When I met Brittany and Taylor back in December 2017, I instantly felt very comfortable with them. They were the kind of clients you hope for as a photographer: they cared a lot about their wedding day photography and asked great questions. Easy to talk to, and super sweet, I left our initial consultation hoping that they would indeed choose me to photograph their New Year’s Eve wedding. Thank goodness they did!
I’m just getting around to blogging these beautiful images of their March engagement session at Maybury State Park in Northville. After several winter sessions with zero sunshine, I was happy to get a little bit of golden hour with snow in the woods. I think Brittany and Taylor are perhaps my most adventurous couple to date, and I think that shows in their photos. They are also 100 percent incredibly in love — and it shows.
I know that it’s summertime and we don’t want to think about snow on the ground, but this session was WAY too good not to share with you. Snow photographs so beautifully and I’m so excited for all 3 of my December weddings this year, including Brittany and Taylor’s where I’ll end this year on a high note!
Out there in the wedding planning world, there is just as much confusion about how to choose and hire a wedding photographer as there is wedding photographers (at least in my neck of the woods). For most people, this is the first time they’ve hired a photographer themselves and probably the first time they’ve had professional photos taken since their senior pictures. And there are SO MANY photographers, guys. SO MANY.
This world I occupy over here as a wedding photographer is foreign to most people. When I meet with potential clients and ask them why did you decide to reach out to me? (I ALWAYS ask this question) their response is usually something about feeling like my portfolio lacked posed shots and they want natural, candid photos, or they stumble through a response about how they’re awkward in front of the camera and they thought my photos looked natural and pretty. I always ask this question to determine how much I need to educate my client and how thoroughly I need to explain my approach.
If I hadn’t ever picked up a camera or taken a photography class, I’d probably be just as confused as clients are about photography styles, lighting, timelines, shot lists, etc. And having hired a wedding photographer right before I entered this world as a wedding photographer myself, I’ve learned a lot about how the differences between photography styles since then. I just always want to ensure the client is hiring me for the type photography I do, in other words my style and myself, and that if they don’t jive with those things, I can help them find someone else who would be a much better fit.
So, when you’re choosing a wedding photographer, what should you be looking for? Here are my top tips for you.
Most photographers are probably approaching the logistics of your wedding the same way.
I’d say that most wedding photographers out there have moved towards a photojournalistic approach to shooting a wedding day. What does this mean? Pure photojournalism is literally the most unobtrusive kind of photography. The photographer steps back and captures events as they unfold. They are not there to create the moment, but to capture it as it occurs. Most photographers today will capture your wedding as it happens. If you’re not cool with being moved and posed all day, please ask your photographer if they take a laid back photojournalistic approach or if they are more traditional (think mom and dad’s photos). I am a wedding photographer who captures the day as it happens AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, excluding portrait sessions which are a little more directed, and I’d say most of the other people in the biz are the same.
Moments I didn’t create.
But the end result can be COMPLETELY different.
Every photographer has a different take on how they tell your love story and the story of the day. This comes out through the photos they take, how they take these photos, where they stand, what lens they use, and ultimately how they process the photos.
It comes down to lighting, composition, and overall storytelling style.
More dramatic lighting. This was created with a lamp they were using for makeup and some magic in the camera.
Lighting: consider your venue
Lighting is hands down the most important thing to a photographer. If it is not, you should run away and find someone else.
Working with some harsher natural light and crouching in the sunflowers.
Good photographers know how to work with the light they’re given or create lighting situations that work for the style they shoot. Photographers play with light differently and often play with light differently depending on the venue and wedding vibe. For instance, some photographers like to create really bright photos while others go for a moodier effect. Neither is correct, it’s all just style. Find the style of photos you like and look for photographers whose portfolios match. If their portfolio is inconsistent, really ask a lot of questions about style.
This photo would look different in a room with windows.
The biggest thing to take stock in when considering how lighting will effect your photos is your venue. If you’re hiring a natural light photographer and you’re having your reception in a dark banquet hall, make sure your photographer knows how to handle that (with flash I’d assume). Your photos will look different that that tented reception but the storytelling shouldn’t change.
Composition: where the story is
If creating a solid photo is mostly about the lighting, then composition is really where the storytelling lies. Composition is really just how does the photographer choose to set up the photo? Where are they standing? What are they shooting through? Are they laying on the ground?
Composition can make photos interesting. It can make photos romantic (think snuggles). It can make photos private and intimate. When you look through a portfolio, look at how the photographer has framed the shots. Are they all close ups? Is there a mix? Do they like to cut off people’s heads and focus on other parts? Do they focus on detail elements? Are the shots really wide?
These are all questions you can ask yourself to help identify the composition style of the photographer. For example, I’d say my style is definitely more focused on intimacy than on really wide shots–think sweeping landscape shots. I like to shoot through things. I sometimes get on the ground. Maybe I stand outside the door as a bride and bridesmaids chat and I snap a shot with the doorway in the frame to create a more interesting story than just a photo close up of the bride laughing.
Composition is a huge part of art and I could go on and on about it. But long story short: ask yourself how the photographer make things more interesting? Do the photos feel like they’re in the moment?
The most important element: overall storytelling style
I’m an English major, so I’m a sucker for all things story. It’s a big reason why I became a photographer. There is a right way to take a photo, of course. But photos are also art, or at least I consider them to be. There is an element of leeway there. And like I think some art is bad, people may think my photos are bad. It’s entirely subjective.
But when you’re looking at portfolios, ask yourself how the photos make you feel? When your wedding day is long gone, these are what you’ll have left. That and your fading memories honestly. You’re hiring a photographer to help you remember.
So are the photos funny? Are they romantic? Do you feel like you sense the personality behind the couple? Are they playful? Serious? A mix?
My photos are usually more on the playful side. I love a joyful, laughing couple. In fact, most of my couples don’t nail the serious look at all. But that’s the type of people I seem to attract. We literally laugh our way through sessions.
The bottom line? Do the photos and/or photographer make you happy?
If this has been an overall read for you, no worries. I promise that so long as you ask questions and make sure you’re hiring a legit business, it will be okay. The most important thing to remember is your photos will look similar to the work you’re looking at. Are you okay with that? Do they provoke some feeling in you?
And most of all, do you jive with the photographer? I purposefully do not book weddings without meeting at least the bride, preferably the couple together, because I’m one of the only people who will be with you through the entire wedding day. If you can’t stand me as a person, please don’t hire me. Meet your photographer. Make sure you’re comfortable with them. They may see you at your most anxious, stressful moment, and at your best moment. We don’t want to be strangers!
I hope this is helpful. If you have more questions about photography or what questions you should ask potential wedding photographers, please reach out to me!
When I met Kaitlyn for the first time, we talked for almost three hours. As in, our coffees were long gone and I looked at the time and realized that I had to go Christmas tree hunting with my family momentarily. We chatted about everything wedding, love story, Clawson, and more. I loved it–building relationships with my clients is important to me. I would rather be more than just a wedding day photographer to you.
Snow was on Kaitlyn’s wish list for an engagement session, so we watched the weather and even rescheduled so we could have fresh snowfall for our time together. It was SO worth it. On a Sunday morning, we met at Stoney Creek Metropark and spent almost the entire two hours outside.
Kaitlyn told me a lot about Jacob so I had some expectations in mind. But I had NO idea how amazing he would be to photograph. Often, one member of the couple isn’t as into photos as the other. That’s totally fine and I end up winning them over by the end. But Jacob was the complete opposite. He knew exactly what to do and where to put his hands. It came completely naturally to him, making my job a breeze.
I love shooting in the snow. It’s romantic and sensual. I think these photos speak to that. They’re a reflection of the intimacy I want to capture in images, along with some joyful moments mixed in.
Needless to say, I’m beyond excited for their December 2018 wedding!
Kaja was a bridesmaid in a wedding I shot this past September. She was a stellar bridesmaid and wrangled people during the family photos like a boss. She had told me about how her wedding photos didn’t come out that great, and she decided to enlist my help to recreate some wedding photos in honor of her and her husband Jason’s fifth wedding anniversary this past November. We had a beautiful late fall evening of snow flurries and some leftover fall colors.
I think it’s great to celebrate milestones with photography. I know we all have phones with cameras, but there’s something different about intentionally scheduling a time to have session to capture you and your loved ones as they are at this stage. Plus, it gives you a reason to refresh some decor.