Finding the right photographer (can be a snap!)

credit: Jeremy Fraser @ LA Exposures
credit: Jeremy Fraser @ LA Exposures

One of the most important vendors you have to book, in my opinion, is your photographer. The day of your wedding is going to be a blur, but if you choose the right photography team, you will have lasting memories in the form of your photos (and/or videos – I won’t talk too much about videographers since we didn’t book one, but it’s something to look into if you’re interested!). Additionally, your photographer will be able to capture the beauty of all the little details that might go unnoticed on such a whirlwind of a day.

We completely lucked out – I found my photographer at a bridal show. It was really easy to compare portfolios when they are hanging on the wall right in front of you! I was naturally drawn to this booth more than once – and my family/friends agreed that there was something special about these photos…

I am an amateur photographer, shooting for both DyingScene.com (usually concerts/live music/musicians) and an animal rescue (taking portraits of adoptable dogs for their website). I tend to like a specific style of photography – something that is beautiful but still a little edgy. I like bright colors and interesting perspectives. I think there can be a time and place for everything – but I didn’t want “traditional” posed photos that seem a bit dated (which can be the case of a few wedding photographers) or overly-editorial photos (cool in magazines, but I don’t need to see my reflection in the glow of his sunglasses or something like that). I also wanted someone who “got” the #punkrockwedding vibe.

And there he was – Jeremy from LA Exposures. His portfolio is interesting and colorful – full of creative shots and saturated color, but not gimmicky or overly posed. I immediately pictured myself and Doug in those photos and decided to talk to him.

I was sold within minutes. Not only is his work beautiful, but Jeremy is awesome – so likable and friendly. In a matter of minutes, he won me (and my mom) over with his charm and excitement – especially after I told him our ideas for making the wedding more punk rock.

I firmly believe the most important vendor relationship you can have is your photographer – if you feel awkward around them, your photos will seem artificial or forced. If you are comfortable with them, you will be relaxed and will be able to get the best possible shots.

I took all of Jeremy’s information home and showed Doug, who was equally impressed. We agreed this was the direction we wanted to go – and I went back to the expo the next day and booked him! Getting the photographer booked was a huge relief – especially since I wanted to make sure we would have thorough documentation of the day!

My advice – look through portfolios, read reviews (weddingwire.com, yelp, etc), ask friends for recommendations (especially if you admire their photos), and MEET prospective photographers. If you are working with a larger company, ask to meet the person(s) you will be working with – don’t book with one person in the company when another one will be the one showing up on the day of your event. If possible (and many companies include this in their packages), do an engagement shoot so you can get to know the photographer and get any awkwardness out of the way (and there will be awkwardness – especially when you’re being coached on staring into each other’s eyes/tilting your head/putting your hand on his shoulder, etc). This was especially important for Doug – he hates having his photo taken, so the engagement shoot was a good “intro” to what the wedding will be like (and he knows we will be taking lots of photos!).

If you’re still at a loss, look through wedding magazines and (local) blogs – find photos that stand out to you and look at the credits to see who shot them – that will give you a good starting place on the way to finding the perfect person to capture your day!

After you book someone, make sure to get on the same page – what do you absolutely need shot (you can create a “shot list” to make sure nothing is missed)? Does your photographer work solely off the list or do they like to get creative and see what captures their eye? Have they been to your venue before (or will they go to scope it out)? Will they be bringing an assistant?

Related, if you’re going to spend a significant part of your budget on a professional photographer, it might be in your best interest to request that family/friends turn off their cameras for your ceremony. You don’t want your second cousin twice removed standing in the aisle taking a picture with their iPad and blocking the photographer from getting a shot of your first kiss as a married couple!

In closing, do your research, find your photographer, and get ready to smile!

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