Picking Your Wedding Photographer
After five years of shooting weddings, I’ve decided to call it a day and concentrate on other projects. It’s been a joyous season which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and look forward to even more fun as I move on to kissing every corner of Africa with my camera.
I was ‘pushed’ into wedding photography by a guy called Mulika who saw my concert photos on Flickr. He called me up, met me and insisted I shoot his wedding. That was in November 2009, when blogging was for the techies and Facebook was photo unfriendly. Today, as I turn my back to the huge task of capturing memorable moments on the day when two become one, I’d like to share what I’ve learnt over the years when it comes to choosing a wedding photographer.
Gone are the days when wedding photography meant going into a studio with your bridal party, being lined up with some seated on the floor, others on seats and the taller ones standing, smiling and having your memorable day immortalised on cellulose. Nowadays, rarely will you find a couple trotting into a studio on their wedding day – the photographer comes to you and is by your side the entire day. They will be by your side longer than your parents, family and friends will be. This, coupled with the task given and role played, makes your photographer more important than your best couple. Allow me to explain.
Months of planning, meeting, budgeting and preparation are executed in roughly 12 hours of your entirety. Food, decor, tents, chairs, limos and all the trappings you’ve so masterfully planned will be gone as fast as they came. The only memory you’ll have of this day will come from what caught your attention which you will easily forget, and the photos captured on your wedding day.
Before wedding planning, there is a huge possibility that your photographer was a stranger. On your wedding day, you will give this ‘stranger’ unparalleled access to your life, charging them with the huge responsibility of helping you remember how beautiful your day was, from aunties and sometimes uncles singing and dancing, to the cute flower girls, to the love in both your eyes as you said your vows, to the joy and laughter at the reception. You will let this ‘stranger’ see you dress up – something that you have never let members of your family do, and even kiss at his / her command!
Just as you wouldn’t pick your best couple based on how they look while dressed up, I believe you shouldn’t pick your wedding photographer based on the quality of their work alone.
Last year, I got a call from a planner who wanted to make a booking for a client’s wedding based on my work alone. My recommendation is to meet the photographer and see if this ‘stranger’ can become a long term friend.
Long term because your relationship with the photographer doesn’t end at the first dance at your evening party. You will be meeting and talking with your photographer long after the decor is packed up and the 2,500/- per plate food digested by your guests.
Here’s a 3-step process which I hope will work for you.
1. Make the Call
After you have reviewed online portfolios and narrowed down to maybe four or five photographers, take some time to call them. You can tell a lot about someone’s personality by how they speak on the phone. The phone call could be a simple query to find out if they are free on your wedding day. If they are, ask them to send you a quote for their services. Usually by the end of the phone call, you will know if its someone you can work with or not.
2. Have Some Coffee
Once you review the quotes, decide whom you’d like to meet. At the meeting, don’t talk about weddings only, talk about life, interests, goals. Don’t let it be strictly business. This will help you know if this ‘stranger’ can be a friend for life. After the meeting, see if the photographer offers to settle the bill. Unless you had offered to from the beginning or own the restaurant, out of courtesy, I believe the photographer should.
3. Make Your Selection
After meeting your potential photographers, you should be able to pick whom you will entrust with the role of making memories of your wedding day last an eternity. It will be a newly made friend whom you will be pleased to see as you dress up and even get into conversation with, someone who will have won your trust so you know they will have your best interest at heart, and someone you won’t hesitate to recommend to the next bride or groom.
Remember, don’t pick your photographer based on quality of their work, but the quality of your friendship.