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Years after your wedding, long after you forget who gave the worst speech or who kissed whom, you will still have your wedding photos. A professional wedding photographer can make all the difference in the world and choosing the right one for you is of the utmost importance.
To help you with this important decision, we spoke with GigMasters Wedding Photographer David Sheppard-Brick (that is him above) from Boston, MA. David was kind enough to give us a few important pointers on how to find and hire the perfect event photographer and what every bride and groom should know about wedding photography.
What types of questions should a client ask when choosing a professional wedding photographer or special event photographer?
Some clients know exactly what they want from their photographer, others have no clue what to expect. When I sit down with clients it’s very important to me to understand exactly what they’re looking for, even if they don’t know what it is yet.
The first thing you want to do when meeting with a photographer is to tell them what your wedding plan is so far. Give the photographer a sense of what is important to you and bring up your biggest concerns first. Also ask about what style they prefer to shoot in, and what their background is? Ask whether they prefer to direct the action, or sit back and let the couple call the shots. Knowing this will give you a sense of whether or not their style matches with your personality.
How closely do you work with brides and grooms when shooting their big day? Do they give you instruction or do you give them instruction or both? Does it pay off for a client to do a bit of pre-planning?
I always tell clients that when it comes to photographing their wedding, I will take or give as much or as little instruction as they would like. If they want to be in charge and pose every photo, I’m happy to sit back and enjoy the ride. If they want me to arrange everything, I’m just as happy to do that. If they want to run the show, I will always make suggestions when appropriate, but my bottom line is: ‘It’s your wedding day, you should get what you want.’
Many brides and grooms have never worked with a photographer before. Any advice for first timers who don't know what to expect?
Always let a photographer know what you want. They work for you. If you have a list of must have pictures, then make sure you give it to the photographer. It’s important to sit down and discuss what you want, and allow the photographer to make suggestions. Good photographers will prioritize the photos you want, and not the photos they think you should have.
On the other hand, having a professional photographer gives you the option to let them do what they do best. If you give a professional a list, you’ll get all those photos, plus ones you never would have thought of. Many times the lists that I receive from clients of “must have” pictures is a portion of the list that’s stored in the back of my head of “pictures I have to get.” After the number of weddings I have photographed, I have a pretty good sense of what people want, but I love when clients let me know what is most important to them. My favorite question I get asked all the time during wedding photo-shoots is “Did we get everything you need?” My answer is always “It’s your wedding…did we get everything you wanted?”
It varies from photographer to photographer. Some photographers are very outgoing and some are very quiet and introverted. Always meet with or at least have a phone conversation with your photographer before hiring them. It’s good to meet with them at least once if you can.
Picking the right photographer is kind of like dating. You have to like how their work looks, but you also want to make sure you are compatible. Some photographers produce absolutely beautiful work, but are less then pleasant to work with. Usually you can find someone of the same style and quality that is easygoing and fun to work with.
What can an experienced, professional photographer offer that an amateur cannot?
A professional has probably been to more weddings in the past year then you have in your entire life. They’ve seen it all. They know when something is going to work, and when it just will not. A pro can “save the day” many times just because they’ve seen things go wrong and are generally prepared.
I always carry on me a tide-to-go pen, breath mints, extra batteries (even sizes that I don’t use), extension cords, scissors, a flashlight, tape of all kinds and even hair-ties and safety pins (the list goes on). I carry those things because I’ve been in situations where that one little item makes a huge difference.
In the same vein, I know how to get the shot no matter what the circumstances. Knowing where to stand during the ceremony is not something that you learn overnight. Everyone has a camera nowadays and they will get in the way of the photographer. Professionals know how to avoid this. I can usually spot the person that is going to be the biggest problem. Sometimes I speak with them ahead of time, but if I cannot, I know how to work around it. Professionals also have the right equipment for every job, and can take great pictures even in the most difficult situations. The adage that “you get what you pay for” applies to a high degree with wedding photographers.
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