I am based in Pune but as a destination wedding photographer, I travel all over to shoot weddings. Today I am sharing a few ideas on how to choose the right wedding photographer. This is purely based on my experience of working with so many couples. As you shoot with them over a period of 2 to 3 days, they get comfortable and sometimes share their stories and anxieties about how difficult and confusing it gets when it comes to hiring specialized services like wedding photography. I am sure this post will get you started on how to approach wedding photographers. These are small steps that can be taken towards an awesome experience of going through your own wedding pictures.
1. Right Budget : This is the most tricky part for any shopping we do. What should be the right budget for photography ? Is it too less ? Am I spending more and going overboard ? These question are bound to keep you confused and keep you searching for the right answer. There is a much publicized option of keeping a certain percentage aside of the entire wedding budget. I would suggest always keep a range in your mind while deciding on the budget. Don’t blindly follow advice of someone who had an extravagant budget or just a few thousand bucks spending on wedding photography. Usually love and admiration for photography are play a vital role in deciding a budget for most of the couples. Think wise and see how much you see your wedding pictures as investment and a life time memories. Don’t lose the opportunity to spend little extra for better style and quality of photography. I bet you won’t regret it later.
2. Identify Style : There are lot of terms being used these days when it comes to contemporary wedding photography. Lifestyle wedding photographer, wedding photojournalist, fine art wedding photographer and the famous candid wedding photographer. Try to keep it simple. Visually identify the styles of shortlisted photographers. Checkout whose style you can relate to the most.
3. Right Portfolio : When you are shortlisting a wedding photographer make sure he has a right portfolio. The wedding photographer should have few individual weddings listed in his portfolio. You may not want to shortlist a wedding photographer who shares only the selected one or two best images from each wedding for his portfolio.
4. Consistency in the shoot : This is one of the most undervalued and ignored aspects. It is quite natural to get awed looking at wedding pictures. But if there is no consistecy in the quality of pictures throughout a wedding, the wedding day and the pre-wedding events like sangeet and mehndi, the cause is lost. You would like to see him shoot with the same quality of photography for each event. Also keep an eye on how his pictures turn out for day and night events.
5. Personality Of Photographer : It’s true that the personality of the wedding photographer reflects in the pictures. Lively and emotive pictures will give you an idea about his personality. Do checkout his facebook page/profile timeline or twitter feed for what and how he is interacting.
6. Busy Wedding Photographer : Email and mobile phones are the two most common ways you start the interaction with a wedding photographer. Just a couple of interactions with him and you have questions like “Is he too busy or inaccessible ?” “ Does his emails reflect that he is in a rush ?” “Did you notice the frequent typos in his email ?” All these are signs of a busy wedding photographer. Once you hire him, will he be able to give you quality time for suggestions, preparations and understand your expectations. This could be a key area for some couples, if not for all.
7. Communication : While talking and emailing to shortlisted photographers you will realize there is already a connect with one ( or few ) of them. Do you like his style of communication ? Is he answering your queries and clearing your doubts effectively ? As they say the style of communication tells alot about the individual/company. Your prospective wedding photographer should be able to communicate his ideas and understand your requirements.
8. References : Choosing a wedding photographer referred by a friend can be a good idea. If he has already covered a wedding in the family/friend circle, you will have a clarity on all the above 7 points mentioned so far. You can easily shortlist him and evaluate him with other shortlisted photographers.
9. Overworked Wedding Photographer : There are lot of wedding photographers who shoot a limited number of weddings in a month or year. This not only helps them balance their personal and professional life but also justify a full lively effort on each wedding. Imagine a wedding photographer shooting your wedding who has been sleeping only 2-3 hours for the last few days. We all are humans and how much a high dose of caffeine ( read coffee and red bulls ) would help every day to keep you up and running. A tired and sleepless body cannot be recommended for creative work.
10. Write Personalized Email : Don’t be afraid to reach out to your wedding photographer with your requirements and budget. Lot of brides/couples don’t share enough details in their initial conversation or emails. Share your ideas on how you are excited about your wedding. How and where you are planning it. As a wedding photographer, we get so many emails and most of the times, the emails are so short in information that it is does not excite the wedding photographer. Don’t make your email be just another email in his inbox. A wedding photographer who takes up only a limited number of wedding assignments in a month or year, can make a difference. Keep the conversation honest and going. Remember the way you communicate on email or phone with photographer will help him to know and understand more about you. Never copy/paste things from internet or from friends. I have received replica emails from couples with just a name change. And email addressed to “wrong photographer” are just so common just because the couple forgot to change the name after “Hi”. Sending one email to all your favorite photographers in bcc is a big no no. Lastly, if you have zeroed in your wedding photographer make sure you drop a courtesy email that you have chosen your wedding photographer.
Okay, so these are my 10 ideas to help you in choosing the right wedding photographer. Why not help me out with other ideas which I may have missed or you want share with me and help other readers? I would love to add it here with the credits. Do drop a line or two.