It could be one of the hardest decisions you make in the whole wedding planning process. It could certainly be one of the most expensive. You’ve visited the wedding fair, you’ve googled it and you’ve come across hundreds of photographers. Unlike your other wedding suppliers (cake, flowers, dress), photographs aren't things you can hear, smell, taste or even see at first so careful research and selectiveness regarding professional skills, artistic style and personal demeanour are extra important when choosing your photographer.
We caught up with Robin of Robin Goodlad Photography to talk about capturing moments and sudden down pours…
I’m a full time professional wedding photographer based in Wimborne Dorset, but covering weddings across the South West and New Forest. My approach to weddings is to provide all day coverage from start to finish and to work in in an unobtrusive documentary style, observing and photographing the day as it happens. The couple write the script, and I record the story, adding a few sprinkles of creativity here and there to create some beautiful but relaxed and natural portraits through the day and give a really well balanced collection of photographs of the day.
Take your time and choose very carefully. The most important thing is to connect with the photographer's style and work as every photographer is different, as is what each couple wants from their photos. Look through complete weddings, not just a portfolio and think to yourself, would I be happy with these photos if they were mine? When your photos arrive, you need to love them and this comes from choosing a photographer who’s style and work you love, rather than picking one based on price, or how close they are, or how many weddings they have photographed at that venue. Meet plenty of photographers and go with your gut feeling. After the day, the photos are the one true record and the only tangible memory of your day, so choose carefully.
It all depends on when the wedding is - for peak summer Saturdays it can be up to 2 years in advance, whilst for midweek weddings it is possible to book a photographer just a few months in advance. Photography is up there on the list of priorities along with the date and the venue, as the best photographers get booked up fast for key summer dates.
If you have a lot of guests at the wedding, or if your bride and groom preparations are a distance apart, then yes it is worth having a second photographer, to give more depth in coverage. This will allow simultaneous uninterrupted coverage of key events such as both the bride and groom getting ready; and it is nice for each of you to see each other’s side of the story. Adding a second photographer will be a small addition proportionally, so it is certainly worth considering.
There is no hard and fast rule, it all depends on when your day really starts, often this is with the brides hair and make up. I always suggest being there about 3 hours before the service as a guide to allow plenty of time for scene setting photos, the details and of course the bride and groom preparations. Personally, I don't have time limits on the day, so any time is good for me and I always like to arrive early anyway just in case there are problems with traffic.
To me, it makes no difference whatsoever and I always recommend to couples to think the same way. What will be will be; you can't change the weather, so embrace it and enjoy the day. Rain adds drama, fun, reflections in puddles, and really nice flattering light. Sunny days can of course be perfect for sunsets and beautiful golden evening light, but the midday summer sun creates really harsh shadows and is actually not the best for photography, contrary to what you might think.
As a photographer, I adapt to the weather and make the most of what we have. I don't mind getting wet if you don't! As long as you have umbrellas and wellies on standby, you'll be fine. I also monitor the weather closely through the day with live rain data so I know when the best opportunities are going to be.
Every good photographer should have backups of everything and this is a really good question to ask when you are choosing your photographer. Accidents happen, cameras can get damaged and as a photographer it is really important to just carry on if anything happens.
I have photographed so many weddings now, that many shots are those which I always seek as standard, so there is no need to make a comprehensive list. Do you want a photographer to be looking at a list all day and trying to capture moments that aren’t necessarily real, or to observe your day and photograph what they see? Some moments on the list might not happen, so it can be difficult to guarantee that all photos will be there, for example a Dad’s reaction at a key time, when they don't react as you might expect them to. For balance, I ask my couples to give me a few key shots that are crucial to them, or key people to photograph, so I know what is really important to them and of course a list of group photos as well. Again, it comes down to choosing the right photographer and trusting them - if you have chosen right you will know you can trust them to capture everything about your day.
I always make sure I have a concise list from the couple and a few helpers who know who the guests are, so that we can get things organised quickly and effortlessly. When the group photos run smoothly and quickly, with lost of fun, then I find I get much more out of people. I try to keep arrangements simple and relaxed, and make sure we are not in bright sunlight of course to avoid squinting faces!
If the couple have chosen well, then a beautiful collection of photographs that truly reflect their wedding day and their expectations, which comes down to choosing the right photographer. Deciding whether you just want digital images, or an album is important as nothing showcases your photographs better for future generations than a beautiful album. Find out whether your photogrpaher will give you full resolution images to use as you wish, or if there are restrictions on the size and how you use them or print them. Personally, I don’t believe in charging couples twice, so always supply all full resolution images form the day which can be between 600-1000, depending on the size and duration of the wedding.
Picking your Wedding Photographer is an important decision, once the wedding is over these photos will hold all those memories and key moments.
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