Wedding photography is much more than just having a nice camera or taking a lot of pictures to cover your bases. The first thing we hear from all of our assistants trying to become professionals is, “Wedding photography is harder than I thought it would be.” Our answer, “Of course it is!” The goal of this article is to help prevent you from hiring the wrong photographer, or even worse, “Uncle Joe.”
This section will cover more of the soft-skills that your wedding photographer needs to possess. These are areas that you need to pay attention to during your meetings and conversations with professional photographers because they are not things that you can determine by asking a question. We recommend that you read this section first. Then head on over to our section called, “15 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer” for more specific ideas on what types of questions you should be asking when meeting with potential wedding photographers.
Strong Reviews – How Was The Experience of Past Clients?
When a business has numerous reviews they are more likely to be established and deliver a great product compared to a company with just a few reviews. It is common for clients to rave about not only their final product their experience with the company as well.
Websites like Yelp or The Knot are great places to read reviews from previous clients and get a feel for what type of experience you may have with your photographer.
Expertise – Being a Technical and Creative Wedding Photographer
A professional wedding photographer should not only be well versed in the technical side of the trade, but he or she must also be artistic and creative. Those are two opposite personality traits. How many people do you know are very technologically savvy and artistically creative at the same time?
Having a great camera and technical skills will allow your wedding photographer to capture exposed, well-lit images regardless of the lighting situation and time constraints. On the other hand, having great creative skills will allow your photographer to approach each shot with a unique viewpoint and artistic vision ensuring that the shots are not just photos, but they are beautiful images.
Personality – Being Personable and Charismatic
Just as important (if not more important) as their technical knowledge and creativity are the wedding photographers interpersonal skills. How well do they interact with their clients and those at the wedding? Are they outgoing, personable, charismatic, professional, and honest?
Not including engagement shoots, bridal shoots, etc. You are going to be spending a full day with your photographer on the most important day of your life. A wedding photographer with a personality that matches your own is essential to the overall experience of your wedding.
Photography Style – Do You Like Their Style Of Wedding Photography?
While researching photographers, you’ll come to notice the many styles of wedding photography. At the same time, you’ll begin to notice what styles you do and do not like. You will get a better idea of the photographer’s artistic style from looking at their blog or website rather than a few images on their Instagram. Taking the extra time to research the complete portfolios of your top choices will definitely be worth it in the end.
Click here to learn more about Lin & Jirsa’s Wedding Photography Style
Assistants – Having More than One Wedding Photographer
We often are asked the question, “why do I need more than one wedding photographer?”
Well, if you were to look at a wedding written up as a movie script, you would see a primary storyline surrounded by smaller side stories that are happening at the same moment. For example, during a wedding ceremony, the main story is, of course, the bride and groom. However, there may be multiple side stories occurring at the same moment. For instance, mom or dad wiping the tear from their eyes or the flower girl sitting in the corner picking petals from a rose in her hands.
No matter how good a photographer is, he or she cannot be at all places at the same time; and so, to compensate, we use multiple wedding photographers, each with a different focus. For example, our lead photographer focuses strictly on the bride and groom. Our second wedding photographer would focus on reaction shots from the family, guests, etc. Our third (when needed) would focus on creative imagery by constantly surveying and moving around the scene to find unique angles and compositions of our subjects.
Having multiple photographers enables our team to broaden the coverage and creative eyes at the event. While we recommend two photographers regardless of the size of your wedding, we tell clients that it is almost required if you have 100-200 people at the wedding. For clients with very large weddings, i.e. 200+, we recommend three photographers.
Quality – Quality over Quantity
When seeking a photographer, it’s best to not get caught up in the number of products each photographer is promising. Stay focused on the actual quality of the work provided. We realize that some people are working within a budget. Think to yourself that you can always purchase an album or additional prints later (even 5-10 years later), but you can’t change the quality of the photographs taken at the wedding after the wedding day.
We strive to tell clients if there is something you need to cut from your package to make it more affordable, start with the products. Cut the prints from the package, remove the album, but don’t go with a cheaper photographer because they are willing to give you all the products you want up front. If you can, always keep at least two photographers in your package.
Cultural Wedding Experience – How Familiar Are The Photographers With Cultural Wedding Traditions?
From the South Asian Baraat to the Chinese Tea Ceremony, cultural weddings include an abundance of exciting traditions. Documenting a cultural wedding requires additional time and attention to detail when compared to Westernized weddings. It is important that your creative team has that experience and understanding of your traditional wedding ceremonies.
You can read more about cultural wedding traditions here.
Overall Experience – Professional or Part Time Wedding Photographer
Once you get pass technique, creativity, and personality, the next thing you should be looking for is an experience. Is the wedding photographer actually a professional photographer, or is this their “weekend gig”? How many weddings has this photographer shot?
While experience is important, some of the best and most hardworking wedding photographers we have met are experienced photographers, but relatively new as wedding photographers. In situations where you love the photographer’s style but are concerned with them not having enough experience, ask to look at their entire collection of images from each event they have shot.
To help you out further when we hire applicants for assistants and associate photographer positions, we base their level of experience off of how many weddings they have shot as the lead photographer. (i.e. not under another professional photographer’s guidance or direction).
- 1-5 Weddings – Inexperienced
- 6-10 Weddings – Amateur (Qualified as an assistant photographer)
- 10-20 Weddings – Knowledgable
- 21-30 Weddings – Experienced
- 31+ Weddings – Professional (Qualified as an associate photographer)
About Lin & Jirsa
Creative. Clean. Different. We are a group of creatives in Orange County with a passion for storytelling. Founded in 2007, our studio has been recognized as the best wedding photographers in Los Angeles and Orange County by various publications, websites, and groups. We’d love to show you our studio in Orange County, California and walk you through our albums, canvases and other print photography products. We can also provide more information on our Wedding Videography and introduce you to our team!