A Different View & Finding the Right Wedding Photographer

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What are you looking for in your wedding photographer? Someone who shoots images you love, who you quite like as person and that fits within your budget I’d assume. But today let’s look a little deeper. I want to talk to you about photographic style, and hopefully to highlight the importance of the art of your wedding photography. Bear with me, this is all starting to sound a little airy fairy and arty farty but I do have a valid point I promise…

I believe that all photography – illustrated in no better a place than weddings – is art. No question. In my mind no other creative has to work as quickly or to such precision as a wedding photographer. They are required to capture fleeting moments and blink and you’ll miss them memories on the most important day of someone’s life. No pressure right?

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I may have always known this, I mean I’ve been banging on about how much I love and respect wedding photographers for years, but it wasn’t until recently, just last month in Paris in fact, that the validity of the art itself became so clear to me. Yeah, yeah, yeah – I’m going off on an airy fairy tangent again. OK let me clarify…

For our Parisian jaunt, we had both Lisa Devlin and Shell de Mar shooting us. Having such a busy few weeks beforehand we hadn’t really planned the shoot extensively – we were just going to rock up to our apartment, find the Eiffel Tower and hopefully make some magic. The day went great, the locations were perfect and we had outfits that worked really well (sounds stupid, but makes such a difference when you’re doing shots of the three of us together!) All in all we were pretty chuffed with what we’d pulled out of le sac magique.

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But when we got both Lisa & Shell’s images back one thing really stood out – their styles and artistic voices were extremely different. The images were taken in the same locations, with the same models and the same light, but their individual interpretations of the story were like night and day. My first reaction was “Oh crap, how am I going to blog these together?” but then something hit me – why should I blog them together? Why should they work as one set?

The images have been captured by two photographers with two very different temperaments, styles and visions. Of course their images were going to look at odds with each other. This realisation was actually very enlightening. I mean, I know that each photographer captures things in their own way, but I’d never seen it illustrated so literally before. I’d never seen a side by side comparison. After all, usually there’s just one primary photographer at a shoot or wedding.

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 Images on the left by Lisa Devlin, images on the right by Shell de Mar

So brides & grooms-to-be, think about exactly what it is you’re looking for in your wedding photographers art. Is it filmic textures, bright sun flare, a warm glow or a moody and dark aesthetic that appeals to you? Do you like photos that are very posed or super off-the-cuff and relaxed? Do you like when the whole image is in focus or when the background objects are blurred? Do you prefer mostly black & white over colour? Do you care if your photographer shoots film or digital?

Write your answers down and refer back to them when it comes to picking your wedding photographer. You’ll be surprised how much easier it will make the narrowing down process. After all, you’re not looking for the best photographer technically, you’re looking for the best photographer for you.

I’d also love to hear from those of you who’ve already picked their wedding photographer. What was it about the photographer’s work that really spoke to you? Was there one particular image or specific characteristic of their work that made you know they were the one for you?

You can see Lisa’s images from this shoot here and here and the rest of Shell’s in the gallery below. I’m just glad we didn’t have to pick between the two!

Supporting Cast

58 comments

  1. Our photographer is the one who has given me butterflies whenever I’ve seen her images, from her very first wedding onwards. It also helps that I know she won’t make the boy feel like a Numpty standing and smiling awkwardly for ages – he’s a classic Chandler!

  2. Louise

    Our photographer is someone I’ve known since my awkward teenage years. I love her photography style, and that she can capture so much emotion in a shot, but just as importantly someone who I will feel comfortable having around, particularly in the emotional time before the wedding. So I think I probably picked Sassy before M even proposed!
    To be honest, I think I would have picked her regardless of how long I’ve known her, her style is so perfectly matched to the style we have in mind for our day.
    M did say at the time, if I was sure because I am totally obsessed with a photographer called Chloe Rice – I can’t even describe how beautiful and joyful her pictures are (she’s not a wedding photographer anyway!) and her style ofr capturing the beauty and joy are so different to Sassy’s. To be honest, even if I could find a wedding photographer who was just like Chloe, I wouldn’t have gone for them because that style just wouldn’t have fitted our day.

  3. Such a good idea to present the two sets in this context along with some good advice. I would like to add that I find couples are often drawn to book me if they see I have photographed a wedding which has some elements of their own wedding. ie if I blog a tipi wedding I will get a batch of tipi wedding bookings. I don’t think this is a google thing either as couples express that they are looking for someone who has photographed a tipi/vintage/etc etc wedding as reassurance. For many couples this will probably be the first time they have thought about photography beyond holiday pictures so your advice is really important.

  4. Thank you Kat, it is oh so important to find the right photographer, from their style to their attitude. If you can find someone with common interests and feel like you are on the same page you will know you have found the right person. If you can have a laugh and help each other to capture the day they you will make some new best friends.

    We always meet with our couples and it’s such a nice feeling when we get on like we have known each other for years. We are always open and honest with every aspect of our business and the things that are important to us.

    It may sound weird but if we finish a couples meeting knowing we were ourselves then it doesn’t matter if they book us or not. If we the right people they will book if not then it wasn’t meant to be. Likewise couples should meet the photographers they like and see who they hit it off with.

  5. Bex

    Beautiful photos, both of them.
    We’re in photographer limbo at the moment. Our wedding is in September but we haven’t booked anyone yet. I know far to many people that have been disappointed with their wedding photos but everyone we love is way over our budget.
    A friend has offered to take our photos, i love her photos but shes not a photographer. So now I’m stuck with the dilemma of someone cheap (but still a lot of money on a budget wedding) who’s photos we might not like or having my friend do it and have nice shots but no fancy editing.
    To be honest the hole photographer thing stresses me out and is the least favourite part of our whole wedding planning so far.

  6. Post author

    Hey Bex
    dont be stressed! i would probably have to dissuade you from having a friend take the photos. they might be a great photographer but shooting weddings is a VERY different beast… also what if you get the photos back and you dont like them? it might damage the friendship.

    if you drop me an email with your budget and what kinda photos you are after, i’ll see if i can help! i might know some people that would be suitable but if i was you i’d try and save money elsewhere so you can get a photographer you love. its SO important (and often people dont realise HOW important until after the wedding unfortunately)

    xx

  7. Becca

    I couldn’t agree more. Price wasn’t really an issue because photography was so important. Our house is literally littered with photographs so why scrimp on a day you spend (according to Brides magazine) at least six full weeks planning.

    Our photographer only shoots film but nothing could fit with our light, white, blush toned wedding more perfectly. I must admit being swayed slightly by the people-moments that Lawson Photography capture but their digital dark moody inspired photographs wouldn’t suit the overall look and feel of our wedding. In the end, despite looking at a million blog posts I’m confident I could pick out the work of our photographer from the others as being really special. I literally cannot wait to see the results.

    4 months and 1 day to go.

  8. Rachel

    OMG these photos are stunning… all of them… and you girls look stunning, as always!
    What street is it in Paris, I’m going on a backpacking honeymoon to Italy with a two day stop over in Paris and it looks like this was a perfect place to get some gorgeous photos of the Eiffel Tower!

    And the post is great by the way. We’ve got our photographer, she’s a darling, but I would definitely recommend having a search for your perfect photographer and spending the extra money if needed!

    xxx

  9. This is really great advice! I think a lot of people are swayed too much by the less important but more obvious factors and pay less attention to the actual photography. You hit it right on the head.

  10. Donna

    Personally, photography is the most important part of our wedding, well apart from actually gaining a husband hehe but yeah… I knew what I wanted by the mood and tone of the photos and I found over and over every wedding I loved was by Sassy, so the great seas dividing us couldn’t stop me from hiring her!

    I love how she makes all kinds of people look amazing, they all said how relaxed they were in her presence, she’s not afraid to get a fun shot, she edits photos like a genius, she has a bit of a retro bride, and j know she works her butt off to get the perfect shot.

    The thing is, I honestly couldn’t see anyone else shooting our wedding. I feel no stress at all knowing it’s in her hands.

    Also, I’m to the pound now where I actually recognise her photography before I even read her name attached to it, so that makes me know she’s the one for us!!!!

  11. Post author

    Rachel – i think it was called Rue de l’universite and was literally like around the corner from the tower. defo worth a visit!

  12. Lovely images – and a really interesting point to make about how different photographers interpret the same scene differently, telling the version of the story as they see it hence the importance of finding someone who see’s things in a way that you love!

  13. whilst all the images are great, the light that shell has seen/found/created in the bottom eiffel tower shots just makes my heart sing. beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!

  14. Super cool to see the images from the same moments side by side! I love this kind of thing. (I often have these random ideas – like that I would like to give the same movie script to two different directors, and then compare the two entirely different resulting movies. Because it would be fascinating!).

    Anyway, thanks for always stressing how important wedding photography is, and being our champion, Kat!

  15. Great post and so illuminating to see two photographers shoot the same scenes and see the difference, side by side. It’s not just the processing style, but there’s subtle changes in angle and the use of light which makes ALL the difference to the finished art.

    The overwhelming response I get from my clients when they’re asked why they chose me is twofold: one being ‘I love the look of your images’ (as in the colour techniques & use of light) and also ‘because of the way you capture natural moments.’ The second is one that can’t be shown side by side to illustrate different photographer’s approaches, as in the images above (if only!) as it’s to do with how one photographer views what’s going on in a crowd of people and zeroes in on certain happenings, a touch of hands, a child’s expression, a look between two people. That very personal approach to documentary photography is hugely important, and when you’re choosing a phtoographer, if documentary images are important to you (which they are, right?) then make sure you see a whole bunch of their reportage stuff, as well as the couple’s posed work.

  16. Some great advice here Kat! I think choosing the right wedding photographer, to suit the bride & groom’s style can be the most difficult part of wedding planning. I will be sure to direct our brides to this article, before making that important decision!

    The pics with the Eiffel Tower in the background are absolutely stunning – je t’aime!! ;) Btw you girls look lovely in all of the pics!!! :)

    Jessica – Soirée de Luxe xx

  17. JoJo

    i feel extremely lucky that i have such a talented photographer friend, the one and only mr mcneil. its the only part of the wedding budget i refused to scrimp on (much to james’ annoyance!).

    my dear friend had her wedding photos back from her photographer (who she paid £300 for) last month and she was extremely disappointed with them. not saying price = quality for every person, but unfortunately most of the time it does!

  18. Post author

    Ick Jo Jo I feel bad for your friend :-( But £300? sheesh…i think as a general rule you really do get what you pay for!

  19. I was shocked to see this blog from a non photographer. Kudos for seeing beyond the surface, Kat, and thank you for making your readers more informed decision makers.

  20. Phil

    Hi Kat,
    Great article!
    You’re right about the choice of the photographer being so important. I had a very lucky escape, though we’ve not had our wedding yet! I’ll explain; we found a photographer that seemed fairly nice, his pictures were so-so, some quite nice ones but nothing that blew us away. But he was pretty cheap, and we’re on a tight budget, so we booked him. £300 deposit paid.

    Then, some time later, he sends us a link, he’s shot another wedding at the same venue that we’regetting married in, in August.
    We sit at our computer in excitement, click the link, and… They’re horrible.
    We were really upset. The photographer we’d booked just wasn’t right for us. In a big way. We tried really hard to like his photos, we even tried to select the best 50 so that we wouldn’t be influenced by the lesser shots. We couldn’t choose more than 30!

    Then, the clouds parted! We discovered the wonderful Penny and Martin of Tino & Pip Photography. Not only are they lovely, and are AMAZING photographers, but they were ‘us’! We love their reportage style, and their artisticness that is beautiful without being poncy.
    It was a revelation; the photos would be our memories for the rest of our lives, much more important than what our guests will eat for dinner and won’t remember anyway.
    So… We cancelled our original photographer, even though we lost our £300 deposit, we re-prioritised our finances, and found the money to book Tino & Pip.
    We just know that it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made, we regularly check out T&P’s latest work (just in case!) but we simply reassure ourselves ever time, they’re always great and always us!

    So, roll on August 23rd. We can’t wait for the photos….

  21. Great article Kat! I’ve been reading all the comments as well and it’s so refreshing to hear people talk about how much effort they have put in to finding their wedding photographer. I’m a recent photography graduate and have only shot 3 weddings so far, and 2 out of the 3 times the couple had no idea what they wanted for their images, they just booked me because I was offering a deal (because of just starting out). In one way it gives me complete creative control of what to offer them in terms of images, but then again I have absolutely no idea if it’s THEIR style or THEIR preferences, so it makes handing the images over so nerve-wracking! I guess it’s something that I will need to sit down and talk to them about first next time. You learn something new every day!

    Thanks again for the great post, I absolutely LOVE this blog and browse through it every day to get inspiration for my shoots!

  22. great article and seeing the photos side by side really helps illustrate it. I am going to share this with my brides and grooms : )

  23. Love the idea of having the two side by side, it’s amazing what different people see in the same situation…Can’t say i have seen that before…Most intriguing…:)

  24. Getting the photographer booked was one of the highest priorities on mine and Tom’s checklist and even now with 18 months to go is one of the few things we’ve actually sorted out.

    We cruised around a few photographers websites and time and time again without even realising we kept coming back to Chris Barber’s photos. We knew it had to be him and even though he is more expensive than we had originally budgeted we both know that after everyone has gone home and the day is over, our photos are the one lasting memory we’ll be left with. We’re sure stretching the pennies to fit him into our day is one of our best decisions yet.

  25. Kitschnkarma

    Sassy is shooting ours. The one thing I wouldn’t skimp on is photos. My fiancés friend was a bit miffed we didn’t take her up on her offer. I really didn’t want her to have the worry of that on the day and I swore I would have a professional photographer as one of the things I wouldn’t be swayed on. I think you have to feel an affinity with the photographer. My brother had an older professional guy who insisted on group shots of sections of family, eg brides family and grooms family and sisters etc. ad infinitum. It took ages to take them all and tbh they look rubbish. The informal style is so much better.

  26. Yet another fab post Kat! You explain here what I’ve been trying to explain to potential clients so perfectly, I’ll be sharing this post with anyone that cares to listen!!

  27. Great post! It’s brilliant when couples know exactly the kind of photographic style they’re after for their wedding It’s easier for them to choose their photographer – they know the right questions to ask and are really interested in finding the perfect person to shoot their day.

    Personal opinion – if a photographer doesn’t feel they’re an artist then they should find a new career! Like all other art forms, a passion for creativity and a dedication to continually improve and invent is essential.

  28. Sarah

    This article has been so useful! We’ve been really struggling to find the right photographer for us within our budget. I couldn’t put my finger on it for ages, I just knew we wanted something ‘us’ and ‘fun’ rather than lots and lots of posed photos which seem to take hours to shoot. having looked at this article and these photos, I’ve now realised it’s to do with the colour. I love really vibrant colours (thankfully, my boyfriend agrees!)and we want lots in our photos. We actually booked our photographer yesterday, and we liked the beautiful colours, props and gorgeous backgrounds he uses. Hopefully this (and the pre wedding shoot, which I am more than a little nervous about)will lead to some lively, contemporary photos with a slightly vintage feel. Phew!!!!

  29. Sarah

    I also have to say how great the other photographers we considered were. Having emailed the other photographers we had considered to let them know we had found our man, it was really nice to receive several emails back wishing us well and thanking us for considering them.

  30. Kat, I think this is one of the most thought provoking posts I have read on your blog, it’s very rare that you get to see two photographer’s perspectives of the same shoot or event and it is really interesting to see this direct comparison. Looking at the images in isolation I absolutely love the style and perpectives from both of them, however when I look at the images together, it encourages me to look for the things I would be looking for from a photographer. Thank you for posting this and beautiful images from both ladies :)

  31. When you find the right photographer you should know. You should feel it. You should be excited by every wedding they post in the run up to your big day. It’s so so SO important. I’ve been lucky enough that all my couples book me on my style. Such a good read!

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