If your photos and video are no better than ordinary, it will be really disappointing, so resist the urge to just let a friend or relative do it cheap or for free. If you want really good results, you will need to be willing to splash out on a photographer with a really good reputation and whose portfolio appeals to you. It also pays to shop around. These are the things you should decide together:
1. Do we want natural-looking, unposed photos and a photographer who will stay out of the way? Or do we want more formal photos? If you want more formal photos, you will have to be prepared to take time out from the socialising so that the photographer can place you in position against his or her chosen backdrop, and you will have to be willing to alter your pose and take directions.
2. Do we want a photographer who uses film, digital or both?
It will be worthwhile for you both to look at a number of wedding photos, so that you can gauge each other’s tastes and learn a bit more about what kind of photos are available.
Now, you will be ready to start looking at photographers’ portfolios. The best place to start will be on line. Most professional photographers will have a website where you can see a few samples of their work, certainly enough to get an idea whether you want to put them on your shortlist. When you are looking at portfolios, look for a variety of different angles, lighting and cropping techniques. You don’t just want the usual boring photos of the family in a row outside the church or the bride and groom looking at each other embarrassedly. You want something dynamic and interesting that captures the mood of the day. Look for interesting compositions, observation of little details and an eye for a story.
The subject matter is so much more important than the photographer.
If you have any recommendations from friends and relatives, that will be even better. You may have friends who have recently got married. They will be happy to show you their wedding albums and you can add any photographers whose work you like the look of to your shortlist.
When you have your shortlist, it will be time to telephone the photographers. You can ask them how much they charge and you can talk to them about how they work: do they go for formal, posed photos, or more informal ones and do they use film or digital? Their answers to your questions will help you to shorten your shortlist even more.
When you have it down to just a handful of photographers, you can ask for an appointment to discuss your requirements. Make it clear that you are still comparing and that you haven’t yet committed to giving them work. At the appointment, you can decide whether you like them as people: you will be inviting them to your wedding after all.
It would be unwise to have the same person videoing the wedding as photographing it. Both tasks take a lot of concentration. However, you may find there are fewer videographers available. The best thing to do is decide together what kind of video you want, and indeed whether you want a video. After that, you can look at portfolios. You may find that leaves you with a shortlist of only one. At that stage, think again about how important a video is to you. If you are compromising over quality simply because you can’t find a suitable videographer, it may be better to have no video at all than one that doesn’t do justice to your special day.