Every wedding needs a great what? PHOTOGRAPHER!! Unfortunately, wedding photography is an area most couples leave till the last minute or often skimp on, but the last thing you want to do on your big day is cheat yourself. Because all you will have when that whole day is over is the pictures. And, you don’t want to look at them and wonder what your photographer was thinking when they took some of the shots, do you? I will say I have seen/heard MANY horror stories about wedding photographers. With the plethora of options out there from amateurs to 10yr+ professionals, it makes it very difficult to make a good selection. Keep in mind, I’m NOT a photographer, nor have I ever studied photography and I barely know how to use my camera. (lol) I know how to power on, point, zoom in and out, take a pic, and upload. THE BASICS!!! Anything beyond that, such as retouching, light effects ,etc., is beyond my skills!
When the husband and I were trying to find our photographer, we discovered a few things we found to be important…
Things to Consider:
BUDGET!!! I know I always say this first but, FYI, DC is one of the most EXPENSIVE areas in the United States for wedding photography. Average prices range from $3k-$6k+. So know what you want to spend!!!
Photo style: Photojournalistic (story telling) is the popular new style, as people want their wedding day to tell a story through the photos. There is also traditional (posed/formal/portraits) and contemporary (relaxed/candid/artsy).
Photographer: You should make sure you know WHO the photog is going be on the big day, especially if you’re going to be using a master service who just assigns you a photog or you just pick one.
Meet and greet: Make sure to meet with the photographer! This person will be in your face ALL DAY so make sure you feel comfy with them and that personalities don’t clash!
Samples: Make sure they provide samples! Sample albums, engagement photos, wedding photos, galleries, the whole SHABANG!!! You want to see if their work is consistent and the quality of their work!!
Experience: Is important!! While people will be trying to build their portfolio (which is fine), you want them to at least have a year or two of experience.
Packages: Are GREAT! They can include 6-10hr+ of wedding coverage, albums, online galleries, DVDs, rights to your photos, engagement sessions, bridal portraits, etc.
A la carte: Gives you the freedom to pick and choose the things you want in the photo services, which is great as well.
Equipment: Are they using a Nikon D700 (~$3k) , Canon 1D or 1DS (~$6k), or a disposable? Lol. Always ask what kind of camera they are using!!
2nd shooter: If you have a 2nd shooter, this offers more angles for your photos, BUT they cost $$$ most times and might only be there for limited hours.
Engagement session: Do you want some pre wedding photos? Typically 1-3hrs long at a chosen location, i.e., Old Town Alexandria, The Capitol, Georgetown, Art Gallery, Botanical Gardens, National Harbor, etc.
Photo album: It is very poplar nowadays to have a hard cover leather bound albums w/pics from your big day, which is GREAT because often times people say they will scrap book and do it themselves but they often forget to or don’t have time.
Tools for Your Search:
Craigslist: Under “Services,” there is a PLETHORA of people (experienced/not experienced) trying to drum up business or build portfolios.
APA: This stands for American Photographer Association, where you can find a list of registered photographers in your area.
Word of mouth: Talk to newlyweds and see who they used.