I don’t think that many couples start planning their wedding with a particular idea of what type of photography they would like or what they want from their photographer. Few people have had their picture taken professionally (maybe the last time was a school photograph) and it can be a bit tricky to know where to start.
My first port of call when I want to know anything is to “Google it” and I ‘m reasonably adept at filtering the results until I find the information I want. But Googling the phrase “wedding photographer” followed by your location, which is probably the most logical starting point, will probably bring up hundreds of results of photographers whose websites are full of great wedding pictures, are clearly good at what they do and are all clamouring for a slice of your hard earned wedding budget.
“Man, I’m choiced out!”
I’m going to digress for a moment………my local supermarket (who shall remain nameless) is reasonably sized and for each product there is a pretty wide choice of possibilities. And, due to my 21st Century conditioning, I can cope with choosing from ten or so varieties of, let’s say, sausages!
If I drive 15 minutes down the road to the nameless supermarket’s mega store to buy my sausages it becomes, well for me at least, a bit of a trial. The first issue for me is negotiating the massive car park with it’s illogical one way systems and irritating mini roundabouts – once in the place actually finding the sausage aisle requires a feat of orienteering and trekking that any boy scout would be proud of and then, when I finally find the sausages, there are hundreds of them! Choice paralysis!
You know what I mean…….it’s the same with digital TV………I love having all of that choice on offer but sometimes, in my house, we spend almost as long deciding what on earth we’re going to watch as we do actually watching it! …………. “When I were a boy there were BBC1 BBC2 ITV and Channel 4 wasn’t even invented……and we were ‘appy…….sittin’ infont o’ black n white tv in’t clogs……..”
Where on earth to start?
So, what I’m saying in a roundabout way is that, in order to avoid “choice paralysis” I think it’s often a really good starting point to have a think about what you might want from your photography before launching head on into Google and research. This thinking time will often hinge around how happy you are having your photograph taken, how much time you want to spend having family group photographs taken and how much importance and time you might want to place on the more formal bride and groom photographs. Also, how important is it to you to have all of the details of the venue and the dress and the place settings photographed on the day?
Styles and posh words
If you can get a feel for the answers to a few of the questions above then you can start to fit a few of the answers around a few of the popular photography styles out there. Let’s start with a few extremes…….. (that’s a lot of fews!)
Some photographers still work in a very classic or traditional style where fairly much everything is posed and set up. They will be happy to take plenty of family group shots, often are happy to be with you for part of the day only and will also work with you to get plenty of classically posed bride and groom portraits. This style is a bit out of fashion at the moment but a good experienced photographer will provide beautifully lit and posed pictures with a minimum of fuss and time being spent and will probably offer great value for money. You will probably spend only a designated set time on the photography and you also don’t need to spend the day being followed around by a reportage photographer sniper! – more on that below.
If looking like a super model, having all of your beautifully created and chosen details photographed and also having something that is bang on trend is important to you then this style could be the way to go. A lot of the photographers on the popular wedding blogs photograph in this way and you will see a lot of vintage style effects and terribly “on trend darling” images photographed in this way. The advantages are that you will hopefully get something that looks super cool and you will also get a great artistic interpretation of the style and flavour of your day. A lot of photographers emphasise the quirky details and get brides and grooms doing all sorts of hilarious walking in corn field and staring wistfully into the distance type shots. Great stuff, if that is what you like, and it can be an excellent choice with the right photographer.
The downside is that your pictures might look a bit dated in a few years time (you know how 1980’s New Romantic synths sound…?! they were soooo cool back then). You might not get a photographer who is hugely interested in doing a lot of family group photographs and you might get a huge number of (probably beautiful) shots of tables and flowers and rings and cars ……you get the idea. Maybe you might miss out a bit on the people shots and the interactions and laughing and fun……..just a thought.
At it’s extreme the photographer will not interfere with the day at all or set up or pose any pictures. They will go for a storytelling approach and photograph all of the events and details as they unfold. Some will only do a very limited number of family group photographs and then some simple and quick bride and groom photographs, the photographs of the flowers and cake and tables etc will be very much record shots rather than being “artistic” allowing the photographer the freedom of time to look for shots of people interacting.
The advantage of this approach is that you will get a unique set of pictures that really feature the people and characters, the interactions and the emotions of the day – rather than the emphasis being on the venue and the decorations. You also will have to do a minimum of “faffing about” posing and you will forget that a good documentary photographer is even there as the day goes on. Your pictures will be produced in a classic and timeless style, won’t date stylistically and should still look good in years to come
On the down side you might feel like you are being followed around all day by a reportage ninja – not pleasant – and it’s possible that it all might look a bit too real! A good photographer will always look for the best in the wedding be it the best light, best angles and best moments – you don’t want a documentary photographer to always point and shoot what is literally there! You might feel that there aren’t enough family photographs there in this style and the bride and groom pictures could be minimal.
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Horses for Courses
The above examples are a bit extreme and, in reality, most wedding photographers will mix and match a bit of all of the above – we’re a versatile lot! Many will photograph in a nice blend of styles whilst others will lean more or less towards one of the styles above. Many won’t label their style and that’s fine but hopefully the above will have given you a bit of a starting point so that you know what you are looking for when you start on your research.
It’s a bit like me in the sausage scenario – if I have at least thought about whether I want veggie sausages, pork sausages, organic sausages or whatever before hand it makes it less likely that I will freak out in the chilled foods aisle! Hopefully, with bit of pre planning and consideration about your ideas and preferences finding the ideal photographer for you won’t be too hard.
Once you have created your photographer shortlist I have a really handy free guide called “Ten Things to ask Your Wedding Photographer Apart From Price” – drop me a line and I will be happy to email it out to you. It’s actually part of a bigger series called “Stress Free Wedding Planning for Beginners” – it’s a completely free download too!
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