Guide to Choosing your Professional Wedding Photographer Sydney
Your special day (Engagement/Wedding/Pre wedding) is upon you. You have already decided on your venue, and other vendors and now you need to decide on choosing your photographer. A MAJOR DECISION INDEED.
At the end of your special day all you have is the MEMORIES. It is crucial that you pick a photographer who can take those memorable everlasting photos.
According to a survey of one of the biggest wedding websites, the number one regret brides and grooms had was that they wished they had spent more money on their photography.
WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES GOING TO BE LIKE?
Your wedding and portrait photographer must have the professional skills, the right equipment, and equally importantly, the personality and demeanor that appeals to you. Before you even start looking for a photographer, do some research and decide on what STYLE OF PHOTOGRAPHY appeals to you. There is no point contacting or meeting a photographer whose style is not to your liking.
STEP 1. Decide on a Style of photography you like
There are 5 general styles of wedding photographs:
Photojournalistic/documentary style. This is where the photographer is in the background basically capturing the genuine moments of the day as they occur, the purpose of which is to tell your day’s full story. The photographer is there blending in with the crowd but always where he/she should be i.e. where the action is. After all, it is all about capturing those decisive moments: the look, the tear, the hug, the smile, the radiance and happiness. It’s all about capturing those special moments.
Portrait Style. This is the traditional style of posing shots of the two of you and family in front of various backgrounds. If you like classical portraits then go with a traditional Portrait Photographer.
Fine Art Style. This could mean that the photographer tries to control the scene as much as possible to create an image that meets their artistic vision. This style gives the photographer license to add his/her artistic style. The photos may be dreamier and grainier, the background may be rendered blurry while the object in motion may look normal. If you like these artistic shots then try and find a photographer who specializes in this genre.
Illustrative Style. This style is a blend of Documentary and Portraiture again with an emphasis on light, composition and background. This style has the spontaneity of candid shots with the technical knowhow of portraiture.
Edgy Style. This style of photography is an offshoot of fine art photography. It is characterized by nonconventional framing and tilted angles.
My style is Illustrative but largely documentary with some posed shots of you, your partner, the bridesmaids and the groomsmen with the family. Most important to me is capturing those memorable candid special moments of your day.
Once you have decided on your favorite style, then find photographers who specialize in it. Look at their portfolios with a critical eye and then narrow your search down to the top 5.
STEP 2. Set up Interviews
Now that you like their style then you need to check out whether they are available on your wedding day. If they are, email the photographer and set up an interview with them. It is so important to meet them in person. You need to get along with this person and your personalities must mesh.
Check out your photographer
Remember your photographer is going to shadow your every move throughout your special day. It is crucial that you get to know them beforehand. He/she needs to be your friend to ease the stress and capture the real you on your special day.
Are they easy to talk to?
Do they listen?
Are they excited by your vision of the day?
Are they flexible and able to accommodate your demands?
Are they passionate about what they do and how they do it?
Are they the perfectionists who would settle for nothing less than perfect service?
Would they be happy with the final product if you were'nt?
STEP 3. Check out portfolios
When you do meet them, this could be the time to check out not only what sort of a person they are, but to see more images of the Pre wedding day, Preparation, Ceremonyand Reception. You should also look at Books, albums, slide shows that they produce so you know what to expect. You need to get an idea of what your story of the day is going to look like.
Check out the photographer’s photos.
Do you like the photos?
Has the photographer captured the special moments of the day?
Are their photos sharp and crisp?
Are the photos exposed properly?
What are their compositions like?
Do the photos capture the emotional moments: the tears, the laughter, the happiness, the sadness, the gestures, the looks etc.?
Ask yourself “Have they captured these moments in a way that moves me and would like to have in my wedding book or album”?
This may be the time to talk about your expectations and your vision for the day.
STEP 4. Confirm your booking
After you have chosen your photographer you need to make sure he/she is the one who will photograph your special day. Include that in your contract. After all you don’t want to end up with someone else photographing your day. That should be stipulated in your contract. If your photographer, for some unexpected circumstances, would have to default, you need to know who will replace them.
Find out whether the photographer will be accompanied by an assistant and/or a second photographer. If you are having a large wedding (more than 250 guests) it is preferable to have a second shooter to be able to capture the whole event in more detail.
STEP 5. Check out available Packages
Packages can vary according to photographer, time coverage, type and size and number of Wedding Albums or Wedding Books, slide shows and postproduction of raw photos.
Packages can vary between 2000 dollars and as high as 15,000 dollars at the higher end of the spectrum. You will not know what it is going to cost until you are clear on what you want included. Have a look at your photographer’s website or ask about available packages and choose one that suits you and your budget. Do not under budget, if anything, be generous as you want to make sure you have the best memorable photos. You do not want to regret this because there is no turning back.
WARNING: DO NOT UNDERBUDGET
Find out what your package includes and be very clear on that. Find out how much you will be paying for extras like time coverage, an additional engagement shoot, Wedding Books, Albums, Video Slide Shows. While packages vary, most include anything from 6-12 hours of coverage. Ideally you want them to cover your full day from preparation to your departure after the reception.
It is advised to pay for more coverage as there is always a chance you will need to add on extra time which is often charged at higher penalty rates.
STEP 6. How will your photos be processed?
Your professional photographer will most likely be shooting in what we call RAW format. These are large files which allow for post-production (adjusting global effects like color balance, whites, blacks, shadows, exposure, saturation and much more like special effects). This is a most time-consuming process which can take up to 40 hours in addition to your coverage time spent on your wedding day. This does not happen when the photographer shoots in JPEG - a compressed format as the camera applies set effects at the time of taking the photo. They are far less amenable to post processing.
Make sure your photographer shoots in RAW as this allows for tremendous flexibility in post-production even though it is a very time consuming process.
This can take anything up to 6-8 weeks depending on the photographer and how busy they are.
So, some questions you need to ask are:
Are photos shot in RAW format?
How many photos do I expect to get?
Are they in HI RES or LOW RES format?
Will I get the final processed photos?
Who has the rights to the photos?
Can I print photos myself?
How many photos do I get in my Wedding Book?
How long does it take to get my Wedding Book?
Just know what to expect as you don’t want any surprises
STEP 7. Know your rights
Make sure you have all your questions answered. Photographers own the rights to the photos. That means the photographer can use them for promotion on their website, blog, or even place them in advertisements. It also means you can only share photos that are watermarked with the photographer’s logo or credits. That also means if you want to print any of the photos yourself or get a Wedding Book or Album developed from another source you will have to buy the rights to these images.