How to hack your wedding photographer

10th March 2014

How to hack your wedding photographer by Swift & Click Photography

Make your photographer work for you

This is brutally honest advice for potential brides and grooms to make sure you get the most out of your wedding photographer -regardless of how much you care about the photos and what your budget is.  As wedding photographers, and as a couple recently married, we know all the tricks and traps from both sides of the fence.

What to do:

1. Hire a professional.

I don’t mean someone with the appropriate “quality” ticks. I mean someone who’s main source of income is wedding photography. Someone who has a business, a following, reviews(which you should ignore) and recommendations (which they only put the good ones up). Just a facebook page? Not a good sign. No portfolio? Not a good sign. Busy season up ahead? Good sign. Had friends get married and happy with their work? Great sign. Your mate studying photography or your uncle with 3 flash cameras might be able to take the occasional amazing photo but taking hundreds of great images in a day and accurately representing what went on takes practice. Can’t get a professional photographer cheap enough? Change the wedding to a weekday (or the off season) and watch the prices drop.

2. Make sure you get on with them.

You are going to have to spend a whole day with this or these people. That doesn’t necessarily mean meet face to face, but at the very least get a feel for who they are as a person by looking at their website and emailing them. Meeting up is ideal (or a skype call maybe?) If they seem boring and old, they probably are. The more comfortable you are the more comfortable you will look. Also if you and the photographer have some mutual r-e-s-p-e-c-t going on then the photographer is going to be more invested in your photos and will likely do a better job.

3. Be realistic.

The pictures you see on peoples websites are a small sample of the images the photographer has taken.  At each wedding we take 3-5 thousand images, only a fraction of those go to the customer and only a fraction of those go to our website/ facebook page. Remember that what these photographers are doing is taking photos of you guys, your interaction. Sure it’s in nice locations and we give you a bit of direction but essentially THEY WILL PHOTOGRAPH YOU HOW YOU LOOK. You are not going to lose weight in photos or have a 2 inch slimmer waist. Even if wedding photographers DID do that level of editing, it destroys the whole love for what we do. We like capturing the real emotions and events that happen not just make a pretty picture for your wall. The memory of your day should come across in the images, and be like “Oh man, we love each other so much” or “we are so happy” not just “look how cool my suit was” or “what a lovely waterfall”. All of the above is even better. This is another reason to hire a professional- they’ll know the flattering but natural places to put you, and the flattering angles to shoot you from. (shoot photographically)

4. Smile and close your mouth.

Tell your wedding party to do the same! Well at least during the bridal shoot. Unless you want wide mouth frog photos all the time, we recommend a smile and a non-talking mouth. Of course, romantic whispers in the ear are fine, as are butt grabs. Of course, sometimes we’ll tell a joke (probably a bad one) and expect you to laugh. Other time’s we’ll tell you to talk amougnst yourselves. Other times you’ll just want to talk. That’s all fine. But in the back on your mind should be a little birdy reminding you that your default position should be not talking, smiling.

5. Look at pinterest and facebook. But..

With a grain (or 20) of salt. Of course check out the amazing photos that populate the net. Of course tell your photographer what you like. But, use those images as education FOR YOURSELF rather than for them (they’ve already seen them anyway!). What do you like about the image? Is it the light? Is it the way the bride is standing? The scenery? Think about the things YOU can do to take the parts of the image you love into your wedding day. This might mean changing the time of day for your bridal shoot if you like the light, or learning a different pose, or deciding to go to the beach instead of the forest. The idea here is to remove unrealistic expectations about the types of results you will get in comparison to your real life environment.

6. Discuss price.

Ask for a price list early on to make sure they’re in your ballpark. When it comes to bargaining, there’s no harm in trying for cheaper. If that doesn’t work (which it usually won’t), then try for added value. “Would you shoot for an hour extra” or “what about a trash the dress the next day?”. If it’s something the photographer can do on the same day, or something that’s going to be unique for their portfolio, most of the time they’ll say yes. Don’t be afraid to be cheeky, they can only say no (but don’t be offended if they do, and don’t let that affect your decision).

7. Let the photographer choose the bridal shoot locations.

They are going to understand more about light and environment, how to get a great shot, than you. By all means tell them “I want the beach” or “take me to the rail road tracks” but let them choose the specific spots within those parameters. Unless the spot has some personal meaning to you- then TELL THE PHOTOGRAPHER. They’ll love the significance. If it’s the place where you had your first kiss, or the place were you swam as a child, if it means something to you, tell them! If it’s just a pretty place though- you let them do the choosing.

What not to do:

1. Think that you’ll get your photos next week.

Post production- it takes time. Especially if the photographer is in high demand. Under a third of the time a photographer spends on you is the actual wedding day. YOU DON’T WANT THEM TO RUSH. Really, you just want a great result, and to get that, you’ll want the photographer to take their time making your images perfect. You don’t want them to rush it and get an inferior product. The wait times vary from photographer to photographer but I’ve heard of photographers taking 6-12 months! Just ask, they’ll tell you the turn around time.

2. Let people stand in the aisles, take their own photos during the ceremony.

This is a sure way to ruin the first kiss, registry signing or even walking down the aisle. So many times at weddings a guest will stand up or get into the middle of the aisle and start filming or taking photos- completely ruining the shot the photographer has lined up. Unless you like photos of peoples bums or close ups of the back of their heads we recommend telling the celebrant to inform everyone to just NOT TAKE PHOTOS. Or if you want photo by the guests then give them a few chances during the ceremony where they can come up and snap away.

3. Stress.

Just don’t do it. By the time your day comes around it’s too late to change anything much anyway, so just chill. Get a good nights sleep. You GOT to have faith, faith, faith. Us wedding photographers shoot 20-30+ weddings a year- we’ve seen a lot. Fainting people? yup. Abusive family members? Yes. Dead bodies being fished out in the background of photos? Yes. Rings being lost? Yes. And yet… we got amazing wedding photos. Which you will get too, if you TRUST your photographer. Same thing goes with the other people in your day (videographer, stylist etc) spend more time choosing, and once your decision is made, just TRUST and RELAX.

4. Repetitively contact the photographer.

Seriously, we don’t need emails every week. To be honest customers that do this get the skim read approach after about the 7th email; it’s human nature. Instead only talk about important things. Try and save up till you have a few questions at once. Remember that time is valuable, and limited. In saying that, make sure you do contact them if it is something you mind really important- Photographers have to absorb the costs of these consults in their package plans. But, most photographers will tell you what they need. Provide those things. Everything else? They don’t need it.

5. Think everyone has the same taste.

Photographers are all different people and like different things. Choosing a photographer is like choosing your new favorite band. Some might be technically skilled, some might be a bit qwerky, some will be plain cheesey. None of that really matters. The most important thing is not what your friends think or who got your attention first. The most important thing is that YOU LIKE IT. Don’t expect a photographer to alter their style for you- you don’t expect that from a band either. Instead choose the one that already fits with you stylistically and inter-personally.

6. Let your photographer overcharge you for prints or albums.

Of course if you can’t be bothered or aren’t super worried about your photos lasting for a long long time then you’ll want to go through your photographer for everything- prints, albums, coffee mugs. If you are everyone else though, you’ll want value for money and you’ll want control. The cheapest option by far is PRINT YOUR OWN PHOTOS. I highly recommend you do NOT use an online retailer for this. Just because printing them yourself is the cheapest option does not mean it’s the best option for you though- higher quality = pay more. However when paying large amounts do not just accept what you are told. Do research. Especially in regards to albums. The markup on some popular brands is 300% which is frankly, too much. Look at what’s available on retail, talk to your photographer about what options they have available and make an informed decision from there. For any larger sized print you’ll need to see your photographer though- they’ll have your large .raw files.

7. Change yourself drastically for your photos.

You want photos that are going to look like you (of course a beautiful version) but your same normal smile, hair colour, skin colour! You do not want to look like an oompa loompa drowning in a white marshmallow. You want to look like yourself. Similarly do not try and hide or coverup imperfections beyond what you would normally do. That birth mark you have? It’s rad, it’s unique. That curly hair? No one would recognise you without it! I guess the main thing is NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR FLAWS. Everyone is to busy worrying about their own. Instead of worrying about how you look, focus on being comfortable. A conventionally beautiful bride looking uncomfortable makes for a worse photo than a less conventionally beautiful bride who is loving every minute of her day.

Swift & Click

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