Bride Blogger Amanda: Picking the Photographer

>> Tuesday, June 29, 2010

At the very beginning of our planning process, John and I had to decide how to spend our budget. To do so, we had to determine our priorities -- that is, which areas were most important to us to spend money on to get exactly what we wanted, which areas we did care about somewhat but wanted to be practical and find a good deal and which areas we didn't care at all about and could probably nix all together. For us, besides our church and reception site, our No. 1 priority was great photography. This area was also the one I got the most advice on, namely, "Whatever you do, don't skimp on the photos!"

John and I agreed. After the vows have been said, the cake eaten and the dances danced, the one thing you have left to document the event are your photos. And we weren't about to trust the preservation of our day to just anyone! We knew we wanted mostly photojournalistic pictures -- pictures that told the story of our day, capturing candid moments as they happened. We had pretty specific ideas, which made picking a photographer the hardest decision of all to make!

First, we scoured the web for Omaha-area photographers and asked for recommendations from friends and brides. We spent a great deal of time looking at photographers' online portfolios. Because we had such a definite idea of what we wanted, I knew whether I'd like the photography within the first 30 seconds of being on a website. If it wasn't what we wanted, we moved on. We finally picked three different photographers to meet with, and based on those meetings -- and the pricing packages -- we picked one.

And we are so happy with our decision!

We chose C & J Photography, a husband and wife team based in Omaha. Casey and Jerred were so fun and full of energy, creativity and talent, plus their work is gorgeous! Their packages were also very reasonable in comparison to our other choice, and the packages are also customizable to suit whatever needs you have -- and we had a few.

Casey and Jerred took our engagement photos last September, and John and I had a ton of fun hanging out at Gene Leahy Mall with Casey, Jerred and their camera. They just let us go be ourselves, laughing, being goofy and enjoying each other. The pictures speak for themselves.

My advice when picking out photographers:

1. Decide where photography fits on your priority scale, and how much you are willing to spend to get what you want. If you are on a budget and you don't care particularly about the photos and you'd rather pour your funds into a kick-butt band or a sit-down prime rib dinner, go for it. (If you're one of those people with a budget large enough to accomodate all your wedding dreams, you probably don't need this suggestion...lucky you!) Just be 100% sure you won't regret handing Aunt Mabel your point-and-shoot and having her be the one-and-only event photographer.

2. Research! Check out NWD's website or look in the photography guide of the magazine. Ask for suggestions. Look at photographers' websites and portfolios, and if they don't have one, request samples of their work. Looking over photographers' portfolios will really help you determine what kind of pictures you want and generate ideas for your big day. Also, don't be afraid to ask for former client feedback.

3. Meet with at least two photographers in person. You may feel like you don't have a lot of time for personal appointments, but seriously, meet with a couple to see their work in person and chat with them. You want to be able to mesh with the person who's going to have a camera on you for 6-10 hours! We met with three photographers, and I can tell you that although one of them had really cool pictures, he would NOT have been a person I would have wanted to work with. You can't tell that from a website.

4. Pick a photographer who has a style you admire. Photographers generally aren't going to change their styles or approach based on what you want. They're artists, so choose someone who takes the kind of pictures you would like to have. If you want photojournalism, you'll want a photographer who specializes in that approach. If you want a more artsy, avant-garde feel, pick someone who is great at that style. If you don't know what kind of style you like, see No. 2. If you don't care what kind of style, see Aunt Mabel.

5. Compare pricing and package offerings. Sometimes photographers are equally talented, equally friendly and equally equipped and available to take your perfect wedding pictures. In that case, look at the dollar signs. What are you going to get with each package? Who has the biggest bang for your buck? (Hey, even though photography was a budget priority, that didn't mean we couldn't get the best deal out there!) Packages are usually based on amount of time (you'll need to figure out how long you want the photog there), number/type of prints you want (we knew we wanted the digital rights to our photos so we could use them on websites, Facebook, and for printing our own photos) and other considerations (guest book, engagement session, photo album, etc). The dollar signs might actually determine your initial list of photographers more than anything else. We didn't even look at photographers who were way out of the price range we felt comfortable with.


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