If you’ve just stumbled upon this post as a newly engaged and somewhat giddy couple, then CONGRATULATIONS!!!! We are absolutely thrilled that you have landed up here on Rock My Wedding, and trust me, you are in very safe hands. If you’ve not already read our editor Fern’s guide to Five Things To Do As Soon As You Get Engaged then I urge you to head over, and come back once you’re ready to tackle the photography.
Finding your perfect wedding photographer may seem like an intimidating task, and whilst I want to reassure you that we’re going to arm you with both the information and confidence to make the right decision, it’s not going to be a super quick, tick it off the list kinda job. This one is going to take a little more time, but when the end result is the images which capture your story and will be looked back upon for the rest of your life together, the initial investment of time is absolutely worth it.
Before we get to the nitty gritty, I want to hammer something home which I hope will stay with you for the duration of your photographer picking period. It’s probably rather bossy, so sorry about that, it’s the Leo in me. Your wedding photography is about the style that YOU as a couple like. It’s not about what looks best on Instagram, or what will get the most likes. It’s not about inspiring others, or inducing envy, or heck, even about pleasing Great Aunt Doris. It’s not about what you should have, but what you want. Whilst blogs may not contain wedding after wedding of formal, posed traditional shots, if that is what you love, go with it. Follow your heart. If you can’t imagine anything other than a beautiful coffee table book packed with the soft, delicate toned images of the fine art style then don’t try and shoehorn yourself and your Pinterest board into something dark and moody just because you think you should.
FIND YOUR STYLE
Finding the style which naturally appeals to you both actually isn’t that tricky. The first stage is research; the RMW archives will become your best friend. If you like one wedding by a specific photographer, have a look at more of their work. Bookmark weddings you love, and save images you like, detail captures which make you swoon and jaw dropping couple portraits all onto a Pinterest board. Once this board starts filling out you will soon see a pattern emerging. We find that almost everyone will radiate to one or two styles more dominantly. If there are two styles appearing don’t panic, one will probably have more of a natural affinity with the style of day you are planning. You should also start to see a pattern of shot styles which are most important to you. Candid shots of families and friends, stunning couple portraits, formal group shots, inspiring details.
So… your Pinterest board is looking surprisingly cohesive, and you’ve been pinning furiously throughout every lunch break, but what actually is this style you seem to be loving?
Film vs. Digital
Digital is now the most common type of shooting, and you will find some photographers who will shoot in both digital and film. Which you prefer is a very personal decision.
Digital photography is almost without limitation; and will undoubtedly mean you are faced with a larger selection of imagery, within a quicker time frame. You may even see sneak peeks the very next day. Your digital photographer will be able to explore almost all light situations, adjusting to changes immediately.
Shooting with film is, as expected, more expensive due to the time for processing, and the equipment used, however images shot with film have a rich, organic quality to them which though often tried to emulate digitally, is easily identifiable. Consider that dark light situations are harder to handle on film, so think about your venue, timings, season etc.
Once you know whether you’re a film or digital kinda couple you’ll need to know what that style is you’ve been pinning the hell out of.
Documentary / Reportage
Documentary style photographers capture the day as it unfolds. They will anticipate special moments, react quickly and capture genuine emotions as they happen. The style itself is candid, approachable and spontaneous, so they will make everything look its best but there will be minimal intervention. Whilst documentary style photographers pride themselves on being unobtrusive they will have the confidence to direct in a quick and friendly way to ensure you don’t miss out on a mantlepiece shot for your mum. The photographer will want you and your guests to relax and have the time of your life, and your images will reflect that story. Do bear in mind that a classic photojournalist will not capture any posed shots.
This style is about creating art at every turn. The term Fine Art was once reserved for images shot on film, but has now evolved to include hybrid and digital photography too. Buzzwords aren’t usually my thing, however I can’t help but mention “luminous” when it comes to this style, I don’t think anything else defines it quite as well, although dreamy comes a very close second. There is a certain softness and romance to fine art photography which utilises beautiful natural light to tell the story of your day. Every element of pretty will be captured, thanks to fine art photographers’ amazing eye for details, and a warm pastel colour palette often presents.
Moody & Dark
Artistic and dramatic, this photography is not for the faint hearted. The contrast of this moody style when shot digitally can sometimes be mistaken for film photography, as it has the depth of hue and richness. We’ve always been fans of naturally lit wedding photography here at Rock My Wedding, and this is no different, however the light is played in a contrasting, rich way. If you like pastel shades, and bright pops, this probably isn’t for you, but the timeless, film like quality makes for beautiful story telling.
Traditional & Classic
One image springs to my mind when I think of this style. It hangs in my grandparents’ house, and is them, in the very early 1960s, posed in front of imposing, grand windows at their luxe venue. It’s classic, it’s striking and it has stood the test of time. The style has evolved somewhat, and you will find classic photographers watching ordinary moments unfold, before recreating them to style an amazing shot, however they are not captured organically like the reportage style. The photographer will be directional and experienced, so will capture everything you expect, from the family shots to the styling.
FIND YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
You’ve found your style and you know you’re looking for a photographer who will capture how your day felt, not just how it looks. Now, how to find them….
Your research may have identified a few photographers who you really love, which is great, but it may have just narrowed down the style for you, so your first step is to consult a trusted source. We would recommend our exclusive wedding supplier directory, The List. We’ve worked with endless photographers, and know what makes a good one. On The List you will find handpicked photographers who will cover pretty much every corner of the world, and capture your day with care, love and attention. We pride ourselves on the fact that some of the very best photographers in the world are put in touch with their couples through the directory, and this will be no exception. Head back to the bookmarks of your favourite weddings and seek out more work of the same photographers, then check out their websites, and blogs. Soon you will be left with a handful of professionals who’s work and ethos you love.
Check your shortlisted photographers won’t completely blow your budget (though we are sometimes advocates of that!) and are available, and then arrange to meet each of them. Whether face to face, or virtually, one of the first things to ascertain is can you spend all day with this person? Honestly, you need to get on, they’re a guest at your wedding and you’ll be spending a lot of time together. Are they going to put you at ease? Are they as excited about your vision for the big day as you are? Have they shot your venue before?
Dig deeper, ask to see entire weddings, from start to finish, rather than just a carefully curated selection. You should expect to see everything from getting ready shots, to dance floor rug cutting. You want to know that your final edit will be made up of a good mix of people and details shots, and have a consistent style and colour story throughout.
Share your plans with them; your Pinterest boards will help them to really understand what your plans are, and how you anticipate them being captured.
Once you’ve met with them all, sit down and start the decision making. We recommend something bubbly to support this. Please do let us know which photographer you’ve decided upon in the comments below 🙂 Good luck!