When it comes to wedding photographers, the market abounds with options.
From established professionals to learn-as-they-go newbies, the field of wedding photographers increases daily, leaving brides-to-be with so many choices that it can be overwhelming, especially for the DIYer who’s planning her own wedding.
Katy Culbertson was one such Florida bride who eventually turned to a Craigslist ad for help. “I’ve been scouring the Internet for weeks, looking at portfolios, sending inquiries and feeling generally baffled by all of this wedding hullabaloo,” wrote Katy in her ad. “Generally, I think the industry is crazy and so have decided to bring the search (for a wedding photographer) to my inbox and forego endless Googling.”
Katy received almost 200 responses from around the country, eventually choosing photojournalist Robert McClory, an established photographer based in Orlando who shoots weddings throughout Florida, including Gainesville.
The advantage of hiring a professional wedding photographer is like that of any professional field — experience, experience, experience. Experienced wedding photographers know that a wedding day is both predictable and yet totally unique. “I think of weddings as a living, organic thing and react to them as such, treating no two the same,” said McClory. Professionals will know what to expect and how to react as circumstances change. They will have back-up equipment. Most will also have photography degrees and references.
So how to sort through the plethora of options?
Get a referral from your wedding venue or another bride (via wedding chat rooms or friends if needed), work with a wedding planner who has a list of vetted photographers or attend a bridal show and start looking at portfolios. Once you have a short list, ask to look at the photographer’s samples that show coverage from beginning to end (instead of selected highlights from various weddings), meet personally if possible and read the contract.
Whomever you choose, make sure the photographer’s style — photojournalistic, fine art, traditional — matches your own vision, and make a list of must-have photos, so the finished coverage of your wedding is what you anticipated. Also let the photographer know if you prefer posed images, candid shots or a combination of both.
Adds bride-to-be and wedding reporter Tanya Gleeson, “The photographer will be one of the most important aspects of your wedding day. You will be spending alot of time with him/her/them.”
If professional photography is just not an option, consider a pre-wedding engagement shoot or post-wedding Trash the Dress or other couples session, available from many professional photographers at a reduced rate.
“While your best friend’s best friend may shoot nice photos, or a favorite relative has a cool camera, let them enjoy your wedding and leave what is probably the biggest day of your life so far to us professionals,” said Florida wedding photojournalist Craig Litten.
(For story suggestions or feedback, contact Carla Hotvedt at SILVER IMAGE® Weddings via email@example.com)