Bridal Show Season – You won’t find it on most calendars.
Bridal show season; it has started. The first weekend of January has just passed and with that we are deep into the bridal or wedding show season.
I must confess that the wedding show season is in my past. Today the only weddings I do are small and often second (or third) marriages. Yet I still know plenty about that season that follows the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. I did it for well over 30 years.
The “wedding show season” is anticipated by more than just the crop of brides and grooms coming into bloom in the current and near future seasons. It is equally anticipated by the wedding vendors. Not only are we looking for our next valuable clients but we are reconnecting with other vendors and discussing trends and trading business ideas.
As a photographer I always looked forward to the fashion show. They were a preseason view of what we would be dealing with in the next one to two years in wedding fashion. How long or short are the skirts? (This can have an effect on the poses I will use.) What colours are popular this year? (Are we going to have problems with contrast ratios, or how well certain colours will reproduce photographically?)
When I started out there were a handful of photographers in each wedding show. We all knew each other, which parks we preferred working in, and in many cases you could look at a wedding portrait and have a pretty good idea who had done it.
The last wedding show I was in 30% of the vendors called themselves photographers. Couples would walk by your booth because they were being overwhelmed with literature.
How were they to choose their photographer? Advice was coming from everywhere. A wedding is often the first time a couple will retain the services of a professional photographer in their lifetime. In all likelihood it won’t be their last.
One friend is telling the bride that if she had to do it all over again she wouldn’t spend as much on photography – just have a couple friends bring their cameras and from everything they take put your own story together. Another friend tells her the biggest mistake she made on her wedding was scrimping on the photography – I have no “good” photographs to remember my wedding.
The friend that says she regrets spending so much on photography hopefully has an excellent selection of images from the wedding (depending on how wisely she shopped). Now she is suffering buyer’s remorse over the amount she invested. However, I often found that over the years their opinion changed, particularly with the loss of a parent or friend that was an important part of their wedding day.
Whereas the person that regrets not having spent the money is concerned because they don’t have images of how good they looked on their wedding day. The expressions may not look great, too many closed eyes, faces hidden behind another person or turned away, or simply pictures that were not taken in the right lighting conditions.
The following are tips I used and would still give to couples looking to hire a professional photographer.
• Insist on seeing at least 2 complete weddings.
A wedding consist of doing portraits of individuals, couples, groups and candid or storytelling images in a variety situations including in home, church, and reception halls as well as outdoors. Watch for the photographer’s ability to be able to handle and compose good group shots in addition to the romantic and fun individual and couple portraits.
Look for consistency.
• Does the photographer’s emphasis match what is important to you?
If your main concern is casual romantic portraits of you and your husband, don’t hire a photographer that shoots nothing but fun candids. One of the biggest complaints I heard in my years as a wedding photographer came from people that hired a photographer and on the day of the wedding he told them “I don’t do family portraits. Today is all about the bride and groom.” Well what if having family share in your day is important to you?
• Watch for technical flaws!
Colour doesn’t look natural.
There is a lack of detail in the whites of the bride’s dress.
There is now detail in the blacks of the gentleman’s tuxes.
Images that are not sharp.
These are the main points where I would start looking. So often I have seen these problems and heard the photographer explain them away with “It’s my creative interpretation. I meant it to look like that.” Translation: “I don’t know how to fix it.”
• Who are the shooters?
Imagine searching for a photographer, finding the one you love and on your big day having a complete stranger show up saying “Hi, I’m your photographer.” You need a contract and that contract had better not only name the studio you hired but the person that will be photographing your wedding. Everyone’s vision and talent is different. Couples have booked a photography studio thinking they had hired a particular photographer not realizing that he had a half dozen or more stringers working for him. On the day of the wedding he would chose the wedding he wanted to do (usually the biggest) and send a stringer to photograph the rest. He would tell everyone it was ok because he had trained them. Everyone has their own vision and level of talent.
I know many photographers that worked that way once upon a time then gave it up because they were spending so much time in customer service handling problems created by stringers.
I know that the trend today is to follow a photographer or a few photographers that you like on social media and when the time comes for you to plan your big day you reach out to that person. The tips I mention above still apply. The images you see on social media are going to be the ones he thought would impress perspective clients the most. You still need to see at least 2 complete weddings.
I did a search on line and found another article that had so good and interesting tips. You can read it here.
I will have some more tips on hiring a photographer in the coming weeks. Whether you are looking to capture a wedding, create a new business portrait, or a special anniversary, the process is the same.