Save the Date: Photography
When you’re planning a wedding you’ll spend the preceding months thinking about things like paperwork, flowers, bridesmaid dresses, table plans and who exactly you’re going to rope in to sit next to the priest. Sorry Father.
All the little details will, at some point, seem like a big deal. However when the wedding is over, none of that matters, very little of it will be remembered and it will be like it never happened.
All you will have left of your wedding day will be the ring on your finger and your photo album. So herein lies today’s sermon – make sure you have a damn good record of the day.
True, the most important thing about all of this is gaining a partner and starting a lifelong marriage – that’s absolutely a given – but capturing the happiness and the joy and the atmosphere of that day and preserving it is so important. I see my own parents – 42 years married – looking at their wedding album and the look of utter peace and delight on their faces would bring a tear to a glass eye.
Many people – myself included – had friends take their wedding photos wanting to have a pal behind the lens and also save some money. For me it was a fantastic experience and a decision I’ve never regretted (though I can’t speak for my friends, I think they’re still traumatised). However, my friends – three in all – were a mix of professional and excellent amateur photographers, who were trained in photography, working in the field and had won awards for their work.
Think very carefully before you go down the route of asking a friend to take your wedding photos. I was so incredibly lucky to have such talented, professional friends but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s just a case of Mary being handy with the camera, or Uncle John buying a fancy camera and thinking he’s the next David Bailey. This sort of situation can lead to all sorts of disappointment and upset, for them as well as you.
A wedding day is a long, tiring day and capturing it isn’t easy; it’s not for the faint hearted. You also have to think of the editing process and putting the album together that happens after the Big Day. This is also a lot of work and something that really needs to be done right.
I’m not dismissing using your friends as an option of course – it can work out beautifully – but do think long and hard about it. If you go this way, speak frankly and openly with your friends about your expectations and needs for the day:
- Write out a list of photos you’d like, especially if there’s a photo you really want (just you and your gran together, for example) so that nothing is forgotten.
- Work out timings for the day and a time-frame for when the photos will be ready to be viewed.
- Make sure both parties are happy with the arrangement.
- Have a practice session in advance so you can get an idea of the style of photos your friend takes and see how you work together.
- Make sure they have a back up for their equipment in case one camera malfunctions on the day.
I loved having my friends behind the lens on the day of my wedding; I felt so much more relaxed than I would have with a stranger but part of this was of course because I was confident in their abilities. Once you’re happy and confident that a friend will do a great job taking your wedding photos, go for it. But make sure you’re sure.
If you decide to go for a professional photographer, it can be a lengthy process to make sure you get the right guy or gal. Thankfully the internet has simplified this somewhat; most photographers have a website with samples of their work so get Googling.
- Decide what kind of style you’re after – formal posed photographs, reportage casual shots or a mix of both. Do you prefer quirky, off beat shots, or full-on bridal beauty snaps?
- Ask for reviews on wedding forums/message boards such as Weddings Online to hear from previous brides who have hired the photographer you’re after.
- Ask to see full wedding albums, not just samples of a photographer’s work. Often on websites there’ll be a gallery of wedding photographs but not all from the same wedding, so make sure you see a finished product so you can ensure your photographer isn’t just showcasing his/her best work or a few lucky shots.
- Once you’ve narrowed down your list of photographers, meet them in person before you decide who to hire. It is imperative that you like your photographer and feel comfortable with them. There’s no point in hiring someone who takes beautiful photos but who makes you want to scratch your eyes out whenever you hear their voice. You could be with this person for 12 hours on one of the most important days of your life – make sure they’re nice!
- Get a contract including time-frame for delivery of album, price and payment schedule so that there’s absolutely no confusion.
- Get a good bang for your buck – haggle, haggle, haggle. Wedding photographers are expensive, there is no getting away from it, but you can and should strike a deal that you’re both happy with. Don’t accept the first price you’re offered.
All of the above applies to videographers as well if you decide to film your day. Get reviews, ask to see full wedding discs, negotiate the price, get a signed contract and make sure you like them before you hire them.
Now, enough talk. Look at all the lovely photos of me! Me! MEEEEEEEEEE!