For many alternative brides and grooms, the choice of photographer is one of the most important wedding-related decisions. Wedding photography isn’t just about capturing those special moments to remember forever, it’s about having your very own professional photographer create dramatic and fantastical portraits of you and your beloved, the kind worthy of gracing the pages of Gothic Beauty magazine or a Luis Royo painting. Choosing the perfect photographer can be a real mission, especially when you’re surrounded by photographers
The truth is, not many photographers specialize in alternative weddings – there simply isn’t a big enough market to sustain their business unless they work in a huge city. So you’re probably going to be employing a photographer whose portfolio shows the typical white wedding shots. So how do you find someone who will bring the right finesse to your alternative or gothic wedding photography? Here are my tips for choosing a wedding photographer for a gothic, steampunk, medieval or other alternative wedding:
Ask for Recommendations
If you have friends who’ve married recently, ask them if they would recommend their photographer. Even if they’re not alternative, if they found their photographer easy to work with, fun and amicable to their ideas, they might be the ideal photographer for your wedding. Remember, just because a photographer doesn’t normally shoot alternative weddings, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t jump at the chance to do something different! It’s more important to find someone reative who’s easy to work with and open to your ideas than someone who shoots in a style you like but who doesn’t listen to what you want.
Scout the Local Scene
In the local alternative scene there are literally hundreds of photographers who love shooting unique people. Email a few and ask them about weddings and availability. Chances are even if they don’t have any portfolio shots of weddings, they’ve probably shot a few for friends, and they’ll be more than happy to show you. Look for alternative modelling shots, magazine spreads, band photography and photographic artists – these people will be able to create a truly unique interpretation of your alternative wedding.
If you’re asking a friend in the local alternative scene to shoot your wedding, I’ve got some advice for you in my article Have a Friend Shoot Your Wedding.
Look for Figure Work
If you’re choosing a photographer who doesn’t normally shoot weddings, look for shots that create a sense of drama with the figure. Some people are more skilled with certain aspects of photography than others – for example, a landscape photographer or fashion photographer might not have the right skills to shoot people. Look for a photographer whose figures pop and who captures emotions in eyes and faces.
Research Different Styles
Wedding photographs come in many different styles, and it’s a great idea to choose a few pictures from other weddings you admire (check out our Real Wedding Stories section for ideas) to see which styles appeal to you. Do you want a candid, photojournalistic approach, or do you prefer the glamour-style of wedding photography? Do you want rich, dramatic, highly styled shots, or more down-to-earth scenes. Do you want vintage affects, or footage on film or a pinhole camera, or would you rather things be more natural? The more you understand about the different wedding photography styles, the more easily you can pick out photographer’s who will meet your vision.
Before you meet potential photographers, put together a list of questions specific to your wedding. For example, when I was choosing a photographer for our heavy metal medieval wedding, I was concerned about how our dark, indoor ceremony would be shot, and also whether a photographer could work with my eye condition (I squint in direct sunlight) and with a reception and entertainment that happened mainly in dark rooms. It was the photographer’s responses to these questions that eventually led us to choosing our man!
Set a Budget and Decide on Additional Services
Instead of asking for a quote, set a budget before you approach photographers and ask them what they can do for you in within that budget. Assess which additional services you need – many photographers will create your wedding album, upload photographs to a protected website for your guests to view, create photographic thank-you cards, give you photos on disc, print canvases and enlargements, or set your photographs to a music DVD.Decide which of these services you’d like and if any of the photographers can provide them within your budget. If so – that’s awesome!
The most important consideration when choosing a wedding photographer is – do you click? Do you feel as though they understand your vision for your wedding day and that they will be able to pull it off? Do you feel comfortable sharing your ideas with them? Do you understand their pricing and what they will be doing for you? If you don’t feel satisfied with any aspect of their service leading up to the day – it’s important to say something, because after the photographs are taken it’s pretty hard to change things!
Brides, what tips do you have for choosing a photographer? How do you find wedding photographers willing to work with alternative brides? Do you have advice or experience – good and bad – you’d like to share with other alternative couples?