When it comes to preserving the memories of your wedding day, no wedding professional is as important as your photographer. For when the food is eaten and the band stops playing, the only thing left from your wedding (besides your spouse) will be the memories - and the best key for those memories are photographs.
But how do you choose the right photographer to document your wedding? Is the right photographer the one who uses one type of camera over another? Is the right photographer the one who charges more or less than another photographer? Or, is the right photographer the one who uses the right or creative side of their brain in capturing the beauty of your wedding?
The most important aspect of wedding photography you need to consider is the photographic style of the photographer you select. At one end of the spectrum is the portrait photographer who poses nearly all of his or her photographs. They create a limited series of posed, often trite or cliché, images of the people and key events of your wedding.
At the other end of the style spectrum is the photographic artisan. The artisan records your wedding with a highly stylized, even abstract, vision. They often shoot through a wide-angle lens, entirely on black and white or possibly infrared film, and typically do not create any traditional posed portraits. Somewhere between those two extremes is the increasingly popular wedding photojournalist. The photojournalist comes to your wedding looking to unobtrusively document all of the people, places, emotions and details that make that your wedding unique. While some portraits are created, the emphasis is on capturing images that are natural, spontaneous, and that depict reality, rather than fantasy.
A traditional wedding portrait photographer is someone who specializes in just that, creating a series of wedding day portraits. This person will tend to orchestrate your wedding and its events in order to capture the "best possible" image.
Most of these photographers own portrait studios and come to each wedding with extra lights and medium format cameras looking to create the most beautiful series of portraits possible. You will typically spend a couple of hours on your wedding day posing for these photographs. If you choose a portrait photographer, be sure to specify exactly when (either before of after your ceremony), where and for how long you will be posing for portraits.
One thing to watch out for with portrait photographers is creative burnout. This burnout occurs because these photographers tend to do the same thing week-in and week-out. To avoid this, make sure you meet with the photographer who will be shooting your wedding and get a sense of how they feel about weddings and the types of portraits they will create for you.
From a pricing standpoint, most portrait photographers offer packages that include varying numbers of portraits with an album or albums. Complete packages can range from $1,000 to over $3,000 depending on the experience of the photographer and size and elements of the package. If when you think about your wedding album you think of a select number of more formally posed portraits, then this type of photographer is for you.
The most popular trend in wedding photography is that of hiring a photojournalist. A wedding photojournalist is someone who comes to your wedding with a much different approach than the portrait photographer. The photojournalist strives to document rather than dictate the people and events of your wedding. He or she unobtrusively follows and reacts to the events of your wedding capturing reality rather than creating fantasy. A photojournalist's photographs tend to be very artistic, spontaneous and lively.
A photojournalist will usually do some portraits, but not nearly as many as a portrait photographer. It is important to discuss with a photojournalist what, if any, portraits you want along with the type of coverage you want, so that he or she can come to your wedding fully prepared.
Some photojournalists offer packages including their time, albums and reprints. Others charge a separate shooting fee followed by the cost for reprints and albums. Because photojournalism is a more difficult and specialized form of photography, it typically costs more than portrait photography.
The photographic artisan neither tries to purely document a wedding, nor does he or she do many, if any, "traditional" portraits. An artisan strives to interpret each wedding according to their creative vision. They will create images that aesthetically appeal to themselves and their shooting style. However, some artisans may allow a secondary photographer to take some posed or documentary photographs of the wedding, as long as they do not interfere with his or her own work.
An artisan will typically shoot in black and white or infrared and may even hand color some photographs, or use alternative photographic processes. The artisan's photographs are not typically presented in a traditional wedding album. They may be printed for framing, delivered matted or dry-mounted in a portfolio, or placed in a hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind album.
Hiring a photographic artisan is not for every bride. The bride must truly appreciate the photographer's vision in order to enjoy having her wedding's photos created in that photographer's style. The widest range of costs exists among photographic artisans. Some may shoot a wedding for just a few hundred dollars, while others charge several thousand dollars for their time. Additional costs for film, processing and printing will depend on what types of prints are made and how they are presented. The artisan's prices are generally tied to how they view the value of their talents rather than what the photography market dictates.
As you can see, there is quite a varying range of photographic styles. But not all photographers are pure to one style (i.e. many photojournalists will also create some portraits and some portrait photographers do "candids"). Besides the style of your gown, selecting the style of your photographer can be one of the most important and personal decisions you make regarding your wedding. This is why searching for a photographer based on a style that you like is so very important. When searching for a photographer look beyond the fancy equipment and large wall portraits. Look instead for the personality, sensitivity and creativity of the person behind the camera and for albums that make you feel like you reliving the moment.
What kind of style does La Foto Bella offer you? To sum it up I would say 70% Photojournalistic, 25% Formal, and 5% Artisan. For more info on my style please check out the page My Style of Wedding Photography.