Five Common Mistakes Couples Make When Selecting a Wedding Photographer

1. Not considering your own photography needs and personal style.

More than any other vendor, a photographer needs to “get” you and what you are trying to do with your wedding. They need to understand not only the look of your wedding, but your style. They need to understand your style of relating, both to each other and to your photographer.

For example, if you are very natural, low-maintenance, and don’t wear a lot of makeup, you don’t want your photographer Photoshopping you to the point where you look heavily made up. If you are having a modern, trendy wedding, vintage-looking treatments on the photos are going to clash with that! In larger urban areas, there may even be photographers who specialize in your style or wedding niche. Or, you can just keep your eye out for a photographer who takes time to get to know you, your wants and needs (and of course who considers those to be important!)

2. Not learning how the photographer approaches a wedding.

Distinct from the photographer’s style is their approach to shooting a wedding. What do I mean by approach?

Some photographers take a very hands-on approach to shooting a wedding. They want to direct and create every photo as a near-portrait. For some couples this seems natural. For others, it can be very uncomfortable.

There are also photographers (usually using the terms “documentary,” or “photojournalistic”) who take a fly-on-the-wall approach. They won’t interrupt the day unless it is absolutely necessary.

Many photographers combine the two approaches, or claim to, but most have strong leanings one way or the other. Ask questions to find out whether your photographer will need to direct most photos, or whether they will be able to capture natural moments (such as the getting ready photos and reception) without directing.

3. Not considering the photographer’s personality.

This gets said a lot, but it’s something all couples need to hear. You are going to be with this person for most of your wedding day. If you find them annoying, offensive, irritating… that’s a stress you don’t need.

4. Only considering the photographers’ personality.

This one isn’t often said, but it needs to be. There are lovely people out there who are offering photography services, and getting hired on the basis of a good personality, but the photography skills aren’t there. Some young photographers are even getting the advice that their skills are not important — only their personality is important. But couples want the entire package: a nice person who is also a skilled photographer.

5. Comparing apples to oranges.

There are photographers with experience, and photographers without experience. There are photographers with quality professional gear, and photographers with amateur gear. (Unfortunately, since so much of the amateur gear now looks like the professional gear to the untrained eye, it can be hard to tell the difference unless it’s also a hobby of yours.) There are photographers with high-quality work and average work.

There are photographers who know all about weddings, and love them, and there are photographers who do them “just for the money,” (as they will frequently confess to other photographers, but of course not to you!) There are photographers who offer superior products, and photographers who offer the cheapest products so they can keep profits high. There are photographers who return phone calls and emails promptly, and photographers who can be hard to reach when you have questions.

With all that, how can you compare? Honestly, though I know it can be hard to accept, one way is price. Photographers who know their worth tend to price higher. I say “tend” because of course there are photographers who have an inflated view of their worth, and are overpriced. By the same token, there are photographers who are worth much more than they are charging (I fear for them, too, lest they go out of business and deprive us of their greatness!)

The bottom line is that finding a photographer is a lot like finding the person you want to marry (though hopefully, it takes a lot less time!) When it’s right, you know it. When you fall in love, nothing else will do!

Architectural Interior Photographer Discusses: What Determines a Good Interior Photograph?

Interior Photography is the most challenging of all the professional genres of commercial photography. Every detail is critical; every prop must be correct and in just the right location; busy-ness must be avoided; things must be cleaned up and simplified; lighting can be challenging; and in addition to all that, one must understand how best to portray the “look and feel” of the space that architect of interior designer worked so hard to convey. The photograph will always be better than the reality! It will have clarity of vision; illustrate what your client is selling; have an atmosphere of light (usually created by the photographer’s lighting); be inviting; have a feeling of “presence;” have a clean and simple look; and it will have drama and movement.

Some simple rules to start with:

1). Define your client: Who is your client? The architect, builder or realtor will want to show relationships of the design to the space and the intention and flow of the design layout. The interior designer will be concerned more with the furnishings and the details of their design. Architects like drama and usually don’t mind some wide-angle distortion, whereas, the interior designer or the product photo my find distortion to be a problem. In any case, the distortion must be used judiciously – it has to contribute to the overall composition in an effective way.

2) Angle: The One point perspective or “head on” view is strong and symmetrical. The Two-point perspective may define the space effectively but pay close attention the how the space of the photograph is divided. The emphasis should be on 2/3 of the composition; don’t divide the space in half. For architects and builders, be sure to show significant design detail and take into consideration how the spaces work together. Don’t’ try to show too much – keep the viewer’s attention on important elements. A couple of good photographs are far more effective than a lot of weak ones. Go for quality, not quantity. Remember the adage: “Less is more” – wide angle doesn’t mean that one should show more, just because it is possible to do so. EVERYTHING in the photograph must hold it’s own weight and be accountable to the overall composition. Every angle, line and detail has to “work” in the photograph.

3) Height: A low angle foreshortens and can be very nice for some views, however, it is important to show the important elements of the interior also. Be high enough to separate the elements and keep the composition clean and clear. Avoid a cluttered look and having things “grow out” from the tops of furniture, etc. Occasionally a high view is required but usually I find that a little lower than eye level (if one is not too tall) is favorable and pleasant. The higher the lens, the more foreground distortion; A piece of furniture too close to the foreground (especially a round table) will become very distorted with a higher view. Often the foreground will determine the camera height. Having the foreground “fall” out towards the bottom edge of the photograph is very disturbing and must be avoided by either adjusting the camera height, camera position or moving the furniture back from the foreground.

4) Arrangement: After the angle has been determined, frequently the furniture must be rearranged to fit the format and perimeter of the photograph. Sometimes this may be subtle; other times it may be drastic. A pleasing composition and balance must be found and concerns such as distortion of furniture, tangents and “busyness” are addressed at this time. I always get the large pieces in place first and then work down to the smaller scale furniture from there. Everything must be perfect – from the direction and relationships of the furniture to each other as well as their relationship to the room. Always adjust everything “to camera” – the room setting may appear totally out of place from another vantage point, but it will look correct from the camera position and that is all that matters.

5) Props: The final details in the set are the arrangement of the props. I start by taking out all the clutter and then carefully putting things back or finding other elements that compliment the space. Bookshelves are rearranged to look more uniform and uncluttered, desks and work areas, totally cleaned up. I almost always add fresh flowers and plants to “soften” the look and feel of the space as well as books to fill space on tabletops etc. I like to have height to contain the edges of the image; taller plants can work well for that. Kitchens are particularly challenging to prop; they must look clean and orderly but also look livable. I frequently use bread, bowls of fruit, flowers, etc. Simple breakfast settings of orange juice, coffee bagels and a newspaper can also work well. Pay particular attention to chair legs – they can get very busy looking if not handled carefully. In corporate settings, conference room chairs should have the legs and wheels all going in the same direction, the chairs should all be spaced exactly the same – again – it may not appear that way from another position, but it must look very uniform form the camera position. A clean, styled uniform look, that is also loose enough to feel real, is the key to successful propping. One of the most important qualities that the interior photographer must have is patience as well as being extremely detail oriented. It is essential to have everything perfect; the direction of the cup handles; the arrangement of the flowers in the vase; the space between accessories on the table; lamp shades must be straight and undistorted; the color of the page in the open book. Every element in the interior photograph must “play” off and work with each other, as well as within the context of the whole.

6). Lighting: Good lighting separates the average photographers from the great ones. Light defines the feel of the space and it gives it a three-dimensional look. The trend lately, especially since the advent of digital photography, has been to use predominately ambient light. For some clients and under specific conditions this may be acceptable, however, compared to what good lighting can do for the scene, the results are very flat, uninspiring and “dead” My approach to lighting varies depending on the space and client, but my philosophy is consistent – I light to create a beautiful photograph; my lighting always enhances the space and I use my lighting to lead the viewers eye through the space and feature important details and design elements. A good photograph will always look better than reality. Sometimes my lighting will simply enhance the existing light, other times I will totally transform the interior or the exterior of the building. Whether the lighting set-up is complex or simple, good lighting will always enhance the overall look of the photograph; it will add highlights and shadows, separate tonality (especially with dark with tones and shadows) and emphasize texture; it will bring saturation to color and a feeling of LIFE to what would otherwise be a lackluster image. Regardless of how beautiful the space is and how well the designed lighting adds atmosphere – adding lights will ALWAYS help the scene. The only exception to this rule would be in very large spaces, and even, then placing lights in strategic spots can make a big difference.

As with anything else in life, in order for one to excel in a particular field one must be passionate about it. Photographing interiors is a highly specialized field and it is not for the feint of heart. An Interior photographer must be very detailed oriented, and have a love for and at least a layman understanding of, architecture and interior design. Often times the client will totally depend on your expertise, so one’s knowledge of what “works” in the interior photograph must be at least on a level as the professional whom you are working for. Personally, I find the blend of technical details with aesthetics to be very pleasing; every shoot is like solving a puzzle – the work never gets mundane or boring.

A Wedding Photographer’s Guide to Choosing a Wedding Photographer

For some time now, I’ve had a suspicion that all is not well in the Wedding Photography industry. I’m a wedding photographer and I know all the tricks of “the business”. I’ve also been on the other side of the business helping friends and family choose a photographer for their wedding (I prefer to party at my friend’s weddings!)

So, with some suspicions, I surveyed a lot of married people and was astonished to find that 71 % of people said they were not happy with their wedding photographer. This was much higher than I was expecting. Furthermore, an astonishing 85% of respondents said they should have hired a better photographer and would do so if they had their time again.

Read that again, 85% of people were so disappointed in their photos they believe they should have hired a better photographer.

Clearly, something is not right in our industry.

I think there are a number of issues, I think its partly bad photographers, partly good photographers not handling expectations well, and partly couples who aren’t, and have no reason to be, experts at understanding this industry.

So here’s a little guide, by a wedding photographer, on how to choose the right wedding photographer. Note there are a million other things to consider but these are what I think are the essentials, if you get these right you will be less likely to be disappointed.

1. Style

Style is in many respects the easy thing to get right. You’ve looked online, read magazines, started a Pinterest account so you now know that you either want a photojournalist style, an editorial style, a retro style. Most photographers will have one style that they stick with so choosing a photographer who shoots the style you want is as simple as looking at the style they normally shoot in.

2. Quality

The second, and in many ways most important, decision you need to make is about the quality of photographer you want. I’m not talking about style here (documentary, photojournalism etc), or cost, I’m talking about the quality of the photographer. How many great photos do they take across the whole day.

Here’s an attempt to capture the range of possible photographers for your wedding:

# 1. Uncle Tom. He’s always loved taking ‘snaps’.
# 2. Jane’s cousin Pete. He’s a keen amateur who might have even studied photography once.
# 3. A “professional wedding photographer”, found online.
# 4. A “professional wedding photographer”, found online.

Wait, aren’t #3 and #4 the same? No, no, and no! I’d say 50-80% of “professional wedding photographers” are nothing more than con-men and women who think buying an expensive camera makes them professional. Buying a scalpel does not make you a surgeon. Becoming a #4 professional wedding photographer takes years of dedication to photography. It takes commitment and passion and a constant desire to improve your art.

So how can you tell the difference between #3 and #4 professionals?

#3 will bambooz you with a flashy website full of good images from different weddings, they may have slideshows set to music, they will be slick. They will offer you champagne and expensive brochures.

#4 will bambooz you with a flashy website full of great images from weddings, they may have slideshows set to music, they will be slick. They will offer you champagne and expensive brochures.

Notice the difference? There’s a key difference there. #3 will show you images from different weddings. #4 will show you images (especially if you ask) from ONE wedding. That’s the key difference. A #4 photographer should be able to get good or great quality images across the whole day, not just one of two good images for the entire day.

At Mr & Mrs Wedding Photography our website is designed to showcase three individual weddings, one from a beach, one in a church, and another a destination wedding. We hope this gives our potential clients a feel for the quality across the entire day that they can expect to receive.

So, my #1 tip in choosing the right photographer for your wedding is insist on seeing images from one wedding. That will give you a feel for how many good quality images you are likely to see after your wedding.

Which leads me to expectations.

3. Expectations

The first thing to know is that photographers, even true professionals with years of experience, are not superhuman, they will not get award-winning, magazine quality images of every single aspect of your day from 8am until midnight. It just doesn’t happen. If you are expecting stunning images from sunrise to sunrise, you will be disappointed.

Most #4 photographers will give you consistently good images across the entire day and this is what you should be aiming for. There should definitely be some great images in there, the sort you will be proud to hang up on your wall.

I know of two immensely expensive US based wedding photographers. Both are at the top of their game, are in huge demand, and both charge over US$25,000 for their basic packages. I’ve seen a full set of images from a single wedding and I can guarantee you, if you paid that much money and expected every single image to be a prize-winning image, you would be really disappointed. Some images are truly magnificent, most are really good, a large number are just ‘snaps’.

If you end up with 5-10 magnificent images, 30-90 or so really good photos, and the rest nice snaps, then you should be happy.

4. Cheap

Cheap is always cheap. Repeat after me: cheap is always cheap. If you pick a photographer because they are cheap you can expect the quality of your images to plummet. This might be all you can afford/budget for but don’t expect miracles and don’t expect to be anything but disappointed (particularly if you hope to share the images with your kids and grandkids some day).

Do keep in mind though that your wedding is a once in a lifetime event (usually) and it might seem like a good idea to skimp on photography but really after the day is finished, apart from memories, all you have left is the photos. Imagine your grandchildren sitting down to look at your wedding album and seeing cheap photos. Is that worth it?

5. A recommendation from a friend

If you’ve seen you’re friends wedding photos (all of them) and like them then this might be a good way to go. However keep in mind a few things. 1) Did you see all the photos? 2) How long ago did your friend get married (has the photographer aged in energy or style) 3) Ask your friend what the worst thing about the experience with that photographer was – if they suggest irrelevant things like they didn’t like the package the images came in, then that’s probably fine, if the photographer missed a key photo, that’s not fine.

Don’t take a recommendation as proof that the photographer is everything you want for your wedding, refer back to points 1-4.

Conclusion…

Take these points as a starting point. There is way to find the right photographer for your wedding and I hope this helps in some way.