chantal stone photography: the blog

February 8, 2008

The Photographer’s Viewpoint: What I Look For In A Wedding Couple

Filed under: Photography,Weddings — chantal @ 1:15 pm

When planning a Wedding, most couples now cruise the myriad of wedding websites and blogs and there’s a TON of invaluable information out there. Among the lists, checklists, do’s and don’ts, and advice, it’s very common to find the “What to look for in a Wedding photographer” list. They all say pretty much the same thing. Here’s a great example found on Weddingmuseum.com:

from: “The Top 10 Things Couples Look For In A Wedding Photographer” by photographer Jack Saady

10. Negatives/Digital Files One thing that couples want these days is the opportunity to purchase or have included in their package the option to buy the negatives or (in the case of digital) the digital files. Many couples feel that they should be able to make as many re-prints as they would like, whenever they want. While many photographers do offer their negatives, many do not and feel that the labs that they use will be able to give a higher quality print rather than just taking a negative to the local drug store for printing. In addition, many photographers will sell their negatives after a certain amount of time, for example a year after your wedding date.

9. Black and White Everything old is new again. Almost all couples want a mixture of color and black and white. Black and white gives that photojournalistic look to a photograph as well as a fine art look. If your photographer is shooting digital, any photograph can be converted to black and white. If your photographer is shooting film then most likely they will be shooting with B&W and color film separately.

8. Unlimited Time When hiring a photographer couple like to have the security of someone who will be with them to capture all of the wedding moments. Having unlimited time can give you the peace of mind to know that those moments will be captured.

7. Experience Does your photographer have the necessary experience to handle the stresses of wedding photography? There are many things going on at once during a wedding. The experienced photographer knows how to bring everything together and in an orderly fashion.

6. Price This can vary a lot and price was not the main criteria in choosing a photographer. Prices can range from several hundred dollars to over $10,000. At the low end are usually people who do wedding photography part time. In wedding photography, you usually get what you pay for. As you go up in price, so does the “art of wedding photography”.

5. Professional Being a professional means many different things to different people. Those photographers who didn’t respond in a timely manner and/or who were rude (and amazingly, some are) were axed off the potential list immediately. Being professional also meant that couples wanted to know the photographers “style and philosophy”. Things that also bothered couple: rudeness, disorganization, insulting comments about other brides or photographers and other unprofessional comments.

4. Flexibility Brides put flexibility high on their list. To many flexibility is key. They said, packages are nice, but a photographer that refuses to be flexible, is not going to get very far with brides. Brides also commented that photographers get caught up in the OLD way of doing things, and never change with the times. Again, this relates to being flexible.

3. Style/Approach Today couples are looking for something different – artsy photojournalism, not the same cheesy photos. Brides are drawn to photographers who have developed their own unique (but consistent) artistic style/approach. Details are very important to brides. They appreciate a photographer who focuses on details.

2. Personality What can you really say about this. It is obvious. When you spend upwards of 10 hours with someone on an important day like your wedding you had better clique. Brides often said that they “just knew” when they met their photographer that they were right for each other.

1. Listen And the number [one] thing that kept on coming up […] that brides wanted from their photographer was that they “LISTEN”. This means that a photographer really heard what a bride said before they started speaking about the next topic. This is really important because it is the ability to understand what a client wants that will make a photographer really deliver what a bride was expecting.

I agree with this list 100%. The Wedding photographer is the one vendor (besides the wedding planner, if using one) with whom couples will spend the most time. And the relationship continues well after the ceremony, when it comes time to ordering and delivering prints, designing Wedding albums, etc. And if you really click with your photographer, then you’ll likely hire her again for future family photos, baby pictures, etc.

I’ve heard horror stories from people who have said their Wedding photographer was rude, did not deliver what was promised, who’s style ended up being totally different from what was shown or described at consultation. It’s upsetting because there are so many AMAZING wedding photographers out there who work hard to raise the industry standard, and it only takes a handful of bad apples to make things difficult for the rest of us.

I particularly agree with #6 in the above list. “In wedding photography, you usually get what you pay for.” That’s it right there. Let’s face it, all photographers have to start somewhere. And most of us usually start off 2nd shooting for a more established photographer, doing weddings for friends, or shooting weddings for $500 based on a craigslist ad. And there’s a definite market out there for that price range. Some people simply can not afford the 2-3K average price tag for a professional photographer. But when you hire a professional with a killer portfolio, who’s invested in his photo-education, who shoots with pro-grade equipment, and who offers tons of experience, don’t expect him to shoot all day, and offer tons of prints and extras for the same price as the craigslist guy.

The bargain photographer can very likely be a diamond in the rough and you may very well strike gold when hiring him/her. But remember this: Good photography is expensive, yes…but to be a good photographer, and to offer a quality product…that’s expensive too.

The most important thing for me though, is simply a good fit, a connection with my clients. So here is my list of What I Look For In A Bride & Groom:

  1. FUN. I laugh a lot and joke around a lot. I love what I do and have fun doing my job. I need a couple who is interested in having fun in front of my camera, Camera-shy is okay, as long as there’ a willingness to try something new.
  2. EASY-GOING. I’m not a particularly traditional photographer. I like to push limits and do new and off-beat things. I love couples who are up for the unexpected and not bogged down by traditional expectations.
  3. SEE VALUE IN WHAT I DO. This goes back to #6 above. I need a couple who sees the value in good photography and is willing to pay for it. Most couples I meet agree that my prices are VERY affordable. And most couples that I’ve worked with will agree that I spend a lot of time with them, giving them much more than they expected. And I do my best to customize packages that suit a couples needs and desires, within their budget. But unfortunately we all still run into the occasional couple who wants the $5K package but at a $600 price tag.
  4. GREAT TASTE. First and foremost, I’m an artist. And I like pretty things. And I LOVE couples who are fashion-forward, who have an eye for style. It’s my goal to provide each and every couple with wedding pictures that are fit for the magazines, to give images that are beyond their expectations. If you can provide me with right details and settings, that’s butter!
  5. FLEXIBILITY. This is key. I do my best to work within the time-frame and parameters given to me by the bride & groom. But what I need is time. Often, couples I meet will have already seen my portfolio, either through my website or through a friend who’s Wedding I’ve photographed, and they love the many, MANY images that are provided, and the relaxed, unforced, story-telling quality that they have. This is achieved when the couple gives me adequate time (either before the ceremony or after, usually just an hour or so during really great light) to really capture the essence of their love. I want to give each couple amazing photographs that will make their friends’ jaws drop. I need for my couples to be flexible when planning their day to allow for the time to do this.

So that’s that. I think I can speak for most wedding photographers when I say that our needs are simple. I do this because I love it. I love Weddings, I love beautiful and unique photography, and I love to make people feel great when they see how gorgeous they look in their pictures. You don’t need the $50K wedding, or the ornate decorations, or the expensive venue. But if you want great Wedding pictures, then you want a photographer who’s invested in making you feel good and look fabulous. Hopefully, you’ll agree that that’s me 🙂

**if you like this article and look for other tips in choosing your Wedding vendors and ideas for wedding planning, then be sure to check out the new Wedding Feature to premier next week on Blogcritics Magazine.

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