You’ve found the dress, picked out the shoes and chosen the venue, however, there’s still one thing missing and that’s the photographer. You’ve had a look at some portfolios, had quotes but your still not sure who to pick. We know choosing a photographer is daunting so we had a chat to Jonathan Ryan of Weddings By Ryan who gave us some handy pointers and questions to ask a photographer (and yourself) in order to make your final choice.
The first question has got to be do I like this person? It is important you feel relaxed and at ease around your photographer and you can see them fitting in with you, your family and your big day.
Do I like their work?
Sounds simple, but make sure their work fits in with the style of photography you like. There’s such a huge range of different of photography including traditional, reportage and natural. For a definition and description of each, see here.
Can we see some of your pictures?
OK, nobody is going to choose a wedding photographer without seeing their portfolio (you weren’t, were you?) but notice a key word in that question your pictures. What you want to see is the photographer’s own work where they were the main or only photographer. It’s fine for them to get experience assisting another photographer but there’s a world of difference between pictures taken while a guest at a friend’s wedding or while assisting an experienced pro and their own unaided work.
Can we see a whole wedding?
Cherry picking is great and you’ll want to see your photographer’s top work but no single day is going to match their 10 best ever shots. Ask to see a whole day. Either on screen, in print or (best of all) in a sample album just like it would be delivered to you.
Will you be our photographer?
This is only really a question for the big studios but it’s worth asking of everybody you meet. It doesn’t matter if they show you an amazing portfolio of their own beautiful work if they are going to send somebody else on the day.
How would you describe your approach?
Another obvious one – if you tell a photographer you want a hands off guy who lets everybody do their own thing and capture the moment then it’s pretty likely that will become their specialty. If you say your favourite is a lady who knows how to take control of groups then hey presto, instant expert. Ask them to describe their approach (are they bossy, friendly, invisible?) and see how that matches your expectations
Everybody’s wedding is different. Everybody has different expectations. If there’s something that’s important to you then don’t be afraid to ask the photographer if they will be able to capture it. And follow up too. “Can you take pictures of our fireworks?”. Sure, no problem. “Great, can I see some examples of your fireworks pictures?
What else do you do?
Plenty of great wedding photographers balance their photography with another full time job. It’s worth asking if they are full time or not though. If they aren’t then you may want to make sure that they aren’t over committed and that your pictures will get the care they deserve. Actually, even if they are full time it’s worth checking a couple of things. A photographer who shoots 100 weddings a year may be great because she’s so popular and in demand. It may also mean he’s overworked and will rush things. A couple of questions should enable you to tell which is which.
Do you work on your own or as part of a team?
This one’s tricky. Some photographers prefer to work alone and some prefer to have an assistant, a second photographer and a tea boy in tow. Both approaches are fine (though if you’re planning a quiet intimate affair then you may not want a 6 person team!) – just be careful that they don’t tell you there will be “two photographers” if one of them will be a trainee! And if the photographer favours the large team approach then ask them again “which of these pictures did you take?” and “who will be there on the day?”
How long will it be before we see our pictures?
There is little worse than coming back after a two week honeymoon and being told that it will be “another month or two” before you see your pictures. Even a busy photographer should be able to show you the images within 3 weeks of the wedding. If not they may be over committed – either to another job or other clients.
What do you do if it rains? Or snows, or your camera breaks down or a herd of llamas invades the wedding?
A professional should have an answer to these (except maybe the llamas). Backup cameras (and lenses), planning for wet weather, extra lights in case the pictures need taken indoors, file backup strategies and dry clothes are just some of the reasons why professional charge so much for their services.
What would you like to eat?
Seriously, I generally shoot for 10 hours and it’s always nice to know whether I’m going to get dinner or bring my own.