Today we’re continuing our series on our tips and tricks for choosing your wedding photographer. So far we’ve gone over the images themselves and the final product you should look for in your photographer. Today we’re talking about your wedding photographer’s experience. In today’s world, technology has made it possible and easy for just about anyone to “be a professional photographer.” Everybody has an Uncle Bob that likes to take pictures, or a friend with a nice camera. In our industry, we can’t even tell you the number of new “wedding photographers” that pop up on a daily basis. Weddings are not easy to shoot, and there is so much attention, detail, and experience that has to go in to taking photos at them. You better believe that as we’re looking for our photographer that we’re looking for an established photographer that has been in the industry for a while around the block a time or two. I’m not about to tell you that my criteria for a “professional photographer” means they’ve shot X amount of weddings, or have been in business for X amount of years. Every photographer learns and grows at a different pace. When I talk about experience, here’s what we’re looking for (at least in our photographer).
Choosing a Wedding Photographer Pt 3 | Experience
Types of Weddings they Shoot | Kyle and I will be having an outdoors destination wedding. Since we’re having a destination wedding, chances are that our photographer probably hasn’t shot in our chosen venue, which actually isn’t super important. What does matter, is if they have done outdoor weddings before. Like most brides, I’m really hoping for no rain on our wedding day, which means that our photographer will need to be able to handle shooting in full sun. When checking photographers out I’ll be sure to ask if they’ve done outdoor weddings and receptions before. If they can only show us inside weddings and receptions, then our wedding will be a challenge for them. I want to be sure that they can handle the elements that they’ll be shooting in.Don’t necessarily ask if they’ve shot in your location, but ask if they’ve shot your type of wedding before: Catholic, Jewish, Indian, non-denominational, etc. This matters because then they’ll know what to anticipate at different points in your ceremony. You don’t want them to miss your first kiss, or ring exchange because they’re not sure when it will happen in the ceremony. Just because they haven’t done your type of wedding before doesn’t mean they’re not capable of handling it, it just means that you’ll have to walk them through each part of your ceremony so they will know what to expect.
Organizing Formal Family Photos | One of the things that we work most closely with our clients on is prepping their formal family photo groups and list before their wedding day. I know this isn’t something that I want to have to worry about being in charge of when we get married, so I will want someone else to take charge with organizing and figuring out what groupings to do. With all of the different types of families, it’s so important that your photographer knows which family groupings are important to get so you don’t have to worry about it on your wedding day. We always work with our clients to get a list of all of their VIPs, and any additional information we may need to make these photos go smoother. We also recommend having a close family friend or wedding party member there to help pull everyone together, since they more than likely know the family more than we do. Formal family photos are great, but I know that when we get married we would rather spend our time making other creative images, so it’s important to us that these go as smoothly and quickly as possible.
Back-up Plans | You know the saying that anything that can go wrong will go wrong? I hate to be a negative Nancy but things do go wrong on wedding days, and I want our photographer to be able to handle it. If for some reason the beach we’ve decided to get married on is suddenly covered in seaweed, or for some reason it rains on our wedding day, I want to be able to rely on my photographer to have a back-up plan on locations so we don’t have to worry about it. I know that while we’re prepping for a wedding day and scouting and planning locations that we always have a Plan A, B, and C, just in case. You never know when a certain street or lookout will be closed, or already full of other wedding parties, and it is so, so important to know what you’re going to do just in case something doesn’t work out the way you want it to.The back-up plan also goes for your wedding day timeline. If your hair and make-up takes longer than expected, or if one of the groomsmen tuxes is missing pants (we’ve seen it happen), your photographer should know how to adjust to still get all of the images you’ll want to see without this being detrimental to your wedding day.
Extra Gear | Despite the fact that we’re having a destination wedding, I know that our photographer will bring extra gear with them, just in case. You never want your photographer to be unable to do their job because they didn’t bring an extra camera or card to shoot on if something goes wrong with their primary. I was recently a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding, and their photographer brought 1 camera with her with 1 battery, and had to stop shooting halfway through the reception because her camera quit working and she couldn’t figure out how to fix it, and she didn’t have a back-up. She missed the bride’s mom dancing with her dad, and the bride’s grandma dancing with her grandpa. Being a wedding photographer it made me absolutely sick that she wasn’t there to catch those precious moments because she didn’t have a back-up camera and wasn’t familiar enough with her gear to be able to figure out what was wrong. We always pack 5 cameras for each wedding day so we always have a back-up, just in case. The number of rechargeable batteries we use and charge during wedding season is absolutely astounding, but we’ve never missed an important moment due to a gear malfunction. You want your photographer to be prepared and familiar with their gear so they can troubleshoot any problem that may possibly arise!
Questions to ask about a photographer’s experience:
- Have you photographed a wedding like ours before? An outdoor wedding and reception? Destination wedding? Ballroom wedding? A ceremony at sunset outdoors?
- Do you organize the family photos or do I? Will you have someone on hand to help find people for family photos? Can we go over those formal photos before our wedding day?
- What will we do if it rains? If there’s another wedding party at the location we want to use? What if the location we want to use isn’t available?
- What happens if someone is late? If our hair and make-up run over? If someone is missing their dress or tux?
- Do you bring extra cameras/batteries/cards with you? What happens if your camera stops working? Do you have back-ups of any gear you might need for our day?
I know this seems like a bit of a doom and gloom, expect-the-worst post, but with today’s technology literally anybody can claim to be a wedding photographer. The catch is separating the wedding photographers from the professional wedding photographers. A professional will always have a back-up plan, be able to arrange all of those big group family photos and know which formal photos need to be taken, and will always be prepared with extra gear. I know these are questions and things that we’ll be looking for, and I hope that this helps in your search as well!