So here it is: Happy New Year!!!
I guess a few lucky couples got engaged over the Christmas holiday (Yay!!) and now, it’s planning time!! A good way to start is to look into photography. So this week, we’re very lucky to have a guest post, written by one of the best London wedding photographer, Kat Forsyth.
‘It’s a big day, your wedding. You’re pledging a lifelong commitment to someone AND hosting the biggest party of your life. It’s epic, and tearful, and joyous. And all that stuff your friends told you about the day going by in what seems like five seconds? It’s true. It speeds by in the flashiest of flashes.
I know it’s a cliché and it gets said so much that it sounds like car salesman speak, but your photos really are the only thing you have left after the wedding is over (and, of course, your videography, if you’ve chosen to have that as well). And when your wedding is over, and everything seems to come back down to earth in a Monday-like state of depression, you’re going to want those photos. A lot more than you thought you ever would. They’ll be what you hold onto once the glitter of your wedding day has settled. And the last thing you want is to realise that you weren’t happy with the photographer you chose.
Okay, so you have to choose the right photographer. But how?
1. Style, style, style
Your photographer’s style is the most important thing you should be looking at. There are so many photographers out there that it can seem completely daunting to begin. But it’s actually a good thing. Use the plethora of photographer websites to find out what you like. Look at everything you can find – go all the way to page 100 of Google for “wedding photographers” if you want – and save every site you like. Don’t think about why you like it, just save it. Then come back to that list and go through them again. You’ll probably start to see a pattern emerging. Fashion-inspired or sweet and vintage? Moody portraits or light, fresh tones? Laughing couples or stylish poses? Think about which pictures you’d like to see yourselves in.
2. What will they do with YOUR wedding?
Once you’ve found the style you love, go back through those photographers’ past weddings (fortunately, almost everyone has a blog these days, so this is easy), and find wedding locations that look like yours. I don’t mean go back through five years of weddings and then give up if nothing looks exactly like your wintry, light-filled loft venue, but it’s no use falling in love with sunny woodland weddings in California, and wanting that same look for your 3pm indoor winter wedding in the UK. A photographer’s style should be consistent, but even they can’t change the natural light! So see how they tackle circumstances similar to yours, so you know what to expect.
Caveat: this doesn’t mean that if you’re a heavily-tattooed couple having a Pokemon-themed wedding that you should disregard photographers who have never shot a tattooed couple or a Pokemon wedding. It’s not about what they’re shooting, it’s HOW they shoot it. In fact, they’d probably be thrilled to photograph something different!
3. You like them, you really like them
Your photographer is going to spend your whole wedding day with you. A lot of the time – like during the ceremony – you’ll be all eyes on your almost-spouse, and you won’t even notice your photographer being a ninja in the background and getting those photos of everyone crying. But during portraits, family group shots etc, they’ll be front and centre, and they’ll be asking you things and telling you to do stuff. Even the most ninja photojournalist type has to interact with you at some point. So you have to like them. It’s a stressful day, and the last thing you want is someone who rubs you up the wrong way being there all the damn time. So I do recommend trying to meet with them, if possible. Have a Skype session if you live too far away.
Having said that, I shot more weddings this year where I hadn’t met the couple than ones where I had. It just isn’t as important to some people, and that’s okay – but it is nice to know who you’re going to be seeing a lot of on your wedding day, I think! Plus I like to have fun with my couples – I like to know they want to have fun with me, too!
It had to turn up some time, didn’t it? It’s a dirty word but it’s necessary, because obviously you’re forking out a lot of money for this event, and the photographer is yet another thing you have to pay for. But it’s a thing that’s worth prioritising, because it really is all you have to show for all the other things you paid for. I can’t advise you what to do, because everybody has a different budget and a different view of the value of things, but please, don’t skimp on photography! It will make the world of difference afterwards. Remember that you’re not just paying for someone to show up and take photos, like your friend with a camera could – you’re paying for your photographer’s creative eye, their knowledge, their experience, their equipment and backup equipment, and their artistic process when it comes to editing.
5. See all the photos
Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few photographers you love, ask them if they can show you a couple of full weddings. You want to see what you’ll be getting, right? It’s great that photographers are now showing lots of photos per wedding on their blogs, instead of portfolios of their 20 best images ever, but even if they show 80 and deliver 500, that’s 420 photos you’d like to see, to make sure they really do know what they’re doing! And what sort of stuff they’re photographing. For instance, I don’t put too many guest photos on my blog, but I do take a lot. My blog visitors might not be as interested in seeing scores of shots of people they don’t know as they would in seeing the emotions in the ceremony, or beautiful bride and groom portraits, or pretty details, but when it’s your wedding, you’ll want to see those pictures of everybody having a good time! Or you’ll want to make sure your photographer gets shots of every tiny detail you crafted with your blood, sweat and tears for a year before the wedding. Whatever’s important to you, make sure it’s something your photographer generally does cover. (I know, it’s weird that they wouldn’t, but after my wedding I didn’t receive any photos of my guests except for the dancing shots, and a friend of mine got incredible portraits of herself and her husband, but hardly any detail shots. It happens).
In a nutshell
Basically, the shortened version of the above is:
When you’re looking at wedding photographers, if you love their photos, if you can see yourself in those photos, if you like them as a person and can manage to afford them? BOOK THEM. The end.’
One word: WOW.
Kat Forsyth, is a London-based wedding photographer – and also musical geek, obsessed movie-list-maker… and chocoholic.
She lives in North London, but is often back in South Africa, where she’s originally from. At the moment she shoots weddings all over the UK, or even abroad, so give her a shout if you’re planning a destination wedding! She loves to travel.