How to choose the best wedding photographer for your day.
Choosing the best wedding photographer for your celebrations is more difficult than ever these days.
There are so many individuals and companies on the web who offer to cover your event for you in a bewildering variety of styles it is easy to lose focus and it can be difficult to remember why you are choosing a wedding photographer in the first place.
Of course, your needs and wishes might be different from the next couple – some people are content with ‘record’ style shots, images taken to simply record who was there with perhaps some photographs of the building or location. Any professional wedding photographer worthy of the name will put a bit more effort towards telling the story of your day of course.
Some couples take the option to have a full-on fashion style interpretation of the big day and who don’t mind devoting a considerable portion of their time on the wedding day to being posed and lit in dramatic or exotic locations. The photography of course is the only tangible thing (apart from your other half of course!) that you will have in twenty or forty years time and you will be aware that the things you find important now may not be of relevance as you approach your 50th or 60th birthday.
That’s the thing with choosing a wedding photographer of course, you have to realise that there is no chance to do it again, the important things have to captured there and then, regardless of the timings, the location or the weather.
The proliferation of online wedding industry sites such as wedding blogs can also add to the confusion. They can promote so many different ideas and show you so many ways to spend your money, again, it’s difficult to assess the best place to allocate your hard earned wedding budget.
Here are my top 5 reasons for choosing the best wedding photographer for you. They might not be what you expect, or indeed they are probably different to the recommendations you read about online but I hope the reasons for them become apparent as you get to the bottom of this article. You’ll see that it’s what’s in the photographs is what is important – and the photographer that can create images of warm, genuine, fleeting wedding moments should be the one that you choose.
1. You value your loved ones and the relationships you have with them.
When you reach the point in your life when you are old enough to marry, you understand that the relationships you have with your parents, grandparents and other family members are just as important to you as when you were younger. Many of your relations will have have been married already and are delighted to be invited to see you take this momentous step first hand. They will be there with their own stories, their own advice and experiences and it truly is a pleasure to share this happiest of days with them.
You’ll be aware how quickly time can go by (trust me, everyone you speak to will remind you of how quickly the wedding day disappears.) The members of your family that you have grown up with all come together on this one day to celebrate with you and it is wonderful to have story telling images that will evoke this moment in many years time when, life being what it is, so much will have changed.
Still photographic images are so much more powerful at triggering happy memories of days gone past; there is something about viewing them that allows your subconscious mind to ‘fill in the gaps’, something that doesn’t happen half as much as the literal depiction that the moving image gives you. Have you ever looked at a photograph of a happy childhood memory, perhaps at the beach or family outing? You will understand that quite often you will be able to recall the smell of the salt air, the warm sun on your skin and the happy chatter of the family members. Personally I feel black and white images are wonderful at evoking these memories of happy times that happened a long time ago. There’s something about the lack of distraction that occurs when the colour is absent that can make a monochrome image very powerful.
2. Friends are important to you.
It’s a fact of life that as time goes by and we all get older that inevitably we lose touch with friends.There might be people we know that have been friends with since school that we have been lucky enough to keep in touch with over the years. Other friends might be more recent, perhaps from work or sports and social circles.
It’s such a lovely thing on a wedding day when I see the bride and groom greet their friends arriving – it’s genuinely a touching moment when you realise on your wedding day that these important people in your life have chosen to join you for this special and momentous time in your life. We’re all so busy these days, our lives are a nonstop rush through the week that it is wonderful to see that our close friends have decided that to gather together to show support and love to us was more important than anything else they could be doing that weekend :)
So often we and our contemporaries go through similar periods of life at the same time. In our late twenties for example, we often seem to be going to a string of weddings for a few years. A couple of years after that, it seems everyone is having babies. It’s these shared experiences that often contribute so meaningfully to life and on a wedding day it’s even more special to share some time with friends.
3. You plan on staying married for the rest of your life.
OK, this is a little tongue-in-cheek as I doubt many people get married these days with a view to calling it quits in a few years time. My point here is that the wedding photographs will grow in value as the years go by. There are times I think when you look into your past and the person you were then, and it seems like another planet. I know from experience, having talked to many couples over the years, how their wedding photographs show them where it all started. This value will have even more effect should children come along. From the time they are two or three years old, their curiosity in where they came from and what the past looked like becomes apparent. One bride I know started using her beautiful leather bound wedding album as a bedtime book, telling the story of her day to her two year old. I guess when you are two, a bride really does look like a princess so I can see why it was her favourite bedtime book!
4. You don’t mind investing money on the important things in your life.
There is no getting away from it. Quality wedding photography can be a sizeable investment, particularly when the wedding costs are spiralling out of control. I’m not suggesting that you feed the guests sandwiches to subsidise the photography but perhaps a better plan might be to consider, for example, whether you really need that chocolate fountain or perhaps paying for the bar for the entire evening is a wise use of the wedding budget. The point is that cheap wedding photography is cheap for a reason. On the face of it, the promise of thousands of images (with no mention of the quality or relevance), wedding albums, parents albums, engagement shoots all for an absurdly low price sounds like a great deal. It’s only when you dig deeper and really look at the narrative of a good set of wedding images that you can tell the difference between substance and cheap visual impact. It’s different for everyone of course but I have met people who would not have me photograph their wedding if I had paid them! Of course it makes sense to place your wedding budget where it will make the biggest impact to you but do bear in mind that the photographs are the things which will last the longest.
5. A life full of happy moments recalled is more important to you than a house full of possessions.
I read recently of how purchasing expensive items creates a dopamine release in the brain and results in pleasure and gratification. I have to admit that my head still gets turned by a shiny new camera or computer and my brain justifies the thought of investment with all sorts of inventive reasons :) I have to give myself a good talking to, to remind myself that this years model is only fractionally better than last years model and that the reward and happiness of a sparkly new electrical product is very short lived. As you get older, the things you think of as important do change. You come to realise that things that stick in your mind from twenty or more years ago are invariably experiences and the relationships you have with your loved ones.
It’s important with wedding photography that the quality of the images communicates with you. Gimmicks in photography are just that – gimmicks. They often hide weaknesses in the skillset of the wedding photographer and lack of quality. If you’ve looked at wedding photography for any amount of time you’ll be aware of these. Genuine, lovely moments that happen to you, a glance at a loved one during the ceremony, a parent surreptitiously reaching for a tissue, the pride shining in the eyes of a grand parent. These moments are the ones that are worth treasuring, worth holding on to in the years to come. It takes an experienced and talented wedding photographer to spot these moments and preserve them for you for the time when you will truly come to treasure them.