By Alannah Sparks
Choosing a photographer is one of the most important boxes to tick in the process of planning a wedding. We left it quite late to start our search (yes, incredibly, even 7 months ahead is cutting it fine!) and a lot of the photographers we initially found were booked out. But then in a delightful turn of fate we found Debbie Scanlan. A fashion/music/lifestyle photographer who's shot for everyone from Vice to The Sunday Times, the Irish-born London-based photographer was recommended to us by a friend who'd employed Debbie to shoot her own wedding. They were easily the coolest photographs we'd seen by a long shot, each snap perfectly framing a moment in vivid emotional clarity. We were sold.
It's important to know what you want when choosing a wedding photographer, and in order to make the process a little easier, I asked Debbie to share her tips on how to choose a photographer to immortalise the big day.
Here they are:
BE PREPARED: Before you begin hunting take a bit of time out to put together a collection of the type of images you love. Internet/Blogs/Magazines whatever - when you have a clear picture in mind, the process of choosing the right photographer will be plain sailing.
THE HUNT: The internet is a good place to start: when searching remember to include any keywords that describe the style you are after to narrow it down. Most photographers will travel all over the country as well as overseas so don't be put off by location but it does help to take into account travel costs.
FRIENDLY ADVICE: Ask around. It's always great to get a photographer recommended by a trusted source. Or indeed to find out which ones to avoid!
PORTFOLIOS: Don't rely on just a few stunning sample images - Ask to see a range of shots from seperate weddings to check the consistency and quality of their work.
WHATS IN THE PACKAGE: How do you get your photos? Are they on Disc/Album/Prints? Tailor your package to suit your needs and always be clear what you want.
HIT IT OFF: It's essential you get along with your photographer - after all you are about to spend the most important (and probably most stressful!) day of your life with them. Meet up beforehand if possible. Many photographers also offer a pre-shoot so you can even get in some photo-practice before the big day.
LEARN THE LINGO: Alot of photographers talk ALOT of technical terms - To minimise confusion never be afraid to ask what exactly they mean.
CHOOSE YOUR STYLE: There are two main styles of shooting: Traditional (Posed) and Reportage (Informal, candid shots taken unawares) - a combination of the two is always a safe bet but choose whatever suits your needs.
MAKE A SHOT LIST BEFOREHAND: Make up a list of all the group photos to be covered and enlist a few family members to help round everyone up. Group photos are the most time consuming so this will really help to reduce hassle on the day.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION: When it comes to group and bridal shoots its great to have a few different backdrops to the images so note some possible settings beforehand for your photographer to have in mind on the day. This stops your formal photos becoming too 'samey' and keeps your album interesting.
THINK DIFFERENT: The photography is as much about little touches that reflect your personality as the rest of the day. Props or interesting group photos ideas always make for lovely unique images.
On the Day
PHOTO-SHY?: The majority of my clients promise me they are not photo-genic. This is NEVER the case! Everyone looks most beautiful when they are relaxed and happy. Concentrate on having fun and enjoying the moment and let the photographer find the right angles.
POSING: I like to avoid anything too forced like posing but the following tips are always helpful: Ladies: When being photographed always tilt your chin down a fraction and look up at the camera as its extremely flattering ;) Men: Remember your posture in formal photos - and work that suit.
CHURCH SERVICES: Always check beforehand what the procedure is with your vicar/etc during the vows and make sure your photographer is considerate to your own wishes.
ENJOY YOURSELF: This is the most important thing of all and it makes my job so much easier. All those laughs and smiles and hugs and tears are what makes the day…and the photos.
The key with great wedding photography is to capture all the little moments, as well as the big ones, to have fun and think outside the box, to be considerate and to work together with your photographer to document the most wonderful day of your life so that you will never forget it.
Debbie Scanlan by Ben Millar Cole
Wolf James Weddings is the creative work of Debbie Scanlan, the award-winning Irish photographer. Debbie started her career at Cambridge University photographing fashion shoots. She went on to set up her own company Wolf James and now has seven years experience in the field, working with singers, actors, authors, comedians, musicians, choirs and wild animals. Her clients range from Universal Records to The Guardian.