a wedding photographer is one of the most important decisions of your wedding planning.
A great photographer can make your day one to remember, but equally you've heard horror stories about weddings al but ruined by the photographer
taking bad photos, being a tyrant during group shots, or stepping all
over the ceremony!
But lthough bad wedding photographers do exist although
they are usually the exception than the rule. That said, you should of course research
a number of different photographers or photography studios and decide on whether the
style and approach they have matches what you would like on your wedding
photographer is an investment worth researching because you will only
have ONE chance to have the photos of wedding done correctly! There are
no second takes for your wedding photos, so unlike other areas of your planning
it's definitely something to get right. Most people start looking for a photographer very soon after they have booked the ceremony or reception venue, as the best wedding photographers are highly sought after and will book out 12-18 months in advance!
One of your
best resources is people you know who have recently been married. Word
of mouth in Sydney is extremely important in a field like wedding photography:
those photographers that have inferior work or poor service will soon
be out of business, while those that produce high quality photography and have good service will get talked about and prosper. So ask around, and find out who your friends or family
used for their wedding, and whether the experience they had with their photographer was a
positive one. Look on internet forums as brides to be and brides just been are always discussing their experiences with their wedding photographer. If you have a friend that recommends someone, have a look at their wedding album and any re-prints
or enlargements they purchased, or they might even have an online web gallery that you could view. Remember that style and taste vary from person to person and just because your friend loved their photographer doesnt mean you will!
the most important aspect of choosing a wedding photographer is the photos
they take! Be critical when viewing their work: do you like the photos?
do they evoke emotion in you? do you laugh or do you melt? what do you
think of the album design, layout and construction? are the photo colors
bright and clear and are all pictures in focus? are the shots technically
good, dust free, and well exposed? are the group photos nicely composed?
do the poses of the bride and groom look fake, unnatural, spontaneous
or set up? There's a lot to consider, but trust your instincts and tune
in to what you like and whether the photos you are seeing match up well!
If they don't, you might be best to look elsewhere. The great thing about wedding photography is there are numerous suppliers to choose from, so you are bound to find someone who matches your style and takes the kind of shots you'll end up loving.
A quick way to check the style of a wedding photographer is their blog. Becoming more and more common the blog often shows a photographer's work from ONE wedding vs the BEST photos from a number of weddings (eg in their gallery). This way you get to check whether they can take a good range of photos over a whole day, not just a couple of good shots in a year! You will also get a good feel for a photographer's personality from the blog if they describe the wedding day or provide comments on the photos.
The larger wedding photography studios will have several photographers, so check and see which one will be doing your wedding and make sure you see their work! We've all heard stories about booking a larger studio photographer only to end up with the apprentice for some or all of the day. That's why smaller operators can be a better option: you know exactly who you get on the day, you've seen only their work in display albums, and their level of service is often a lot higher as you only deal with this one person.
accreditations, awards, memberships and other forms of professional industry association.
A good business will be a member of one or more of these. In Australia
at the highest level there is the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photographers), but there are also industry associations like the ABIA.....although be careful of some "accreditations" as it can often take little more than paying a joining fee to become part of some associations! As well, check the education
and training your photographer has had, as there are a range of education
levels, such as Masters, Bachelors, TAFE, and other courses. See the
AIPP in Sydney to find out more about professional photographer accreditations.
very important thing to consider is the personality of a wedding photographer.
You want someone whom you can relate to, feel relaxed around, and get
on well with because you'll spend most of your wedding day with them!
A lot of your other wedding services will come and go, or you wont interact with them a lot, but your photographer will be there all day. Some photographers will try to tell you want you want, while others will
be more cooperative by making suggestions and asking you what
you want. Some might be bossy, and some photographers will even
try to run your wedding! Make sure they know it's your day, not their day! Meeting with a number of different photographers will
help you decide on what personality you like and hopefully make sure you
get someone you can gel with. In general, a good
photographer is not only able to take stunning photos and capture your wedding day, but they will do so with patientence and professionalism, always friendly and smiling!
Sydney is a big city so in many ways it pays to look locally for your wedding photography, and a very simple way to short list your wedding photographer choices is by their locality. You will often meet several times with your photographer so if you live in Cronulla and they live in Pymble the distance will be quite a hassle! Some professional photographers will also charge a travel for weddings outside their normal area or the Sydney metro. Check local directories, wedding expos in your area, and the local Chamber of Commerce for leads.
have a good knowledge of cameras and camera equipment, asking a photographer
what they shoot with might result in some incomprehensible answers! It
can best to just ask the basics of what they use (eg digital vs film)
and if they carry back-up gear. If you must ask, check not only camera
types but the lenses they use: camera bodies are one thing but good 'glass'
is more important. Professional photographers will carry a number of different lenses, some for wide shots, some zooms, and often a specialised lenses for portraits. Finally, it pays to remember that the best photography equipment
is no assurance of good ability! Even the most expensive gear is useless in the hands of a novice, which is a good reason not to trust your wedding photography to Uncle Bill just because he has a "good camera".
find a professional wedding photographer you like, you should sit down with them and plan your
day in terms of the photography and the photos that you would like from it. It pays to have a plan because the day
and the photography will be much more relaxed and memorable if you space
things out and allow enough time to get everything done, including
an un-rushed photo shoot in the best possible light. Take into account things like
sunset times (see our article here),
likely weather (always have a wet weather back up photography plan!), travel to and from photo locations, traffic, and the booking times you've
made for the ceremony and reception around Sydney.
Once you've locked in your wedding photographer it's time to sit back, smile, and enjoy your day. Don't stress about the photos on the day because it will show in the shots and you might be disappointed that you didnt just relax a bit more and really be yourself! The best photos are when you are being natural and yourself, so let that wedding day happiness shine through and really show!