Choosing a wedding photographer is often a confusing process. You want to find someone who will take nice pictures, but how do you know what to look for? Between all of the different types of photography, cameras, films and all of the different personalities of photographers, it can often seem an impossible task. This guide will discuss styles of photography, film and how to choose a photographer that has a personality you can live with.
Selecting A Style
The first point we will touch on is style of photography and pictures. There are many different styles which photographers use, and the decision rests upon your tastes. The two most popular styles used in wedding photography are “photojournalistic” and “portrait”. The two most common styles of pictures used are posed and casual.
The portrait style photographer should be able to take both posed/formal shots and casual shots. Generally, a photographer who uses this style will take more posed shots than casual because his/her experience has shown that couples’ tend to buy more of these shots. This is fine if you are such a couple, but you may run into problems if want more casual shots than posed. One way to find out if a photographer uses one type over the other is to look through his/her portfolio. The photographer that uses a photojournalistic approach usually takes shots that are not planned, and because of this they are usually casual. Often a photographer using this style has experience in journalism (newspapers, magazines, etc.) photography. The shots taken are often spontaneous motion shots as well.
There is a third type of photographer as well. It’s harder to gauge what type of pictures will result though, for this type of photographer is not a professional, and often has no portfolio. Whether it is a friend or relative, this person is a “hobbyist” photographer who will offer to photograph the wedding for free (or very low cost). Your pictures may or may not come out as well as if you hired a professional, and the best indicator in this case is experience. Just as with any photographer, you should interview and get references.
There are two basic types of cameras that wedding photographers use, 35mm and medium format. There is some contention, even among professional photographers as to which is best. The 35mm cameras will give you a slightly grainier appearance if the photo is enlarged than the medium format will. Unless you plan on very large enlargements, the only one that will notice this graininess is your photographer.
Film – A Return To Black And White?
Film comes in color or black & white. Color is the most popular choice in wedding photography, but black & white is gaining a foothold. Black & white film will give you a more artistic looking photograph no matter whether you a prefer portrait or photojournalistic style. It also lasts longer than color film. Color is the more versatile of the two. Color pictures will give you a more accurate portrayal of your wedding day. They can be made into black & white prints, but won’t last as long as black & white pictures from black & white film. Photographers who use the photojournalistic style are more apt to use black & white film. The choice is usually made according to the couple’s tastes.
Another consideration is the speed of the film. Most photographers will already have a standard that they use in certain situations, and the couple won’t need to worry about the film speed. When using a “hobbyist” photographer, a discussion about film speed should occur. Since most hobbyist photographers use a 35mm camera, the focus will generally be on 100, 200 or 400 speed film. 100 speed is best in strong sunlight and is the least grainiest of the three. 200 speed is the middle ground and often used for partial sun or partial shade. 400 speed works well in low light. 400 speed is the most commonly used for wedding photography (by hobbyist’s) because it can be used for indoor shots or outdoor shots.
Your Photographers Personality
Wedding photographers have a reputation for being high strung and haughty. Not all wedding photographers are this way, but some are. Most couples are looking for a photographer that takes great pictures, but is also sociable while doing so. The best time to find out what personality your photographer has is in the interview. Ask pointed questions and gauge his/her reactions. If you feel as if the photographer is putting on an act for your benefit, he/she probably is. Trust your instincts! Ask for references and then follow up on them. Make sure to ask about the photographer’s personality. If the couple feels comfortable with the photographer and vice versa, it will show in the pictures.
The Perfect Portfolio – Beware!
Finally, always look through a photographer’s portfolio. In the case of a hobbyist photographer, look through albums of pictures that he/she has taken. These photographs will probably be the best that the photographer has taken, (or they wouldn’t make it into the portfolio) but should give you an indication of what to expect. Look for photographs where subjects are slightly out-of-focus, where attention is drawn away from the subject, colors are muted or too strong (lighting), streaks in pictures and so on. If you find any of these things, it’s likely that the pictures of your wedding day will contain some of these elements as well.