How to know if your wedding photographer is the one

How to know if your wedding photographer is the one

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Text: Adibah Isa

Image: Jirka Matousek,
Soh Qiuling

In our wedding special, Jana Yar and Nicky Loh share insights on how photographers pick their own wedding photographers

So you've found the one to spend the rest of your life with. What's next? Finding the one to capture your first steps into said life, albeit staged or otherwise. Enter the wedding photographer, a role so vital that the fruits of his or her labour will be seen by generations to come. With Pinterest and Instagram serving as the calling cards of wedding photographers these days, it's easy to get lost in the sheer number of options. We checked in with two Singapore-based photographers, Jana Yar and Nicky Loh, to see how they went about their own ceremonies.

Describing her own style as playful, bright, colourful and happy, Yar's clients range from small businesses in food and beverage to musicians, actors and models looking for portraits. She also does commercial and event photography for clients such as Airbnb and Marriott, as well as editorial work.

Jana Yar and her husband on their wedding day. Photo by Jirka Matousek

While the photographer doesn't exclusively shoot weddings, Yar's done some work for her friends. Her own wedding, held five years ago, was a no-frills affair. The dress was made by one of her clients in the span of a week, based on a picture of Pinterest — which Yar recommends as a helpful resource for wedding inspiration. Although she wanted to hold the ceremony in secret, her mother leaked the plans to some friends who ended up crashing the wedding with alcohol and cake.

"At the time, I didn't really know any good wedding photographer and I'm not a 'staged' kind of person. As our wedding was so spontaneous, I didn't want to spoil it with someone who would force me to pose," reflected Yar. She hired a Czech photographer, Jirka Matousek, who was working for her at the time. "I wanted simple and fun photos of the event and that's exactly what I got."

"This is one thing I wouldn't save money on," advised Yar. "Look for someone who is like you. If you are quirky, get a guy who does funny shoots in hawker centres. There are also plenty of boring photographers who fit to a boring couple and that is perfectly fine. Not everyone is crazy and adventurous. Don't try to be someone you're not."

Jana Yar

Documentary and advertising photographer Nicky Loh has been in the business for 20 years. With projects for clients such as Apple, HSBC and The North Face, he's currently shooting a series of portraits of the oldest shops in Singapore called 'Lao Diam'. Loh also does weddings, with clients flocking to him for his un-intrusive, documentary-style shooting. His own ceremony took place four years ago at Il Lido in Sentosa, in a relaxed and intimate affair that put together both Singaporean and Taiwanese culture (Loh's wife, Vivi Yeh, is from Taiwan).

Similar to Yar, Loh picked someone he personally knows: A friend, Soh Qiuling, whom he's worked with many times. The duo has contributed to projects such as Yix Quek's book, My School Uniform, which features the uniforms of 142 secondary schools across Singapore.

Vivi Yeh, Nicky Loh's wife. Photo by Soh Qiuling
Loh's requirements for a wedding photographer were pretty straightforward.

"Someone who I know can do the job and give us good vibes," he informed. "It's easy to see from a photographer's portfolio whether he or she gets it. The second is having a conversation and getting a feel of that person. Lastly, how hard he or she works to get beautiful pictures or unique angles of the most mundane things."

The result were pictures that weren't staged, which was a nice change from Loh's own pre-wedding photos which he conceptualised with his wife. Inspired by the work of Singaporean photographer, artist and filmmaker John Clang, the couple went for a whimsical narration of their relationship. Incorporating his wife's own illustrations, the pre-wedding photoshoot skipped the cheesiness and placed the duo as curious creatures in their own little world. 

Nicky Loh's pre-wedding photo

Ultimately, how do you know if your wedding photographer is the one?

"It's just a gut feeling," said the photographer. "Also, always listen to your wife."

Check out 20 of the most overrated wedding trends here.

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