Beyond Traditional vs. Photojournalistic
by Amy Wood
With a plethora of wedding vendors to consult with about your upcoming wedding, it's no wonder that the act itself of planning a wedding is a very stressful and daunting task. The trouble lies in deciding which vendors you will hire. For some brides, this will be a very simple and easy decision. For others, including the majority of soon-to-be's, this is a very difficult point in the planning process.
Some vendors seem to be obvious easy decisions. You either like their product, or you don't. Vendors such as videographers and photographers, however, fall into a different realm of choices to make. For those of you who may have contacted photographers and your socks weren't exactly knocked-off, I hold in my hand and heart some tips for helping you make an educated and heart-felt decision for yourself.
Anyone can take pictures. It's been proven by the millions of wedding guests per year who bring along their shiny, new pocket digital, or trusty disposable cameras. It has never been stated that a bride has to hire a professional photographer. If you are satisfied with friends and family snapping their own and you getting some prints from them, by all means, go ahead! However, if you are in the market for hiring a pro, there are some questions to always ask yourself.
First, do you want a traditional-style photographer or a photojournalistic photographer? You should decide what type of "look" or "feeling" you want in your pictures. A traditional photographer will photograph your wedding with a general sense much similar to that of formal portraits. There will be a lot of posed shots with family and bridal party, and even moments such as the first kiss may be re-staged to get the proper image. These photographers also offer traditional matted albums that include individual prints and may offer printed proofs as well. Photojournalistic photographers capture the wedding day with a candid approach, allowing the moments to unfold on their own, similar to the way a sports photographer captures the game as it happens. With this approach, some shots may be blurry to show motion, but virtually nothing is posed or staged with respect to any family portraits desired. These photographers offer contemporary storybook-style albums which feature many images designed as "collaged" pages. Styles vary greatly when it comes to photography. A consultation to meet with the photographer and view the artist's portfolio and options will best help you make a decision. Some photographers work with film, others in digital. This might affect whether your images will be all black and white, all color, or a mix of colors. Pay attention to the style and angles the photographer uses in their images. It's easy to decide for yourself if you like it -- don't let anyone make the decision for you based on what they think looks good.
Next, what type of personality do you want you photographer to showcase, and how much communication do you want to have between you? Do you want your photographer to be 100% professional, dealing with you only on an as-needed basis, or do you want your photographer to be more of a close friend to you, helping you make decisions in various stages of planning? Personality and good communication are very important if the latter is what you are desire from your photographer.
How much money do you want to spend? This question is actually very complex. What are your memories worth? Keep in mind you are paying for a photographer's time, skill, creativity, personality, and brand image -- not just your finished product. Photographers' prices have a wide range depending upon a number of factors, including where you live. Those who charge in the lower range may be newer in the business, they may be freelance photographers, or they may be undervaluing their product as the great artists they are. Don't immediately disqualify a photographer based on price. On the contrary, those who charge more may have been photographing for many years years but they may also be overcharging for "perceived" value and you may not get what you pay for. Whatever the particular case may be, although it's okay to shop around for prices and quotes, never hire a photographer based solely on price.
What type of items do you desire for your finished product(s)? Do you want an album for you and/or your family members? How about online proofing and ordering for out-of-towners who couldn't make it to the wedding? Maybe you want all of the digital files (negatives) to have your own prints made. Find out what the photographer offers and make sure you are satisfied with what you are paying for.
Overall, these tips should help you make the right decision for you, in hopes that the rest of your wedding falls into place accordingly. It's up to the photographer you hire to deliver the memories to you!