Picture-Perfect

Click with your photographer for winning wedding shots

Your wedding is over in a day, and ultimately all you're left with are your memories and your wedding photographs. A pretty sobering thought! That's why it's so important that they both be excellent. We've heard the horror stories: One bride told us all the family portraits looked as though they'd been taken from 50 feet away; another said her photographer ruined the cocktail hour by constantly rearranging guests for each picture. These traps are completely avoidable. Here, three top wedding photographers give their best tips.

Choosing Your Photographer

Visit any wedding-photography studio and you're apt to be shown album upon album of radiant brides and handsome grooms. But don't assume the photographer you hire is the same one whose pictures you're examining. Many studios have a stable of contributors, so be sure to see the work of the person who will actually shoot your wedding not the generic "studio" portfolio.

It's also important to look at an album featuring a wedding from beginning to end. "You don't want to see a book with the top five photos from a variety of weddings," says Mallory Samson, a wedding photographer in New York City and San Francisco and the author of Outdoor Weddings: Unforgettable Celebrations in Storybook Settings (Chronicle). "Looking at the entire event will give you a sense of the photographer's style and whether it is consistent throughout." She recommends examining the corresponding proofs for that wedding. "Every shot won't make it into your album, but they all should be good," she says.

Knowing Your Style

There are a wide variety of wedding-photography styles. One photographer may focus on formal portraits that are quite traditional. Another might take a photojournalistic approach, one that captures emotions and unexpected moments. Many will give you a mix. Just be sure you know what matters most to you. For example, if family portraits are important, "the posed shots should look great to your eye," says Samson. If you feel more strongly about candids, be sure you love what you see in the photographer's work. These days, many brides ask for lots of candids. However, according to Dallas-based wedding photographer Stephen Karlisch, half the photos in a wedding album tend to be portraits, so "don't skimp on those." He also points out that sometimes candids appear soft or slightly blurry. "That's because the photographer is reacting so quickly to a moment or expression that he may not take time to focus properly," he says. Samson adds that you should look for examples that reflect the type of wedding you're having. If your ceremony will be held outdoors, ask to see pictures of an outdoor wedding. Samson advises that as you look through the portfolio, evaluate the photographer's strengths and weaknesses. You want to be sure he is intuitive, so observe facial expressions. Do people look happy and relaxed or nervous and ill at ease? Many of us get anxious when our pictures are taken; the photographer should be skilled at making everyone feel comfortable.

 

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