One thing that’s always mystified me about weddings is the photography. I’m fairly artsy, but to say that I have no idea what it takes to be a wedding photographer is the understatement of the year (and it’s only March, so I’m for serious here).
To find out more about what to consider when hiring a wedding photographer, I spoke to Kelli of Affero Photography. “Affero” is Latin for “to produce”, which is very fitting, as that’s what she does. Kelli is unique in that she understands both sides of the lens, being a recent bride herself. With a fine art background, Kelli booked her first wedding in 2010 and has continued to bring her photography skills (and they are some pretty mad skills) to the Indianapolis area. Her photojournalistic style mixed with her fine art background produces an end result that will look good no matter what trends are circulating at the time, which brings me to the first point:
1. Avoid Being Overly Trendy
There’s a lot of cute stuff circulating on blogs and Pinterest lately, and that’s fantastic. The issue arises when it comes to something SO popular that people start to have the exact same picture. One example that Kelli has seen a lot of is the “groomsmen superhero” picture, where all the guys are opening their shirts, exposing their superhero personas underneath. It’s a really cool picture. But now it’s everywhere. Kelli recommends putting your own twist on something like that, making it unique to you and your wedding. Another trend making the rounds is a vintage look to the photographs, which can be very cool and definitely work in some cases, however, thirty years from now, it might make your photos look aged. Knowing what you want can be a very good starting point, but make sure you get a photographer who you connect with, otherwise you might just not get what you want after all.
2. ALWAYS Do a Consultation. Always.
The importance of connecting with your photographer can not be stressed enough. First of all, as stated above, your styles should match. Kelli is not a formal photographer, and her style has never been “chin down, slooooowly lift your fist under your chin, and tilt your head to the left a little bit”, like the glamour shot scene in “Napoleon Dynamite”. There is nothing wrong with that style, but if that’s what you want, you’re way better off finding a photographer who enjoys that style of photography. If you want a style different than that of what the photographer is naturally inclined to do, it’s likely that when you get your photos back, you’ll be able to tell that the photographer wasn’t enjoying the session. Another thing to consider is that the photographer’s job is a lot easier when the people being photographed are relaxed and just having fun. It’s hard to do that in the presence of someone you’re not completely comfortable with. After you consult with a potential photographer, both parties need to feel that it’s a good match. If it’s not, it’s ok to walk away (and maybe send a nice email thanking them for meeting with you but explaining that you’ve decided to go a different route).
3. For Better Pictures, Consider an Unplugged Wedding
First of all, you invited your guests to enjoy the celebration with you, but with the surge of technology and its convenience, a lot of guests aren’t doing that. Instead, they’re capturing it on film for themselves, which means that in some cases, they aren’t really present in the moment. Second of all, this can ruin pictures. Kelli recounted a wedding where the couple’s kiss was their FIRST kiss, as in, first kiss ever. She ended up having to do a “crazy ninja move” to capture the moment, because all the guests wanted to capture the same moment for themselves. She also brought up a point about lighting. If you’re in a particularly dark reception hall, the light from everyone’s cameras flashing or videos recording can cause the photographer to miss shots. And while you may want to live that moment over and over again, you probably won’t be so cool with the photographer interrupting all the proceedings to say, “Hold up, go back, I missed it”.
4. Know What You’re Paying For
Sure, when you’re budgeting for your wedding, you want to consider your limits and set aside reasonable amounts for everything. But unless you are a professional photographer yourself, it’s unlikely you’ve considered what all goes into photographing a wedding. If you’re not privy to this information, some pricing can seem a tad exorbitant. You may consider some options too pricy, but here’s why those prices are the way they are: especially for full time photographers, this is their main source of income. Photographers are people too, and they have car payments, mortgages, student loans, utility payments, and… what else? Oh yeah. They need to eat. If your photographer has an assistant, the assistant probably has similar financial obligations and also needs to get paid. Here’s some math to chew on: a wedding is usually a 6-8 hour affair, not including drive time, editing, album design, and all the other cool things that photographers do that separate them from your friend with the point-and-shoot. An eight hour day quickly turns into something a lot more time consuming. You are paying a photographer to not only take amazing photos, but to edit them and make them look even better. This is a necessity, as their business name is going on the photo, so a lot of photographers are not willing to just send you the raw, unedited file. If you edit it yourself, botch it up, and put their name on it, it may very well have a negative impact on their business and become a liability. Plus, weddings tend to be VERY seasonal, which complicates personal budgeting. Life would be a lot easier if photographers only needed to eat for half the year, but that’s just not reasonable, and starving artists are so ’90s.
5. Have Realistic Expectations
The job of a photographer is to capture a moment, not to manipulate a moment to turn it into what you wish it had been. Kelli is more than willing to smooth out a couple things here and there if they detract from the image, but there’s a fine line between making a couple small adjustments and making the couple look completely alien. It’s Photoshop, not liposuction. When you get your pictures back, they will still look like you. It’s also important to have realistic expectations for your budget. If you saw a picture in Vogue that you loved, but can’t afford Annie Leibowitz, it’s not reasonable to expect a photo that looks like it belongs in Vogue, or for your photographer to turn into Annie Leibowitz. Which you should know, because you saw their work at your consultation, amirite? Of course you did. You know what you’re doing!
You can (and should!) find out more about Kelli and her work at www.afferophoto.com.