Your wedding photographer does so much more than snap shots on the big day.
Choosing a photographer may be one of the most daunting tasks when planning your wedding. You have to consider price, availability and—perhaps most importantly—style. After all, there's no point in hiring a highly recommended photographer if you don't like the images he or she creates. Your photos play a big role in how you'll remember your wedding day for years to come, especially since most couples agree the day goes by so quickly.
Wedding photographers are responsible for more than just taking photos. Through their art, they are tasked with telling the story of your entire wedding experience, from the first look to the last dance of the night. This is why appreciating the style of your selected photographer is so important; it will be evident throughout the story of your day. Photos are a great reminder of moments—both big and small—worth remembering.
Making the Connection
When Kate Morgan-Kocher and her husband, Tyler Kocher, were searching for a photographer for their July 25, 2015, wedding, they met with quite a few companies. After reviewing Nicole Dixon Photographic's work both online and in person, Morgan-Kocher says hiring Dixon “was a quick decision.”
Dixon says the first step in selecting a wedding-day photographer is determining your preferred personality and style. “Take note if you like black-and-white, fashion-driven or candid photos, for example,” she suggests. She also recommends meeting several photographers in person; while it is important to like their work, it is equally as important to know your personalities match well.
Erica Ott of Rick Buchanan Photography reiterates how important it is to connect emotionally with your photographer, even beyond liking his or her style.
“[Your photographer] will be with you all day, probably more than your own wedding party,” she says. “They help coordinate, keep things moving and energize crowds.” Ott cautions that a lack of emotional connection can put a damper on the day. “People will notice and not be as energetic in front of the camera,” she says.
Danielle and Ashlynn Maludy were picky, if not specific, about selecting a photographer for their Oct. 8, 2016, wedding. “I wanted someone whose style was natural and timeless, someone who paid attention to the little details but also captured unique, one-of-a-kind images,” explains Danielle.
The couple searched online and attended wedding shows to talk to companies whose images and displays inspired them. “In both instances, we found ourselves falling in love with Brett Loves Elle [Photography],” run by husband-and-wife duo Brett and Elle Reed, Danielle says. “They made us feel comfortable in front of the camera, made us laugh and, above all, captured some of the most amazing pictures.”
In order for your wedding's photography story to feel authentic, it is important for you to feel comfortable, whether you are strolling through German Village holding hands during engagement photos or making silly faces with your bridal party after the ceremony. If you can find a photographer who allows you to feel comfortable in front of the camera, the final photo collection will truly reflect your love story.
According to Benjamin Derkin, owner of Derk's Works Photography, the best thing you can do is to trust the photographer you select to represent you in the best way. “This does a world of good for your ability to be fully present on your wedding day instead of worrying about how you look in images,” he says.
For other couples, all the research in the world can't compare to a personal recommendation. “I did so much internet searching,” says Yasmine Makridis of her quest for a photographer, which she says was slightly overwhelming since there are so many options in Central Ohio. A friend mentioned Ben Barnes, who owns Northmoor Studios, so Yasmine and her now-husband, Dimitri Makridis, scheduled a meeting. “We got a good vibe from him,” Yasmine says, which was just one of the factors that led her and Dimitri to hire Barnes for their Aug. 6, 2016, wedding.
“We were very clear. We wanted it to feel and look fun,” she adds. “We had a Greek wedding with more than 300 people. We really wanted to capture the reception, with people having fun and dancing, because it's such a unique experience, and Ben's photo style captures dancing really well.”
The Big Day (and Beyond)
“I like to have a personal style, which I evolve by studying and evaluating each couple,” says Dixon. “I want to portray them honestly, to tell a truthful story.” Dixon describes her style as “somewhat photojournalistic,” focusing on candid, storytelling shots rather than posed portraits. However, she says you can still be creative and tell a story with posed photos, which are different for every couple. “If the couple is more outgoing, I'll go one way, and change direction if they are more reserved,” she says.
Another aspect of Dixon's style is her propensity toward saturated colors. During the editing process, she works to bring out bright, vibrant colors, while keeping the quality of the images as pure as possible. She begins her editing process by identifying her favorite images based on what's flattering to the couple and what tells the best story.
For Ott, a degree in fine arts affects her approach and creative decisions. “I like my colors true, vibrant and clean, but that's just one of many styles photographers could have,” she says.
Ott adds that she believes every artist's style changes over time. “I feel like I have found my niche, and a lot of people are responding to it,” she says, adding that when she first started shooting weddings, she was inspired by other artists' work in magazines, for example. “I really think style develops over time, just like any artist, whether you are a painter, printer or photographer,” she says.
Ott has learned that she gravitates toward overexposed photos and neutral tones that don't pull either blue (cool) or yellow (warm).
Hillary Ferguson of Hillary Ferguson Photography says while she wouldn't label her style in a specific way, portraits are her favorite part of a wedding shoot, as well as capturing candid moments between couples and their family and friends. She adds that while it is becoming more common for photographers to hire photo editors to finalize images, she still prefers to edit her own work.
Ferguson says it is easy to assume that the wedding itself is the most time-consuming part of the deal, but in fact, the editing process is just as labor-intensive. She says she starts with color correcting and cleaning up subjects' skin, while simultaneously creating “a nice mix of enhanced and black-and-white images.”
Dan Buckley of Dan Buckley Photography says he prefers to shoot in a documentary style; this storytelling approach to capturing a wedding day carries through to his editing, meaning he uses his best judgment to select photos that represent the day's story. “From there, I start the actual editing and further eliminate anything that is redundant, has technical issues or isn't necessary to the narrative,” he says. “Visually, my work is a blend of styles and has been described as artistic, dramatic, classic and editorial.”
Sharing the Narrative
When AddVision Studios sent final photos of Ashley and Kevin Stephan's May 29, 2016, wedding, they were organized by category, which the bride says helped the couple easily review photos from their day.
Anita Silva Coil and Jarrod Coil also used AddVision for their wedding just a few months later. Silva Coil jokingly says her favorite photos of the day are “all of them,” but she especially loves the first look photos the couple had taken at Frank Fetch Park in German Village. She says the AddVision team “captured great angles, natural poses and the true feeling of Jarrod and I on that hot August day.”
Derkin says that he has only ever offered a full-day wedding package because he wants to be present for the entire experience and not have to worry about how much time he has to capture the story of the day. “I prefer to come home from a wedding, dead tired and full of joy, knowing that I gave the couple everything I had to give in every regard,” he adds.
From the initial meeting to delivering the final product, photographers agree their priority is to tell the story of the day in the most authentic and aesthetically pleasing way possible, while accentuating the day's most prominent highlights. And because weddings are always a joyous occasion, it brings out the best in their subjects, which only makes telling the truest story easier.