Today’s guest post comes from Nicole of Sorella Muse Photography, a Los Angeles wedding photographer who specializes in photojournalistic, fine art wedding photography, with an abundance of whimsy, creativity and natural light…who also happens to be our marketing copywriter! We're not kidding when we say that she's a woman of many talents!
Amidst the flurry of decisions that have to be made while wedding planning, choosing your wedding vendors is daunting. These are the companies whose services and products will help fulfill the vision you have for your wedding day, and there are seemingly endless options for venues, planners, caterers, florists, and of course photographers. You have probably heard the refrain that when there is nothing left of the cake or the decorations, when the ceremony and dancing are just memories, the only tangible thing that will remain are your photos (Sidenote: my foodie sister thinks the most important decision you will make is the cake, and judges every wedding she second shoots with me according to moistness, frosting, and filling.) So it’s fair to say that choosing your wedding photographer is one of the most important wedding planning decisions you will make (aside from the cake of course!)
But how should you go about choosing a wedding photographer? If you search Google for “wedding photographer” literally thousands of local search results will come up which is beyond overwhelming! And once you have found photographers either through your Google search, recommendations from friends, or wedding blog vendor guides, how do you decide between the wedding photographers you are considering?
After narrowing down your search according to style and price, I suggest you look for an awesome fit. Your florist will drop off your bouquets and your caterer will serve the dinner, but your photographer will be there from the moment you curl your lashes in the morning through the tearful moments as your mom zips up your dress, from the moment you say I do through the dancing, merriment, and fun sparklers exit. For me, great photography happens when I’m not photographing “clients” but friends, couples who I love hanging out with and whose love stories I care about, and that happens when we click in that initial consultation and spend time together during an engagement session. One of my brides even dubbed me her honorary seventh bridesmaid! Whether you find someone’s work that you love right away or are deciding between a few, I hope these questions prompt conversations to help you find a photographer who will be a great fit with you and your fiancé.
1. How would you describe your photography style?
You have likely encountered the terms photojournalism, fine art, editorial, modern, and traditional as you have conducted your wedding photography search. Most wedding photographers are actually a mix of these. For example, a photojournalist is someone who documents the day as it unfolds without interfering to pose or set up shots, but most wedding photojournalists these days will take posed couple portraits or ask you to stand in the spot with the best light while you put on your dress. Rather than focusing on the definition of these terms, ask a photographer what any term they identify with means to them and how it shapes the way they tell the story of your wedding day.
2. What’s your approach to shooting a wedding?
Continuing on the previous question, make sure you understand how their style impacts their approach to shooting. Are they a fly on the wall photojournalist who only does any posing or arranging during couple and family portraits? What is their goal in posing: to create fine art or dramatic compositions, or to create situations that lead to natural and candid moments? Do they photograph wedding details in a photojournalistic manner, or do they arrange details in an editorial manner for magazine-like compositions?
3. Can I see two full weddings you have shot (preferably of similar wedding types/venues to mine)?
It’s important not to judge a wedding photographer’s work on the 30-50 best images they have chosen for a blog post or online portfolio. By looking at an entire wedding, you can get a feel for the photographer’s consistency, for their ability to deal with different lighting situations, and ensure that you love how they cover every part of the day, from getting ready to posed family and couple portraits to the candid party photos.
4. Do you have liability insurance?
This is a simple question, but one you should be sure to ask. Every professional wedding photographer should have liability insurance, plain and simple.
5. How many weddings have you photographed?
Great wedding photography takes both a creative eye and technical expertise. Someone who has 20 years of experience isn’t necessarily a better photographer than someone who has 2 years of experience, but it is good to get a sense of how many weddings a photographer has done. Wedding photographers need to be able to handle the unexpected and capture moments that happen in the blink of an eye, which takes a thorough knowledge of their equipment, preparation, and experience shooting weddings.
6. Why are you a wedding photographer?
Personally however, I think this question is more important than how many years or weddings someone has shot. Is this a photographer who thinks of photographing weddings as a way to pay the bills, or is it someone who absolutely loves weddings? Trust me, there will be a difference in the photos if your photographer views wedding photography as a “job” or as their creative passion.
7. How would you describe your post-processing style?
The three most popular editing styles right now are clean, matte, and high contrast. Clean editing is natural feeling, organic, and minimal. Matte editing is more of the vintage filters/film look. High contrast editing uses really vibrant and saturated colors for a punchy, more dramatic look. One isn’t better than the other, it just depends on what fits with your style and vision. Every photographer should edit for exposure and color in every single image, but most only hand retouch (think blemishes, bags under eyes, distracting objects, skin retouching) images that you order as prints or in albums, so be sure to ask about this as well.
8. How do you plan on lighting our wedding?
A popular term in photography right now is “natural light photographer”. This means that the photographer works with natural light to create images, unlike a studio photographer who uses artificial light. But a wedding in a dark church or a reception hall will almost certainly call for some kind of artificial light, so be sure to see examples from the photographer’s portfolio of similar weddings to feel comfortable about your photographer’s lighting ability. I don’t like the look of flash and think that natural light creates luminous, natural, romantic images, so I don’t bring it out until the last moment, when all the light has left the sky, but other photographers use their flash throughout the day for more dramatically lit pictures.
9. What’s included in your packages?
Every photographer organizes packages differently, so make sure you understand what’s included. Does the package you’re considering include an engagement session? Enough hours to cover everything from getting ready through the reception? An album? The digital files?
10. Do you bring an assistant or second shooter?
There are many benefits to having a second photographer at your wedding (which I’ve written about more in depth here and it’s worth asking your photographer if this is something you can add on if it’s not already included in your package.
I hope these questions help you find the best wedding photographer for your big day! But keep in mind, ultimately it comes down to two things: Do you love the photographer’s work, does it make you feel something? And, do you click with the photographer, will you be happy to have him or her with you throughout your wedding day? After the bouquet has been tossed and the cake has been eaten, the photos will be the only tangible thing left from your wedding, so make sure you are going to love them!
-- Nicole, Sorella Muse Photography
We all know that with the beauty of a wedding can come overwhelming stress, especially when it comes to memorializing that special day. The photographs of a wedding are not only images of the day's beautiful moments, but they are the means by which all emotions and memories flood back to you when reminiscing years into the future. Thanks to Nicole, we can make the planning process a little easier for ourselves or a friend or family's upcoming nuptials!