With the advancements of technology, even smartphones take amazing images. Is that enough to be a wedding photographer? Nowadays you can find a wedding photographer for any price budget - and with that being said, there’s a reason for their price. Most newlyweds don't know the difference so they settle for the cheapest option. We’ve compiled some pointers below on what you should look into when considering your wedding photographer, and how you can fit it within your price budget or your style.
1 The Love for the Art
Wedding photographers have their own unique signature style of capturing images. Let’s look at the most common styles below to determine which style is best suited for you:
- Contemporary / Traditional - this is the classic style whereby the photographer directs the shot before they take it. These shots are formal, structured, offers simplicity, and usually have a direct approach. It’s the style your parents used and probably your grandparents too. These photographers take charge on the day. Many photographers adapt this style when capturing group shots, placement of rings, or the cutting of the cake. A timeless style that shows intrinsic value for years to come.
- Documentary / Photojournalism - This is probably the most candid and informal style of photography that you would find. Photographers who use this style, capture emotions without you knowing it. Documentary-styled photographers shoot from a distance. You may not even notice them being there. They let their intuition take control to capture emotions as events unfold.
- Editorial - Like the name suggests, editorial photographers shoot images fit for a magazine. This style is fashion-orientated, expressing style in showing off bridal attire. Images have a “commercial” look as we often see in wedding advertising and bridal trade fairs.
- Portrait - This style encompasses close-up portraits of you, the bride. It’s the style that offers guidance whilst allowing you to express your personality. These photographers often enforce advanced skin re-touching techniques to make you look flawless.
- Fine Art - These photographers are aesthetically conscious and use their skills to express visions, messages, and emotions to the viewer. They place huge emphasis on angles and composition within artistic backgrounds to capture the perfect shot. It leaves clients breathless and often in deep thought. You can expect bright, airy images that have a unique colour pallette. Sometimes vintage colour-corrections are used to enhance moods and emotions. A style loved by people who love art.
- Dramatic - Upon seeing these images you will find creativity in the lighting used. There're strong contrasts between lights and shadows that engross the viewer’s attention. These results make appealing black and white images that many bridal couples love.
- Illustrative - Very similar to Fine Art, illustrative photographers encompass natural looks in your images. You would find yourself standing in beautiful landscapes, forests, oceans, and wildlife while your photographer creates surreal portraits.
This is a lot to think about, but not to worry. Most photographers have a combination of different styles and would be happy to accommodate you. If you can relate to their style of capture, then half your battle is won.
Below are examples of different styles. Some are different styles combined. Can you differenciate them?
2 The price
These factors below are what photographers use to build their sessions for you:
- Time / coverage - Photographers either charge an hourly rate or they package everything together a complete package. Their price is the professional fee their niche market pays. Wedding photography packages in Durban and most parts of SA vary substantially with pricing. You can hire a photographer from R2,000 for the day up to R150,000. I personally know photographers who charge the extremes of this spectrum. The price also determines how many bookings they will take for a year, which also indicates how much of time they will reserve for you especially if they shoot weddings full time. Ideally wedding photographers who shoot between 20-40 weddings annually would provide you with decent response times and a good service. They price their packages to offer exclusivity for their clients. It’s important to know your wedding budget in order to know how much to allocate for your photographer. In most cases clients reserve around 15-20% of their total wedding budget towards their wedding photographer. This could vary depending on your priority, so ask yourself how important your wedding images are to you to determine if you would sway from the 20% mark.
- Products - How many images would be delivered? Not to worry if you’re not receiving thousands of images. World-renowned wedding photographers who price in the hundreds of thousands all agree on the concept of “Less is more”. Having a few hundred quality images presents a better story compared to receiving thousands of images, which in most cases contain duplicates of what you’ve already seen. This is because of the 80/20 rule. In wedding photography 20% of all images captured speak more about the wedding compared to the remaining 80%. So when you have a USB filled with a thousand images, the likeliness of you finding the few that resonate with you becomes an exhausting task. Exhaustion will immediately take away that excitement you’ve built up to see the precious memories your photographer has captured for you. In our experience, we shoot an average of 1000 images per wedding (our style of shooting is Fine Art, as explained below). Our brides have select between 150-200 images for their album. 200 images is 20% of all the images captured - hence the 80/20 rule.
- Have a look at their sample albums to get a feel on how they would present your images. Are you pleased with the general flow and design of their sample album? How many images do they print on a page? Most photographers select an album supplier that works best for them, and the photographer would design the album before it’s sent off to the labs for printing. Photographers choose their best images for their websites, brochures, and sample albums so you may not get exactly what you see. However, trust that their style will create something unique for you.
- Editing / re-touching - This is the act of enhancing images on specialised software once they’ve been captured. A handful of photographers would not edit, and deliver the images as is. That is just a handful. Most photographers perform some sort of re-touching on images (a vast topic perhaps for another time). Knowing the technical aspects of re-touching is not important, what is important is that photographers still work after a wedding and photographers account for this in their costings. Take note that requesting for changes in backgrounds, objects, and people is expensive, as this requires advanced image manipulations that could take the photographer hours to perform.
- Logistics - Does their pricing include travelling to your venue, or is it inclusive? Hiring a photographer outside the area of your wedding can become costly, as you would pay additional fees for transportation and accommodation. Our recommendation is to go this route if you’ve really built a relationship with your photographer. These cases apply to destination wedding photographers. They have built a relationship with brides from across the globe, and those brides would not prefer anyone else.
3 The Relationship
An important factor is personality. Take the time to meet them and get to know them. Let them get to know you. You will spend more time with your creative team than any other service provider. Build a pleasant relationship in the early stages helps in the long run. Weddings are very personal. You’re not buying fruits at your local grocery store, you are investing in people who are about to bring together the biggest event of your life. Look at clients reviews and testimonials on their social media pages to know what most people say about their personality and service.
As creative and fun-to-be-with as wedding photographers can be, they are also providing a professional service, which means they run a business. Business etiquette is probably one of the biggest challenges in the wedding industry, and unhappy clients call wedding vendors out for not delivering what they promised. Remember to always ask for an official invoice, which states all the items or services you are receiving. Contracts are a must. A contract not only protects the service provider, but it also protects you too, if it’s crafted properly. Watch out for our future blogs as we will cover this in more detail.
So photography skills aside, how confident are they to make a contingency plan should something go wrong? On the wedding day you may not realise it, but is your photographer fully prepared? Would they have enough batteries on hand? Do they have back-up media measures in place? What would they do in an event it rains? Having an experienced Wedding photographer would cover all of these issues for you.
My final thoughts
Invest your time when selecting a wedding photographer. Narrow your choices to three, and then weigh your pros and cons with each one you meet. Once you’ve made your selection, trust that they will carry out all your expectations. We wish you all the luck in your wedding planning.