How to brief your wedding photographer
Wedding photography guide: how to get exactly what you want from your wedding photographs
This article is from the Daily Telegraph 22 June 14.
Photography can end up being the biggest expense at a wedding, but it's worth getting right. Your marriage should last for the rest of your life, but so will the pictures. Here's how to work with your photographer to get the best possible memories of your wedding day.
1. Find examples of what you like.
Do as much research as possible into what you'd like your wedding photographs to look like. After all, they're likely to end up in albums and on mantelpieces for the rest of your life. Dedicate a couple of hours to scouring your friends' wedding albums on Facebook and searching for wedding images on Pinterest. Make sure you consult our wedding photography style guide for an idea of the different styles you could choose. Find around five examples of wedding photographs you really love, and five that make you feel sick, to show to your photographer. You might love the idea of pictures of the bridesmaids all jumping into the air, or you might prefer more formal, traditional shots. Either way, your photographer needs to know.
2. Make a list of "must-have" shots, print it out and give it to your photographer.
You'll kick yourself after the fact if you look through the shots and realise there's no picture of your grandad. Make a list of essential people to have pictures of, and all the essential posed shots (eg a picture of the bride and groom with the bride's parents, or a picture of the groom with all of the bridesmaids).
Remember to include shots of the wedding details you've planned, too. If you're going to spend ages deciding on table decorations, or you'll be buying an expensive pair of shoes for dancing, photographs of these small parts of the day can bring back some of the strongest memories. Equally you may want shots of the bride getting her make-up done, the wedding dress hanging up in the morning, the rings and the bouquet, or a shot of the groom fitting his flower buttonhole. Think hard about everything you could possibly want recorded and make sure your photographer knows about it.
Once you've made your list, print it out and give it to the photographer, who can check off each of your requested shots as the day goes on.
Unless your photographer is also a personal friend, they won't be able to tell the difference between your beloved Uncle Alan and a friend's brother who was only invited out of politeness. To avoid ending up with 20 shots of the friend's brother, and zero of your favourite uncle, assign one of your bridesmaids or ushers to point out important guests to the photographer. Introduce them at the beginning of the day (or beforehand if possible) and let them be your photographer's main point of contact.
Your enlisted bridesmaid can also be handy for rounding up errant family members for the group shots.
5. Choose a time in the day's schedule for posed photographs.
And make sure your photographer knows when and where it's due to happen. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can just squeeze in a few posed snaps after the ceremony. If you want nice posed shots with minimum stress, allow at least 45 minutes to find everyone, get them in place and make sure every photo on your "must-have" list is checked off. Organisation is the key.
6. If you can, visit the venue in advance with your photographer to select the best backdrops for your photos.
To avoid running around on the day trying to find a nice tree to stand beside, take the photographer to visit the venue in advance. If there's a lovely spot for formal shots but it looks a bit dark, they'll be able to bring lights on the day itself or hunt around for good alternative locations.
7. Tell them in advance what you expect.
Digital images, prints, photobooks, frames, a private website where your guests can view everything online: most photographers will be able to supply these and more if you ask. Find out what yours offers and have a chat in advance about which services you'd like, to avoid disappointments later. You can always order extras afterwards.
As a guide for how many photos you'll get, most photographers take 500-700 shots during the course of a whole wedding day (but this varies a lot, so ask your photographer in advance for how many they tend to take). They probably won't want to supply you with every single shot they took - some may be duplicates or not have come out well - but if you have a chat before about how many pictures you're expecting, you won't be disappointed by the number they deliver.
8. Agree a price in advance.
Wedding photography is very expensive. Don't be surprised if your chosen photographer's going rate is well over £1000 for the whole wedding. If that sounds extortionate, remember it doesn't represent just one day's work: if you hire a high-quality photographer, you're also paying for their preparation (often including pre-wedding venue visits), insurance, travel, and several days' worth of photo editing. Their hourly rate is usually much more modest than it first appears.
9. Ask about their equipment and editing policy.
What sort of camera do they use? Will they be bringing a second photographer with them to cover more of the action? If you're not happy with the pictures, are they prepared to re-edit them? Can they airbrush out that freckle you hate? You're paying a lot of money for your photographer, so it makes sense to do your research and make sure they're up to the job. Have a look at some of their previous wedding work and make sure your expectations are in line with what they can provide for your budget.
10. Feed them.
This is a mostly personal plea. Your photographer will probably be working for 12 hours or more on the day, and they may be more than happy to bring sandwiches with them to refuel halfway through. But you'll make a friend for life if you offer to set aside an extra place at the wedding breakfast for them. After all, once the speeches are done, you probably won't want them on duty during the meal, taking pictures of your guests stuffing their faces.
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