Photographers and filmmakers are a crucial part of any wedding. It’s the happiest day of your life, and all you’re left with afterwards are the photos and the film (and your partner, I guess, but they’re not much use…). As such, it’s important that you find the right filmmaker and photographer. I’ve written before about how to decide which filmmaker is best for you, but what about your photographer? There are hundreds, maybe even thousands to choose from, so how do you differentiate between them? Should you base your decision on their photos? Their website? Their personality? How they work on the day?
This is a huge decision. You’re going to have those photos from your wedding day for the rest. of. your. life. They may well be hung on your wall for all to see. They’ll definitely be on your mum’s mantlepiece (and she’ll obviously choose the only photo that you dislike, because mums have that uncanny ability to see us differently to the rest of the world). So no pressure, right? Well, I’m going to try to help…
I can’t tell you which photographer to choose, and I don’t necessarily know which factors are the most important for you to consider. But what I do know are the factors that I consider important; the factors that influence me as a filmmaker, both in terms of actually working on the wedding day, and in terms of creating a beautiful film. In this post, I’m going to tell you about the things that make a photographer great to work with for me.
1) Easy to get along with
Above all, I’m going to enjoy working alongside a photographer that is easy to get along with. This is absolutely the most important criteria (and probably goes without saying). I shoot the majority of weddings alone, so it’s always nice to have a photographer there that I can chat to and have a laugh with. Likewise, if we’re not on the same page, it can be a long old day!
When it comes to choosing the right photographer, don’t just look at their work; make sure you get on well with them, too. Your photographer and filmmaker are there all day long, and I can’t imagine anything worse for you than having someone there that you dislike. And chances are, if you get on with them, then I will too!
For filmmakers, flash photography is the devil’s work. I understand it’s necessary for a lot of photographers because of their style of photography, but it looks freaky on film. Because video cameras work by capturing multiple frames every second (anywhere from 25-100, depending on whether I’m filming in slow-motion), each ‘flash’ of the photographer’s camera is captured in multiple stages. Unlike the human eye, which sees a flash as one, split-second event, a video camera captures a flash over several frames, with different parts of the image being lit in each frame. In other words, you often end up with a stuttered effect where each half of the scene is lit at slightly different moments, so that it feels like your wedding featured a strobe light. Occasionally, I can edit this out it in post-production, but the majority of the time it can’t be removed. It’s not the end of the world, but it does make a difference, and I’ll always try to use a shot without flash if possible.
So what does this mean for you? Well, the extent to which any photographer will use flash varies; some photographers use it all day (inside or out), some will only use it inside, and some will only use it when it’s particularly dark (during the dancing, for example). For me, the best photographers are those that very rarely use flash, and will instead opt to use the available light to create their images. This means there’s no weird strobing in the film, and it also means the photographer and I can bounce ideas off each other creatively to try and find the best shots with the light that’s already there. Of course, sometimes the dance floor can be pitch black (great for your guests atmospherically, but terrible for cameras), so even those photographers who try their best to steer clear of flash will need it occasionally, and that’s okay! I would never try to tell a photographer how to do their job, and I’ll happily try to work around the flash and reduce its presence in your film as much as possible. But in an ideal world? A natural light photographer is the best from a filmmaker’s perspective.
3) Similar in style
Finally, working alongside somebody whose work is of a similar style to mine, and who approaches a wedding day in a similar way, can really impact my work (and my enjoyment)!
Personally, my approach to filming a wedding is to try and be discreet for the majority of the day. I’ll try to lurk in the corner and shoot from afar to get natural shots of you, your friends, and your family. The only part of the day where this differs is during the couple shoot, when I’m a little more ‘hands-on’. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never pose you, but I will give you prompts and things to do to take your mind off the camera and help you stop worrying about where to put your hands or how to have your face or how to look like a normal human being. For example, although it sounds ridiculous, closing your eyes and sniffing your partner’s ear produces shots like this one below…
If the photographer is equally natural and discreet, then it means neither of us are likely to be in each other’s shots, and we’ll be able to capture things at the same time. On the contrary, if I’m working alongside a photographer who likes to pose people and set up/orchestrate things a bit more, then I might not be able to film whilst they’re getting their shots, either because they’ll be in-shot, or because the scenes and poses they’ve arranged will look unnatural on film.
In addition, if the photographer and myself have similar styles of work (cinematic, darker tones, preserving the highlights), then we’re likely to be seeking the same creative shots. We’ll both be looking for the same pockets of light, beautiful reflections and interesting compositions. The result is that we push each other to elevate our images and films, so that you end up with a better memento of your wedding! There’s nothing like the feeling of being completely in-sync with a photographer on a beautiful wedding day, vibing together and knowing that feeding off each other’s ideas is producing the best possible results for the couple.
Ultimately, deciding who captures your wedding is really difficult. There are a plethora of factors to consider, and only you know which of them are important. Hopefully, this article has given you a bit of an indication of the factors that may affect your videographer and your wedding film, so that you’re better prepared to make an informed decision when that time comes.