Hiring a wedding photographer?

When it comes to planning your wedding, there are many things which can be daunting.  Hiring a wedding photographer is much more than asking the price of the package and what it includes.  Find out about their work of course to make sure they know how to take a great photo because you deserve better than average!  While finding out what you’re paying and what you get for are necessary, they aren’t the most important questions you should be asking.

With all weddings, nothing always goes to plan.  The flowers may not arrive on time, or guests get lost on the way to the venue, or you end up with a wardrobe malfunction which delays the ceremony.  Would you prefer hiring a wedding photographer who is calm under pressure with changes to the day, or having someone who ends up barking at the guests due to the delays and changes?

Building the trust

In this day and age where the entry to wedding photography is owning a DSLR, it’s essential to know the person behind the camera.

The first consultation with the photographer should be carried out like a first date.  Immediately from the meeting, it’s essential to build a rapport.  It is a different working relationship to one you have with an acquaintance at work.  At a workplace, you decide what personal matters you reveal.  Once work has finished, you wave goodbye to your colleague who does not know much about your personal life.  A working relationship with a photographer is very different.  You are inviting this person into your life.  You will be trusting them with the most important moments of your life and with your loved ones.  This is the person you wish to entrust with documenting one of the biggest and most important days of your life.

The trust isn’t about smiles and saying I trust you.  The trust is that you enjoy each moment and live it like it was your very last.  You want to laugh with your friends, you want to cry with your parents and you want to ride the emotional high of being a newlywed. During this time, without saying a word, the photographer works around you, sometimes close and sometimes from a distance, capturing each moment and emotion as it happens.  You don’t have to say a thing or think of whether it’s being captured.  This is the type of connection that needs to occur between the couple, family and photographer.

What inspires them about wedding photography?

By this, what inspires them to see each wedding and photo session differently?  You don’t want someone who has a cynical view from burning out in their job.  Being a photographer is more than having a job.  It requires great passion for life and for people to connect with you and your loved ones on the day to keep the energy rolling on your day!  The same energy is poured into remembering the little moments from the day and feeling it, as if it was happening to them as well.

Ask about how the photographer developed their style.

You are not hiring someone to push a button.  You are hiring an artist.  Much like a painter who creates artwork with paint, you are hiring a photographer who creates art by painting with light and using lenses as the brushes.  Did you know each lens shows colour and contrast differently?  Or that some lenses are more ideal for portraits while others are more ideal for landscape photos?  Not all lenses are built the same.   Someone who has been developing their style would have explored this.  It takes years of exploring to determine a particular style, not to mention that the style would still be evolving.  A style evolves through both having role models as well as exploring one’s own life.  The photograph has three voices – the subject’s, the viewer’s and the photographer’s.

How long will it take to shoot the formals?

It’s your wedding day and it will be one of the biggest parties you’ll ever host in your life.  All you want to do is enjoy it with your loved ones.  The last thing you need is to have a photographer delay you by not knowing how to use their gear properly.  Nobody is ever happy about missing out on the canapés and cocktails!

Obviously this is very dependant on your shot list, which is something that I always pre-plan with the couple.  This way, we move everyone in and out within a short period of time.  Bridal party photos and couple photos are dependant on each person’s needs.  The list is always planned and I tend to shoot with the book in mind.  Once we have enough, there’s no need to keep the couple waiting from their loved ones.

What’s the most challenging shoot they have been on?

You’ll want to know that they can handle a challenge.  Whether it’s a delay or a complete last minute room change at the venue, you need to make sure the photographer is able to handle the situation with a lot of grace.  Are they able to think on their feet and make the most out of a less ideal situation?

When a wet weather plan occurs and the ceremony needs to be held in a less than ideal location, will you still get great photos?  Or will you be left with disappointing photos reminding you of the unfortunate situation because the photographer was less than prepared and spent all the time grumbling about not being able to shoot in the open gardens?

This isn’t the most conclusive list when it comes to hiring a wedding photographer.  However, it is a list that will help you hire an artist who matches you and your family closer.

If you’re hiring a wedding photographer in Hong Kong, or anywhere in the world, contact us to see how we would answer the key aspects of hiring a wedding photographer.
Wayne is an active member of the Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA) and the Artistic Guild of the Wedding Photojournalist Association (AGWPJA).