The unfortunate thing about your big day is that it is, well, only one day. Fortunately, the right wedding photographer can gorgeously preserve the entire event’s happenings, the emotions, and the fun—forever! One perfect picture can instantly take you back to the happiest day of your life, and one perfect album can become your favorite coffee table book.
Before you venture off on your mission to tick ‘wedding photographer’ off your list I must give you a word of warning! There are hundreds of cheap wedding photographers touting their business in Cyprus. As a rule of thumb the cheap wedding photographers are cheap for a reason and I will remind you that owning a camera does not make you a photographer. There are countless stories of weddings being ruined by an incompetent ‘photographer’ who chopped off the heads of all the guests or who suffered an equipment failure and lost all the images (due to failure to invest in redundant equipment).
You can afford to make a mistake with the wine; everyone can just choose to drink something else. If you go cheap on the photographer the chances are the only lasting memory of your wedding is going to be a major regret!
When it comes to professional photography, most shutterbugs start out by shooting weddings. This can mean wading through a lot of prospective hires before you find the right fit for you. Below are simple tips for finding a photographer who will articulate the event exactly how you want to remember it.
START SEARCHING IMMEDIATELY
So, you just got engaged—Congratulations! Now start looking for a wedding photographer. The truth is, the best professional photographers book their schedules a year in advance, so hiring someone is one of the first things you should do after you’ve set the date. Most professional photographers will shoot only one wedding per day, there is only one 21st June every year – once that date has gone, its gone. Don’t put this off, if you love that photographers work – book him or her without delay.
Warning: Some of the cheaper photographers in Cyprus will shoot up to 6 weddings a day. My advice is to avoid these guys at all costs – your wedding is just another one on the conveyor belt!
However, if your plans call for an out-of-season wedding or a Sunday ceremony, there is a good chance your chosen photographer is available. Give yourself at least eight months to find the photographer of your dreams if you’re having a more uniquely timed wedding.
WORD OF MOUTH
Good wedding photographers have a reputation for success and can even be local celebrities. They should be the easiest to find, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best for you. Start your search by crowd sourcing recommendations from friends and family who have planned weddings in the last few years, and ask your married friends if you can peruse their photo albums. Look to Facebook pages and professional websites for samples of work, blog posts, and client reviews.
The other professionals involved in your wedding day festivities will have worked with various photographers in the past. Ask for recommendations from your wedding planner, venue manager, caterer, baker, florist or limousine driver—it’s (literally) their business to have such contacts.
This is an important point: NEVER let anyone tell you which photographer you must use. Some hotels and wedding planners will tell you that you are only allowed to use their approved photographer. Photography is art and it is an entirely personal choice. You have every right to be offended and angry at the suggestion that you are restricted in choice by the policy of the venue or planner.
Cyprus is a small country with close-knit communities. Even the bigger cities have an almost village like feel to them. As such nepotism is rife in Cyprus, you have no idea whether the photographer the venue is trying to force you to use is simply the brother of the hotel manager or more likely giving the hotel a financial kick back for the referral. Always choose your own photographer based on your own personal taste and requirements. Trust me on this; no wedding venue is going to turn down your money just because you insist on using your own suppliers.
NARROW DOWN YOUR OPTIONS
Once you have a list of your top choice photographers, take an in-depth look into their services to begin eliminating candidates who aren’t a good fit. Determine which photographer will meet your budget as well as your specific needs. Consider how well they perform in different settings and environments. For example, if you are throwing a Cyprus beach wedding, it makes sense to find a photographer who is proficient at outdoor photography.
Think about the emotional tone that you want your photos to express. Are you and your fiancé serious and traditional, or do you prefer a more light-hearted and playful theme? A talented photographer can listen to your vision and articulate it perfectly, so you should see tonal variation in their sample work.
EXAMINE HIS OR HER WORK
Make sure you see at least one album of an entire wedding, from start to finish, preferably something that is comparable to what your wedding will be like in physical setting and emotional tone. After examining all of the sample work closely, request to see another set of photographs from a recent wedding. This will enable you to see both his best work from the pre-selected albums and his average daily work.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Examine the basics of the pictures such as color, clarity, exposure, graininess and composition.
- Determine the photographer’s style—does she shoot photos that are adventurous and artistic, or are they standard and ordinary?
- Do the guests look natural or self-conscious?
- Do the photos capture the emotional tone organically, or does do the couple’s poses feel forced?
GAUGE THEIR PROFESSIONALISM
While not all amateur photographers are created equal, the best way to guarantee that you will receive a quality wedding album is to hire a seasoned professional with a solid and varied background of nuptial experiences from which to draw.
Chat with your photographer over email, on the phone and even via Skype or Facetime. Find out how many weddings the photographer has shot over how many years. He may have been a professional photographer for 15 years but only doing weddings for the past year. Remember, wedding photography is much different than any other type of photography; the pressure is high and the emotional energy is not suited for everyone.
Be sure to ask if the photographer has shot at your wedding venue before. If he has, he may already know where to stand to get the perfect shot or he may know of an ancient Greek monastery or amphitheater nearby to get some really unique romantic shots.
With such experience comes not only the knowledge of how to photograph a wedding, but also how to act during the ceremony and reception. Beautiful photos capturing the smiles of family and friends are just as important as the multitude taken of the bride and groom. And speaking of which, he’ll be by your side just about as much as anyone in the party, and then some—how well do your personalities mesh? Will his presence be an asset or a burden? Truly, a wedding photographer’s charm and ability to put everyone at ease is as important a skill as the actual photography.
I have said this before but I will repeat it because it is so important ‘owning a camera does not make someone a photographer’. A professional wedding photographer should be a qualified member of either the SWPP (Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers) or MPA (Master Photographers Association). Now, here is an important point – you can join the SWPP for $10, but to be a qualified member the photographer must pass an examination. This allows them to add the letters LSWPP after their name. Ask your photographer to demonstrate what professional qualifications they have.
Photographers who are passionate about their art enter competitions. Ask them what awards they have won – this is your wedding, do you want average or the best?
DISCUSS PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT
Although you may not be a professional yourself, you should know what type of camera and equipment your photographer will be using. You may find that you are more particular about it than you think. You should also ask what program she uses to edit the photos—if a photographer says they don’t edit, run!
A lot of the cheap wedding photographers in Cyprus do not edit – they effectively just dump the images from the camera onto a CD. This is a sure fire way to ensure you are disappointed with the final product. Personally (and many of the other professional photographers in Cyprus) I colour correct and process every image I give you. Head and shoulder shots of the bride and groom will also be lightly airbrushed.
Asking about equipment, gathering information on your options, and forming opinions on preferences shows that you are confident in your vision and helps you to convey it fully. All the professional photographers have multiple redundant equipment. This means if they drop their camera and smash it to pieces they have at least one spare. I carry three cameras, several lenses and back up flashguns and other accessories as a matter of course.
The primary professional photography brands are Nikon and Cannon. While Sony is battling to get a foothold and is starting to produce some decent competition for the big two, I would be slightly suspicious if your photographer says he/she is using branded equipment other than these main suppliers. If they are cutting corners on cheap cameras and flashguns – what does that say about how passionate about their photography they are?
GET THE PRICE AND SIGN THE CONTRACT
Never choose a photographer based on price. After the wine has been drunk and flowers have wilted you have one thing left to remind you of that amazing day in Cyprus… the photographs. Personally my heart always sinks a little when a couple tell me they have found someone ‘cheaper’, seriously cut costs on the wedding favours but not your memories.
While you want to book your photographer for the date of your wedding immediately, make sure you read over the legal details of exactly what you will get before signing the contract. Ensure the photographer you meet with is the photographer who will show up on your wedding day and if you should expect a second cameraman or assistant. Determine what parts of your wedding day will be covered and how many hours you have with your photographer. Clear communication and reiteration of the details of the ceremony, the reception, and the specific types of photographs you want is crucial. In all, the contract is in place to remind both you and the photographer of the services you agreed upon.
It is common that photography costs are paid in advance, usually around six weeks before the big day. Some photographers may allow you to pay half in advance before you travel to Cyprus and the balance when you meet before the wedding day.
Cyprus wedding photography is an area that I am a respected as an expert in and if you need any further help please don’t hesitate to get in touch, I will advise you as much as I can. If I am unavailable to shoot your wedding I am happy to suggest other photographers that I respect and know will do an amazing job for you.