Planning your wedding photography

Holding hands                                                                    

Throughout my career as a photojournalist many people have commented that they wished they had known me when they got married, because the photographer they hired did such a poor job. Now that our society is thoroughly entrenched in the digital era, where everyone is a photographer, consumers have to do a lot more homework to find the right photographer to document their special day, and there are a lot more pretenders than there are actual contenders.

Where to start?  Go online and search for wedding photographers in your area.  Every photographer has a website where you can check out their style and work, and if you find one that suits your needs make an appointment.  Some photographers will charge a consultation fee so make sure that is waived.  When you meet, ask the photographer to see a complete wedding shoot, or two, that they have recently done.  Photographers will only want to show you their best work, and perhaps they only can reap two or three good pictures out of an entire wedding shoot.  If they can’t show you a whole wedding shoot then I suggest you don’t hire them.

From the dozen or so weddings that I have shot, I have found that too many people get wrapped up in having pictures taken with the bride and groom and their families.  Yes, you want to have pictures with Uncle Charlie but make it one big group photo, rather than photos of just Uncle Charlie with the bride and groom like so many wedding parties do.  It takes too much time!  Save the bride and groom photos for the immediate family and the wedding party only.  Try to tie the location of the photo shoot to a place that may be special to the bride and groom, perhaps some where they had met. If you want more of a documentary style of photography rather than strictly posed pictures, perhaps think about hiring a photojournalist or a documentary photographer.

Photojournalists have to photograph everything in their varied careers and are good at ‘capturing the moment’, but good photojournalists are harder to find than wedding photographers.  Keep in mind that many newspapers or magazines don’t actually have photojournalists working for them anymore.   When you do find a wedding photographer you like, discuss what is expected of the said photographer.  You have to agree on locations, posed pictures with family and the bridal party and the price.  If you want a photographer for the whole day including the reception, it will cost more money.  Wedding photography can cost anywhere from 3000 SR to 50,000 SR.  Also negotiate what format, cds, dvds, prints, the final pictures will be on.  The more you communicate with the photographer ahead of time it may save you a big headache on your special day.

Hopefully, you’ll get married once and will want to cherish those memories forever.  And if you are really stuck, there are always one or two relatives willing to be the official photographer.  And if you are really, really stuck, hand out disposable cameras to each table at the reception.  It is amazing what other people see and document.