...like really early! Like a year or more before your wedding date. Become a wedding photographer hound by asking couples you know for recommendations, checking out portfolios online, reviews, websites. There may be lots of amazing photographs out there but consider the most important factor: is the photographer reliable? Will he/she turn up on the day? Or at the last minute pull out or send a substitute? Check out their reputation. HOw personable is he/she? Your ability to connect with your photographer professional is essential.
BE OBJECTIVE AND CREATIVE
While looking at photos, start considering what moments and scenes you want to capture. What do you NOT want? It is the more reflective compositions, ability to capture moments, the consistent focus and depth of field that will make your wedding photo collection truly memorable. Are the folk in the frame looking frozen or is there a sense of animation and emotion?
In person, not just on the phone, by Skype or email. Once you have got your short list of photographers whose portfolio you like, whose price range fits yours and is available, set up a face-to-face. You are going to be interacting with them throughout the most stressed-out, important day of your life. Could you trust them with your friends and family? The chemistry and trust between you as a couple and the photographer is critical.
WHAT IS INCLUDED? WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?
You need to be clear on what is actually included in the quote and whether there are any extra fees. Most quotes and packages allow for eight hours from pre-ceremony prep through to the end of the reception party. But if you want shots of your grand finale or exit, you may have to book that in and it will be an extra and at an overtime rate. Double check. Also, do you want thumbnails of all the images? Or have you already got a very specific checklist?
WHO WILL ACTUALLY TURN UP?
Very busy photographers or large wedding photographer outfits will have several staff so the head one, or the one whose work you liked, may not actually be the one who is your actual shooter on the day. It is therefore critical that the photographer you interview and connect with will be the actual one who captures your wedding day. Some wedding photographer outfits include the option for a couple of photographers so you get a range of pictures: the formal receiving line and also the animation of guests during the drinks reception.
Make sure you have one and that it includes everything - from the date of the wedding, any pre-wedding meetings, the hours you require for them, post-production, worst case scenarios, name of the photographers, what’s included and what isn’t, meals and drinks - typed up, signed and agreed.
GET AN ENGAGEMENT PHOTOSHOOT IN
Or something pre-wedding so you can test-drive the chemistry and results. It may be worth the extra cost in the long run and you could even use it as a Save-The Date photo if you are ultra organized. It is a way of seeing what works and what doesn’t - especially if you don’t feel particularly photogenic.
DRAW UP A SHOT LIST
It shouldn’t be extensive - but it should include the principal shots you really, really want. You should also give your photographer notes or warnings about shy, awkward members, a photo of yourself at your most gorgeous and how you would like to be presented on your wedding day. Discuss your theme and the vibe you are going for.
BUILD IN TIME FOR CRISES, PROBLEMS AND DELAYS
The weather may not be predictable - nor the traffic. People certainly aren’t! Allow for major obstacles or drama. If everything runs smoothly, that’s great - no loss but, if not, you haven’t burdened yourself with extra stress of not having your wedding day captured fully.
FIRST LOOK PHOTOS
OK - the debate: do we or don’t we? Is walking down the aisle to take the vows going to be the first time you see each other? Or do you want to schedule your portrait photos before the actual ceremony when you are looking your most thrilled, excited and beautiful? It will also free up time afterwards for you to join in with the drinks reception.
DON’T BE SHY!
Even if you are feeling ridiculously nervous, chin up and smile! If you are looking pensive and sincere during the exchange of vows, head up. You don’t have to fake anything but you do have to show your face for the photographer to capture those moments! That is your responsibility. When you are blissed out, during the recessional, don’t bow your heads together like an embarrassed eloping couple. The photo will capture your hair then - not your faces!
RELAX AND ENJOY YOUR DAY
Don’t stress - let your photographer take over. Even if the weather goes crazy, it is his problem, not yours - that’s what you are paying him for. Don’t be always hunting the photographer. If you are, he won’t be able to take a photo of you sharing a private joke with your other half. Your job is purely to make the memories and awesomeness your photographer will capture…