Post # 1
I am just starting to plan my wedding, which is about 1.5 years away, and because we already have our “venue,” (FI’s family’s beach house), the next thing I want to book is our photographer, since I know they get booked very far in advance. The problem is that I know NOTHING about photography!
I have looked at just about every single photographer in our area and I literally have no idea what to do. I can look at pictures on a photographers site and think either “Oh, I love those,” or “Eh, not that impressed,” but I can’t explain WHY or WHAT makes me like certain photos over others.
So, Bees, how did you identify which photographers you liked? Other than positive customer service reviews, what should I be looking for? What photography styles do you like (or dislike) and why?
Like I said, I can identify pictures and styles that I like, but I can’t identify what about the pictures specifically that I like – did anyone else have this problem?
I feel utterly lost and I really don’t want to make a mistake!
Post # 3
Here’s a trick that I used to narrow down photographers. You are having a beach wedding, which I’m also assuming will be mostly outdoors and will require someone with good outdoor photography experience. Go through portfolios to find examples of beach/outdoor weddings. Do you like those particular shots? If so, add that photographer to your contact list. Does a photographer have mostly examples of indoor photos and very few outdoor photos? If so, they may not be a good fit for your particular event, so you can remove them as an option. This helped me a lot in making my decision because I’m doing an entirely outdoor wedding.
Personally, I did not know what style I wanted either, but as I went through portfolios I realized that all of my favorite photos were more of a photojournalism style. I did not like the posed shots as much. I’d go through different portfolios and pick out your favorite photos to see if there are any common traits.
Post # 4
@nber0815: I went with what I liked and disliked as a whole. The photorapher I picked took photos in styles I loved… and I can’t exactly explain it… but when I see her portfolio every picutre I thought “I would love a pic like this”. Then after talking with her, I felt more comfortable. A few friends of ours used here (which is how I saw the photos in the first place), but for me, it was the “feel” of the photos and the “feeling” I got talking to her.
Post # 5
@bleusteel: Thanks – that’s a great idea – I never would have thought of that!!
Post # 6
Definitely look at their examples for a beach wedding if that’s what your having.
I don’t think you need to know details about photography to know what you love and don’t. I just imagined the wedding pictures shown as my own…would I be happy with those if they were all my pictures?
Also think if there are some things you know you don’t like. I don’t like anything too over-edited or put through filters (that vintage-y vibe that’s somewhat popular now), no spot coloring, etc.
Post # 7
Beach wedding photographer here, so I’m going to put on photographer hat and tell you to tread carefully when selecting a wedding photographer. Beach weddings are tricky tricky tricky. You’d be surprised how many times I see successfull, established, and good photographers come out here to shoot a beach wedding and BUTCHER it. Choose someone who is well-versed and comfortable with beach photogrpahy. The lighting on the beach can be harsh and unforgiving. Most beach weddings take place on public land, so you’re also dealing with a lot of random people around too.
I once had a photographer come into my area to shoot a wedding (his niece was a bridesmaid and that’s how he got the gig) and inquired with me about being his second shooter. It was just almost getting into season here and I was free so I decided do it because it’s a venue I wanted to shoot at. This guy for all accounts was a great photographer, I checked out his website, chatted with him over the phone and we “talked shop” – he knew his stuff. Wedding day comes, things are going okay, then we get on the beach for photos and he *locked up*. It was like he couldn’t function, couldn’t get his barings, and just got totally flustered. I ended up taking the group myself and knocking out the bridal party photos while he got his crap together and then we continued with bride/groom portraits. He was a great photographer, but he was used to shooting in venues where everything is controlled, and plenty of space with beautiful open shade and easy conditions to shoot in.
I don’t say those things to scare you, but there is definitely a common misconception that if you can shoot, you can shoot anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of talented photographers who don’t normally shot at the beach who come here and do just fine – but you’ll be able to tell from their work if they can handle it or not.
My suggestion is to google your venue and see what photographers have shot there before. Start looking for photographers who speciailize in that kind of thing and go through their portfolios. You’ll be able to tell if it’s someone you like.
If you have any questions, or need some advice about beach photography feel free to PM me.
Post # 8
@nber0815: Feel free to use us here on the bee to help you narrow things down! If you’ve got a few favorites you’re leaning toward and could benefit from a professional opinion, there are quite a few of us here who are professional full time photographers and can check out the work and just let you know if there are any red flags or things that jump out at us that might go unnoticed by someone who doesn’t do this for a living. We are here to help! 🙂
Post # 9
@starfish0116: Thanks for your advice! I will definitely take note of the photographer’s beach shots. The whole wedding won’t be on the beach – just the ceremony and hopefully some shots of the wedding party. The reception will be in a tent on his family’s property. I will reach out to you if (when!) I have things narrowed down a bit more.
@mariematt: Will do! Once I’ve narrowed it down I’ll ask the Bees what they think. I was feeling really overwhelmed with all of this and am already feeling a bit better. Thanks!
Post # 10
@nber0815: Definitely be selective, because essentially the most important part of your day (ceremony and formals) will take place on the beach. What state/beach are you getting married at?
Post # 11
@starfish0116: We’re getting married at the South Kingstown town beach in Rhode Island – it’s right down the street from my FI’s family’s house and I’ve seen wedding ceremonies set up there before. I haven’t been able to find any pictures online of weddings there, but I’m still looking.
Post # 12
Bees! I am meeting a photographer next weekend for a consultation/first meeting. We set it up at a coffee shop near our apartment. All of that is fine – I’ve looked at their website, read some reviews and even spoke directly with an aquaintance who used the photographer for her wedding. Anyway, I got this email in response to my confirmation of the time/place for the meeting and I’m a little confused.
Hi ____ (my name),
Meeting in the _____ (neighborhood) sounds perfect. We’re just in _____ (neighborhood) so driving in would be no problem. How about meeting at the ______ (coffee shop)? If you have a favorite cafe then we would be more then happy to try it out. Maybe even dress up a bit in case we can do a quick half hour after coffee somewhere nearby? 🙂
Basically – what does she mean by that last line? That she’s going to take pictures of us? I don’t even know if we’re going to use these people yet! Is this normal?
Post # 13
I would assume she is suggesting that she takes some pictures of y’all. It might be a good idea to see if you like how y’all work together.
The best thing to do is to see if you connect with a photographer. We had to find 2 (one for our wedding in VA and one for our engagement pictures here in Boston) and after looking at millions of sites, we picked the photographers that we related to the most. You want to be at ease with the person that is taking your pictures.
Post # 14
@nber0815: That’s really odd, and fairly presumptious. It does sound like they would want to take your pictures but the meeting is to see if you even want to hire them. And would these be your engagement pictures? And does the smiley after the sentence mean that he/she is kidding?
Man, sorry I can’t be of any help. I’m just as confused as you!
I guess I would just laugh it off, but not take them up on it if they happen to bring it up at the coffee shop.
Post # 16
Here are my top tips:
1. Look at the wedding dress in the photog’s blog pics. Is it well-defined, or a white blob? If everything inside of the outline of the dress is undefined white, the photog probably has a problem with over-exposure in natural light. This is an easy way to cut out tons of people, especially for a beach wedding.
2. Ask for a couple of photo galleries. Most photog websites/blogs have great pics featured, which can make everyone seem good. When you look through the full 500+ pics from a couple of actual weddings, you can see how many of them are really good. A photog will always take the best couple of pics and edit them to the extreme for their website; you need to see a whole wedding to judge if they are really that good.
3. Do you want natural/realistic, or magazine-style/trendy? When I first looked I loved the vintage style photogs and the magazine-style photogs, I mean their pics are interesting/unique. But in the end it became clear after many views that a stylistic style would wear on me eventually, and it was easy to see I wanted natural.
4. Talk to and meet a few photogs. In the end, you will spend a lot of time with this person. Yes, how good their pics are is the most important, but if they get you, and make you feel comfortable/seem confident and experienced, that’s important too.
Here are two phtogs that I know can handle sunlight and make it even more beautiful than it is naturally:
http://gloriaruth.com (my photog, full disclosure)
http://www.nextexitphotography.com (more expensive but such a great feel)