Hiring a wedding photographer isn’t the same as booking a car service or buying a loaf of bread. You’re hiring a creative person whose own style will shape the wedding photos you receive. So how much direction should you give your photographer? It’s a tricky subject, and I was pleased when Mark at Evolve Photography got in touch to share his advice.
All wedding photographers have individual styles, some (like me) are more documentary and their skills are observational: seeing and capturing things outside the box, creating a narrative, emotive photos that have context and feeling; capturing real moments – timing is everything.
Other photographers veer more towards contriving fun compositions. Not to say that documentary photographers are grumpy but those comedy shots of the bride out-drinking all the groomsmen, or the bridal party being chased by a dinosaur? That’s just not our bag.
Sure I will set group photos up, I totally understand the need to make sure you have a few shots of your family together all looking in the right direction, but these tell you nothing of your day.
I will also take couple shots – you’ll be encouraged to forget I am there and be “natural” whilst I am fully aware of the foreground, background and lighting.
So I am not a purist documentary photographer, but then not many are, and not many couples would choose photos that have had no intervention from the photographer at all. As a documentary photographer this would be my dream job, to be hired to document the day from start to finish with no intervention at all, but it would take a brave couple to issue this brief.
When you sit down to choose your wedding photographer together keep this in mind. No quality photographer can be all things. Choose them on their strengths and ultimately be secure in your choice and let them shine.
How much guidance is too much?
Presenting your photographer with a set of photos that you like or a Pinterest board could backfire so think about it before you do so. The photos are not from your wedding, and if you are choosing a documentary photographer then you will get the best out of them by letting them do their thing.
You chose them because you loved their work, their portfolio and their style so don’t stifle their creativity by giving them a brief.
Sure you might want to scope out the locations with them or let them do this on their own, you might want to talk through any “must have” family shots but I know if I have been shown a set of photos prior to a wedding with the brief “I love these” then those photos and compositions are always in the back of my mind, and whilst trying to emulate them to keep my couples happy my creative side might overlook something much, much better.
Your wedding is unique, so be prepared to be amazed at how unique and beautiful your photos will be with no direction or brief.
And if you haven’t seen any spaceships or dinosaurs on your wedding photographer’s website don’t surprise them by requesting a style that is alien to them!
With thanks to Mark at Evolve Photography for his advice.