On your big day, it can be difficult to give up all control, sit back, and trust the people you’ve hired to create exactly the event you’ve envisioned. Especially when it comes to how it will be remembered. After all of the time, patience, and careful effort you’ve dedicated to picking out just the perfect type of orchid, the perfect shade of moss, and a dress that both encapsulates your need for bling and meets your mother’s strict and modest style requirements, you want to ensure that every single one of these aspects gets the attention it deserves.
Even if your friends and family don’t notice that the lace wrapped around your bouquet matches the lace in your centerpieces, you surely want someone to. If there is anyone who is as appreciative of the little things and as aesthetically observant as you are, it’s your photographer. Experienced wedding photographers know that their eyes need to be everywhere–from your dress, to your guests, to the cake, and all simultaneously. They’ll need to capture both the gorgeous details as well as the once-in-a-lifetime moments that will come together to create one of the most amazing days of your life.
Joseph Kohn, an owner and wedding photographer at IQphoto in San Francisco, recommends that couples start with good research. Once you’ve found a photographer whose style, eye, and technique you like, make sure to obtain testimonials–both online and in person, if possible. You’ll find that clients are most likely to take the time to post a review in the event of an extreme experience–if they think the service was especially wonderful or just downright terrible–so it’s easy to discover a photographer’s strengths and weaknesses rather quickly. However, beware of one-off reviews. Don’t let one lone person claiming an atrocious experience ruin a long list of positive reviews if a particular photographer catches your eye.
The most essential aspect of the client-wedding photographer relationship is trust–both logistic and artistic. In moments of hesitation, keep in mind that you’ve chosen your photographer for a reason–and, more likely, many. “It’s a combination of personal relationships, your work, and previous customer experiences,” says Kohn. “There must be trust based on those three things.”
Without it, you’ll find it very difficult to fully enjoy your big day–constantly running after the photographer to ensure you like what and how he or she’s shooting. “You’re working with real artists, real professionals, and at this point you really have to trust them. It’s not a good idea to put artistic boundaries on them because it will most likely affect the work, Kohn advises. “The relationship between clients and photographers must be based on trust or the photos will not reflect the story of that special day.”
Building that trust can be difficult. In most cases, you probably don’t feel comfortable enough to ask your photographer out for, say, a coffee date. However, you’ll find that many professional wedding photographers are experts at helping to put your mind at ease by getting to know you both individually and as a couple.
While your photographers will obviously need to know every last detail about the wedding, the process of getting to know you can really help them capture more personalized imagery. “We want to know your schedule (for the wedding), how you two met, what you like about our photos. (I want you to) show me what you want to see in the end, show me photographs you like. It’s not really related directly to the wedding, it’s just a long conversation. We want to get the couple’s story and understand who they are,” says Kohn.
By talking with you about some of your ideas and expectations, wedding photographers get a better sense of your style, your personality, and your goals. In the more casual setting of a conversation, both parties are able to speak more freely, and with all of the questions photographers will ask you–often asking similar questions in different ways to get a better sense of what you’re really looking for–there’s a better chance that they’ll have a deep understanding of exactly what it is you want.
All of this only helps to solidify the trusting relationship you’re nurturing with your wedding photographer. Think about it. Would you rather have your sister or a friend-of-a-friend you’ve met twice plan your birthday party? You, of course, instill more trust in someone who you feel knows you well and can make decisions based on that knowledge. This carries over into many situations–the better you feel your photographer knows you, the more trust you can reasonably have that he or she will make good decisions based on that information.
Kohn also suggests including an engagement session as a great way to get to know one another. This can be the perfect solution to instilling unwavering and lasting trust. It gives you the chance to see how photographers translate everything they know about you into a visual representation of your relationship before the big day.
The trust you build is most apparent in the demands you make of your photographers and can really affect your end product–your photos. While offering them a short and general must-have shot list, certain preferences, and even requesting that they get you on your “good side” are all reasonable requests, you don’t want to stifle their creative spirit by dictating exactly what they need to shoot. “If the couple is telling photographers what they want and how to do it, it’s likely photographers will become very stiff and will have made an exhaustive mental list, ‘I have to do this, I have to do this, I have to do this …’ and they essentially become traditional photographers who work by the list instead of being true photojournalists who are capturing an unfolding story.”
With that said, Kohn reiterates that it’s absolutely understandable that you’ll want to go over a few items you’d like to see covered and to offer feedback about certain styles you like. And while they welcome your ideas, he advises against strict or controlling input. This can only serve to produce a hesitant photographer–focused purely on your directives and less governed by his or her own intuition, training, and experience–resulting in forced coverage that is less likely to capture your big day in a fluid, seamless, and unexpected way. “Photographers simply stop being photojournalists and instead just work by the list. This will translate into very traditional coverage, which is not recommended.”
So while you’ll need to cultivate trust in all of your vendors, you can see just how important this trust is when dealing with the person responsible for the gorgeous reminders you’ll have of your wedding day. “You’re capturing moments; you’re creating memories,” Kohn says. “And memories are everything.” By trusting your photographer totally, those memories are sure to be captured in a way you’ll want to share with friends and family for years to come.
Joseph Kohn of IQphoto began shooting weddings after a friend convinced him that he would be a wonderful wedding photographer based on her love of his landscape photography. He has now been shooting weddings for almost 10 years.