a story of a thousand words.
The thing is, what story will your photographs tell?
Maybe the wedding was fun or even funny, loving, warm and joyous, but if all you have are photos of the wedding party staring somberly into the camera and out of the resulting picture, whos going to know?
Having great wedding photos means planning and selecting your wedding photographer with the same thought, care and questions that you have when selecting a wedding gown or the place youll be married in.
Why plan the most spectacular or the most romantic wedding if you pick the worst photographer in the world to capture it?
While many wedding planners will tell you how to select a package and what to ask for in wedding photo packages, few people will encourage you to consider the personality and working style of your photographer as well. But ask around. There are horror stories of wedding photographers who have done everything from get drunk at the wedding, to yell at the guests and the bride and groom because other guests were trying to take their own photos.
Still other photographers have been known to take the contracted for photos and then stop working once they have the photos youve requested.Photographers may also smoke, show up in blue jeans at a formal wedding, bring their kids, dog or wife along, not interact well with your guests or sit like a lump in the back of the reception hall during most of the festivities.
Personality and professionalism matters.
Not every photographer is an extrovert and theyre not there to be your friend or confidant, but they should be pleasant, friendly and patient.They should be able to ask questions, to interact with your guests and to blend in to the scene.
They shouldnt detract from the event or be the focus of it.Theyre making good money to be there and their demeanor and actions should reflect that.
Decide early on, before you start interviewing photographers and looking at their portfolios, what your expectations of them are.Ask yourself,do I want a photographer who is going to stay in the background and be mostly invisible.Or do I want someone who is friendly and able to interact with my guests and who will take a lot of closeup photos of my friends and family as well as more formal wedding photos?
If this is the case consider hiring a team of photographers.
One for the formal shots and one for candid, more photojournalist type photos rather than the posed photos.This will ensure you have all your bases covered.Ask your photographer about their people skills and how they work.Do they like to take a lot of candid shots?Ask them to show you some of their favorite wedding photos of other couples and ask them what they liked or didnt like about taking those shots.
Ask them what kinds of set ups they like to use. Are they studio photographers where everything is posed, or do they prefer a photojournalism approach where shots are candid and depend on available light sources rather than flash.
If your wedding is at night this is even more important.
Good lighting and equipment is critical to ensure good shots.Find out if your photographer has experience shooting indoor and night weddings and insist on seeing at least three wedding portfolios where he/she has done so.
A photographer can and will tell you how good they are, but pictures dont lie and you can tell for yourself when you see their portfolios!Other things you must consider.Male or female photographer?Do you want photos of the bride getting ready? What about the groom getting ready?Having a male/female team of photographers can ensure that those intimate preparations are covered with no embarrassment or dis-ease.
You can hire photographers for one phase of the wedding, JUST the rehearsal dinner or just the preparations as well if you want.
Remember, its all negotiable and it is your wedding!Youre paying big money for your photos. So you can set boundaries and reasonable expectations.
If the photographer refuses to abide by those and to put them in the contract, then get up and leave.There are more wedding photographers than there are paying customers and its your money. Dont be bullied or cajoled into accepting less than you want.
Be flexible, but know what you will and wont budge on.
Things like photographer behavior are reasonable.For example : decide how you feel about smoking or non-smoking and what the photographer will wear.Do you want him to wear a tuxedo so he blends in, or if the photographer is female are slacks acceptable?She may balk at a dress simply because shell be up and down taking photos and a dress could inhibit her actions.So flex on this one. Talk about what you want the photographer to wear or they may show up in anything from shorts and a t-shirt to a clown suit. I kid you not.
Photographers should not drink alcohol while working.If you want to invite them to stay and party after their work is done, thats fine. But alcohol and good photos dont mix.Make these requests very clear. Photographers should be allowed to have breaks, to eat and to mingle. They need to be able to do that to do their job.
But their focus should always be on you, the bride, and the groom and the wedding party, not on them having a good time. Theyre working the wedding, not a part of it.
Its hard to judge a person on an initial meeting, but trust your gut feelings.Ask for references and then call them. Ask about how the photographer conducted himself or herself at the wedding, was he/she professional, courteous and appropriate?Did they have the right equipment to do their job right without distracting the guests?
While everyone likes a close up picture of the first kiss, the photographer should not be one foot away with a camera while the couple is kissing!!Telephoto lenses that allow the photographer to get close up shots from a distance are critical to a smooth, romantic service with few distractions.
Many photographers will insist that they and their assistants are the only photographers at the wedding.
This is a reasonable request.They cant get the shots you are paying them for if they have to compete with 10 other people jockeying for position.Discuss this at length and be prepared to have either disgruntled guests or an unhappy photographer. Set some guidelines for your guests.
Let them know they must yield to the photographer if thats what you decide.
Your friends and family may be well intentioned, but the photographs you want are those the professional takes. Its your wedding day and out of focus or average photographs arent what you want.
Finally, its stressful, but remember, pick the right photographer and all that stress will be forgotten once you look back at the photos on your first anniversary!
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