Image: Benedict Chan
The person you choose to shoot your wedding or pre-wedding day photos may just be the most important person in the entire affair.
When the memories fade years later, the pictures are going to be the only tangible things to remind you of the big day.
Benedict Chan and Angeline Hu, photographer and studio manager respectively at Raymond Phang Photography, give us some advice on how to pick the best photographer for the job.
Check out reviews first
Online reviews will help you with your research.
Take into account word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals from friends or colleagues too as you can get their personal experiences dealing with that particular photographer.
“You wouldn’t want to engage someone who has received a lot of negative reviews from many couples and risk having no photographer for your wedding or bad memories for that important day,” says Angeline.
It seems weird to talk about chemistry when it comes to taking photos but both Benedict and Angeline pointed out you have to be very comfortable with the person you pick.
That means paying attention to your instincts when meeting with different studios.
Do you feel like you can communicate with them? Do you feel like you can work together to create great photos? Or do they seem pushy or disinterested?
Image: Raymond Phang Photography
Go for style over price
Price is probably the overall factor guiding your decisions.
But sacrificing your personal tastes for a cheaper package may cause you to regret later.
Expensive hires don’t mean you’ll be getting perfection either.
Say you want someone who can capture the details you put so much effort into -- the customised rings, the lace details of your dress, the beautiful flowers -- but if it’s not the photographer’s style to do so, you might end up with “an album of mostly the back views of people because the photographer enjoys shooting silhouette,” warns Angeline.
Or you prefer non-traditional shots but end up having to deal with a photographer who specialises in classic shots, just because he or she was offering better rates.
There are many styles and packages out there, so shop around for the best combination.
Importantly, always, always look at their personal portfolio - especially if you are getting a wedding package from a bridal boutique.
Even if you are signing with a photography company, you should look beyond their Facebook and Instagram pages. At the end of the day, the company's work may not be representative of your chosen photographer.
Image: Benedict Chan
Let the photographer know your budget
Prices are usually fixed but “packages include different things like albums or prints so it’s actually up to the couple to decide which elements they want and would pay for.
Let your wedding photographer know your budget and I'm pretty sure you'll able to work out a combo that fits the budget,” says Benedict.
And if you’re really broke? Let them know too.
“It could be issues related to health, family or other personal problems. We’ll definitely do something about it if they are genuinely caught in a difficult situation,” advises Angeline.
Asking for extra services
This is usually done on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the photographer and studio, they might go the extra mile since events on the day itself may take longer than planned.
“Sometimes when a couple is really on a budget and have exceeded the hours that they have booked me for, I'd stay to shoot their wedding dinner shots as an extra service for them.
I just want to be there to shoot for the couples and let them have those pictures to remember their wedding day,” says Benedict.
Don’t be greedy, of course, and keep asking for free stuff to be thrown in. And don’t fault a photographer for sticking to the terms both parties agreed to beforehand.
Image: Raymond Phang
Trust the photographer
Once you’ve picked someone who you trust and whose style you like, then let them do their thing instead of directing them every step of the way or worse, asking them to emulate someone else’s way of shooting.
Doing so restricts the creativity of the photographer and would defeat the purpose of having hired him or her.
But to make sure all your special moments are captured, the couple needs to prep the photographer with the general flow of events and highlights like surprise performances for their parents.
This is also why having meetings with the photographer beforehand is important -- you’ll be able to find out how they work and expectations can be shared and discussed.
The two experts shared their best and worst experiences with couples:
Benedict: There was a really thoughtful couple who actually packed “survival packs” for us to give us energy throughout the whole day. It included chocolate, sandwiches and orange juice.
Angeline: The best experience was with a couple who gave us 100 per cent trust and respect in our professionalism and photography, and letting us capture candid moments. We sought their consent to see if they were comfortable for a quick pose when we spotted something picture-worthy and they were extremely cooperative and accommodating.
The worst experience was with a couple who came to us all excited for a pre-wedding engagement and all of our consultation sessions went very well.
We seemed to be on the same frequency. But it was really horrific on the day of the actual shoot. They seemed to be under some weird spell because their attitude totally changed.
The props weren’t prepared, they weren’t cooperative for some of the important scenes (which they were excited about during our last consultation session) and there was no enthusiasm.
Photos courtesy of Raymond Phang and Benedict Chan.