There are two things that I think of when it comes to wedding photos and videos.
The first is a scene from the movie Love Actually where the character Juliet is complaining about her wedding video: "I've just tried the wedding video and it's a complete disaster, it's come out all blue and wibbly. All I want is just one shot of me in a wedding dress that isn't bright turquoise."
The second is from my first wedding. I was adamant about my husband-to-be not seeing me in my dress until I started down the aisle, so we'd arranged with our photographer that we'd do all the separate pictures (bride's family, groom's family, attendants, etc) before the ceremony and the 'together' pictures after the ceremony. We both have big families and a lot of them attended the wedding, so pictures after the ceremony were taking awhile. A concerned person came to where we were having the photos taken and asked the photographer how much longer it was going to be as people were having to leave the reception without seeing us. Our photographer turned to the person and said, "I'd get done a lot faster if people wouldn't keep interrupting me."
Even though I was inwardly cheering at my photographer's words that day, I realize it was a very unprofessional thing for him to say. If I'd talked to someone whose wedding this photographer had worked, I may have found out that he could be a bit snippy, and slow.
1. Get recommendations from former clients.
Whether it's a friend that raved about the photographer from her wedding or actually calling some of the photographer's clients. Google the photographer. Look them up on Angie's List. Whatever it is, don't go in blind when hiring a photographer.
For my second wedding, I worked with someone that used to do professional photography. She did the photography for us at no charge and gave us the negatives of all the photos so we could get the ones we wanted printed on our own. The pictures were gorgeous, with a lot of candid shots that were fun to see...except...most of the candid shots had either the groom or myself holding a cigarette (we've both stopped smoking since then), and we had very few of the 'traditional' shots with family members.
My daughter got married last year (2013) and, to keep costs down, asked a couple of relatives that are good photographers and a friend that was looking to build her portfolio, to photograph the wedding. The pictures we have are beautiful (that's my daughter in the photo at the top of the page). Everyone sent their pictures to us in digital format so we can print out the ones we want. However, my daughter neglected to give any of the photographers direction on who she wanted formal pictures with. At the end of the day we realized that there were no pictures of the bride and groom with her father's family.
2. Make sure your photographer has a list of specific poses/photos that you want.
Most professional photographers will ask about this in your initial consult with them. If your photographer doesn't ask, give them a list anyway. It will avoid a lot of hurt feelings and regrets. It will also take a lot of stress out of the day, knowing that your photographer knows what you want and you can trust them to get it for you.
Those are the two best pieces of advice about wedding photographers that I can give you; get reviews/recommendations from other clients, and make sure your photographer knows exactly what photos you want taken. You can find lists of questions to ask before hiring a photographer on wedding websites like Wedding Wire and The Knot, or in any bridal planner book. Use them, they are fantastic guides for hiring a photographer, but it really boils down to the two things we talked about in this post.
Please comment with your thoughts on this subject, funny and/or disaster stories of wedding photography, or frustrations you've had in hiring a photographer. The first person commenting on this post will receive a coupon code for 5% off of an order from my Etsy store (including custom orders).
Thank you. I'll continue the 'planning with less stress' series next week!