There are SO many photographers out there these days. We have come to a time in our lives where it is easier than ever to get into photography thanks to digital cameras and camera phones. With so many options, how do you know what to look for in a photographer?
If I were looking for a photographer for my wedding, these are the things that I would look for.
Do they capture emotion?
It's easy for most photographers to get an in-focus image. Or an image that is lit well. Or an image that is composed nicely or edited with a cool filter. But does it hit you right in the feels? Do their images capture the emotion of the day or the moment? When you're looking at a wedding photographer's website, they will have their BEST images posted. If they are failing at capturing emotion on their site, they probably won't do it on your wedding day. I would want someone that captures all of the emotion of the day so that when I looked back 20 years later, I could feel it all over again.
Does the couple look comfortable in their photos?
I am the first to admit that I'm not super comfortable in front of a camera. So, if someone is going to take my photograph, they better be able to make me forget that the camera is there and get me to feel comfortable. People often make comments about how candid my photos are and how they don't look very posed. In reality, I pose couples all the time. When they are comfortable and enjoying the moment, they forget that I am there with a giant camera and lens. Comfortable couples lead to genuine photos.
Are their photos TOO posed?
As a professional photographer it is my job to make the people in are photos look good. Most of us aren't born with this innate ability to pose well for photos. There are occasional couples that look a lot better standing next to each other than most; but It is rare. So, I pose everyone. It's more or less just me instructing a couple how to stand and what to do with their hands. If I'm not careful, it can look TOO posed. Wedding photos used to be very posed and we have moved away from that. There is so much more emotion in a candid photo, in my opinion, and the posed photos should feel more candid than sculpted.
Have they shot many weddings?
I was recently looking back on the first couple of weddings that I photographed. They are not very good. I initially didn't want to be a wedding photographer. I started getting asked to shoot weddings by friends who would see me post photos on social media because they knew that I had a decent camera and that I was interested in photography. It took me several weddings and lot of learning and asking for constructive criticism to get the hang of it. Every year, I am able to see progress in my wedding photography. I'm always trying to learn. Do you need someone that has shot 100 weddings? No, but, they should have several under their belt. Ask the photographer how many weddings they have shot and ask them how long they have been taking their wedding photography seriously. Are they a full-time photographer? They don't have to be but it helps to know how many they shoot in a year. There is no correct number but experience does go a long way. Even if they shoot something else professionally, weddings are a whole different adventure.
Do you and the photographer click? (Pardon the pun.)
Can you think of a time you were at a wedding and the DJ was really awkward? DJ's are typically there for around four hours but can have a huge impact on the vibe of the evening. Can you imagine having a photographer who was annoying? They are with you anywhere from 6-12 hours on one of the biggest days of your life! You should ALWAYS meet in person or at least Skype with your photographer before you book them. If they can't make you feel comfortable when you meet, how comfortable are you going to be throughout your wedding photos? Would you be ok with them following you around all day? How comfortable will they make your family feel? Are they genuine? Do you trust them? You can really only get a good feel for these sorts of things if you meet them in person. Get to know them. If I feel comfortable with a photographer as a person, I'm going to warm up a lot quicker during photos.
With everyone having a friend or a cousin that is a photographer these days it is more important than ever to ask these sorts of questions. Wedding photography is an investment and arguably the most important one on your wedding day. 20 or 50 years from now you want to be able to look back at your photos and feel all of the emotion of your day. By asking these questions, it'll help you ensure that you have genuine photos that you will love forever.