You need to hire a wedding photographer. Now what? Where do you look? Who do you hire?
As many in my profession like to say, “The cake gets eaten, the dress gets worn and stored and the flowers die a week after the wedding, but the images stay around forever.” I like to add, “You are documenting your family history; the beginning of your lives together. These are the images you will show your children and grandchildren.” I truly believe that your wedding photos will be the most important and lasting testaments to the joy and love you feel on that day.
So, how do you get there from here?
Step 1: Figure out what you like
Do a Google search for “wedding photography” to see what type of photography you like. Do you want the images to be documentary based, portrait based, heavily toned or natural? Do you want to spend your day posing for portraits or letting the photographer work around you? There is no wrong answer.
Step 2: Target your search
All photographers are not created equal and it shows when you look at their work. Here are some things that you can do that will cut your list down fast:
- Target your search to your local area or the area surrounding your ceremony/reception venue, ex. “Northern Virginia wedding photographer” or “Arlington Virginia wedding photographer.”
- Ask your venue for a preferred vendors list. Photographers on these lists have shot events at the venue, so you can get a nice idea of their creativity at your specific venue. This works for florists, caterers and DJs, too.
- Ask friends for recommendations.
- Visit professional photography organizations websites like Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA), Wedding Photography Association (WPPI), Artist Wedding Photojournalism (AG/WPJA) and Professional Photographers of America (PPA).
Step 3: Narrow the field
Check out the websites of the ones you like. Do you like their style? Is the quality of their work consistent? Do they fit within your budget?
Step 4: Check availability
Once you’ve narrowed your choices (say 3-5 photographers), contact them to see if they are available for your wedding date. Most photographers start to fill up their calendar anywhere from 6 -18 months out. The sooner you decide, the better chance you have of getting your first choice.
Step 5: Meet the top 3
This step is very important. Do not skip it. Set up an appointment to meet, either in person or via web video, with each of the top three photographers. Consider it an interview. Is the photographer personable, punctual and presentable? Do they put you at ease or make you nervous? The difference between relaxed and stiff photos could hinge on your feelings about the person taking your pictures. Each photographer should show you samples of their work and talk about the process, what they expect and what they will need from you. And, don’t forget to check references. Call or email a few. See what they liked about the photographer, suggestions they may have, or things they would have done differently.
Step 6: Decide
If you follow steps 1-5, you will know which photographer clicks with you and your fiancé. Trust your gut, book the photographer and don’t look back.
Thanks for stopping by!
-Jud McCrehin is an award-winning professional photojournalist based in Warrenton, Va. in Fauquier County just outside Washington D.C. –