Important Questions to Pop Before Hiring a Photog
So you’ve started the journey towards your perfect adventure wedding. You’re probably knee-deep in maps and travel brochures, trying to sort through the mess and select your perfect destination and activity (except not, because we have the internet now).
And with all of the work you’ve put into selecting a venue, you may be ignoring one very important step in your adventure wedding planning – finding and hiring your ideal photographer. This is a HUGE mistake; your photographer is the one who will capture this moment for you to look back on forever. And putting off selecting a photographer could mean that your ideal candidate is already booked on your big day.
Adventure wedding photographers are a unique breed; while some of them may crossover and shoot traditional weddings as well, you’re less likely to find a classic wedding photographer who is willing (or able) to shoot your adventure wedding. Photographing adventure weddings takes a very specific set of skills, including athletic ability, bravery, and an in-depth understanding of different outdoor lighting situations. They have to be able to not only get to your wedding location, but to thrive there creatively as well. Because of this, choosing and hiring your perfect photographer is absolutely essential to the success of your adventure wedding.
You should start looking for your photographer early, especially if you’re getting married at peak wedding season (late spring-early fall). Wedding photographers book up fast in the busy season, and you wouldn’t want to fall in love with someone’s work just to find out they’re unavailable. Here are a few ways to recognize and select your ideal photographer.
1. Select an Aesthetic Style
Photographs are the mementos of your big day that will be looked back on for decades. They reflect your personal style. They are an indicator of your personality as a couple and the vibe you want associated with your big day. You should therefore choose your photo style carefully.
We’re lucky, in today’s day and age, to have immediate access to millions of photographs. Between Google, Instagram, and Pinterest (just to name a few), you have a plethora of images at your disposal. Use them. Sift through photos, saving the ones you love in one place to look back on later. Once you have a thorough composite built, go back and look over these images. Do they look similar? Can you identify specific themes, color schemes, or frames? Discuss these elements, and decide which of them are the most important to you. Then, once you’ve begun to identify potential candidates, compare their work to the composite you’ve built; make sure their style matches your tastes.
2. Stare Your Search Local
Even if you’re traveling for your big day, it’s highly recommended that you find your adventure wedding photographer as close to home as possible. Yes, this could mean paying higher travel costs to get your photographer to your location, but it will be worth it in the end.
Wedding photography, especially adventure wedding photography, is a hugely personal form of art. Your photographer has to possess a deep understanding of you as a couple, your personalities and interests, your passions and they ways in which you express love to one another, in order to photograph you well. This is pretty impossible if they meet you for the first time on your wedding day. While their work might still look pretty, it won’t possess any of the raw emotion and unique moments that would be present if you were working with someone familiar. There will be an element of emotion missing from their work.
Because these are your wedding photos, you don’t want them to seem staged or empty; you want them filled with love and personality. So, once you’ve started your search for the perfect photographer, keep it local. Again, it’s hard to build a relationship with someone you’ve never met in person. Find someone close enough to meet with, talk with, and spend time with. Make sure that he or she takes the time to get to know you as a couple, and that you are comfortable being yourselves around them. If these elements are missing from your relationship, it will show in your photos.
3. Narrow Your Search
Once you’ve decided upon your wedding photo style and compiled a list of local candidates, you can begin reaching out to photographers to discuss your wedding plans. This interview time should be crucial to your overall decision; this is the first time you’ll be speaking with your contenders, and you should take these conversations seriously; if something seems off in your discussions, bring it up. The right candidate will be able to answer all of your questions thoroughly, and they should make you feel confident in their skills.
Here are a few things to discuss when interviewing candidates:
• Are you comfortable photographing from location XYZ?
o This should be your first line of questioning. Identify your location, and make sure they are comfortable enough with the prospect of it to be able to shoot there. If a photographer is afraid of heights, they are not the right candidate for your cliff side wedding.
• Can you do XYZ activity? o Once you’ve established that they are comfortable joining you at your location, determine whether they are able to perform the activities necessary to thrive in that location. Are you getting married while rock climbing? Your photographer should be not only able to rock climb, but to take good pictures while rock climbing, or at the very least be able to identify nearby locations at which to capture the moment from solid ground. Whatever your activity, make sure your photographer can accompany you.
• How Important is Adventure in Your Life?
o It’s important to hire a photographer with a similar passion for adventure. Anyone can take pretty pictures, but when it comes down to it, your photographer should be someone who can identify the blend of beauty between you and the area around you. They should be able to create images that showcase your love AND the ways that your adventure and location express that love. For this reason, you should hire someone who understands your passion and identifies with it. If they love adventure as much as you do, they’ll know how to translate that love into their photos.
• Do you have a portfolio?
o Anyone can talk big about their abilities, but they should definitely have the evidence to back up their claims. If a photographer cannot show you a photo of theirs that matches both the activity and aesthetic you’re attempting to capture, they may not be the right candidate for you. While it’s absolutely possible that you’ve found someone new and upcoming that simply hasn’t had an opportunity to build a portfolio yet, your wedding photos are NOT the area where you should take that risk. If you’ve found someone with a great aesthetic style, but who doesn’t have adventure experience, ask them if they’d be willing to do a trial shoot with you. Ultimately, the best way to ensure you’re getting what you want is to make sure they have already produced similar images in the past. You’re already taking a risk in your choice of having an adventure wedding; don’t risk the quality of your photographs.
• Listen to Their Questions
o Just as important as their answers to your questions (if not MORE important) are the questions they ask you. A good adventure wedding photographer should want to get to know you. They should understand each of you, as well as you as a couple, on a deep and personal level, and their questions should reflect their efforts to establish that understanding. While establishing dates, prices, and locations are all important, if they never try to understand YOU, they won’t be able to photograph you well.
4. Make a Decision!
Once you’ve done your homework and identified a candidate you love, make sure to snatch that person up early. Talented adventure wedding photographers are at a premium; the popularity of adventure weddings is soaring, and there aren’t enough people to photograph them all. If you’ve found someone you love hire them before someone else does. You’ll be glad you did.