July 23, 2013

How to choose the best candid wedding photographer or cinematographer … THE 101

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In the recent past, two amazing things have happened to the Indian photography scene .. one, the advent of digital media and two, release of ‘Three Idiots’  and the character of ‘Farhaan Qureshi’ . Gone are the days of trusting the same (almost immortal) studio guy who captured your parent’s wedding and their parents’ wedding (and so on to the beginning of human era .. you get the idea). The new age of Indian photographers are well educated, technologically proficient, passionate and hence bring some great perspective to a genre of photography which calls for the most skilled of artists to do justice to … Weddings!

Before we even get to finding the best candid wedding photographer, let’s take a minute to rationalize ‘best’. In the context of wedding photography and cinematography “best” can be largely seen as a function of 1) (Absolute) Quality of work  2) Price and 3) Other factors like terms of shooting, deliverable etc.

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Point number one, in our humble opinion, holds quite some importance. Now some photographers might tell you that they shoot photojournalistic style (i.e how a newspaper reporter shoots), some like to shoot ‘candid’ style, while a select few do what is called ‘fine art wedding photography’ (the last term deserves to be featured in an MBA marketing classroom :P). Whatever a photographer’s style of shooting is … IT DOESN’T MATTER! Really!! All that matters is what YOU like. Research the photographers … not a genre. The beauty of it is, the way you know if you like a photographer .. is the same way you knew if you like your life partner to be … instincts! It is also important to know that unlike choosing a life partner, you do have the luxury of liking multiple photographers and cinematographers here .. and zeroing in on one.

Which brings us to point number two. If price is not a consideration for you … we should catch up over coffee! Jokes apart … everyone likes to get good value for their money. Prices for candid wedding photographers (and I’m using the word candid very broadly here) ranges all the way from 30K INR for a day to 5Lakh INR for a day (maybe even more). So how does one decide? Like before, our golden rule of ‘go with what YOU like’. So long as a photographer’s or cinematographer’s show-reel portfolio impresses you it doesn’t matter what gear they shoot with, doesn’t matter what their team size is and IMHO it certainly doesn’t matter if their clientele includes the first cousins of Mukesh Ambani! If there was a way to algorithmically price artwork, Sothbey’s would be run by robots. Pricing is a case to case issue and pay whatever YOUR budget allows for.  If you are constrained by budget, be upfront to tell the same. A quick tip here: try to hire your contemporary photographer/cinematographer as a combined team from both the side (bride and groom’s). Its clean, convenient and price effective.

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Now assuming the above two are sorted, lets come to something which we find the most important of all the three (to think of it .. should have mentioned this first :D). It is ultra crucial that you are personally comfortable with your photographer and cinematographer BEFORE your wedding. In the case where you end up liking multiple photographers who also suit your budget, make sure to choose the one which appeals you most as a person (sounds like an arranged marriage concept .. but hey .. it works!). We at Knotinfocus are a firm believer of the fact that our pictures are only as good as the chemistry we share with the couple. Request for a coffee meet if possible, have a skype call … anything to make sure that you don’t freeze when that someone points an expensive camera at your face on the wedding day 🙂  We’d also like to add 2 cents about the ‘flexibility’ quotient here. While some photographers quote you by the hour or day, some might quote you by the number of photos or the number of events etc. Make sure you go with someone who can live with the uncertainties of an Indian marriage. The last thing that you want is to see the photographer packup at your pheras because the function got delayed by an hour. Other things that may be of interest are to have a formal contract of services, know in advance what the deliverable are, the ad ons (photobooth etc) the photographer can provide and detail out the travel arrangement well in advance.

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With the three big pointers covered, here are our 2 cents on some of the peripheral issues

1. Searching for photographers and cinematographer – Keep it simple, google and facebook, that usually does the trick.

2. Studio photographer – Don’t hire too many just because they come cheap. Most studio guys are obtrusive and bring enough umbrellas to survive Mumbai monsoons … not cool!

3. Albums – Tons of variety, no rights or wrongs, just make sure to request for a sample from your photographer.

4. Accommodation and logistics for the camera crew – If you want your camera person to show up fresh and on time, make sure to plan their stay and transport accordingly 🙂

We hope this article helps … if it does .. drop in a note at www.knotinfocus.in … if it doesn’t .. drop in a note at www.knotinfocus.in 😀

Cheers and may you have some great wedding pictures and videos!!