Choosing the right photographer often isn't quite as simple as it seems. At first glance, it seems easy... You like the images you see, so you hire the person who took them. But there is much more that goes into making a really informed decision. At Billingsley & Co., we know very well that not every bride is a good match for our company. That doesn't mean she's a bad client or that we are bad photographers. The key to a successful day is finding the perfect fit for YOU. This article will help you do just that.
The first thing we need to do to select the right photographer is to understand the different styles of wedding photography available in today's market. But, before we start down that path, we need to stress one very important point.
Wedding Photography is Different
It simply is. There is nothing as challenging as wedding photography. There are a number of factors that contribute to the challenge of becoming a fantastic wedding photographer.
▪ Incredibly high expectations
▪ Fast moving uncontrolled events
▪ No control over lighting conditions
▪ Everything is rushed
▪ Location is not chosen by photographer
▪ Weather conditions are unpredictable
▪ It's not just about photography
All of these challenges are unique to wedding photography. There are lots of incredibly talented photographers who refuse to shoot weddings due to these, and other, challenges. Most photographers can get great images outside the confines of a wedding. Being able to consistently create great imagery during a wedding is a special skill that takes years to acquire. For this reason, it is incredibly important that you hire a photographer who has a lot of experience with weddings.
Photography Styles Tell a Story
Having shot over one thousand weddings in my career, I have gone through many different stylistic changes. Each style afforded my brides with not only a different look, but a different wedding day experience. This next section will delve into each style and explain how they affect your wedding images and experience in a different way. Let's start by outlining the different styles, explaining how they are different, and discussing how they can change your entire wedding. We will be discussing the following styles: "natural light", "photojournalism", "editorial", "fashion" and "vintage" photography.
The "Natural Light" Photographer
The "Natural Light" photographer is probably the most misunderstood and potentially hazardous style of all. By definition, this style of photography relies on light from the sun or the environment. The photographer makes no attempt to create light if needed, but they do use reflectors to shape light
There are a few "traps" brides can fall into when not properly vetting a "natural light" photographer. 99% of beginning photographers will advertise themselves as "natural light" photographers. The skill set needed to blend flashes with ambient light is difficult to master. It takes years for most photographers to acquire these skills, not to mention the cost of the best equipment. For this reason, the "natural light" crowd contains most of the inexperienced photographers.
However, there are incredibly talented "natural light' wedding photographers. And EVERY photographer will use natural light whenever it's available and the quality of light is good. But for most, claiming to be "natural light" is simply saying "I don't have a complete skill set". And if the light isn't good on your wedding day.... or it just isn't a pretty day.... be prepared for some really dreary photos.
In the mid to late 90's, as newspapers started to decline, photojournalists who were let go from the news business started to find a new career in wedding photography....hence the new style of "wedding photojournalism".
The trend hit big... even bigger than today's "Vintage" trend. But the style was organic and true to the training these photographers spent decades perfecting. They were truly capturing a wedding the same way they would capture a news event.
Today, most of those who espouse "photojournalism" as their style are simply adopting the term and are without any true training in the style. The term has morphed to describe a style where the photographer gives no instruction to any of the subjects. If you are standing in bad light and making a bad pose, they will just take the photo. No correction, no added lighting, no attempt to improve on the image in any way. They simply take photos of what happens. This style, more than any other, tends to not take any formal shots or create any styled images.
The marketing side of this style claims it is superior for "capturing the special moments" of your wedding day. In my experience, while they do tend to capture special moments, they also ignore opportunities to create some magical shots. But, for the bride who doesn't want to be a model on her wedding day, this is a good option. Your day will move along with no input from your photographer and you get images of whatever happens.
The "Editorial" Photographer
The term "editorial" refers to the process of editing the imagery in an effort to tell the best story possible. The style is borrowed from the magazine photographers who make slight changes in "real" scenarios to create images that are more powerful.
A good example to explain how editorial photography is different from photojournalism... A photojournalist will see your father come into the room and hug you and take a photo. An editorial photographer will know your dad is about to come in, so he'll put you in the light by the open window and have you face the left so when your dad enters, he has the best version of what is happening naturally. Editorial photographers may add light, move subjects or clear out backgrounds in an effort to make slight improvements to your wedding day imagery.
For brides who want the feel of photojournalism but more consistent, better, images.... and editorial style photographer is a great choice. They won't be as "hands off" as a photojournalist, but they won't be styling the shoot as much as other styles may.
The "Fashion" inspired wedding photographer
High fashion is all about perfection. If you hire a "Fashion" inspired wedding photographer, your wedding photos will be more about creating perfect images than waiting for moments to happen. The fashion photographer is hands on with styling, posing, creating and shaping light to get an image that will do the most to enhance your beauty. A priority will be placed on the "creative" portion of the wedding day and, in general, more time will be requested to create stunning images.
Of all the styles of wedding photography, Fashion is the one that will impact your wedding day the most. Don't get me wrong, a huge amount of brides want that "fashion shoot" feel before the ceremony. The desire to do everything to look amazing for your wedding photos is not uncommon and entirely understandable. With this style of photography, timeline planning and attention to detail is more important than with any other photography style.
The "Vintage" Wedding Photographer
The current "hot" trend these days is the vintage look. Photographers capture images of your wedding on digital cameras and then process them in software to emulate the look of old vintage film cameras. There are two factors driving this current trend.
With the invention of the digital camera, the old look of film all but disappeared for the past decade. The look of digital photography is clean and modern and the price of the equipment combined with relative ease of use has made photography available to everyone. In an attempt to combat the digital look and to differentiate themselves, the vintage group began using editing software to emulate older looks.
In addition to the digital camera, modern photo sharing apps like Instagram have contributed heavily to this style. This vintage style is referred to, in jest, as "instagram weddings". This refers to the heavy filtered look that instagram offers to its users.
The good news is that almost any photographer can click a button and turn a modern image into a "vintage" look. However, at Billingsly & Company, we always deliver the "vintage" image along with a modern version. Ten years from now, when the trend is gone, we want you to have a timeless image to go along with the "that was 2014" look.
The Commercial Wedding Photographer
The Commercial Wedding Photographer.........
Ok, so we made this name up. So sue us. Still, it's a good name to explain what we do. At times we sit back and capture moments. At times we make small suggestions to improve your image. At times we take control and style the image perfectly to give you a stunning image. We are a "jack of all trades" and combine all styles to give you a look that covers the entire range of what could be expected.
For most of our brides, they want it all. They want a photography company that makes an effort to be everything they may want, and some things they don't even know they want. We have the training and experience to do that for each of our brides....and can even lean to one style once the day is underway and we get a feel for what is appropriate for each wedding day.
Feel free to give us a call if you want to discuss your wedding day. We are getting pretty good at this ;-) 800.651.2707