The Art of Wedding Photography

by Tony Schreiber

I got an amazing phone call today from a potential bridal client. She didn't know anything about wedding photography. Can you believe that? It only dawned on me as obvious just now. I told her that people don't often hire a wedding photographer and not to worry. Even as a photographer, I still know what that feels like. In my years as a photographer, I'd learned a lot about this business, so I wanted to give her the most honest information I could.

First, determine how important pictures of your wedding are to you. What you spend on photography is directly related to how important it is to you. Do you want quality or quantity? Do you want stylish images? Do you want posed pictures?

Wedding photography is just like any other creative job market. There are wannabees, seasoned pros, old-timers, and some without a clue -- all practicing different styles of photography. And in the mix, there are some talented individuals who love taking wedding pictures. I got married in 1993, and didn't know a thing about wedding photography back then and didn't really care either. Whatever my wife-to-be wanted was fine. I think we hired the first photographer we met because I can only remember meeting just one. I wasn't unhappy with the results, but I also didn't have any expectations. If you appreciate art, design and creativity, then you need ensure you get a photographer who speaks to those attributes.

Shop by value. Go with the vendor that gives you the most for your money. Know that you can hire a creative genius for $500 as easily as a no-talent hack for $5,000. When the person you hire is more important than the amount you spend, identify why and shop with those qualities in mind. Find photographers that meet your core values. Remember that price is no guarantee of quality. But your perception of quality depends on your expectations. As a photographer, I value artistic composition and technical proficiency. I expect a series of wedding images to be reasonably sharp and well-exposed. They should more often than not have style and artistic merit. They should, when well-executed, truly capture a moment. You "ooh" when you see a good wedding picture because you can sense (or remember) the emotion communicated by the image. If the moment matters, find the photographer that offers you as many "ooh" photos as you can afford.

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