It’s not easy. I know!
Soon-to-be-married-couples today have woken up to the fact that finalising the photographer is as important and urgent as setting the date. Traditionally, photographers were just another “arrangement” and a cursory overview allowed the parents to make an uncomplicated decision. In recent times, the DSLR explosion along with global trends in candid & mood photography have made everybody a photographer. The blogging network and social platforms like Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest have brought up so many options that a simple online search will leave you inspired, aspiring and overwhelmed – all at the same time!
First off – I hate bucketing something with a name like that. There’s no such thing as a candid wedding photographer – though this is a term that mostly everyone getting married is really familiar with. Mostly because everyone uses it! Many photographers throw this term about without fully understanding what it means – so let’s clear some things up. Wedding photography today can broadly be split into two genres:
“Candid wedding photographers” – or photographers who do NOT follow the traditional approach of taking pictures. These photographers use their skill to be able to bring their own personal style into what they do. Most shots aren’t posed – and good photographers are able to mingle within the crowd and get stunning pictures of people when they don’t know they’re being photographed. Note that there is no such genre of photography called “candid” – I hate calling myself that, but for the purposes of this article I’ll continue to define this style as candid for ease of understanding.
“Traditional wedding photographers” – are photographers who follow a more templatised approach, and are intrinsically cheaper. This style of photography has been around for years, and follows a more “smile-cheese-click” approach. There’s nothing wrong with this style of photography, and in my opinion is equally important for your wedding.
So here’s the bottomline in case you don’t want to read too much: Ideally, you need BOTH traditional as well as “candid” wedding photography at your wedding. A candid wedding photography to shoot you, and a traditional photographer to shoot your guests.
According to me, the key is in understanding the information available and sifting it effectively. Most likely you’ll be bombarded from various different directions – Facebook & Pinterest photos, magazine mentions, wedding forums, friendly recommendations, family experience, photographer friends and many more.
It might help to remember that there is no wrong answer – just a good, better, best one. And no two people will grade photographers or view a photograph in the exact same way.
The first thing to keep in mind is not to get bogged down by varied terms like candid, documentary, photojournalistic, artistic, alternative etc. As I had described above, all these terms describe a new approach to wedding photography and most often they are simply polite ways of saying that the style is different from that of the traditional studio photographer. With all due respect to the hardworking studio photographers, the others simply have a different perspective and approach. They may choose to photograph the exact same moment in a different style. Or they may reprioritise the focus of a photograph with a story or creative idea in mind. That being said, there are many skills possessed by the studio photographer that non-studio photographers don’t possess – like assembling and getting a group shot of the entire family! So instead of choosing between a studio photographer and an “artistic” photographer, I would recommend having one of both so the family as well as the couple can get what they are looking for. And, ideally, leave the studio photographer choice to the family so you can focus on the other.
This is the tough part. If you’re just starting out, it’s time to put your thinking hat on. Wedding photography as a genre has really exploded in India today, and you now have photographers available at all sorts of price points. Photographers who juggle wedding photography as a hobby in addition to a full time job in IT or Marketing can sometimes be a real bargain. Similarly, a photographer just starting out may be willing to cover your wedding at a good deal so that he can have more to show in his portfolio. I’ve seen photographers producing decent work at starting prices of even INR 25k per day. The important things to remember here are:
If your wedding is during the off-peak season, you may even be able to afford a more senior wedding photographer who may reduce his or her prices just for your business. Ask around!
You need a traditional photographer also at your wedding in case you want pictures of your extended guests and family, along with group portraits. Some candid wedding photographers have their own team who will help you with this — and others provide bespoke wedding photography in case you want just that. So yes, if you’re expecting more than 500 people showing you AND you want pictures of who-wore-what, and who-brought-what, you need a few guys covering this for you. My recommendation? Don’t get stuck with too many vendors — ask your candid wedding photographer to bring his team along. That ways, everything will be consistent. Refer bottomline above!
Next is the question of hiring a professional wedding photographer versus a friend, cousin or brother with a DSLR. Let’s face it — we ALL know a “guy”! They’ve got great pictures on Facebook, and they’d love to shoot your wedding. And it’s a steal! There are a few things to consider when deciding on this aspect. Irrespective of how good or professional the friend is, will he or she be able to do justice to both – take photographs and enjoying your wedding? Assuming the focus is on the photographs, rather than attending and enjoying the wedding as a guest, is the photographer experienced enough to capture enough and consistently deliver a series of good, usable and memorable photos? Let’s not forget that many people have a great eye for composition and style, but may lack the technical know-how to deliver a consistent set of quality images. Most importantly, if the photographer is well known to you, there might be the awkward situation of trying to conduct a businesslike enquiry or transaction with him or her – say in the case of delayed delivery of images or disagreement regarding the style. And lastly, don’t forget that professional photographers also have a team with them who can also help you with photos of your guests, group photos and pictures of your extended family!
Remember – there’s really no right answer. When in doubt, go with your gut!
Next week, I’ll post more helpful tips — including how to maximise your investment in wedding photography and how to choose the best photographer!
Update: The post is up! To maximise your investment in Indian Wedding Photography, read my article here!
Questions? Ask away below!