What do you see when you look at wedding photography? Beyond the beautiful dresses and flowers, beyond the picturesque settings, there are the emotions, the moments and the personalities. Andrew Thomasson at Focus 10 is an award-winning professional photographer who blends candid, photojournalistic and traditional style to create story-telling, elegant images.
Remember, after your wedding, you will have several tangible treasures forever - your rings and your photographs. When choosing your wedding photographer, you are investing not just dollars and cents, but also your own time (and your family's) on the wedding day.
That is why you should not settle on the most economical photographer, but seek out a skilled image-maker whose style matches your vision of your wedding day, one who has an eye for superb images. To help you see your way clearly as you visit photographers, keep in mind four approaches to wedding photography: traditional, wedding photojournalism, illustrative and creative.
Traditional photography includes portraits of bridal party and family - close-up and full length - and candid photographs that tell the story of the day. This is the style that suits most couples and their families. Low-quality traditional photography is marked by images of subjects waiting to have their picture taken, lack of emotion and connection between subjects and viewers and boring lighting. The pictures look boring, which reflects on the wedding which may well have been fantastic but it does not come through in the photographs. Often the photographer is bored or is burnt out from shooting the same location week in week out (think a resort photographer)
Good traditional photography features dramatic or flattering lighting, positioning of subject within the environment that makes sense and subjects who express by gesture or expression how they feel or how they feel about the people they are posing with. It includes a context of the location and bridal venue you have selected and reflects your taste and style.
Wedding photojournalism means no posed photographs - all pictures would be taken without any instruction from or awareness of the photographer. This style became popular in the 1990s. Low quality photojournalism looks like a collection of good (or poor) snapshots done on a wedding day.
Quality photojournalism features clean images - minimum of distracting detail unless that detail adds to the image. If there are two subjects in the image, the photographer will be telling you the relationship between them. A great wedding photographer is also a stage director, an artist who will 'set up' an image so that it looks natural and not contrived. This style is often the hallmark of a highly experienced photographer who have shot many different styles of weddings in many different locations around the world.
Illustrative photography has drama, grand poses and majestic scenery. Every detail in the image is carefully arranged to produce a photograph with impact.
Think of this style as what you would find in fashion photography - where even the candid photos are the results of precise posing and lighting. Look for impact and story-telling. A great illustrative image follows classic design and composition to propel it beyond a visual record to a piece of art. An illustrative wedding photographer may have a portable mini studio set up on location at the wedding venue. They may re-create a 1950's Vogue style wedding using a DC3 and a Jaguar XK150 as props.
At Focus 10, we actually present a mix of all four of these. This makes sense - even if you love the impressionistic approach, your mum will surely want a touching photo of the bride and groom and a smiling picture of mum and dad with their son or daughter.
One important responsibility your photographer has is to provide images that reflect you and your wedding, rather than a showcase of today's trendy photographic styling. Good photography transcends trends.
When you visit a photographer, ask to look at sample albums (the same wedding from first page to last, not just highlights from a a hodge-podge of events) and see how well the photographer has created images in each of these four categories. The formals (posed) photographs should have the subject lit with directional and flattering light. You should see a natural sparkle (catch-light) in the eyes and the background should not compete with the subject for attention. Look for a variety of relaxed and natural expressions. If there are photojournalistic shots, see if they have impact and clarity, or are they merely snapshots. Ask yourself, "Why was this picture taken?"
The illustrative photos (with dramatic posing) should express ideas about romance and fantasy. The subject of the photograph should be a meaningful part of the picture, not just a bride plopped down on a rock in front of a bridge. The creative photographs should be playful and alive and complement the coverage.
Take a look at the many weddings we've covered, our wedding packages and albums.
We also offer pre and post bridal couple portfolios to our clients. Wedding photography courses are also our speciality and you are welcome to attend a full course or part there-of at no extra charge. We have trained many wedding photographers over the years and like to think of them as friends in a guild with similar wedding philosophies and style to ours.