60 second expert: Award-winning wedding photographer, Ewen Forsyth, on choosing your wedding photographer
A bad wedding photographer can spell disaster for a wedding – he or she has to capture the most important day of your life. And if you hate the pictures you can’t do it all again. Here’s Ewen’s must-read tips.
What makes a good wedding photographer?
Getting on with the Bride’s mother for a start! If they’re happy, you’re happy, but I also think that a good wedding photographer will make the couple feel totally relaxed and completely at ease. One bride simply said to me, ‘I just want you to be there and photograph me at my wedding.’ It was such a straightforward request – but with so much meaning. It stayed with me ever since.
How do you make the couple feel confident that you’re the right photographer for them?
I’ll meet up with them a few months prior to the wedding, have a glass of wine with them and talk over a few things. I’ll also take an informal photo of them beforehand in a setting they choose and I’ll frame and present it to them on the day. I like to think that’s a unique touch from me and something special for the couple to keep.
Should couples always meet up with their wedding photographer first?
Absolutely. You need to make sure your wedding photographer loves their job – otherwise the wedding photographs won’t reflect the same kind of passion. A wedding photographer should be smiling and enjoying himself, if he’s not – he shouldn’t be there.
What about if you’re using a big company and you can’t meet the photographer beforehand?
Don’t worry if you’re using a bigger company that has more than one wedding photographer. In this type of scenario the couple may only meet the studio manager beforehand and won’t meet the actual photographer until the day itself. So it’s the studio manager’s job to make sure the couple knows what to expect. Ask lots of questions about the wedding photographer so you know a bit about them before the day.
Are you normally given a lot of artistic license?
They choose me because they know what I can do, so they generally let me take the pictures. Couples will often have certain types of shot in mind and that’s fine but ultimately it’s the photographer with the experience and the couples should trust them to do the job.
Do you see the venue before the wedding?
Seeing the venue isn’t as important. I know most of the main venues in Scotland (which is where I’m based), as well as a few others nationally. But I’m taking pictures of the couple, not the venue. Plus there’s ample time for me to check the place out when everyone moves from the church to the venue. While the bride and groom have a glass of champagne and relax a bit, I’ll have a wander around and get a feel for the place. I’ll be taking pictures of guests, finding any particular spots that will be good for more pictures and generally making sure I’m not interfering with proceedings. I like to let everything happen naturally.
On the day do you try to blend in like you’re not there?
It’s a bit hard to blend in when you’re wearing a kilt and standing on a stepladder! I love what I do, so I just be myself and let it happen. But all wedding photographers vary, so it’s another good reason to meet up with them first and find out if you are both on the same wavelength in terms of their level of presence on the day.
What happens if your camera breaks?
It’s not a problem – I have plenty of back up. Accidents can and do happen, I’ve dropped a camera before. So I usually carry two cameras with three or four lenses strapped on too. I’ll have another two backup cameras in the car. Most of my gear will be made up of digital cameras, but I’ll have a manual one too – you never know…
Any other advice?
Make sure your wedding photographer is insured and especially make sure they have indemnity insurance to cover for disasters such as the camera being stolen with all the images stored on. Anything like that is bad enough, but if the photographer is insured, it will make the recovery process a whole lot easier. You should also make sure the photographer has the appropriate photographic qualifications – look for BIPP and/or MPA after their name. Another good thing to remember is that a contract is there to protect you just as much as the photographer. By drawing one up and agreeing everything beforehand, everyone knows where they stand and it gives them peace of mind. I also tell the couples to do what they want to do. Don’t let anybody tell you what to do. It’s your day – you’re paying for all the services so you should have everything exactly how you want it.
My biggest piece of advice to couples is to enjoy yourselves – don’t worry about me or the photographs. Trust me to do a great job and get on with enjoying your day.
You can see more of Ewen’s work on his website www.ewenforsyth.co.uk