You’ll be looking at your wedding photos for years to come, so you might not want to rely solely on your slightly tipsy friends’ iPhones. We asked Cleveland wedding photographer Lane Baldwin of Lane Baldwin Photography (330-705-7904) and Jason Miller of Pixelate Photography Design (216-224-8739) to share some advice on how to pick the right photographer and get amazing photos of your big day.
Tips for selecting a photographer
1. Know your style. Are you into candid photos or do you prefer posed shots? What about urban or county, chic or vintage? Make sure you know what you like and choose your photographer to match, Baldwin says. “If you’re a big-city couple but choose a vintage photographer, your wedding photos may disappoint,” she says.
2. Look at photographers’ portfolios. “I can’t say this enough: Make sure your photographer has experience shooting weddings, and make sure you like what you see in their portfolio,” Baldwin says. A photographer’s portfolio is one of the most important measures of whether you should hire him or her, Miller agrees. When it comes down to it, you’re paying for how creative that person is at documenting your wedding day. If you don’t see what you like in the portfolio, don’t hire him or her.
3. Pay attention to response times. If you’re waiting days for an inquiry response or it takes a week to set up a meeting time, it’s probably a clue that the whole wedding photography experience will be similar, Baldwin says. For some couples, this is OK. Just make sure you know your expectations ahead of time.
4. Meet your photographer. After the person you’re getting married to, the photographer is the person you’ll see the most on your wedding day, Miller says. That means you’d better like him or her. If you meet for coffee and your senses of humor are completely different or your thoughts on wedding photography don’t match, you’re probably not a good fit. “Imagine trying to get natural, candid wedding photos when you don’t think your wedding photographer’s jokes are funny,” Baldwin says.
5. Communicate. Make sure you’re real with your photographer. If you’re nervous about something, tell him or her. If you have questions, ask. Wedding photos are personal, and you really build a relationship with your photographer, Baldwin says. Make sure he or she knows all your needs and wants to keep that relationship strong — even when it comes to the bill, Miller says. Don’t be afraid to ask to customize the items you’re paying for. If you would like additional prints instead of a DVD, just ask. “Most photographers are happy to accommodate custom packages,” he says.
Tips for getting fabulous wedding photos
1. Get to know your wedding photographer. Let your photographer get to know you. “It’d be more fun to get your wedding photos taken by a friend, right?” Baldwin says. “Well, your photographer should be just that!” Invite him or her into your social media circle and start interacting in a more casual atmosphere. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram make it super easy to start a conversation.
2. Do an engagement session. You’ll know exactly what to expect on your wedding day if you do a session with your photographer ahead of time, Baldwin says. This will alleviate any nerves you have about getting your photo taken. It’s definitely not worth stressing about photos on your big day; you have a few other things to think about. It’s a great way to really get to know your photographer, Miller says, and it gives you some photos to use for invitations or a guest book.
3. Think about the light. You know those beautiful, airy photos you see in wedding blogs and magazines? Baldwin says they all have one thing in common — incredible light. When you’re planning your getting-ready spot or your ceremony location and time, consider how much natural light your photographer will have to work with. When in doubt, ask your photographer for advice.
4. Consider a first look. Choosing to see each other before the ceremony can be good for various reasons: It allows you an intimate moment with each other before the craziness of the day begins, it can alleviate nerves, and it allows more time for wedding photos. “I, personally, don’t push first looks on my couples, but I’m always excited when they choose to do one because I know their wedding photos will be extra fabulous,” Baldwin says.
5. Relax! Have fun. The best way to get amazing photos is to have fun and play in front of the camera, Miller and Baldwin say. “You’re getting married to your best friend, so forget about the camera and focus on your spouse,” Baldwin says.
Miller’s instructions for the care and feeding of your wedding photographer
1. Talk to me. Good photography takes a little planning. One of the best things you can do to make sure your day goes smoothly is to plan out the itinerary with your photographer. About a week before the wedding, have a face-to-face meeting with your photographer and talk about all the photos you want and how they’re going to be accomplished.
2. Help me. I don’t know your family. Thus, if you want Aunt Louise in a photo, you’re going to need to enlist someone who knows what Aunt Louise looks like. Family photos always go faster and smoother if there’s a family member who can help corral everyone.
3. Trust me. An experienced photographer will know how to deal with a rainy day or a delay because of Aunt Louise. When the photographer suggests a change in the game plan, go with it.
4. Feed me! Seriously, people, no one wants to see photos of you eating. While you’re eating dinner is the perfect time for your photog to take a break and grab a bite. Make sure there’s something for him or her to bite.
5. Be happy. I know this sounds cliche, but if you aren’t having fun, it will show in the photos. Your photographer will try to coach you on how to pose and where to stand, but the best photos are spontaneous.