Consider this when selecting a wedding photographer!

Posted on Jan 16, 2014 in photography | No Comments

You’ve seen the video that went viral about the priest who got angry at the wedding photographers when they encroached upon the ceremony space making loud camera noises?

Leaving aside the debate whether or not the priest was righteous in telling them to back off, I think we can all agree that the photographers being obtrusive like a flock of paparazzis is what helped create the environment where something like this could happen.

And that makes me think of this:

When it comes to photographing weddings don’t make the mistake many make of thinking the only consideration regarding the photographer you hire is going to be about the photography.

Even when it comes to just the photography, here’s a thought borrowed from acclaimed acting teacher Stella Adler (whose students included Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro). “It’s not enough to have talent, you have to have a talent for your talent. ” Her admonition was that to rely solely on natural talent only works when things go well. But it’s training and honed skills that get you through and deliver results when things don’t quite fall into place.

And let’s be frank. With all its various personalities, moving parts and details involved — lots of things at your wedding may not exactly fall smoothly into place. That’s just the way real life goes.

Point being, talent alone isn’t enough. It needs to be honed, developed. And how is that done? Skills have to be learned. Then they need to be practiced until they become second nature.

Then experience serves to yield insight and refine those talents and skills.

Yet that’s not all you need in a wedding photographer.

Because what good are their technical photo making abilities no matter how well honed if they don’t know how to navigate your wedding day? So something else to consider is how well versed the photographer is with your kind of wedding. Moreover, they need to have a polished workflow in place for the day that’s in harmony with the timing of your wedding.

I was a guest at a wedding where just when they were about to put on their rings, from far back in the venue an audible “oh [expletive]!” rang up. Their wedding photographer had gone to the rear of the venue to change a card and now suddenly realized he was in the wrong spot at the wrong time — and caught completely unprepared.

He didn’t know what was to happen next in the wedding. And his work process put him far away from where he needed to be at that crucial moment.

Which brings me to this point.

Consider how your photographer fits in with who you are and who your family and friends are. There are photographers who use questionable language, mannerisms and humor which may fit in just fine with some people and some weddings, but maybe not so much everyone else.

You also need to know that good people skills are really important to consider when you’re looking at photographers. Because the wedding photographer is typically involved with most of the wedding day, there’s the great possibility they’ll be interacting with almost everyone at your wedding. Actually, its probably more than a possibility. It’s almost impossible to go through a  wedding day and not interact with anyone at all.

That means the photographer has face time where he or she needs to say and do the right thing with not just the two of you, but also with your family members, with your guests, with your officiant, banquet manager, event coordinator, musicians, waitstaff… because how they talk to and handle everyone — and how they handle themselves — will either help or hurt the effort. As is painfully evident in that viral video I mentioned earlier.

None of this is anything new. We’ve all heard the horror stories of arrogant or prima donna wedding photographers who disrupt the wedding, are curt with guests, act abrasively towards the other professionals on your team, defy the officiant’s instructions. Photographers have even been known to make a little flower girl cry.

We’ve also all heard the stories of photographers who fumbled and dropped the ball, give lip service, blame others, make excuse after excuse for their shortcomings and failures. They know not what they do. On top of which they don’t handle their inexperience very well.

Flush out those types when you’re interviewing photographers.

Additionally, your wedding photographer needs to know how to keep your wedding on time, move things along when needed without rushing you or the photos, firmly yet gently and politely; think quickly on their feet when plans go haywire, not be quick to anger, keep their cool when things go wrong and calmly, effectively, quickly get things back on track when they do.

You could sum this all up by saying choosing your wedding photographer isn’t merely about finding talent, skills and expertise, but additionally about finding the right person who acts, walks, talks — and works — as a true professional.

As you can see, more than simply talent is required.

And then, if you really want a truly great experience from an equally great photographer, I’d suggest finding someone who can do that one basic thing that will take your wedding day photography experience from that of a camera wielding shooter to a seamless curator of moments, and your wedding coverage from ordinary to the most meaningful, beautiful images you could possibly have:

Someone who has a deeper appreciation of what wedding photography’s about, beyond grabbing pictures of the day. A photographer with a vision.

2013-09-28-nycweddingphotographer4786.jpg When your wedding photographer treats your wedding with respect, making it about you and not about the photos, you can relax and enjoy your moments. And you’ll get the great photos you want.