How to Choose a Wedding Photographer
If you’ve just started your search for a wedding photographer, you may be overwhelmed. There are so many wonderful resources for wedding photography. Where to start? Here’s our best advice for a successful search.
• NATIONAL BLOGS: Style Me Pretty, Green Wedding Shoes, Ruffled, Grey Likes Weddings, Wedding Chicks, Brooklyn Bride, Offbeat Bride and Junebug Weddings are a start. Pick three that align with your wedding’s aesthetic and regularly read them for good tips and vendor recommendations. Having an upscale hotel ballroom wedding? Look at Style Me Pretty and Black Tie Bride. Like doing it yourself and handmade weddings? Check out DIY Bride. Looking for alternative wedding inspiration? Try Offbeat Bride and RocknRoll Bride. For every style, shape and size of wedding, there is a blog that you will connect with. Be sure to search vendor listings for local wedding photographers in your area, or fly someone in from another area if you can. This is a great way to find vendors that meet a specific style. When you search the national blogs, make sure you are seeing real weddings. The trend toward styled shoots is meant to inspire ideas, and is not a realistic way to find vendors that can handle your specific wedding.
• LOCAL BLOGS: Google “DC wedding blog” or “Baltimore wedding blog” and you will find top-ranking blogs in your area. These are great resources and listings for wedding professionals and will showcase local wedding photographers. More than likely, you can see some good examples of real weddings. You’ll also be in the know for any upcoming events and showcases. Some local favorites for us: United with Love, District Weddings, Capital Romance, Charm City Wed, Washingtonian Bride and Groom, Baltimore
Bride’s Hitched and Bayside Bride.
• GOOGLE: You won’t get a curated search result if you google “DC Wedding Photographer.” You’ll just be given a listing of wedding photographers who paid to have those keywords ranked in their sites. I suggest searching “your venue + wedding photography” or “your venue + wedding photos.” Your search results give you a good idea of who has worked at the venue and how often. It also helps with comparing different styles since you’ll see the same scene photographed by lots of different photographers.
• MAGAZINES: A great resource for local wedding photographers is your local city magazine. I know this might go against our latest news internet world, but
there is validity in something that has been around for longer than the life of a blog post. In most cases, these vendors have been tried and tested and have proved their worth. Some magazines offer lists of professionals they recommend. These are a great place to start and as you go through the list, check out the vendor’s online presence as well. Even the advertisers are worth checking out. If a business has enough money to put into an ad, then they have done something right to get them to this place. Most of the advertising I see in our local magazines are great fellow colleagues who are just trying to reach the couples they want to work with.
• LONGEVITY: It’s easier than ever to make a great website and start a business online with just a few photos from one or two weddings. Unless you know someone who is just getting starting and will give you a great deal (beware of this scenario no matter what), you should find vendors that have a bulk of experience. You should always ask to see several full wedding galleries to make sure the person you are considering knows how to handle all kinds of lighting situations. Look for a photographer with an established reputation among their peers.
• VENDOR DIRECTORY WEBSITES: The Knot and Wedding Wire are probably the most widely used of these kinds of sites. These sites are a great way to see an entire listing of all the vendors in a certain category who offer their services, and they can be searched by price and style. Use a discerning eye to whittle down the list to fit your style. Be sure to Google these companies aside from looking at their website to see if there is any additional information about how they have interacted with former clients.
•CRAIGSLIST: I do not recommend hiring a professional from Craigslist, even if you are on a very small budget. You would do much better by asking one of the established photographers whose work you love to recommend someone. They may know of inexperienced photographers who might be willing to offer a lower price for their services. No matter what, have a signed contract! You’ll need to protect yourself.
Jennifer Domenick is owner of Washington, D.C.-based photography studio Love Life Images. Her work has been featured extensively, including Grace Ormond Wedding Style, Martha Stewart Weddings, and The Knot, among others. For more, visit http://www.lovelifeimages.com.