From time to time I am asked for helpful advice and tips on how to choose a wedding photographer, so below I have compiled a list of what I would look for if I were hiring one, as my underlying goal with wedding photography is to shoot a wedding the way I would like my own photographed. This attitude is the secret to my long term success. I shoot every wedding as though it were my own.
So, here is my own wedding photography checklist and you will likely want to use it as well.
They MUST shoot in RAW: What is RAW? RAW captures the data from the sensor of the camera and saves EVERYTHING to the CF or SD Card. It relies on the photographer doing post edit work to get the best out of the image. The alternative is to shoot jpegs. Every photographer knows RAW yields the best results. Unfortunately most part-time wedding photographers do NOT shoot in RAW. They do this to save time, NOT to give you better photos. If I was spending a fair chunk of money on photography I would expect my photographer NOT to cut corners. That’s why your first question should be, “Do you shoot RAW or Jpeg?” If they fluff about this question, or tell you jpeg is just as good as RAW, they are either lying or ignorant. They are not worth your time. I put this first as if I were hiring a photographer and they did not shoot in this format I would cross them off my list immediately.
Do they capture EMOTION: Weddings are all about emotion. The laughter and the tears, the private looks shared only between the both of you…and the observant photographer. No matter how artsy an image is, if it is sterile and devoid of emotion it is a dud in my book.
Are they UNOBTRUSIVE: Your relatives will never complain I blocked their view of the wedding – BUT this is a rare trait in Malaysia. From what I have observed, many wedding photographers are inconsiderate to your families and friends by blocking their view of the ceremony for extended periods of time. This behaviour shows either inexperience and thoughtlessness. There is nothing worse than relatives complaining that they did not see your ceremony. The other thing I do not do is STOP the action. It’s obtrusive and not in the spirit of being a wedding photojournalist. A good photographer abides by this.
Are they courteous and friendly: On your wedding day you want the photographer to be a calming force, and if need be, able to make you laugh to lighten up tense situations. Read MY feedback. I fit in so well that many guests mistake me as a friend of the family. Cool!
Do they act normal: Please! NO Austin Powers impersonations. Many inexperienced photographers think body English will improve their photography. We have all seen them as they stand out. I don’t do it as it not only looks stupid, but it draws attention from you and onto the poseur. It’s YOUR day, not “the photographers shoot”.
Do they use professional cameras and lenses: This is difficult for you to ask about. I will tell you what I bring. You deserve the best, so I bring the best. Lenses and cameras are professional. This means you receive sharp, bright and contrasty images. We usually bring well over RM100,000 worth of equipment to your wedding. A hobbyist will likely bring a budget camera and lens, probably having spent less than 1/10th of what we have.. This compromises quality, something you do not want to do on your “once-in-a-lifetime” wedding day. My main camera backs up ALL of your precious photos while I am shooting. That is how important your wedding is to me. NO COMPROMISE. Enough said.
Do they give consistent quality: It’s your unrepeatable DAY OF DAYS so you need to be relaxed knowing your photography is in good hands. After all, your grand-children are going to see the photos 60 years from now! To give you this trust I have thousands of photos on-line covering every aspect of the wedding day. A wee tip: when viewing portfolios that rely heavily on heavily photoshopped portraits (bridal studios usually) ask to see actual day images as it can hide poor actual day portfolios. As for printing, I use professional labs and the highest grade papers available. This gives stunning prints when compared to the labs you are likely used to using.
Experience. If you were going to hire a musician to play for you would you be looking at someone who has been playing for 2 years, or would you get someone who has been playing for more than 25 years? Considering your wedding is a once in a lifetime event, compromising on experience seems a little silly. A bit about me, I have been shooting for more than 25 years, I teach wedding photography, and I conduct work shops. Unlike amateurs and hobbyists who charge minimal fees as they are hoping to build a portfolio, I do not use your wedding day as a “practice”. If you are intending this wedding to be a practice wedding, then by all means hire an enthusiast, but when it counts you need a professional.
Turnaround Time. Some photographers take 2-3 months to return the photos. Some even longer, and some unfortunately never do as they disappear! I have never understood great delays in the editing process. I shoot RAW, a laborious format to work with (BUT it gives you the BEST photos in the end) and typically I process the photos and return them to you within 2 weeks of the wedding and the album in 4-5 weeks from the actual wedding date! This is considered VERY fast turn around.
How long will they keep the photos? Accidents happen! Notebooks get stolen, DVDs break. I can alleviate that worry as I am able to retain your photos for years. I have couples approach me after theft, fire and accidental deletion. I still have the photos. They are happy and I am happy they are happy!
Budget: is getting the cheapest deal in town really a “deal”. I do not believe you looked for the cheapest dress, cheapest wedding venue, cheapest wedding cake, cheapest wedding car, cheapest banquet. I very much hope your husband did not buy you the cheapest ring he could find! Remember, the ONLY remembrance of your actual day (your photos) are PRICELESS. Your GRANDCHILDREN are going to see them. It is an unrepeatable event, you only live once and you deserve to treat yourself. According to wedding magazines a realistic budget for wedding photography is about 10% of your wedding figure.
So, give me a call and let’s meet up and I will show you how you will get the quality you are looking for. Classy, International level Wedding photography.