Finding the “right” photographer for your wedding
A guide to helping you navigate the maze out there
Once the dust has settled, the acidity has gone and the guests have left, the memories remain – and ones that
have been “captured” bring back those happy moments every time you see them. But finding the right person to
capture those for you can be a herculean task – what with all the facebook pages, databases, lists, wedding site,
and search results that you are flooded with!
Chances are, that by the time you have waded through the deluge of information and decided on one, your
favourite photographer may already have been booked. This article aims to help demystify the process and to
share some pointers to help you reach your decision sooner.
If you are reading this article, chances are, you are the decision maker. You need to know what you are looking for – not in any technical terms, but from an experience perspective. What do you want the pictures to look like, what do you want captured, posed / candid / portraits and so on… Go to Google. Explore Facebook. Ask your friends to see their pictures. See Pintrest. Once you have liked a few pictures, save them for reference. Reach out to photographers whose style appeals to you. Talk to them. Most photographers I know would be happy to engage in a conversation.
Do you want to know whether your photographer will use a Sony, Nikon or Canon? Are you interested in knowing if they’ll use a “fast” lens and at what aperture they are going to shoot? DON’T BE!
Focus on the end product – your photographs. I’ve known clients who have turned down perfectly good photographers solely based on the type of equipment they owned! Remember no professional will hold back their very best when on assignment, after all they too have a reputation to maintain. Have a conversation, ask, discuss, but if you’ve liked their work, leave the technical decisions to them. Remember, the photographer captures the moment; the camera, the lenses, the settings merely store some “data”.
If you’ve been looking for a photographer for even a couple of hours, chances are that you’ve come across these terms and more. Confounded? Here’s a quick primer.
These are the most common type of photographer in India today. And also the most flexible and accommodating in terms of budgets, styles, hours, etc.
If you are looking for 1000 – 3000 pictures per day, want to go through them and select the ones you want edited and want to be involved every step of the way, Candid Photographers are the ones you want.
What to expect: thousands of pictures, flexibility with changes in schedules and working hours, you want the RAW files? Ask and you may get those too!
What not to expect: Stages / Posted “reception style” pictures, unless specifically discussed in advance.
Contemporary and Fine Art Photographers
Contemporary or Fine Art photographers are artists who will attempt to take that leap of faith and create images that are artistically pleasing. These would range from beautiful scapes (décor, venue, table settings, etc.), to portraits and would also capture the rituals and ceremonies as well as any candid photographer, if not better.
What can you expect: 300 – 400 pictures from the wedding. Some photographers may also give you a slightly larger set and ask you to choose the final lot that you’d like edited and finished. Contemporary and Fine Art Photographers are usually extremely particular about the number of hours they are putting in and if you are expecting changes to your schedule, make sure you inform them as early as you can.
What not to expect: No staged / reception style pictures.
As the name suggests photographers with a Photojournalistic style approach the event as a “story” to be captured as it happens, much like a journalist covers an incident. The WPJA site sums this up well when they say that Wedding Photojournalists have a “candid, documentary approach – a distinctly artistic vision toward wedding photography”.
What can you expect: 200 – 300 pictures captured over 4 – 6 hours of photography. They will charge you extra for extra hours and appreciate being allowed to work in their own space.
What not to expect: The typical “posed” pictures of Indian receptions, Group / Party pictures. If you want to make sure that your favourite uncle’s best friend’s third grandchild’s picture isn’t missing even though he was peacefully sleeping through the event, give the Photojournalist a pass.
The traditional “photographer” is this. The photographer-videographer-candid-portrait shooter with a sizeable crew that no one in your audience can miss, is the studio!
If you are looking for every aspect of your wedding to covered, from food to décor to the ceremonies to guests to the bride and the groom and their families to people greeting each other to pictures of your guests eating and their kids playing, then the studio is what you are looking for.
What can you expect: Posed pictures, Candid Pictures, Group Pictures and Portraits, hundreds of pictures, ALL kinds of pictures, and all the bells and whistles! Extra hours? What extra hours? These folks may be the ones who will leave after the family!
You will also get heavily airbrushed, photoshopped pictures where everyone has clear, model like skin and big fat wedding albums.
What not to expect: The contemporary / art / candid / photojournalist you’ve hired won’t be happy. Most studios do not like “other” photographers around. Also, be prepared to see a photos ranging from “my-five-year-old-nephew-can-take-better-pictures” to awesome. Studios often hire freelancers and their skills could range from well below amateur to brilliant. Keep in mind that with a studio, you aren’t hiring an individual, but a team. Also, a lot of the mid to entry level photographers will showcase their work but might end up sending freelancers to actually cover the event.
Good candid photographers will charge about INR 25,000 – 50,000 per day, while art / contemporary photographers and photojournalists will start at around INR 50,000 and could go up to INR 150,000 per day, and more!
At between INR 30,000 – 70,000 for photography, videography, album et al, a studio offers you the best deal for sure, but it may not necessarily be the best value for your money.
At almost every wedding that we have done, we’ve seen the bride and / or the groom hire an art / contemporary photographer or photojournalist in addition to a studio (usually hired by the parents).
Photographers will take a tentative booking and hold your dates for a couple of days after you express interest, but they will ONLY block their dates once you’ve paid the booking fees – usually 50% of the entire agreed fee. Most photographers would also ask for the balance 50% to be paid before the date of the event itself.
Post – processing or editing is a time consuming process and you should expect to see your pictures in about 4 – 6 weeks after the event. Speak to your photographer and understand their timelines beforehand to avoid any undue anxiety. Remember, pushing your photographer to deliver sooner will only push down your edit quality.
Jaideep Chowdhary is a Wedding Photographer based in Bangalore.
He can be reached on Jaideep.Chowdhary@gmail.com or via facebook via: www.facebook.com/JaideepPhotography.
He is also a part of the www.7vachan.com network of wedding professionals.