I often see bridal magazine articles, blog posts or articles on wedding planning websites instructing brides what to look for and what to ask photographers before hiring one. They’re meant to help and some of them have good points and questions you really should ask, but a lot of them omit an important part of arranging your wedding photography in questions that don’t give you a way to find about the person who actually is behind the camera, what they’re trying to achieve or the way they’re trying to achieve it in.
For example “What do you wear to a wedding?”, “Can others take photos? How about at the same time?”, “What style are you…photojournalistic, documentary?” and the list sure does go on, ranging from useful to ridiculous.
While it’s important to first ask if they’re available in the first place, if you interview several photographers and ask them a vast majority of the recommended questions, a lot of them will get you the same response if you ask 2 or 20 photographers. The main objective is to see if this person is actually passionate about what they do. It’s important to know if they’re insured and what equipment they have. But you’re also spending a lot of time on your wedding day with them around so get to know them to find out if you’re happy with this and figure out if you can let go and trust them to capture your day artistically.
They don’t reveal much about the person and what their aim is. Defining a photographer’s work by pigeonholing it to one approach like photojournalistic, fine art or documentary would narrow their ability to convey their style in the first place as a lot of them can blend elements of approaches. You can tell if you like their style by the images you see and if you’re considering them you really should take some time to have a good look through their portfolio.
If you’re trying to figure out is how they are on the day and the best way of getting that answer would be to ask them to walk you through how they photograph a day or show you the full set of images from a wedding. Ask to see testimonials and reviews if you’d like as well.
Going through their blog posts or asking for access to a past client’s gallery to see the entire day is also a good option for figuring out if the style and their approach to the wedding is for you.
Here are a few questions and requests I recommend asking your photographer so you know if you like them as a person as much as an artist:
What’s your favourite part of a wedding?
Ask for advice on times or other little things. This will give you an idea of how involved they are and their knowledge.
What’s the worst thing that happened to them at a wedding or what’s the funniest? A time where they were caught off guard.
Why did they want to be a wedding photographer in the first place?
What do they do in their free time?
It’s important to know the standard information and I could go on with suggestions, but following on with questions like this will give you a clear insight into the passion of the person behind the camera. If you’re a bride looking for the best photographer for your wedding day, the best way to find them is to ask questions that allow them to reveal their vision. If you can be inspired by the person in front of you and connect with them you will not only find someone to document your wedding day, but you’ll have the confidence to trust on the day that your hard work in making a memorable day will be justly covered and it will be easier for you to relax in front of the camera. Someone being passionate about what they do doesn’t mean necessarily that they’ll not blend inconspicuously in the background, just ask about their approach and you’ll know for sure. If you want them to blend and you’re not sure if they do, you can always ask them or if you’re happy for them to be an active part in the day, just reassure them they can!
If you take anything away from this post let it be that finding a passionate photographer leads to more care and dedication to your day and the way you remember it.
Just for fun here are some old photos from behind the scenes some dating as far back as 2008:
Yes, I was waist deep in a little pond to get the image I wanted