How do you choose your wedding photographer? / by Karthik Rajagopal

Most wedding magazines & guides will give you a list of questions to ask your wedding photographer and they ‘ll trivial things like what is your style… how you work… what is the camera you use etc…

Let’s focus on those things which are important. Also, one should also know about what a photographer goes through in order to make an educated decision.

I put myself in the shoes of a client and tried giving some facts as photographer. Here are the answers:

1. How do I choose the best photographer from the basket of options?

First start looking at several photographsvin the web and facebook from different wedding photographers. Once you do this, you will know what photographers give and you can start shortlisting the kind of photographs that will match your needs and preferences.


 Roses

Roses

Once you've a shortlist of photographers, narrow it down to a handful of favorites, and set up a time to meet them. Make sure you're meeting with the person who will be wielding the camera at your wedding & editing your photographs, not a sales guy or studio owner. You have to, like, trust and get along with your photographer — that way you can leave the magic of photo making in the photographer's hands. Not only should you like their images, you should also like them! You'll be spending many hours with them during the course of your wedding.

 

2. How many photos do I get?

A typical candid wedding photographer gives about 150 photographs per event. Three hundred photographs may seem like a lot, but your wedding photographer is preserving all those little details and the moments you missed while you were mingling. Also, if your family insists to have record shots of the stage, do have a traditional photographer who will give those a fraction of the price of a reportage wedding photographer (candid). The traditional photographer will end up giving another 600 pictures from which you may pick about 200.

 Bride's Slippers

Bride's Slippers

 

3. I love those photos with the soft blurry backgrounds. How do you get that look?

You're talking about shallow depth of field. Photographers get that look by using professional lenses that open wide and are able to focus tightly on the subject.

 Makeover Bride

Makeover Bride

 

4. I found one photographer whose images look soft and pastel, one whose images look clean, and one whose images look like they were shot on old film. What's the deal?

 Grooms dress ironed by his friend.

Grooms dress ironed by his friend.

Every photographer has a different way of editing their images using computer software (Photoshop/ Lightroom). This is called "Post-Processing." Most photographers do some basic lighting and color adjustments, but you can also use editing software to create a unique look. Four popular styles right now are:

Natural: lightly processed to appear natural

Pastel: a low-contrast look with muted

pastel colors, similar to vintage film

High Contrast: a vibrant look with rich colors that pop

Monotone: Black & White and other mono tones like Sepia

It doesn't matter which style you go with, as long as you love it! You may like to tell the photographer about your preference before he edits.


5. Why is wedding photography so freakin' expensive?

This is the question I get every day. Wedding photography seems like easy money — work for a couple of days and rake in the cash, right? But most full-time wedding photographers I know carry over Rs 6 Lakhs worth of wedding gear and often work 60 hours a weeks. (Remember those 300 images from question #2? It takes several full days just to edit those.) Add taxes, software, computers, advertising, albums, repair, shipping, and studio expenses, and many photographers end up making less than minimum wage for the first few years of their career. Good photographers are artist at heart, most people do it as passion. Today we have people with varied experience and qualification whoe have resorted to photography as it is their passion.

 Couple after marriage at Guruvayoor

Couple after marriage at Guruvayoor

 

6. How can I make sure I look good in my photos?

Relax… Be yourself…Trust your wedding photographer. If you're cool, it'll come through in your photos.

 Old Malayalam scriptures on an attic, shot at grooms native place.

Old Malayalam scriptures on an attic, shot at grooms native place.

Leave some breathing room in your schedule so you don't feel rushed — I recommend a minimum 30 minutes for family and wedding party photos, and an exclusive outdoor shoot of couples on a relaxed day. Please do not combine couple portraiture with your wedding or reception.

Get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water the night before. Take it easy at your bachelor’s / hen’s party. Wedding-dayhangovers are not as funny as the movie Hangover :D

 

7. I keep hearing about "exposing" photography. Sounds painful. What is it?

 It happens in wedding... Its all fun!

It happens in wedding... Its all fun!

Don't want to hate your wedding photos? Here are the things you need to do NOW

The truth is, sometimes people wind up hating their wedding photos. While there's nothing you can do about it after the job is done…

Actually, yeah, it can be kind of painful. "Shoot and burn" is slang for photographing a wedding and burning it straight to CD without post-processing. It's usually super cheap — for a reason. Bad lighting isn't corrected, distracting elements aren't removed … The photographer doent bears any responsibility for his images. Digital files may be important to you, but find a full-service photographer who will edit the images and print reference proofs before handing over the soft copies.

And please, don't let the digitals rot on your hard drive. As a photographer, I want you to proudly display your wedding photos. It makes me sad when I think of all the photos that never get printed. Don't hide your wedding photos! I tell my clients to hang up a large print ort wo — when you're having a crappy day, it's great to look up in your living room and see a photo of an awesome day.

 

8. Should we do a "first look"?

And, um, what the hell is a "first look"?

 

 A stretch after the wedding at Guruvayoor.

A stretch after the wedding at Guruvayoor.

The first look is a chance for wedding couples to see each other privately before the ceremony. Two-thirds of my clients currently opt to do a first look. It's a great chance to get the wedding jitters out and spend a few minutes alone together. I find that first look photos tend to be some of my favorites. It's a real moment with real emotions.

Honestly, it's also a great way to avoid stress on your wedding day.  And many of my couples get to enjoy their whole cocktail hour because they got all of the photos out of the way before the wedding & on facebook. We call it the pre-wedding shots...


9. Do I really need a second photographer?

A second photographer can provide you with more images and a different perspective. Many of the top photographers only work with assistants who carry gear and help with professional lighting. If you need on stage pictures, it is better to hire a separate traditional photographer.

 A cool group shot a Wedding Reception at Hyatt, Chennai.

A cool group shot a Wedding Reception at Hyatt, Chennai.

10. How far in advance should I book a wedding photographer?

 

Many in-demand wedding photographers are booked even before 6 months. As it gets closer to your wedding date, it will be harder to book your first-choice photographer. So the faster, it is better!

 Smile in tears...

Smile in tears...

If your favorite photographer is unavailable on your date, don't panic. Ask them for recommendations — they will definitely recommend a photographer with similar style and a lighter schedule.

 

11. You can Photoshop that, right?

 Dads are cool with daughters

Dads are cool with daughters

It depends. As a photographer, I want to get everything as perfect as possible in camera. Posing, location scouting, and camera settings can "fix" most things before I even click the shutter. It's much easier to get the photo right than to fix it with Photoshop. Nevertheless, digital photography workflow is incomplete without post-processing. It is at this stage where the colour and presentation comes. And a good editor can make artistic coffee table book. Insist of getting good photographs as blown-out prints with minimal design elements… Trust me, they look gorgeous.

 

12. What motivates a photographer to give good photographs?

Love him… Respect him… Listen to him and be cool… A photographer needs nothing more than your recognition.

 Colours Express...

Colours Express...

Hopefully this clears up some burning questions about wedding photography — and makes it a little bit easier to find the perfect photographer for your wedding day.