I enjoy talking about weddings with other vendors and I love getting the inside scoop from photographers. I am always fascinated by how photographers play with light and how they work with the bride. I worked with Willi Wong for Marni’s wedding (see below photo) just last week when I posed for a portraiture session with him. We had a ton of fun and I can’t wait to show some of the great photos. Willi is a storyteller and ultimately a great story is what we all want to hear or see. I highly recommend reading Willi’s blog which is full of thoughtful insight as well as see great photography. I always come away with a positive outlook after I read his blog.
Willi was kind enough to let me interview him:
What questions should a couple ask the photographer during their consultation?
There are more wedding photographers out there than the amount of time you have to find out about them before your big day, so choose wisely. A consultation should not be the first time you try to find out about your photographer’s work. Sometimes it is not about what questions to ask, but the vibes that you get from the photographer.
This may sound obvious, but if his/her work does not stir strong emotions in you don’t even bother to setup a consultation! Try to find out more about the photographer on a professional and personal level.
By the time you are ready to commit an hour or two to meet with the photographer; you should already have seen much of his/her work through the website and blog and know about the detail pricing. If you have not done the above, you are wasting valuable time from your wedding planning and that of the photographer’s.
On a personal level you would want to find out if this person would be good addition to your wedding day. Would he/she be the kind of person that makes you and everyone feel at ease and comfortable on the day no matter what happened? Does your personality match?
On a professional level you would want to find out about this person’s work ethic. Why did he/she choose this profession? Has he/she ever missed a wedding? Is photography his/her fulltime or weekend hobby job?
It’s also a time for the photographer to find out more about you; be frank about your likes and dislikes. Talk to him/her about your dream wedding images and what you’d like to capture on the day of, the day before and after the day. (Engagement session and day after shoot).
What are some key things to look for when choosing a photographer?
• Look for consistency in the quality of work. Make sure you see a few full wedding portfolios and not just the selected one or two images from different weddings.
• Read reviews from former brides and ask for references.
• Look through individual wedding albums to see if the photographer’s work holds up from wedding to wedding.
What are some big warning signs to be aware of when looking at a portfolio and choosing a photographer?
• The inconsistent quality of the images from one wedding to another.
• Incomplete portfolio with images from here and there.
• You don’t feel at ease with the photographer.
What advice do you give for the bride who feels that she doesn’t photograph well?
First hire a great artist like Laura to do your hair and make up; second hire the photographer whose images touch your heart. You and your images will be beautiful when you enjoy every moment of your wedding day. I have photographed close to a thousand brides and have yet to see one that is not photogenic. Trust in your photographer to “see” you in the best of light and to capture the beauty in you and of your day.
Digital vs. film? Should a bride be concerned about this?
That should not even be a question anymore because digital has definitely matured into a complete professional and artistic medium. It’s a question of personal preference. If you decide to go with film, make sure you have all your images scan at the highest resolution possible because the labs may not be able to print from negatives in the future.
Do you feel that getting ready photos are important?
Yes, they are very important. It allows the photographer to build a rhythm with the bride and the groom so they are comfortable with his or her presence. This comfort level makes for great candid photos and relaxed portraits.
This early opportunity to see the bride, the groom and the wedding party makes me almost invisible to them, and thus on several occasions I was asked by the brides where I was when she walked down the aisle! They have gotten so used to my presence when they were getting ready, they stopped noticing my presence!
Do you like to have a shot list for any posed shots?
When you hired your photographer chances are you love his/her work, so don’t hamper the creativity by handing him/her with a shot list. If you must, keep it short so he/she doesn’t waste time looking through a list and misses the beautiful images of the moment.
A shot list would be very helpful when it’s time for the family photos. Make sure you entrust the list of must have family photos with names of the family members to someone who knows the family, so the list can be checked off.
What is the biggest mistake that brides make with timing on their wedding day?
Not giving enough time to hair and make up. My experience tells me that 3 hours is a must for the bride to get her hair, make-up, and dressed. The second costly mistake is getting ready too far from the ceremony site which can lead to delay because of traffic. I have seen my shares of wedding day delays and still live to tell beautiful stories; so just stay cool if it should happen to you and let the professionals save the day. That’s what we are hired to do - to handle any situation and still come away with great images.
What would your perfect client be like?
Someone who truly appreciates my work and believes in my ability to deliver to her the best wedding story ever! The perfect clients are the ones who book me as their photographer.