Documentary style wedding photography, wedding photojournalists, candid style, what do all these terms mean and who should you believe? Do you need a conflict photographer to shoot your wedding repelling in from a helicopter, blending into the shadows without you ever knowing he/she was ever there. Do you need a fine art photographer who has the key moments of your wedding shot only out of focus with a 100 year-old film camera? Or perhaps that photographer takes normal pictures but dresses them up with gimmicky Photoshop filters.
Perhaps you need a team of full-time wedding photographers with ear-pieces and tight black T-shirts with gigantic lenses taking over special day shooting you exchanging your rings while riding on your shoulders checking off shots from a laminated shot list.
Here are some things to consider when you are choosing a photographer to tell the story of your special day. Some documentary photographers have an amazing portfolio of their personal projects. The work showcases excellent storytelling skills and a unique vision. Some of that work was done over the course of months or even years. Do your homework and make sure that their style and skills crosses over into their wedding work. Look at examples of full weddings shot by them and look at more than one wedding to check for consistency under different circumstances. Sometimes it’s a matter of the documentary photographer feeling they are too good for weddings so you don’t get their best effort and sometimes it’s a matter of being able to think on your feet. Documentary photography doesn’t always pay well so some photographers make the transition into weddings for guess what, for the $$$. Nothing wrong with that, but have a look closely at their work.
That brings me to big wedding photography businesses. The businesses with rosters of photographers with shot lists and dos and don’ts. They provide a consistent product and they can be a safe choice. You might find them wearing all black, ear pieces, and approaching your wedding like a Navy Seal team with 3 snipers with long lenses and two close up photographers shadowing the bride and groom. They have an internal checklist of what needs to happen. The problem with this is while you get consistency you also get a cookie-cutter product. The work on their websites can be a collection of dozens of photographers showcasing the best of 100 weddings. Not much originality there so look closely.
So how do you make the final selection? Well first off you should choose Mott Visuals if we are available. Ok, just kidding but here is some advice;
- Don’t just browse the top few that pop up on a Google search. Google searches can be deceiving because the photographers aren’t always ranked by most popular or best photographers in that region. Search engines rank based on link backs and keywording so there are loads of photographers who just sign up for a million websites posting their links everywhere thus putting them in the top 5.
- Browse the photographer’s whole portfolio not just their best of gallery. If they don’t have portfolios from one single wedding, ask to see that. Make sure you look at more than one wedding and look for consistency.
- Pay more attention to the images and than their bio. Photographers have a tendency to lets say exaggerate their work experience. We are all “award winning photographers.”
- Don’t fall for gimmicky toning because you might not like it years down the road. Some photographers mask bad photos with Photoshop filters. You can always re-tone images but you can’t retake bad photos or missed moments. Look for timeless photos that will look great no matter how they are toned.
- Look for a photographer that doesn’t just take nice pictures, look for one who knows how to tell a story.