One of the many questions you may ask while interviewing wedding photographers is: “Have you shot at our venue before?” But how important is their answer? Let’s discuss why prior experience at your wedding venue can be helpful – and why it may not matter.
The Value of Experience
A photographer who’s familiar with your wedding venue already knows some great locations for some perfect shots. That knowledge can put you at ease, especially if you tend to be overwhelmed or aren’t too familiar with the venue yourself. The photographer will also have less to worry about on your special day because they’re familiar with all the logistical details around how your venue operates. If you’re going with a photographer who is relatively new to their career, you might put more value on that familiarity as it is one less thing for that junior photographer to have to think through. You should expect that a seasoned photographer adapts to new and unfamiliar locations more readily due to their experience.
The Value of a Fresh Perspective
Conversely, sometimes it’s amazing to get a fresh perspective of your venue. People are creatures of habit. The more weddings a photographer has done in the same location, the more their shots may get a bit cookie cutter – though they will be some beautiful cookies! A photographer who’s shooting in a location for the first time may find new angles and take photos that aren’t like anything that you’ve seen in the galleries of the recommended vendors. The best photographers will be excited by a new location and their inspiration will shine through in some magical photos.
The Importance of Preparation
All good photographers should do their homework, whether they’re shooting in a new or familiar location. No two weddings are the same, even if they’re held at the same place. A photographer who is new to a venue will have more homework to do to familiarize themselves with their surroundings. If possible, it may be best for them to show up early on your wedding day just to look around and scope out the area. And if you have ideas about utilizing the venue, be sure to share those with your photographer as well.
It’s All About the Light
The biggest influence on your wedding photos is not the venue itself or your photographer’s experience there – it’s the light on your wedding day. And that light will be impacted by the time of your ceremony, the season, and the weather – something that can change dramatically in the greater Philadelphia area! As anyone planning a wedding knows, you can choose the first two, but the third is out of your control. A good photographer knows how to adapt and respond to that light. No matter how much your photographer has prepared, they need to be able to react in the moment. Even if they shoot in the same place over and over, the photos will be different every time. (That’s why your photos will never exactly match ones you may see online, even if you use the same photographer and venue.) It’s really not about your photographer’s familiarity with your venue. It’s about their ability to get the best possible shots in the conditions of your wedding day.
Whether your potential photographer has shot at your wedding venue before shouldn’t be a make-or-break question. What is more important is their overall fit. Does their style match what you’re envisioning? Are they within your budget and available on your wedding date? Are you comfortable during the interview, and are they responsive and easy to reach? Check out our Questions to Ask While Shopping for a Wedding Photographer and How to Pick a Wedding Photographer articles if you need more advice about the selection process.
Ultimately, it’s about trust. You are entrusting your photographer to capture your special day. If you’re worried that a photographer won’t do a great job at your venue, they’re probably not the right choice for you. But if you’re confident in someone’s talent and professionalism, they will surely do a wonderful job whether it’s their first wedding at your venue or their fiftieth.