I don’t read a lot of Wedding or Bridal Magazines. Ok, I don’t read any, but I do know that there are articles on the topic of “Budget Weddings” & “Fantastic Weddings on a Shoe String Budget” and so on. With the current economic outlook, I’m sure their will be more of these popping up in magazines and web sites like theKnot.com.
In regards to photography though, somewhere the recent myth of the student photographer shooting a wedding took off, but unlike Unicorns, there are actually college students who take good weddings photos. But there is a huge difference from finding some one to shoot your wedding for cheap and finding someone to shoot it cheap and good. If you are one of those people looking for that, read this before making you post on Craig’s List.
As a couple, the 3 most important things you will choose for your wedding in order are; The Dress, The location & The photographer. (see my previous blog post The 3 most Imporant Things). Those stories you’ve heard about someone having a student or a friend shoot their wedding and they got the most amazing pictures back… well they are real, but are few and far between.
If you want a great way to save a few bucks, start by not spending $15 each on a handful of magazines. Now before I get to far off topic, the reason of this post is about my arch enemy… The student photographer.
Well not really, I like student photographers and think any chance they can get for real world experience they should take it. I think a student photographer isn’t something that every bride wants, as much as I think that paying a lot for a bad photographer is something every bride wants to avoid.
All to often people look at photography as something they themselves can do and in turn are astounded by the cost of hiring a professional. While most people under stand that taking 1 great photo out of 100 does not make them Ansel Adams, thinking someone who has a little bit of schooling will definitely be better at it than you is a sound thought, but thinking they may someday be the next Ansel Adams isn’t exactly on the mark considering only 7% of people with a degree in the arts go on to make it a career.
First; Most people who’ve had luck with a student usually knew the photographer and were already impressed with their work before hand. If your cousin isn’t studying photography at an art school, or you don’t have a friend who’s roommate freelances for the local paper, chances are you aren’t one of the lucky few who can save money while still getting great results.
You should probably then be looking at getting a profession who’s work you like and who’s price you can afford.
Try getting someone who doesn’t require an album to be purchased, or if you want to buy the digital copies of the photos, see if you have an option to buy them after the wedding. Try putting off as much as you can till after the wedding.
While most vendors will want some type of payment (be careful when vendors want full payment up front), deposits that aren’t due at signing help in making a budget spread out.
But if you’re still hell bent on going this route here are a few suggestions.
Chances are if you are reading this, you have at least heard of the term “Photojournalistic Style Wedding Photography”, but what is it and why is it so popular?
Back in the day wedding photography consisted of a trip to a photo studio where a formal posed photo would be taken after the wedding. Mainly because cameras were far to large and churches were a lot more strict. When cameras got smaller, formal photos went from the studio to the aisle and eventually the reception. Since most of this work was done by studio photographers, it retained much of the look and feel of studio work. Heavily staged & formal. You can read more about the changes in wedding photography here.
So why did brides start to prefer a “Photojounalistic” look, over a glamorously posed photo studio session?
One big reason as mentioned in the article I linked to above was magazine coverage of royal weddings in England & Marolyn Monroe’s wedding by magazines like Life & Look. What’s more glamorous than having your wedding covered like a newspaper or magazine story.
Another was back in the 60′s & 70′s photojournalists started to photograph weddings out side of their newspaper work and it was often done using black & white film only and shot mostly as unposed candid images. They’d go back to their darkrooms and develop and print images up at a much lower cost than color film would allow. Why do you think they call it Photojounalistic Style.
Well the natural look of it took off and some in the Photojournalism industry left and started shooting weddings full time. Some wedding photographers never even worked in the industry, but employee similar techniques. Since Photojournalism isn’t really a style, it’s a field in photography, you’d truthfully be better off and I actually prefer to call it what it really is, which is “Documentary” style photography.
As I mentioned before “Photojournalistic Wedding Photography” has kind of become a buzz word in the wedding industry, but many outside of the photo world often mistake it for several things. Make sure when you are looking for a photographer who says they shoot “Photojournalistically”, that not only do they shoot documentary style, but that you actually know what that means yourself.
First a little bit about what “Documentary” style isn’t
1. A wedding shot in all black & white, is not documentary style. Black & White film was a cheap alternative to color film and many of the photojournalists I talked about above, started out shooting just in black & white. This is a film choice not a style. Although there is a different astetic to black & white photography. It is not a style in itself.
2. Different angles, close up & purposefully blurred photos, doesn’t make it documentary. All photographers strive to get different looks of a subject, myself included. These are part of a photographer personal style.
3. It has to be candid? No not really. It’s very hard to not notice somebody standing 2 feet from you with 3 cameras wrapped around their neck, but it’s easy to get use to that person being there and in time forgetting about them. Plus, all good documentaries have head shots or group photos. Looking at the camera isn’t a sin in this style, but doing the old “buddies with their arms around each others shoulders” photo isn’t what it is about.
So what is documentary style?
Basically it is the idea that what you are taking photos of will eventually have a final output, and ending if you will. Your wedding is essentially a story and capturing moments that happen during it are very important. Detailed images of rings, glasses, hands and so on are elements of that story and when laid out in a book or slide show, these images should flow together like a story without words, or voices.
A photographers personal style is their own, you can see this in their portfolio, as chances are it is a collection of the work they have done that they feel represents what they do best. A sample of how they photograph a wedding from start to finish,is a good indicator of the overall style they shoot in. Are they Documentary? Artistic? Commercial?
And while you may not have the eye that a photographer has to tell the difference, just know if you see a lot of straight on photos of people looking right at the camera, chances are that photographer won’t be laying upside down on the dance floor to get the guys diving for the garter. And if you see an image like the one at the top of the page, chances are that photographer isn’t going to grant somebodies request for a grip and grin photo.
There’s a photo I show in my full wedding presentation. It’s of a groom on the ground with his butt in the air looking under a bed. I love the weird look I get from brides, but the next photo is his cat, under the bed, because he was looking for it as friends and family gathered at his home prior to the ceremony. I always say that there’s a method to my madness. Make sure you ask about that method and figure out whether it’s right for you or not.