I have thought about writing this piece many times since we started Bride Vs Groom but I have always hesitated. The truth is that this has been a subject that has been addressed many times but rarely by photographers themselves. It seemed to me that it felt rather crass to talk about it; it is after all my job to photograph weddings and I didn’t want anyone to think I was writing to merely create interest for my own photography. It was only really after I got married myself that it occurred to me how useful this kind of information really can be to brides and grooms. I’m surrounded by wedding information on a daily basis and to me it was relatively simple who I was going to pick as my wedding photographer (and as it happens it was someone who shoots in a very different style to me!), but what if it isn’t as clear cut? What if you are going into the subject blind, never having been to a wedding and with no real knowledge about photography? What then do you do?
Not to sound too pretentious, but photographers are artists, and perhaps it’s easiest to think of it like going to an art gallery. There are thousands of artists, some with great critical acclaim and others perhaps known only locally. Each has their own style and each may be considered equally talented, but you wouldn’t go to Picasso for a nice family portrait and nor would you visit Da Vinci for something really kooky and out-there. It’s about personal taste, and you might need to explore the whole gallery before you find the artist that you really click with.
There are so many different styles and types of wedding photographers; and I would just like to stress straight away that one style is not better than the other – it is personal preference. Just because you prefer a certain style does not make that style better or worse, everyone has a right to their opinion and whether you agree or not is fine, just don’t think that your word is gospel because it isn’t. The world would be a dull place if we all thought the same and this is similarly true with your choice of wedding photographer.
So off the top of my head the various types of wedding photographers are *Deep Breath* traditional, fine art, alternative, vintage, contemporary, documentary, photo-journalistic, reportage, editorial … the list goes on. Also, to confuse matters lots of wedding photographers don’t see themselves as purely one style and type. Our photography for example is taken in a fine art style but we shoot primarily documentary with some portraiture and the odd group thrown in as well! So you can see that it can be a baffling place for the bride and groom!
But fear not, with many different styles comes lots of exciting options for you! We’re not ruled by one type of photography and I promise you somewhere in that list there is the perfect photographer for your wedding…. you just have to find them!
Famously the newly engaged Jasmine Star (a now very well known wedding photographer) looked through 68 pages to find the perfect wedding photographer for her. She knew what she wanted and she was determined to find it. Thanks to the internet it is now relatively easy to start looking for your ideal wedding photographer; gone are the days where you pretty much picked someone from the Yellow Pages who happened to live on your door step; now the world is pretty much your oyster and there are endless possibilities for you!
But how do you choose? Here are my top tips for helping you pick the style that is right for you…
- Put the effort in. Just remember that the fact someone’s top on Google doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best, sometimes it just means they’ve got good SEO (search engine optimisation). Don’t dismiss someone just because they’re on page 10!
- The style of website should instantly help you decide if this wedding photographer is right for you. Look at the branding… is it simple and elegant? Sweet and girly? Vintage and quirky? The branding should give you a good idea of the type of photographer you’re looking at immediately.
- Look for a blog. Nearly all good wedding photographers have their own blog these days. It is where we showcase our best and most recent work and you should be able to spot the style straight away. It’s also generally where you can see a full set of images from one wedding to show you the whole day rather than just the best images of lots of different Brides and Grooms. Seeing the full day is essential in order to know what your own day might look like in full.
- Look for the about us page. The about us page is incredibly telling for you: How is the text written? In a professional, clean style or a more friendly and sharing approach? The text will hopefully help you read the photographer and see if they are the right ones for you.
- Go through their main work gallery. It is incredibly important not to just look through the photographers blog but their portfolio gallery too. Why? Because those images have been painstakingly chosen by the photographer simply because they are their favourites. These are the type of pictures that the photographer thinks are best and are therefore the ones they will seek out on the day. These are the images that tell you precisely how that particular photographer sees the world. This is incredibly important to realise: You are choosing that photographer to show your wedding day through their eyes and their vision. They may be more drawn to those heartfelt emotional moments or to the iconic incredible lighting displays. Both different, both equally valid.
- Read the actual text on the website. Don’t forget to read the text on photographers websites, the way they have described themselves and their photography is vital. If they describe their work as “kooky and unconventional” then don’t expect traditional and documentary on the day. Expect deliberately chopped off heads and bouquets in front of faces and all that cool stuff that might not be another photographer’s bag. Fun and contemporary, unusual and alternative.
- See if the photographer has a video. This is a relatively new trend and not all wedding photographers have a video of themselves but if they do then watch it! It will (hopefully) show you first hand a little what they are like, how they approach the day and how they think about weddings. If you don’t feel a connection in the video then it’s less likely you’re going to have one in person!
- Have a meeting. It’s not absolutely necessary to have a meeting face-to-face (although I would always recommend it if at all possible) but do communicate. You need to feel like you could spend the day with this person, that you can relax with them and forget they’re there. You don’t have to be best buddies but you do need to feel comfortable sharing your special day with them. Skype, face to face, phone; however you want to do it!
Over the coming weeks I will attempt to explain the different style of wedding photographers and give you a more in-depth look into this crazy world…
But for now I want to leave you with a thought, and it goes back to the idea of photographer’s being artists. We wedding photographers don’t want you to pick us just for our price, we want you to pick us because you identify with our style and the way we see the world. We want to connect with you and make you excited about the wedding photographs. This can only truly be achieved if you and your photographer are on the same page and it is important that you keep this in mind. When I’ve felt that I’m not the right person to capture a particular wedding (for instance if they wanted a vintage or quirky photographer) I have always gently pointed it out and would hope other photographers would do the same. It would not be fair to myself or the couple to lead them down a path which is not right for them. If you really think about what it is that appeals most to you and talk to potential photographers about it then I guarantee you can find exactly what you’re looking for.
There is a lid for every pot, we all just have to find it.