It may be hard to imagine now, but after many months of hard work and detailed planning, your wedding day will suddenly arrive… and zooooom! The hours will fly by in a blur of beautiful, moving, memorable moments. And after the cake has been eaten, the dress has been carefully put away, and the gifts have been opened – you and your new spouse will be left with the most precious gift of all: memories of your special day. There is simply no better way to capture and preserve these memories than with a collection of beautiful photographs that not only document the day and its events, but also embody the emotions and spirit of your wedding. Quite frankly, this is simply nota component of your wedding planning to treat lightly! Invest the time, attention and budget necessary to ensure that your wedding memories will be preserved for the future.
What’s your style?
Start by determining which style of wedding photography is right for you and your fiancé. Here are brief descriptions of the three main styles.
Formal or traditional. This style produces color, posed portraits of you and your groom, your wedding party, and your families, along with all of the traditional wedding moments such as the cake cutting and bouquet/garter toss.
Photojournalistic. This style is a popular trend in wedding photography, and it means your photographer will be shooting your wedding as if it’s a news event, capturing hundreds of candid moments on film. These photographers tend to use more black & white film, for a classic, timeless and emotional effect.
Artistic. Artistic photographers use a variety of special effects to create a dramatic, one-of-a-kind piece of art. Effects could include double exposures, hand tinting, special borders and much more.
Most photographers offer a blend of two or more styles, but tend to specialize in, and focus on, just one. If you like the photojournalistic style, but want some posed formal portraits to showcase your families or the day’s special moments, find a photographer that can comfortably do both.
So which style is right for you? The first step is to think about the end product: what is most important to you, to have after your wedding? Do you definitely want to have beautiful, timeless, color portraits of you and your groom that you can elegantly frame and display? Do you want a large number of candid, heartfelt moments – many captured in black & white, to document your day? Are you envisioning a one-of-a-kind, artistic piece to hang on your wall after the wedding that incorporates one or more images from the big event?
To help you, take a look at friends’ wedding albums, surf around professional photographer’s web sites, clip photos from magazines of photography that moves you, and spend some time in photographers’ booths at wedding shows. All of this research will help you zero in on what style of photography you seem drawn to, and ultimately, which one you want to use for your wedding.
How to find the right photographer.
Once you’ve established the style that is best for you, it’s time to find a professional photographer that meets your needs. Start the process by collecting referrals from friends, reviewing helpful resources like Premier Bride, attending bridal shows and surfing the Internet. Create a short list of potential photographers that specialize in the style you desire, based on their work and your budget, and set up an in-person or phone consultation with them.
Your goal at this consultation is to evaluate three main areas:
- Do you like their work? Be sure to see complete wedding albums along with individual photos, to get the best idea of the end product you can expect to receive. Also, be very sure that you know exactly WHO will be shooting YOUR wedding – and view their work, as some larger studios have more than one photographer.
- Do your personalities mesh? Of all your wedding vendors, the photographer is the one vendor with whom you will spend a good deal of time on your wedding day. You want to feel comfortable with this person! Even if he or she is a great photographer, if your personalities just don’t ‘click’ – you may want to keep looking.
- Do they fit your budget? It’s so critical to have a budget amount in mind before looking for a photographer, so that you can feel confident that the one you’ve decided on, and love, also meets your financial requirements.
The different parts of a photography package.
As you’re selecting your photographer, it may help to be aware of the various elements generally included in wedding photography packages. Most photographers also offer these elements ‘a la carte,’ or can create a custom package that specifically meets your needs – so be sure to ask.
Bride & Groom’s Album. There are a wide variety of wedding albums available today, and they vary in size, color, material, construction and price. When comparing different photographers’ bride & groom albums, be sure you’re noting the quantity of photos and in what sizes, to make sure you’re comparing “apples to apples.”
Parents’ albums. The parents’ albums are smaller versions of the bride & groom album, and have traditionally included about twenty 5×7 photographs. Photos should be carefully selected for each family, to create two (or more) custom family albums.
Extra prints. You will probably want to order extra photographs in addition to the main album and parents’ albums, for yourself or your parents to have some framed portraits at home, for members of the wedding party, and for other close friends and family members. Don’t underestimate how many prints you will want after the wedding, as this will definitely impact your budget.
Proofs. Ask your photographer how many proofs you will get, and in what format. They may be provided as small photos, in digital format, on the Internet, or on contact sheets.
Engagement photograph. This is a posed portrait of the newly engaged couple, which can be sent to newspapers with information announcing your engagement. You may also choose to put a framed engagement photo by the guest book at your reception.