Wedding Photography Planning & Tips
By Lisa Carpenter
Congratulations! You've found your truly beloved and sealed it with a kiss. You've chosen your outfits, booked the venue, informed the authorities, invited the finest, and dreamed of the big day. So now it's time for the fun stuff: the planning!
Let me be the little angel on your shoulder and, what the hell, the tiny little devil too and give you a bit of guidance on how to make your wedding day photography as spectacular as you could ever dare dream.
I'll provide a few stress-busting tips, words of wisdom and help you administer the lightest sprinkling of fairy dust to make the next few months, weeks or days (seriously?!) a whole lot cooler and calmer.
1. Find your photographer
Fairly obvious, yes, but the question should always be asked: What are your priorities?
Quality? Budget? Family commitments ("Uncle Buck's got a new camera for Xmas and he'd love to take your wedding photos....")?
Start by looking around. Whatever your requirements, there's nothing wrong with a bit of inspiration and there's plenty of that out there.
Bridal fairs, photographer's websites, glossy mags, recommendations from recently married friends, ask for help on your Facebook status and Tweet the hell out of the hashtag #weddingphotographersextraordinaire .
Wedding blogs (here's an example) are a great source of inspiration for engaged couples, photographers, florists and event stylists but, most of all, a wonderful platform for photographers to show off and entice you to their personal website.
Once you've got a couple of snappers in mind, it's time to think cold hard cash money!
Most of us mere mortals (not including swashbuckling Wall Street titans) have a budget of some sort but keep in mind that your photography should last for at least a lifetime, which is why you should consider your photographer very carefully.
Remember: bad photos will last forever. Possibly even longer.
Do you want to be the butt of Antiques Roadshow jokes a century from now ?
You can pay anything from $99 on eBay to more than $10,000 for a photographer.
The rule here is, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!
OK, so you get it down to a couple of people who suit your style and your budget.
Now let's get down to business...
2. Meetings, meetings, meetings!
Even the world's finest photographer might raise your hackles within five minutes of meeting. Best that this happens before the wedding day.
- Get rid of anyone that you're not comfortable with because you're going to be spending an awful lot of time with them on your big day.
- Make sure that, photography aside, you'd invite them as a guest. We're not talking dancing on the table and champagne guzzling here, but if you'd be happy to have them sitting next to Uncle Harold and Aunt Maude or, even better, at that top table, this person is a surefire hit.
- Sometimes, location doesn't allow for face to face meetings but Skype is a wonderful thing... get down with that techie stuff!
- See their final products: albums, slideshows, blog postings, wedding magazine features.
- Make sure to see a full wedding, from the earliest preparations right through to the first dance, not just their favourite portfolio images. Anyone can get a few good photos from a wedding. You want someone whose photos shot from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. will melt the very cockles of your heart!
- Does the photographer have insurance? What cover is in place should they (heaven forbid) get sick or have an accident that prevents them from photographing your wedding?
- Most importantly, is the person you've just spent all this time auditioning going to be the same person who shoots your wedding? Or do they have a partner who'll turn up on the day having never met you or discussed any of your plans with you?
- Finally, will they be working with an assistant and, if so, can you see some of their images? I have great faith in my second shooters abilities and am always more than happy to show images from their recent shoots with me. I'm putting my reputation in their hands and I trust them!
You're getting scared now, right?
3. Discuss what you want from the packages
I have three photography packages, ranging in price depending on hours spent at the wedding and the size of album offered. My packages are customizable and I believe this should be the case for everyone. (I'll await the hate mail from angry photogs!)
If you want fewer hours, a super-size album, a proof book, a disc, one of your photographers to be a dwarf in racing red knickers, I'll see what I can do. (Although red really isn't my color. And I ain't short.)
If your package includes a CD of images, what printing rights do you have and at what resolution will the images be?
Again, we're at the money stage. Think carefully.
Long after the cake has been eaten, the suits are bursting at the seams and the late night necking is but a distant memory, your photos should hold amazing memories that make you bawl happily when you open that album and that may cost you!