“Miki and Sonja are an amazing team who gave us stunning photos. They were so discreet at the event I barely even notice their presence and were so helpful providing guidance with the posed photos. I felt so much at ease and thankful that we chose them.”
What is the real difference among wedding photographers?
It is not easy to know the difference among wedding photographers. When thinking of consumer products, what separates an ok economy brand from a great luxury brand? For us, there are three different categories we believe separate the ok photographers from the great photographers. Which photographers will give you the best experience?
First and foremost, imagery is the most important factor in hiring a specific photographer. Besides the overall style of an image, it’s important to look even closer to insure you will have the best possible wedding photographs. To help you analyze images, carefully review the following.
What style are you looking for? Wedding photography styles are always evolving: Traditional, Candid, Documentary, Fine Art, Illustrative, Portrait, Natural. (Click here for a great article at Martha Stewart Weddings that describes them all.) Regardless of the style you like the most, it is important that a photographer is not too limited. For such an important day, you do not want to focus on only one style and let all the others go by the wayside.
What is the quality of images? Images that are too light, too dark or overly enhanced do not look natural or timeless. Your event should be documented, remembered and relived through authentic color and accurate representation by all who view your images.
As you review a photographer's work, is there a consistency among weddings? Is the style and quality reflected equally throughout the day? Is each wedding so vastly different it makes you wonder how your wedding will look? Ask to see a full gallery of images, so you can experience a wedding from beginning to end. This way you will know exactly what to expect. Look for what is important for you - is it the candid moments, beautiful portraits, important details, different viewpoints or artistically framed images. Keep in mind that you are looking at a wedding of someone you might not know. The portraits and candids will not mean as much to you as they do to the couple, but you should still feel the excitement of their day!
Education and experience is the most important indication of how well a photographer will be prepared in any given situation. An experienced professional will be able to anticipate moments before they happen, work under any lighting conditions and can adapt to changes in the schedule. It takes time and practice to perfect these skills. Here are some things to consider when learning about a photographers photographic knowledge.
How did you acquire your skills?
Acquiring skills goes far beyond what is learned through formal education. Learning from experienced and knowledgeable teachers, extreme focus and extensive practice in a variety of situations will ultimately sustain and grow a person in a profession. It takes time and dedication to learn the craft well so that it becomes second nature and the artist can create freely.
Are you good in all lighting conditions?
In photography, lighting is everything. Weddings are especially challenging because lighting is continually changing! A photographer must be as comfortable in natural light as they are in shooting with flash in dark environments. A photographer must know how the camera will react to each situation. They must know the correct camera settings to accurately record the scene. Photographers continually manipulate light in order to get the beautiful images they pre-visualize.
Are you versatile in both digital and film?
Whether it is film, digital or a hybrid - both mediums are beautiful. Each one has its unique look and can be utilized during different parts of the day to create different looks. Slightly different skill sets are necessary in order to achieve the best results. Just because you work with one medium, it does not mean you can work with the other. With film, you are a little more limited and that is when knowledge plays a big role. For instance, natural light creates great opportunities for film and digital is more versatile in darker environments. Film also requires more time to ensure proper exposure, composition and focus. Digital is faster and may be necessary in certain situations. Regardless, it is helpful to know your photographers approach so that you can trust their artistic vision.
How long have you been photographing weddings?
While “new blood” can be exciting, weddings are a one time event that cannot be repeated. Just as in any profession, the number of “jobs” is an indication of how much real life experience a photographer has had. Experience plays an important part in judging how much you can trust what a photographer can produce.
How many weddings do you photograph a year?
In our experience, the unspoken question is usually whether or not the photographer is full time or part time. You no doubt want photographers who live their craft and art! Someone who is dedicated to giving you a full photographic experience. They not only have the opportunity to photograph a variety of weddings each year, but they are also completely focused on meeting all of their clients needs.
What types of weddings have you photographed?
An experienced photographer is one who can learn and adapt to many different situations. Have they photographed a number of different cultures with a variety of traditions and in different environments? Whether it be culture or location, a true professional will research as necessary and be prepared. A true professional must be able to deliver imagery in any given situation.
Every wedding is as unique as the couple getting married. A lot of time and effort are put into every detail, not to mention the investment both emotionally and financially. It’s important to receive personal attention and plan ahead with your photographers. Here are some things to consider and questions to ask that will help you decide if you will be getting the best experience possible.
Large Studio vs Boutique Studio
There are two different types of wedding photography studios. There are the large studios with multiple photographers that photograph 100+ weddings a year. The smaller boutique style studios photograph only a handful of weddings a year. Because they take on fewer, each couple can be given special attention and their wedding photographed to reflect the uniqueness of the couple vs a cookie-cutter style that is done the same way at each wedding.
Who will be photographing your wedding? This seems like a simple question, but you want to make sure you are getting the photographer who photographed the images you have fallen in love with. Another thing to consider is what type of photographer and how many will be at your wedding. Saying two photographers can be somewhat deceptive at first. Are they equals or is there only one “main” photographer? Who is the other photographer? If it’s a second photographer, what does that really mean? How qualified are they? What type of education and experience have they had? What do their images look like and are they the same style as the main photographer? And most importantly, how many times have the two photographers worked together? As a couple who is getting married, you want a photography team to be in complete sync with one another. A seasoned team has their system down so that they will not miss capturing all of the great moments of the day.
It is easy to see if you like the images you are looking at on social media or websites, but what was it actually like to be there when those photos were being taken? This is a good question to get into your photographers’ head. It will help you envision what will happen the day of your wedding. Where was the photographer during the first look so that it could be captured intimately without being intrusive? Was the photographer giving direction and guidance during the formal portraits? How is the ceremony photographed so that the guests will not be distracted? Every photographer has his or her you want to make sure you are comfortable with how the day will be photographed.
Delivery of images
When it comes to receiving your wedding images, it is not an immediate or quick turnaround. On the other hand, you should also not be left waiting for months! It takes time to prepare the final images. The images are not ready right out the camera. After downloading and editing, each one must be worked on and processed before they are ready to be viewed. On average, most studios can deliver the set of final images within 4-6 weeks… but there are always “sneak peeks” to hold you over til then. Make sure to ask about that as well.
The look and feel of an album, filled with your wedding images, is not only breathtakingly beautiful - it becomes a family heirloom. Surprisingly, these custom made albums are not offered by every photographer. It’s important to know if you will have the opportunity to create one after your wedding or even a few years later. It is important to have realistic exceptions of how long it takes to design and receive the final album. An approved design can take a couple of weeks and the creation of the album a few more weeks. Regardless, you want to make sure you know the process and have an estimated time for the final album to be delivered. Formal wedding albums are well worth the investment and should not be overlooked.
A photographer is one of the few members of your creative team that you will be around before, during and after the wedding. On the day of the wedding, will they have a demeanor that is compatible with the two of you. You will be together for 8-12 hours! You will want to be comfortable and trust them, not only to produce wonderful images but also to be able to interact with you, your family and all of the guests.