Hire a Photographer You Sync With

It’s a question I really hate asking; it can be helpful for me and the couple, but it’s also a potential landmine. Brides love it and wedding photographers typically hate it. I’m sure you can guess what I’m talking about.

“Do you have a Pinterest board?”

Photographers ask this question because they want to get a sense of what images the bride wants on her big day; and, let’s face it, there are not many grooms who have a Pinterest board. People will pin images for which they like the lighting, the pose, or both. Photographers have to walk through and find the similarities, and if they're smart - will ask their couples why they like those specific images. Brides love Pinterest because they can see potential photo ideas that they want to have in their own wedding album, and most assume that their photographer can nail that exact shot they found on “25 Pictures you absolutely must have of your wedding!”

 
 

Pardon me while I go vomit.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest. I constantly use it to find inspiration for my own images and even for my extracurricular design work. My homemade industrial-style desk is going to be amazing. But there’s a trend I’ve noticed lately with the emergence of hobby-level DSLRs, amazing cellphone cameras, and Pinterest:

People assume that any photographer can replicate someone else’s image, no matter what.

I hate to burst your bubble, but frankly that’s just not true. It can come across as insulting when you hire a photographer and tell them, “I want THIS exact image that someone else took.”

Why might your photographer feel insulted? Because every photographer has a specific style already. That’s their brand, that’s how they’re known, and that’s how they see things. You don’t walk into a Chinese restaurant and ask them to make an Italian pasta dish; you shouldn’t ask a wedding photographer whose style is bright and airy to shoot dark and contrasty images. I’m more than happy to get goofy pictures of the bridesmaids messing with the groom, but please give me the artistic freedom to frame, light, and compose the image as I see best. Feel free to recommend the pose, “Can we have them dragging him into the church?” But let your photographer do the rest of the work!

When you hire a photographer, you should be hiring them based on 2 things:

  1. You get along!
    1. Don’t hire a photographer that you can’t stand working with. Personality is a huge part of the deal and if you don’t like your photographer or feel comfortable with them, then you can’t expect the best images possible. This is why I recommend a pre-consultation meeting with all my clients before I even touch the camera. We grab coffee, we chit chat, and I ask them both wedding related and random questions. Not only is this a personality sync gauge, it’s a way for me to learn my client’s interests, their style, who they are and let them do the same with me. Who do you want taking intimate pictures of your big day, a stranger or a friend?  This rule can apply to all your wedding vendors.
  2. You like their style of photography.
    1. Do not hire a photographer because they take great images and then tell them to take photos that aren’t their style. Hire the photographer whose style matches your vision. You’ll get immensely better shots.

This of course assuming your budget matches the price of the photographer’s service. Otherwise, you may have to compromise.

One last thing while I’m at it: If you don’t have your own list of “must have shots”, then don’t go online and download a list from a wedding blog. I had a bride do that to me and I nearly died when I saw, “Picture of bride’s dress. Picture of bouquet. Picture of Bride & Groom with X Family member (and all other possible combinations). Picture of First Kiss, Picture of First Dance,” and on and on and on. Your photographer knows to get shots of the rings, of the flower girl, of the dress, of the guys drinking beer and shmoozing, and all the other shots that are typical of a wedding album. What we want is a list of images that truly matter to You.

The groom’s first look or the bride’s as she steps down the aisle.

A portrait of the groom’s grandfather for sentimental reasons.

Extra attention to the centerpieces which the bride’s aunt DIY’d all by herself.

A sunset shot, if the day aligns and the view is there.

A shot of the ring bearer and the groom together because he’s the groom’s nephew who lives 1,000 miles away.

One list that doesn’t get enough attention is the “DO NOT PUT THESE PEOPLE TOGETHER” list. Family drama exists; there’s no denying that. If there’s a divorce in the family tree and the separation was less than amicable, let your photographer know so they don’t put them next to each other and incidentally start World War III.

I realize this is a rant, but I hope it’s helpful to any potential or current brides-to-be out there. And if you’re a wedding photographer: stand your ground and stick with your style. You may think it’s good to be the photographer who can adapt to any style, but you’re actually just diminishing your value and brand. Be singular, unique, and yourself - let clients who love your work find and hire you. You’ll both be happier with the process and the end result.

Mike Glatzer

Mike Glatzer Photography, Marietta St NW, Atlanta, GA 30318, United States