Hi, I'm Sandy and I'm a wedding photographer. Most people I meet don't know much about photography. This is fine, it is why you pay someone else to take the photos at your wedding. The thing is, if you are handing over that much money to someone, you need to know they will do a good job. There are no second chances in wedding photography, if you miss the moment it is gone forever.
So if you don't know much about photography then how do you know what to look for when booking a wedding photographer?
Here are my top tips on what to look for when you book someone.
Ask to see their work and make sure it is a complete wedding album
This might seem obvious but look at their work before you call anyone. Every photographer has their own style and while they will be able to recreate certain shots for you if you ask, the large majority of their work will be in the style they are used to working in. It works both ways, I would rather someone went to another photographer than booked me and then didn't like my work. You need to like the work they have produced in the past as it is very likely they will produce similar work for you if you book them. You also want to make sure you are seeing a complete wedding so they haven't just picked out their best shots to show you.
You need to get on with your wedding photographer. They will be sharing what is one of the biggest days of your life with you and more than that, they will be telling you what to do! You need to feel you are comfortable with them as if they don't put you at ease then your photos won't look their best. Fortunately most good photographers are excellent with people as making people relax is a huge part of the job. Always ask for a meeting before booking, anyone worth their salt will be happy to do so.
Don't ask family or friends
Everyone has a cousin, uncle, friend, whatever who owns a decent-ish DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex, the cameras the pros use). The temptation to ask them to take a few shots at your wedding will be high. They will almost certainly do it for free and weddings are expensive. DON'T ASK THEM!!! Or if you do then get a pro in as well and get them to take a few shots on top of the pros work.
The reason for this is that, apart from the obvious increase in quality of work, a pro is completely impartial and will shoot everyone at the wedding. Your cousin might get a few lovely shots of you and your family but almost certainly won't know your other halves family and friends. Not knowing them means they won't feel as happy taking their photos and your other half will miss out on photos of their family at the wedding.
If you are lucky enough know a pro on either side then great, this can work but most people aren't in that position. When my sister got married I was asked to shoot the wedding but was told I would be sharing the job with one of my now brother-in-laws friends. We are both professional wedding photographers and obviously aware of this phenomenon so did our best to be fair but you naturally shoot the people you know. My sister ended up with a lovely set of wedding photos but only because we were both there, just one of us wouldn't have done the job.
Post production matters
You might not know this but almost every professional photo you will ever see in newspapers and magazines has been worked on in post production to get the best out of it. Taking a good shot is only half the battle. Correcting the colour of photos is essential for a professional look. Not all wedding photographers do post production as it takes a long time to get just right. Some photographers justify not doing this by saying they prefer a more natural look. This is just an excuse for laziness, or possibly even worse, not knowing how to. All the best photographers will do at least some post production, if you want professional results it is worth finding one who does it.
Ask how long until you will get your photos
Because post production takes time, and the photographer may be very busy depending on what time of year you are getting married, it will take the photographer a little while to get your photos ready for you. I work at around 1 – 2 months after the wedding for handing over the finished product.
Kit matters, but knowledge is king
There are a lot of people who buy an expensive camera and call themselves photographers. These days you can set a DSLR to do all the work for you and the picture will come out. This doesn't mean you should though. A real photographer will have a good grasp of the technical knowledge needed to take great photos understanding how to work with light and what settings are needed for every situation. This is how you get great photos, leaving the camera set to auto mode isn't.
How can you tell? Look at their work, does it look artistic and professionally done? Or does it look like some of the better photos you took with the point and shoot you took on holiday?
Please visit my website to see my work & to get in touch: http://www.love-in-focus.co.uk