Wedding Photographer in L.A.
For most people, a wedding day is singlehandedly the most significant day of their lives; a perfect day filled with careful and thoughtful preparation. Everything is important- from the dress you choose to walk down the aisle with, to the friends and family you have chosen to celebrate this day with- from the handpicked cocktails and starters to the elegant and gourmet dinner selections. Of all your days, this is a day that demands and deserves professional photo documentation.
Weddings are costly affairs and can be incredibly expensive. There are the groomsmen’s tuxedos, the bridesmaid’s dresses, the rings, the flower bouquets, the venue, the guest entertainment; the list goes on and on. What is left at the end of the day are your beautiful union and the memories that your wedding photographer captures for you. Don’t let the memories of this extraordinary event fade because you didn’t get the best possible photographer you could afford to be there for you.
Who should I choose to photograph my wedding?
This is not a trivial concern- because weddings just might be the toughest kind of photo assignment a photographer can do.
I hear you saying, “So shooting a party where everyone is having a great time is really hard, huh”? Well, it’s the truth.
Your wedding will most likely involve being outside and inside, perhaps from the strong direct sun dramatically lighting your Santa Monica beach vows to the darkness of a reception at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. It will require that we use a wide variety of professional camera equipment, lenses and lighting techniques to create the impactful images that punctuate the day and create the work that will go into your professionally designed wedding book and wall art.
A wedding all happens in one single take, with no opportunities for second chances. This person you’re looking for is important- they have to be good.
Sometimes, a guest can get lucky and take a good photo at a wedding. But pro wedding photographers get a cornucopia of great shots of the entire event, rain or shine, in or out, day or night.
Let’s discuss some of the issues and the specific criteria you should look for in a photographer before deciding to hire one.
How many years has this photographer been a professional?
As a 20 year photography veteran I can tell you that the general rule is to try to find a wedding photographer with at least 10 years of experience, 20 years or more is better. Less experienced studios and photographers will have a more difficult time delivering you excellent service and product-they just haven’t had the time yet to learn how.
The longer a photographer has been in business shooting, the better your odds of getting fantastic work. Don’t have a rookie shoot your wedding for practice so that you can save a few dollars. For your wedding, that’s penny wise and pound foolish, and it’s just not worth it.
It takes many years to become great at professional wedding photography. It can be high stress if a new photographer lacks the camera, lighting, and social skills to handle your wedding. This will show up in less than fantastic images of your important day, and result in a great deal of sadness and disappointment to you.
A wedding day is intense, and while many things go right, unexpected things can happen. You want to make sure that a photographer can handle an uncooperative guest, or maybe sweet talk someone at a venue to get an amazing shot that he sees that a new person to the business never could.
A veteran photographer like myself, has back up cameras, backup lenses, backup flashes and let me just say it- backup EVERYTHING. If a camera takes a dump into the ocean at your Malibu wedding, another camera comes out 2 seconds later and we’re still shooting. New photographers are just starting- they haven’t had the years to afford or accumulate not just their first proper set of photo tools, but also probably lack a complete second set of gear should something go wrong.
And you may never notice. Because how can you know what shots were missed when the photographer’s only flash at your wedding stopped working at the reception.
A photographer who has been in business many years is also more likely to carry the professional business liability insurance that a newbie hasn’t even considered purchasing. The insurance is an additional layer of safety for you and your guests should something un-forseen happen.
Lastly, here is something to look out for- never fall for the bait and switch wedding photography studio trick.
Some wedding photography studios have discounted prices for associates if you can’t afford the star photographer (usually the owner of the studio, and the creator of all the work you love). He is the professional, his assistants are not. You will never get the same level of work quality from the discounted package with the studio’s younger associate photographers. Never.
What is the Photographer’s personality like?
The internet has made us all very comfortable ordering online for things sight unseen. You should NOT be looking to use the same tact to hire your wedding photographer.
If you like the photographer’s work and the telephone conversation or email exchange you have with them, and he offers to meet you, take him up on it!
You will get an opportunity to see how your personalities connect and maybe get to see and touch real products that the photographer offers. Your photographer will be with you all day, and be working close with your family and friends.
You’ll be able to determine pretty quickly from the way they speak, dress and carry themselves whether or not this is the person you want to hire.
What is the best style of Wedding Photography?
Over the year’s there’s been a trend for wedding photographer’s to classify themselves as traditional shooters, photo-journalistic, or alternative. Some choose to come down hard in one camp or the other. So what is the best style of wedding photography?
The answer is that you really want a mix… and her’s why. Unless you and your fiancee don’t have any living family members alive or care about, you need those traditional family shots.
The photojournalistic shots prevent your album from looking like a collection of humanoid deer in headlight shots and they’re great. But what if you and your fiancee aren’t professional models? You’ll need the traditional direction from your photographer to make your book look great.
As far as the alternative shots- the cutting edge different perspective, special effects and color work that photographer’s can produce- you definitely want some of that, too! But you probably wouldn’t be happy with an ultra avant guard collection of just your wedding parties’ shoes and none of their faces!
Why is this all important?
Your kids, your grand kids, and your great grand kids will all want the opportunity to see wedding day; the images from this event form a family thread through generations.
If you cut too many corners and choose the wrong photographer, the event that you’ve so carefully crafted together may never get an opportunity to tell the real story of what happened on your special day. This happens more often than my studio likes- I’ve seen it in the photos I’ve been emailed after a bad studio ruined someone else’s wedding asking me if there’s anything at all I can do to save or recover bad photos, to some complaining they have been waiting more than a year to see their photos.
When you find someone whose work and personality you like is available for your date, book them! You won’t be sorry. Good wedding photographers’ calendars fill up fast and since their are only a limited number of weekends in a year, you could lose your photographer to another couple tying the knot.
And finally, if you’re happy with the photographer’s work at the end of the evening, feel free to tip them! You just may get some extra special love shown to you when you’re images and products are delivered to you.