Picking the Right Wedding Photographer in Washington, DC

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Picking the right photographer for your most special day…YOUR WEDDING

So I was thinking the other day, how do I inform brides of what to look for when picking a photographer for their wedding? This is one of the most important decisions you will have to make. The photographer you pick will be responsible for creating and capturing your story to be told to your kids, grand kids and generations to come. This should not be taken lightly. I know weddings are expensive but get the best you can afford – it’s your special day!

 

So I came up with a list, with a little help from my photographer friends, and this is what we came up with.

 

  1. Debunking the big wedding company myth

Many people think that going with a well-known national company is the way to go. For some couples it is; however if you want real customer service and one-on-one attention, then an independent photographer is the way to go.

  1. Start looking early

The best photographers get booked up fast – usually a year in advance. So if you want your first choice, start looking early. A photographer knows what places provide the most beautiful backdrops. A photographer can also be a good source for other venders – they work with cake designers, florists, DJs, and most import wedding planners. Remember they do this every weekend. Use your photographer’s knowledge.

  1. Meet with the photographer that will be shooting your wedding

Meeting the photographer before your wedding is so important. You will be working with this person all day and night so it’s important to have developed a relationship of trust. Along with trust is the photographer’s personality – make sure that you will get along with them and are on the same page. It is important to know that with many big companies you won’t meet the photographer until the day of your wedding.

  1. Ask who will be doing the editing

Shooting the wedding is only one part of the final image. Editing is just as important. With a big company the person editing your images will not be your photographer. How does someone you have never met know how to edit your images? Your photographer knows you the best and will ensure your vision will be captured in your wedding album.

  1. See a full unedited wedding

When viewing a photographer’s website or portfolio remember that you are only seeing the best photos they have to offer from all their weddings. Anyone can get lucky and take one good picture. But taking great pictures of the whole wedding can be more challenging. Make sure you view a fully unedited wedding so you can see how the person shoots technically and creatively before the computer comes into play. A computer can enhance a photo but can’t take place of great photography.

  1. Know your style

Even if your personalities are a match and you think you could be great friends, if the photographer shoots in a style that you don’t love, keep looking. A style is the photographer’s signature and how they feel most comfortable shooting. That being said, a good photographer can cross over different styles a little but don’t ask a leopard to change his spots. Key words you should be familiar with are traditional, photojournalistic, high fashion, natural light.

  1. Don’t be drawn in by a low advertised price

Studios offering low prices use this as a selling tactic like a car sales man. They will tell you that what you are looking at is fantastic but if you really want the best (and you guessed it – here comes the hidden cost just like buying a car) it will cost just a little more. Most of the time you wind up in a high-pressure sales pitch and spending more than if you started with an independent photographer that is up front with their pricing.

  1. Don’t fall for the freebies

Freebies… I love this one. What can I give you for free so I can hide my poor imagery, non-existent customer service and talent? Unfortunately you usually get what you pay for. Typical national photography companies make their money on volume. They also hire new photographers with usually less than a few years under their belt for little pay. This is great for a beginner to build their portfolio. But really, do you want someone to build their portfolio or to acquire on the job training with your wedding? An independent photographer with years of experience can offer a higher quality product with full customer support.

  1. Look at what different products the photographer offers

See if the photographer offers something different than other photographers or is your wedding going to look like all your friends. Meaning do they offer cool and unique albums tailored to your own unique style?

  1. Ask the turn-around time

This is a big one and should be a deal breaker. Why should someone have to wait 6 weeks for his or her photos? If you took your car in for work and they said you could pick your car up in 6 weeks, you would run away. Photos should be up in a gallery within a week and an album should be no longer than a month after the design is approved.

  1. Equipment

This is another way a photographer deflects attention from their photos and dazzles you with names and numbers. Most of you won’t know the difference between a cropped or full frame camera, a D700, 5D mark III, SB910, Profoto B2, D810…. I can go on and on. Unless you are a photographer or going to do a lot of research on the gear, it means nothing. On the other hand, you should be looking at the quality of the final image. Look at all mediums (computer, prints, albums and enlargements). Viewing on a computer isn’t enough. A computer screen is forgiving – poor quality images can look good on a computer but horrible in print. Look at the albums and if you plan on a big enlargement ask to see that also. Bottom line is the more informed you are, the better decision you can make.

  1. How will the images be delivered and archived

Find out how you and your guest can view and order prints and how long the photographer archives your images.

  1. Read the contract

READ, READ, READ your contract. I can’t say it enough. Make sure you understand what you are agreeing to.

 

Hope this helps…. I know this can be a stressful time planning a wedding. But the right photographer can help make it a fun process – one you and your spouse will remember and treasure forever.

 

Please reach out and let me know how I can help,

Lee

Picking the right photographer

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