One of the most important vendors involved in a wedding day is the one responsible for capturing and preserving the special moments, from the quiet, intimacy of a mother buttoning the gown of her daughter to the loud, laughter-filled garter toss. Choosing the perfect wedding photographer is all-important, but a photographer is also hoping against hope that each of her brides will be well prepared and well informed, making the photographer’s job so much easier. Wedding photographers are truly professional wedding guests, and they have seen it all. We asked five wedding photographers who work in wildly different markets, from snow-covered Ohio to the sunny shores of Mexico, for their best piece of advice for brides-to-be and this is what they shared:
1. Get to know your own taste
Before even setting up a meeting with a photographer, it is a good idea to ask yourself what style of photography are you looking for on your wedding day. Generally, photographers have a signature style, and they are usually unwilling to drastically alter that from client to client, so choosing a photographer whose existing aesthetic matches yours is crucial. “I think the very first step for a bride and groom is to find out the type of photography they like,” said Cherlyn Wagner, a documentary wedding photographer in Oakland, California. “What resonates the most with you? Is it bright and airy? Dark and moody? Black & white?” Once you know what you like best, you’ll be able to find a photographer to match.
2. Set (and temper) your expectations
Monica Lopez, a Cancun destination-wedding photographer, said that she wishes more brides were open and clear about their expectations. Brides who are nervous about seeming like a bridezilla frequently fail to share style, lighting or pose preferences until it is too late or inconvenient to do so. Monica also said that spending too much time scrolling wedding photos on social media can lead to wedding photography disappointment. “We really cannot reproduce Pinterest images, as the lighting, setting, etc., differs and won’t be the same on their wedding day,” she said. Using Pinterest photos for inspiration is great, but not if you will only be pleased with an exact reproduction.
3. Learn about what really goes into wedding photography
All too often, brides will ask their friend with a fancy camera to shoot their wedding rather than pay for a professional photographer because of the expense, but this choice can leave brides dissatisfied by the results. “Photography is truly a specialty where you get what you pay for,” said Alicia Mink, a Southern California fine art wedding photographer. “I charge a minimum of $4700, but what you’re getting is the fact that I have my business license, insurance, top of the line equipment, amazing second shooters, etc.” That amount also covers the time spent editing thousands of pictures, and intangibles like education, experience and the abilities to coordinate a wedding day and communicate effectively with the bride and groom.
4. Plan an unplugged ceremony
We’ve all seen it before: the most stunning, candid wedding ceremony photo ever taken…only to be ruined by Uncle Richard holding up his cell phone in the third aisle to take a photo. Elisabeth Zantopulos, an Ohio family and wedding photographer, had a piece of advice to help brides avoid a slew of photos ruined by well-meaning family and friends. “Prepare your family before the wedding to have an unplugged ceremony,” she said. “There are so many beautiful moments, and photographers don’t want to miss a kiss just because a guest stepped in front of us to grab an iPhone shot.”
5. Once you’ve chosen your photographer, forget about the pictures and focus on what’s most important
Brides can spend so much time, money and energy in planning a wedding that they forget the true meaning of the event they are planning. Taylor Kaderly, a Northwest Florida wedding photographer, said that she often sees couples stress so much over getting the perfect pictures that they forget why having pictures is so important. “What makes your photos beautiful isn’t the lighting or the colors or your photographer’s editing style – even though as artists we like to think those things matter – but what really matters is that we’re capturing a moment in time with eternal significance,” she said. “The timeline can get thrown off, the weather can be terrible, and there can be literally nowhere ideal for pictures, but those photos will still mean more than any other investment you made on your wedding day. I wish more couples were so focused on their love that they don’t even have time to worry about how the pictures will turn out!”
Your wedding photographer wants you to have the very best on your wedding day, and by following these bits of wisdom from experienced wedding photographers, you can have the best possible experience with your most important vendor.