This is one question every bride wants to know the answer to. To make sure you get absolutely spot on advice as to what to look for when choosing a wedding photographer, we enlisted the help of fabulous Photographer, Melissa Elsey of Looking Glass Photography. Melissa gives her top 5 tips on what to check and look for when picking the person who will create memories to last a lifetime.
There are many types of wedding photography styles – reportage, photojournalism, traditional and illustrative – to name a few, however, my advice is to not get too bogged down with style labels.
Most professional photographers draw on a very individual interpretation of these styles and some, like me, draw on a range, so best to focus on the photographer whose overall work has the most visual impact for you.
The key is to look through a number of wedding photographers albums from start to finish (not just a selection of photos). If you do not feel excited by how the photographer has captured the day, the quality of the images, or at worst, that many of the photos make you cringe, then steer clear. If you absolutely love most of the images then you know you are on to a winner.
Image quality checker*:
- Do the skin tones look natural or fake?
- Do other colours in general look natural or fake?
- Can you see detail in the highlights/ shadows – can you see details in the bride’s dress high?
- Are the images ‘punchy’ with good contrast or flat and dull looking?
- Are the images sharp and clear or grainy and a little blurry?
- Do images look good blown up to A4 size or bigger?
*Please note that due to the various tricky lighting conditions often faced by wedding photographers (particularly low-light and bright sunlight scenarios) not all images throughout a wedding will be perfect, however, on the whole, most images should pass at least the majority of the above quality checker suggestions.
Ironically, you will most likely spend more time with your photographer than any other person on your wedding day! Your photographer’s personality is as important as their style as both factors impact on the look and feel of your final images. If you do not get on with your photographer it will show in the photos! It’s therefore essential to find a photographer who you ‘click’ with, feel comfortable around and can happily communicate what you want and don’t want. Choose someone you and your husband can have fun with, who will help you to relax (even on your wedding day there can be stressful moments!) so they can capture the best images of you.
You put so much effort into organising your day you want to make sure as much is captured as accurately as possible at a high quality standard. With so many stages to a wedding day you need a photographer who is skilled at taking all kinds of pictures in all situations; individual close-ups/ groups shots, formal poses/ stylised artistic poses, staged shots/ off-the-cuff captures in bright sunshine/overcast stormy greyness/at night, dark churches without flash/white marquees, candlelight/ artificial light… the list is endless.
Photography style and image quality.
A photographer’s experience will shine through their portfolio. Look through a number of their wedding albums from start to finish to best gauge how they have tackled all the wedding day situations.
To ensure the best quality picture is captured, a professional wedding photographer will use high-end digital SLR cameras (an absolute minimum of 10 megapixels, preferably twice as many) and professional lenses. Final images should comfortably be able to be enlarged to A4 or beyond and still look great. Professional photographers should always carry a full set of spare equipment on the day but it is worth checking this with them.
There are so many different ways of shooting and presenting wedding images that the myriad of packages photographers put together can be very confusing and difficult to compare. The key things to consider when reviewing them include; how many hours are included as ‘standard’ or does the photographer stay for the full day from hair & makeup to the speeches or first dance? How flexible are they if the day’s timings are delayed (an often occurrence!)? How many images do you get and in what format – prints, disk, album, all of the above? If you get a disk will it be good enough quality (250/300dpi resolution) to print from and to what size? Are the final images colour, black & white or both? Are the final images edited to optimise colour/contrast, is any retouching work (e.g. removal of potential skin blemishes/shiny patches/exit signs) included?