Becoming a professional wedding photographer is the stuff dreams are made of! Just imagine … beautiful, well-dressed clients; breathtaking locations; phenomenal food; and glistening, sun-kissed days. The rose-colored glasses that tint everything ‘wedding’ to a newly engaged set of lovebirds is the same that lures would-be wedding photographers into the marketplace by the dozens … both have much to learn.
My best advice to both the fiancées and the photographer … consider the wedding photographer’s role in the wedding equal to the role of the guide in a trip through the Amazon. It really isn’t such a far-fetched comparison.
First, you need someone who knows the land and can communicate with the natives. An established wedding photographer will have likely worked with at least one, if not a majority, of your other wedding vendors. This existing rapport between the individuals providing services for the bride and groom is so important. One event in the ceremony blends effortlessly into the next when every professional behind the scenes can anticipate the others’ next move.
Similarly, a veteran photographer will take many factors into consideration when packing equipment and tools for the event. All of the mishaps, mistakes, and oversights common during the learning curve in the photography business are conveniently whittled into wisdom and boy scout-like preparedness.
Next, you want someone who is a visionary … and … can get things done. There are many opportunities during any given wedding for things to get sideways, and fast. Your photographer spends the most time with the wedding party throughout the event, and that photographer effectively becomes your tour guide for the day. You had better be sure to hire someone who has answers to the ‘who’s?’, ‘what’s?’, and ‘when’s?’ that you don’t anticipate. A photographer who has shot many weddings will nimbly escort you from the get-ready phase all the way to the reception at the end of the rainbow.
It takes an organized artist to hold the wedding schedule together and coordinate events so that the couple isn’t rushed unnecessarily and guests aren’t left waiting.
But what good is timeliness in a photographer without artistic flair … without vision? A comfortable photographer will draw out the personality of the couple and enhance it. The lighting, the sky, the small details that set off a spark of emotion, the energy of the individual and collective moments; An expert eye knows to expect magic and finds it everywhere.
Finally, you must have someone who will bring you to the end of your journey safely. Timely photography is about telling a candid story, in this case, your love story.
The ideal photographer will allow you to be at ease and enjoy the adventure your wedding day … all the while guiding you smoothly to the end.
The direction a couple receives from the photographer should be subtle enough to not feel forced, but bold enough for the couple’s true personality to shine. When you look back on your wedding you want the memories to be of the joy you experienced during the trip. If you have hired the right photographer you will remember them throughout the day, but will scarcely remember being photographed.
You could hire any number of guides to photograph the story of your precious wedding day, but choose wisely. Do not be lured away from the quality you desire by the promise of dramatic savings. Ansel Adams said, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” Ultimately, the photographs are the visual momentos of your day. Hire a business-minded artist. Hire a professional. Most importantly, hire a photographer you trust to capture and retell your wedding day story in your voice and with your flair.