That is a rather big and scary question for a lot of couples these days who are going to get married. Picking the right photographer is arguably more difficult than the caterer or the wedding planner as all photographers have their own style of work and personality.
Well, here are some pointers to help couples find the photographer that’s right for them.
- Website/Facebook page/Portfolio: First of all, check if the photographer has a website or a Facebook page. This is obviously very important, as any professional would have either one of those, or ideally both to showcase their work to potential clients in a professional way.
- Type Of photographer: Decide what type of photographer you are looking for. Are you looking for someone who takes a large number of photos of your functions and is more traditionally inclined? A Traditional or Studio photographer as they are also called primarily takes a lot of photos where the couple, family guests, etc are all posing and/or are in a group situation during the functions. A minimum of one Traditional photographer is always required in the functions, as they take all the general photos and cover all the basics. A candid photographer is someone who take considerably less amount of photos than his traditional counterpart. Candid Photography is all about capturing moments. A candid photographer takes photos with emotional content, rather than the posed photos. A combination of both the above styles is what is recommended for an Indian wedding.
- Difference between traditional video and Cinematic films: Traditional Videography is similar to the traditional photos. The videographers covers a wide variety of things in your functions and in the end you get a long video either of the entire wedding (all days and all functions) or individual long videos of each day (wedding day, reception, sangeet, mehendi). These vides are anywhere between 1 hour to 4-5 hours. These videos show all the details of your functions. Majority of people want this type of videos, because they want to remember all the details of their functions. Cinematic film on the other hand is completely different. If you have a 3 day function (sangeet, wedding, mehendi, reception), then you would get one cinematic film of around 10-15 minutes. At least, this is the way I do it at Studio 146. True Cinematography is all about moments and beautiful content that has emotional value as well. Every cinematographer has their own style, like a candid photographer.
- When to book? – You should ideally start looking for Wedding photographers as soon as your wedding is confirmed and dates decided. A lot of people leave it till the end, concentrating on caterers and clothes etc at the start. This is understandable as the excitement is fresh at the start, but good photographers get booked well in advance. Imagine after looking through lots of photographers work, you find one or two and they are booked when you call them. Meet with 3 or 4 photographers ideally 6 months before your wedding and then take things from there.
- Pre-Wedding photography/Cinematic film – If you are planning on doing a Pre-Wedding photography shoot or making a Pre Wedding Cinematic film, then the ideal thing is to have the same guy/team in your wedding. There are multiple advantages of this. By the time the wedding comes along, you will already know the photographer/team, because they were there in the pre-wedding shoot. You would have built some kind of rapport with them, which is important, as it helps them and you in your wedding. You as a client would also understand the way the photographer works and their personal style of shooting. If you love the work in the pre-wedding shoot, then you would get the same quality of work in your wedding functions.
- Always hire a Professional – Lots of people hire their family member who knows photography, or a friend who is a good photographer, but this is not advisable. Does this person have the technical ability or creative mind that you require to capture beautiful photos? Also, if things go wrong and the photos/videos they give you are of poor quality and not up to the level you require, then your relationship with said person might get strained. You can be straight with a professional person with what you want and your requirements. A professional is working for the money primarily, and will do whatever it takes to get the right shot, because after all, you are paying them to do exactly that.
- Search – You can search online and you can ask family members or friends to recommend someone for you. Searching online helps because you can see the photographer’s portfolio either on their website or their Social media pages. If their website looks inviting and professional, then that is always a good sign. Although they should not be judged solely on their website, as their social media accounts play an important role. If the photographer has a Facebook page, check what work they have posted on there and how many followers they have. Someone with less than 200 followers on their page means they are quite new, so approach accordingly and someone with over 500 followers for example would probably mean they have a good amount of experience.
- Shortlist – After searching online, and considering any recommendations from family and friends, make a list of the photographers you like the best. Ideally, this should be no more than 3. Arrange meetings with all of them separately.
- Meeting – Best place to meet is their Studio/Office/Home. This way you get an idea of their surrounding and the kind of person they are and it is also the best way to see most of their work. Ask them questions like what will be the deliverables in the project and what exactly is included and also NOT included in the package. You can also figure out the quality of the work the photographer has done in the meeting and also how experienced they are. It is important to pick someone who has a good amount of experience shooting weddings. You definitely don’t want a newbie who does not know what they are doing. If you know about photography equipment a little bit, then you can ask your photographer in the meeting what equipment they use. Quality and creativity of the photographer is the most important, but professional equipment also matters. You can also ask them whether they shoot all over India and also outside India if your wedding is abroad. Ask about what type of albums they do/have. Wedding albums are obviously very important and it is important that the photographer has the right type of album to suit your needs as well. Although if you love the photographers work, but are not fussed with the album so much, you can always get it done by someone else.
- Finalize – Once you have met the shortlisted candidates, then comes the time to finalize. One thing I have noticed in India is, when it comes to finalizing the deal, it always comes down to money. That makes sense of course, but you cannot compare 3 different photographers solely on their budgets they have given you. Sometimes certain photographers will suggest massive teams for your functions which are completely not needed. Have a look at each and everyone’s works first and then the budget and compare it from a overall perspective of both those things. My ideal team for a standard Indian wedding is of no more than 6 or 7 people. 1 or 2 Candid photographers + 1 or 2 traditional photographers + 2 traditional videographers (if picking this option) and 1 cinematographer (normally one is enough, but sometimes a second cinematographer is needed). Of course all these things depends on the client’s budget, so the best way to get the most out of your budget is to tell the photographer a figure. Or you can tell them your requirement and they will send a budget.
- Finalize with the one you find most comfortable.