Ask an expert
PHOTOGRAPHER DAVID WELCH SHARES 1,000 WORDS ON THE WORTH OF GOOD WEDDING PICTURES.
Long after the last song of the night fades away, the cake has been eaten, and the guests have gone home, your wedding photographs will remain. You'll share them with family and friends, maybe even one day share them with your grandkids, and proudly display them on your walls. That makes choosing the right photographer one of the most important planning decisions you and your fiancé will make as your wedding day approaches. But how do you determine the best photographer to match your needs? And how do you ensure that he or she will capture the sort of images that you will treasure for decades to come? To find out, we asked David Welch, who has been photographing weddings and engagements on Martha’s Vineyard for the past fifteen years, to weigh in. Here he offers his best tips and advice for ensuring your wedding-day memories and keepsakes are nothing less than picture perfect.
How should someone go about choosing a wedding photographer? Are there particular traits you should look for or questions you should ask?
I think important considerations include portfolio, budget, and chemistry. Ideally you want a photographer who listens to your desires and brings a lot of creativity to the table. Price is an important consideration, but it shouldn’t discourage you from making that investment in a photographer with whom you have great chemistry and confidence that they can create beautiful and memorable photographs. Photography is the most important takeaway from the wedding, so you want to make sure it’s a priority in your budget. If you like a photographer’s online portfolio and reviews, you should reach out to them to see previous full wedding galleries so you get an idea of how those look.
What does a typical wedding photography package include? I offer a variety of packages that are suitable for the largest weddings down to the most intimate elopements. At a minimum, the packages include enough time to document all or most of the important wedding day events, especially photos of the newlyweds. Each package can be tailored to better suit a client’s needs. Is it necessary to hire a second photographer? Not always, but I recommend a package that includes a second shooter for larger weddings or those weddings where it makes sense for your photographer to be two places at the same time. Do you work with the couple to decide what kind of photos to take or offer recommendations for “must have” images? Should couples submit a shot list? The best results come through honest conversation. Ahead of the wedding day, I send out a comprehensive online questionnaire where I can collect a lot of pertinent information about the wedding, especially any desired shot lists. Building on this, I invite my clients into my Vineyard Haven studio to work on their day-of itinerary. If the client has a wedding planner, the communication is looped with them. What is the ideal time of day to schedule portraits? For portraits, I prefer the softer light of late afternoon or early evening, but I am comfortable working in any light conditions. The photography for most of my weddings starts between noon to 2 p.m. so I’m not often outside during the harshest parts of the day. What is your favorite Island location for taking couple portraits? There are too many great spots to choose a favorite, and that’s a good problem to have. That said, I do find myself by the Edgartown Lighthouse with couples quite regularly. I also enjoy lesser-traveled spots where it’s safer to fly the drone [Welch is known for his drone shots] and capture unique perspectives. How would you describe your photography style? Art-inspired photojournalism. I like to be a witness and a documentarian on the wedding day. The more informed I am about the wedding day, the better; however, I’m always engaged and paying attention and looking out for those unexpected, beautiful moments. Do you blend into the background, or are you more visible? A balance of being both visible and blending in is perfect. There are times when your photographer needs to offer some gentle direction, and there are other times when the situation lends itself to a more documentary or candid style of capture. Knowing when to use either approach comes after years of experience and conversations with the couple. I’m also told that I have a calming nature, which a lot of clients respond well to.