Finding a good photographer is easy. Finding a great photographer is difficult. Finding a great wedding photographer in your area is next to impossible. Finding the right photographer for you is essential! Though you may think the advent of internet search engines has made the task easier, nothing is further from the truth. Unless you are willing to sift through hundreds of names and websites, you probably wont get much information from a standard search. So, what is the best method for finding the perfect photographer for you wedding?
The Short Answer... The Old Fashioned Way, Recommendations.
- Family and Friends: Most lives follow typical patterns and milestones. You and your friends will likely get married withing a few years of each other. Unless they all used the same photographer, chances are you will have a well-spring of resources in your previously married friends. Do you have an older sibling who was married? Does your cousin have friends who were married recently? You will likely find you know more people who were married in the past few years than you thought.
- Your Wedding Planner: This is not a forum for encouraging you to hire a wedding planner... a day coordinator from your venue can be very resourceful as well, and most likely they have a list of preferred vendors as well. That being said though, it can be a good investment to hire an actual wedding planner. A wedding planner has a list of contacts for venues, caterers, florists, Dj's, Photographers, and more. Since his/her recommendations reflect on his/her and his/her reputation, they should be the best of the best. Of course, the more experienced your wedding planner, the more contacts he/she will have. Just because your planner might not know the photographer your best friend might have suggested, doesn't mean you should discount them. It just means that their paths have not crossed yet.
- Local Venues: In every area, there are some favorite locations for weddings. The best or most popular wedding photographers in the area should be familiar to their even coordinators. While you are checking the availability of your favorite sights, ask for photographer recommendations. You will be killing two birds with one stone, saving time and effort.
Once you have compiled a list of recommended wedding photographers in your area, its time to go back to the internet. Their websites should give you an idea of their photographic styles. If you don't like any of the pictures showcased on the website, then there is no reason to make any contact with the photographer who took them. That being said, if you are looking at a company that has more than one photographer that works for them, ask to see what they other photographers work looks like. You might find that you like one of them better.
If their prices aren't in your budget, move on. However, your wedding album is going to be the one lasting memento of your wedding. You may want to consider changing your allotted budget elsewhere. The food will be eaten, the flowers will wither, the band will go home, but your photographs will be shown to future generations.
Despite trying to convince you otherwise, style and price are really the only things you can determine from a photographers website. They will help you further narrow the playing field, but wont help you make the final decision. To do so, you will have to meet the photographer in person. In that meeting you should get an idea of what they photographer has to offer in their various collections, and if they are willing to tweak them a little to possibly better suit your needs. The meeting also allows you to see whether or not you will work well together, and this honestly is one of the most important parts! Your wedding day is special and you need to make sure that you are completely comfortable with who you will be working with. Just because they have amazing work doesn't mean they will work well with you. As has been said before, your wedding photographer will be sharing one of the most special days of your life, so be sure you have a good rapport.