How to choose your wedding photographer
Brides to be, you are in luck!! As you narrow down the choices of photography vendors to a final few how are you doing to make the final decision? We have advice for you from Neil of Neil Photography.
So you’re getting Married, How to Pick a Wedding Photographer?!
This is an exciting time in your life, you have so much ahead of you, and you are just reeling from the recent engagement and the prospect of spending the rest of your life with that special someone.
But there’s one big question: How will you eternalize that day?
In my years of working with Southeast Asian brides, I’ve discussed the intricacies of the special day many times and, with the help of Shaadi Bazaar’s blog, we decided that I would start an advice series to walk you, the ever important Indian bride, through the process of finding that perfect photographer, having a fun engagement session, and tips and tricks on that ever important day.
There are a number of complex algorithms that go into picking the right photographic team, but on some level, it comes down to some very basic principles in purchasing any item:
- Does it fit your style?
- Does it fit your budget? &
- How does it come together?
You were expecting a laundry list, weren’t you?
Surprisingly, it is just that simple…and honestly, just that difficult.
Let’s start with your Style:
Photographic styles have grown and diversified over the years. In fact, they have become even more diverse with the advent of digital photography because you aren’t limited to just a few select color and black and white film choices. Your digital photographer can give you virtually give you any style you want: vintage, grunge, black and white, photojournalistic, action, high fashion, and traditional to name just a few.
And these aren’t just “tints” on their Photoshop palette, these are in fact distinct styles that align with the ambiance and vibe of a wedding.
Indian weddings aren’t usually grunge or vintage (although you’d be surprised); however, you can have an engagement shoot that could flirt with those options should you wish! More often than not, the action or photojournalistic style overlaps well with the complexity of the day – but you have to make sure you want those candid moments, or would rather have the more traditional line up and pose pictures. Luxurious, sophisticated evening affair with a gorgeous white gown – black and white would capture that with a subtlety and emotion you couldn’t imagine. Fun, lively baraat ceremony – an action style that exploits shutter speed to exaggerate movement will capture the flair of those moments!
Make sure your photographer can demonstrate those diverse styles on your day – so you know for a fact that he or she can deliver on a day you only get to experience once.
What about Budget?
Budget is, sadly, the deciding factor when most brides discuss their important day – and while I completely agree that budget is in fact a paramount factor in all of our lives, on this day, your special day, you should focus on the style you want first, then find the photographer that can capture that style in the budget you have to work with.
What has happened with the explosion of digital photography is the flood of digital single reflex cameras at multiple price points. How can you tell if your photographer has the right eye (see Style above) and the equipment that can capture the flawlessness of your day? Ask to see it! Yes, your uncle, your brother, and possibly even your brother-in-law can take pictures of your big day, for free, and you can probably get adequate pictures because digital sensors today have become so automated with so many built-in correction features that you can get about 50% of your shots. However, what about those other 50%?
Training, practice, and familiarity with the professional tools of the trade are what separate a wedding photographer from your family taking the pictures with their built-in flash and a cookie-cutter lens– but that comes at a price that most don’t appreciate. Most professional wedding photographers are carrying around $10-12,000 worth of gear on your big day, probably not including the lighting setup they’ve brought along to capture the evening events.
With those elements considered, you have to ask yourself how important getting those 50% of pictures are. In the tri-state area, most wedding photography packages start at $1000 for a very basic package and climb upwards of $8000; a staggering gradient!
What should you look for? It depends on what you want – if you want full multi-day coverage, a large, prominent album, and photo-editing for all of your pictures, your budget will have to be pretty large. If you have a simple ceremony and reception, you can probably get away with something on the lower end.
One thing you have to keep in mind is that you should be wary of asking your photographer to do your videography, or vice versa. Yes, there are a number of large photography studios out there that offer both in a “combination” package at prices that are nearly 30-50% cheaper than if you did it separately. But, like everything in life, if you compromise on the “combo deal”, you’re more than likely getting that combination at the cost of something – in this case, it is usually your freedom of style, since the videographer will outsource the photography to whomever will do it cheapest, and the photographer will outsource the videography to whomever will do it cheapest.
How Does it Come Together?
This is the emotional aspect of picking your wedding photographer that comes down to chemistry.
Does the studio send a random person out on the day of your wedding (common feature with the “Combo Studio” in the Budget section above), or will you get to meet and discuss the complexities of your day with the talent that’s capturing those moments?
Do you like the photographer? Does he or she take the time to speak with you on the phone or meet with you in person? Are they invested in your relationship, because they have to capture the emotions of it on that very big day?
How extensive is their experience in the Southeast Asian community? It’s imperative that your photographer know the nuances of the day and capable of capturing the uniqueness and complexity of your ceremonies.
Timing is another aspect of it all coming together, as most photographers are booking in the Fall for the Spring and Summer of the following year – if your favorite photographer is booked, it’ll be even more difficult to get that panache you desire!
This is the first installment in a multi-blog series I will be doing – if you have questions or want to email me directly, I can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congrats on your engagement!