Now that's a great question and I have a great answer.
It may seem a conflict of interest having a wedding photographer give advice on choosing the right photographer for your wedding. To a degree you would be correct. After all, I would be crazy not to want you to book my services. Wouldn’t I?
I really enjoy photographing couples who love ?? my images and also who like me as a person. Not only does it make my day enjoyable, knowing that my clients appreciate and value my photography but also connect with me as a person. The upside for the client is if they truly value me professionally and personally then they will be more responsive and positive towards me on their big day. That can only help in capturing couples in their best light and at their most relaxed state. This only make for better images.
After all, on your wedding day, you will be spending more time with your photographer than with your family and closest friends. So it only makes sense that you will want some kind of positive vibe towards your photographer.
All my time in wedding photography I learnt that there are two types of photographers. 1) Business people who go into photography and 2) Photographers who go into business. Similar words, two very different meanings. I consider myself the later.
More often than not I have found that the companies that employ a team of photographers and offer fairly generous looking packages are generally the “Business People that go into Photography”. They work on volume to make a profit. More often than not it’s just a business to them. They may have packages that are hard to understand, even for myself. Or worse, packages with hidden costs.
Then you have the photographers who shoot alone that may also have a second shooter to carry the bags. These are “Photographers Who Go in to Business”. They may be a little more expensive, but they are with you from start to finish. From the initial consultation right up until the delivery of your album or digital files. You may strike it lucky by finding a photographer that is just starting out who produces great work and has generous packages. Who are charging less than they are probably worth, simply to build a reputation and portfolio. But even then, the newcomer doesn’t have the experience and haven’t been subjected to many possible unexpected situations that unfold at weddings.
The sole shooter takes great pride in their own work. They are the type of people who can not bring themselves to trust anyone else. They know everything is on them. It’s their business and they look after it like it’s one of their own children. No one will ever care for your own business as much as you do. So when you are the owner and photographer, you care just as much about the photography as you do about the business.
Lets say you walk into a large wedding photography studio that hires a dozen photographers. Chances are you won’t know who will be shooting your wedding until a few weeks out from your wedding. Just as important, you won’t know if you connect with the photographer who will be photographing your wedding.
All the images on their walls could have been taken by any one of their shooters. The images on their walls and in their portfolio albums have been hand picked from the dozen shooters to represent them as a company as a whole. Meaning from all the photographers at their disposal, they are bound to collate enough great images to put together a portfolio. Again, that doesn’t mean that the certain images you like in their portfolio will be taken by the photographer that will be photographing your wedding. For all you know the photographers whose images you like may well have moved on.
On the other hand, when the sole shooter shows you their portfolio you know it’s their images and they will be the one photographing your wedding. You have a better representation of how your final images will look.
The big companies can also offer a second photographer to sweeten the deal. Thats great and all, but again, do you know who the second photographer will be? They could offer a dozen photographers to photograph your wedding but if some are straight out of photography school and the rest total newcomers without the knowledge and experience about everything that goes on at wedding then they really can be a liability as opposed to an asset. Keep in mind if the second photographer were very good, chances are they would be in business for themselves. Being paid their real worth.
Even if there are some seasoned professionals working for the bigger companies, what guarantee will there be that they will be photographing your wedding?
Now I am not suggesting that the larger companies don’t produce some fine work. They do. But it can be hit and miss, depending on who ends up being your photographer. You really need to decide if you are willing to take the chance in the hope of getting the photographer that connects with you personally and shoots the of style of photography you like, just to save a couple of hundred dollars.
The advantage of the sole shooter who is a seasoned professional. Meaning they have experienced virtually every possible scenario at a wedding. They can more often than not be a calming influence on a tense situation. When an unexpected situation arises, the season professional will know how to handle it. Things such as a sudden turn of weather, the season professional will know where to go. Even wardrobe malfunctions the seasoned pro will most likely have a solution. Generally it involves Hollywood tape ?? I think you get the point. Even in tense situations the seasoned professional will still be able to deliver images you will be proud to show off to your family and friends.
The four big questions you should be asking large wedding photography companies, or any photographer for that matter, including myself, is this.
1) Who will be shooting my wedding?
2) Can I meet the photographer who will be photographing my wedding?
3) Can I see their portfolio?
4) What is included in my package and are there any hidden costs? Be aware of the up sell, whereby, for example you will be given say 20 sides included in your album package. But they will design say 50 sides and then ask you to cull the pages or pay extra to have more than the quoted 20 sides included. That extra number of pages can equate into the thousands of dollars.
Wedding photography is one of the few things you have to get right, the first time. It’s not like say, buying a dodgy pancake maker that you can just take back and get a replacement or refund. The final product is the final product and no amount of photoshopping will correct bad photography. No amount of apologies from the photographer will make up for not getting along with them on your day, who just ruined the whole vibe of the day.
At the end of the day it is about your perceived value a photographer offers you. Value to you may mean quality work, first and foremost. It may mean the experience the photographer has and the peace of mind they give you. It may mean very generous pricing. As you may only want a very basic coverage and not too fussed if they images aren't much better than your guests photographs.
As much as I would love to capture your wedding day, my style may not be to your liking and that is fine. Everyone has different tastes. But keep this in mind when searching for the person that will capture the memories of one of the most important days in your life.
If you do like my photography and are searching for your ideal wedding photographer then lets talk. Make an appointment to meet and see if you also like me as a person. ??