This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.
A quick web search is full of articles on “10 Questions To Ask Your Wedding Photographer.“ No one spends as much time with you on your wedding day than your visual team. After the wedding, pictures (and videography) are all you’ll have besides memories. With that in mind, the three factors that are most important when interviewing potential wedding photographers are personality, quality, and value.
What To Consider When Choosing The Best Wedding Photographer For You
Personality, Quality, & Value
Personality is huge because it can affect the tone of the wedding day. Someone who is warm, positive, and confident will infuse the wedding party and guests with incredible energy. Be mindful of someone who exudes a cold or aloof personality, negativity or arrogance.
Quality exists in multiple forms: products offered, ability to shoot in different styles or lighting, creativity, problem-solving, posing, post-processing or retouching, and customer service. Identifying the style that attracts you can help in assessing a photographer’s strengths. Matching their skill set to your vision for your wedding photography is important.
Value starts by understanding pricing. Pricing is a combination of expertise, experience, as well as service. The value of those items depends on the level of importance you place on them and the photographer’s ability to deliver. Identifying and prioritizing what you want and what you need will help you choose to go with someone with less experience or an expert. The lowest price is not always the best value.
Questions You May Not Think To Ask
After checking if a photographer is available on your date, three questions you may not hear enough about are:
1. What makes you different or unique in how you will approach my wedding day? You want to find someone you not only trust, but someone who also shares your vision.
2. On average, what do your clients typically spend on their wedding photography? It is a good to get an idea of how much you should budget to get the goods & services you will want.
3. Can you help me understand what you mean when you say “retouched, hi-res, proofs, and digital negatives”? Photographers have different terms and definitions for the services mentioned above. They also have varying levels of quality to their finishing work and timelines for deliverables.
Questions To Ask Yourself
Once you finish your consultation, there are three essential questions to ask yourself:
1. Read the heart of the photographer. Are they excited to shoot your wedding?
2. Do you feel like this is a high-pressure sale?
3. Do I like the photographer’s personality and can I envision myself in their style of photography?
All of us are on a journey, of learning and growing. Much like the stock market, past performances do not guarantee future success. Shooting your wedding is the magic of a photographer’s ability and vision combining with your hopes and dreams to create something you’ll treasure.
An Experienced Wedding Photographer Thinks Differently
To help guide you, I reflected on 15 years as a Dallas-based wedding photographer and over 1,000 weddings. How have I changed, what has experience taught me or how have the people that I’ve photographed left an imprint on how I approach documenting the day?
I believe it’s not necessary for a wedding photographer to be married. Nor is it a requirement for one to have children. However, both experiences in my life impacted, shaped, and refined the prism through which I view the wedding day narrative and the direction I take to strive and capture it.
Connecting Generations Through Wedding Photos
Herein lies a unique opportunity to connect Present & Past generations to the Future through adding visual depth to that imagery. While the Bride & Groom may be the clients, they are also the custodians of their own love story.
My viewing prism has shifted a bit to look for ways I can intentionally start a conversation with the unborn. The birth of our daughter pushed it naturally forward, as my wife and I now find occasions to help her connect her place within our family. What are our values? What does love look like in a visual form? Who loves her, and who will always care for her?
Artist, Diplomat, Psychologist
Not only should/must a wedding photographer exhibit the requisite skills in photography, but that person is most effective when transcending the ordinary time constraints of that day with grace and humility. We are both servants and leaders in a day full of hope and anticipation. Navigating the undercurrents of natural anxiety and different” family dynamics,” we often find ourselves equal part artist, diplomat and armchair psychologist.
In my beginning efforts, I would often “Hope” that things would magically coalesce in front of the camera. I learned, however, through the crucible of experience and education how to anticipate and be more thoughtful. I learned to know when to provide guidance and when to step back. Why empathy, flexibility, and the ability to clearly communicate are critical to compelling storytelling. I discovered the value of in-camera artistry to allow for new, different and additional possibilities to create and a more refined final product for the couple.
Communicating Without Words Or Sound
Like many regional communities, weddings in the Southern part of the United States come with its individual set of personality and expectations. Beginning with Engagement and Bridal Portrait Sessions, I find I must push further into the realms of creativity and trademark artwork. That time I invest then pays dividends in the intimacy afforded by my work on the actual wedding day.
Even in the smallest details, there is an ability to communicate the sanctity of marriage across generations. You can capture the beauty of thoughtful preparations, tender moments, and legacy portraits and illustrate both individual and group values.
The emotional spectrum is often quite visible and even unpredictable. A Father’s love may bring tears, there is a first look of anticipation, and there is joy in community, relationships, and the celebrations. The photos that move us are one’s that have impact. The one’s that show us clearly a moment, an emotion or a feeling.
Shoot The Expected, Deliver The Unexpected
The spectrum of personalities, faiths, and traditions also dictates that a wedding photographer becomes well-versed not only in shooting the expected but delivering the unexpected. It is through the visual power of imagery that we can communicate with the camera what we often cannot express through words.
Great wedding photography captures real people and their stories, but its enduring legacy resides in the impact each photo makes within its respective families. Good wedding photography means you get exactly what you expect. The best wedding photographers not only meet your needs, they present you photos that you never could of imagined.
My hope is that during this time of great anticipation, joy, and excitement that is your engagement, you can take a bit of a long-term perspective. When choosing a wedding photographer, look past the detail shots and into the narrative. Look past the price list and into their hearts. There will most likely never be another time in your life that so many of your precious relationships gather together in the same place at the same time.
Trust is both given and earned. Do appropriate research, find the style(s) you are attracted to, find a price you can afford, but most importantly find someone who can communicate without using words or sounds the messages of your heart.
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Bio: About Luke Edmonson. I’m a limit pusher, family man and, to my wife and daughter’s delight, a purveyor of endless laughter. Together with father David, we run Edmonson Weddings (http://www.edmonsonweddings.com) that attract brides with a higher visual I.Q.
Yes, I hold the accolades of Double Master of WPPI, PPA Master of Photography and Fellow of the SWPP in the UK, but I’m particularly proud to be a co-founder of WPPI-C (and graduate.)
It’s the first of its kind certification for wedding & portrait photographers with a purpose of raising the standard of wedding photography for everyone. For brides, it provides a recognizable way to ensure that the person they are considering is both confident and competent in their abilities.
Connect With Me
Wedding Photography: http://www.edmonsonweddings.com