June is the traditional month for weddings, and Ruidoso, with its stunning mountain setting and spectacular venues, has become a popular destination for unique and memorable weddings. Brides and their mothers spend days looking through bridal magazines for ideas that eventually crystallize into their vision of a dream wedding, including the images they want for posterity. Unfortunately, with the high cost of staging any wedding today, photography is often on the short list of cost-cutting measures.
From a professional standpoint, weddings are still one of the toughest events to photograph successfully. The photographer has to be unobtrusively on high alert for the duration of the event because moments are unexpected, full of emotion and transition quickly. There is only one chance to capture the first kiss or the groom’s expression when he sees his bride for the first time. The photographer who misses the shot, deprives the couple of the visual memory of a magical moment. With a sea of self-proclaimed professionals, eager amateurs, and well-meaning family members and friends with fancy cameras who offer their services for free, it is often much easier for a bride to pick out her wedding dress than it is to find the right wedding photographer.
From my interviews with brides, I have learned that they usually don’t know what they should expect from a photographer and which specific questions to ask to help them decide on one who will provide the services they want. The list below is by no means all inclusive but at least will give any bride a starting place.
1. Have a clear vision of what you want in terms of photography styles.
The Formal/traditional style was the wedding photography of our parents and grandparents. It’s the traditional bridal party poses, very formal and “perfect” These were and often still are done in a studio setting and sometimes not even on the day of the wedding.
Beware of photographers who proclaim that their style is photojournalistic. This usually means little or no re-touching or post-processing of the photos. While this genre is perfect for news, it’s not very flattering for brides. Commonly referred to as “shoot and burn,” this style appeals to some because of the lower cost, and more often than not, results in disappointment and regrets for the bride.
The Contemporary style is the most popular and sought after but does require the photographer to have good “people skills”. The formal portrait poses are modified to be more natural and expressive, and the candid shots of the event are processed and enhanced as standard portraits.
2. Visualize the photographer interacting with your bridal party.
Remember that this is a person who is going to be among your guests, possibly giving instructions and directing them for formal shots. If the personality rubs you the wrong way, how will you feel about an annoyance hanging around on your special day? Consider recommendations from previous clients and wedding planners. Can this photographer provide the service in a professional and courteous manner?
3. Consider the Products and Packages offered and discuss the possibility of customization.
Take a moment to visualize yourself in the future. What kind of pictures and albums do you want to be showing your children and grandchildren when they ask you about your wedding? Discuss your product needs with the photographer and make sure he or she can provide the products you want . Also ask about the longevity of any prints and digital products. You don’t want to open your package or album ten years later and find faded prints with ink bleed or CD’s with “bit rot.” If online accessibility to your photos is important, be sure to ask how long they remain online for ordering purposes.
4. Take a look at the photographer’s portfolio.
Don’t look only at wedding photos. Someone who shoots the same type of subject on a regular basis will eventually fall into a rut. Every wedding is unique and the only way a photographer can capture the uniqueness of each event and bride is to keep his or her eye “fresh” by occasionally venturing into other genres.
5. Read and sign a contract.
Be sure any customizations and product credits are included and anything else you consider important. Most contracts are standardized so that both parties are protected. For my brides, I also like to include an estimated time for product delivery.
My final and most important recommendation is to trust your instincts. While cost is always a consideration, don’t let it be the determining factor in your choice of a photographer. When memories fade over the years, it will be the photographs that help you relive the magic and joy of that special day. A wedding photographer needs to be a balanced mix of pleasant personality, ease of communication and quality of work. The bottom line for you as a bride is to select a professional who loves his or her work and clients, and is willing to personalize services and products for you. Remember that these photos are as much for your immediate family and for your future children and their children, as they are for you today.
Helene Kobelnyk is a lifestyle and fine art photographer and can be contacted at email@example.com or 575.354.2599.
(published in Ruidoso News Vamanos June 22, 2012)
For more information about booking a wedding, go to Wedding Photography by OHK.