I recently chatted with Los Angeles-based wedding photographer extraordinaire Damien Smith, who shared with me some of his best pointers learned during 16 years shooting professionally. I hope you enjoy his advice for navigating the world of wedding photography!
· There’s no such thing as a bad location. Damien finds something memorable about all of the weddings he photographs, and likes to get creative no matter what location he’s working in. One of his favorite weddings was held in New Orleans, where he got this shot of a “Second Line” march following the reception.
· When choosing a photographer, be sure to shop for quality, and not just by price. While many brides and grooms are looking to save money, Damien has heard plenty of horror stories from couples who hired an inexpensive photographer for the savings, only to later hate the way their photos turned out. Know what you’re looking for, and don’t expect a $5,000 job for $500.
· Pay attention to style. Damien uses a blend of photojournalistic and traditional photography styles. Photojournalistic shots capture great candid moments, while traditional photos are beautiful, presentable keepsakes parents and family will admire.
· Don’t forget to ask about insurance! Many wedding venues won’t allow photographers who are uninsured to shoot at their locations. Be sure to ask about a photographer’s insurance coverage before hiring him or her.
· Always meet before signing a contract. No matter how much a couple may love the photos on his website, Damien will not contract with them until they’ve had a chance to meet him in person. When you meet a photographer, ask yourself whether he or she is someone you could see yourself forming a personal bond with, and whether you trust the person. Don’t feel comfortable? Look elsewhere.
· Do an engagement session to establish the relationship. This photo shoot allows Damien to learn more about his clients, and also lets the bride-and-groom-to-be get a feel for his work style.
· Plan to take photos at a park or another outdoor location? Always check ahead of time to see whether a special permit is required. Damien loves to shoot outdoors, since this provides tons of options for fun locations, such as Southern California’s Santa Monica Pier, and allows the photographer to step back and let the couple relax.
· Digital photography is less expensive. It’s also not limited by film speed, and allows the couple to get their photos back sooner after the wedding. But Damien also carries a camera loaded with classic black-and-white film, since film is still a gold standard for great black-and-white shots.
What are the best photography tips you’ve picked up so far?
(Photo Credits: Damien Smith Photography)