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Because I am a wedding photographer, I have opinions about what classifies photography as beautiful and extraordinary. It is an opinion, and simply that. My opinion is not ‘the end all, say all’ – I am human and just like you, and I have tastes. I have ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ and I have my personal favorites in the wedding industry, from images to personality (and some photographers embody both). In fact, I completely appreciate a photographer that has talent (or blooming talent) and know’s who they are, even if their imagery  is not ‘my style’ and taste, because I love art. I appreciate artists, and simply want brides and clients to choose well. Choosing a wedding photographer, is like finding the perfect tattoo artist. I say this because a tattoo is with you for life, as are your wedding images. You can’t go back, you cannot fix and undo what has been done. It is a once-in-a-lifetime moment, and my advice is to: Choose well.

No. This blog post is not intended to raise awareness about my artwork. I am not trying to brag, tell brides to ONLY hire me, or claim that I am the best choice in booking a wedding photographer. In fact, if a bride comes to me asking for someone better, or if they tell me they want to drop BIG BUCKS on the perfect photographer, I would completely point them in a better direction (and more expensive direction) than myself. I would tell them who I love and who I would choose to re-photograph my wedding, because there are so many wonderful choices and styles to choose from, locally and all across the world. I do not think that my photography is perfect – In fact, I continually scrutinize my work and push myself to grow. I always want to be better every time. I aspire to be like my heros. I strive to be an expert, and maybe in 10 more years I will completely reach that goal.

Now, I am not trying to berate myself either. I can honestly say that I am proud of my work and how it has grown throughout the years. I adore the images that I display on my blog and website. Each one is special to me. From the light I manipulated to the moment created. I have finally educated myself, and have enough experience, to the point where I can call myself a professional photographer without cringing or feeling like a liar. All I want to accomplish out of this blog post is for brides to be educated. Something I was NOT when I was a new bride and busy planning my wedding.

I have to admit (gasp), I was a budget bride.

Come on, who isn’t? Everyone is usually on a budget, whether it is a large amount or small, the lining in the pocket book does eventually end somewhere. I understand ‘pinching pennies’ and wanting to stretch a dollar. I really do. But, I am genuinely passionate about QUALITY in the wedding industry. Specifically photography, and I wish someone would have educated me on the whole process and what to look for.

First and foremost, a bride should be looking for:

  1. TALENT. This, and this alone, is what you should be looking for. The images should be absolutely lovely. Stunning. The best you have ever seen (in your opinion). Their work should take your breath away and leave you excited. You should feel a connection with the pictures and envision your wedding moments looking – just like that! Look for beautiful light. Look for a style (modern, edgy, artistic, romantic). Does their photography reflect who you are and the theme of your wedding. Don’t book a photographer because the price is right, but because you adore their work. You wouldn’t just purchase an average wedding dress for your day, rather the perfect dress.
  2. PERSONALITY. A photographer should be someone that meshes with who you are. You should like them instantly. You should have a smile on your face and feel like you are in capable hands. Safe hands. A photographer should be professional and fun. If you are a quiet person look for a mellow photographer. If you are crazy and loud, you might want someone outgoing. Go shopping for your photographer, meet your photographer in person, and make sure that you get along with them well, and they fit your needs, because they are an important asset to your day and who you will be interacting with the most.
  3. EXPERIENCE. Your experience should be amazing. From the moment you meet your potential photographer, you should be treated like a queen (and king). Your day is special and you should be treated as such, from the products you receive to the way you are talked to as a human being. Your wedding is about you and your love… this is your moment, it is not the “bossy photographer show”. I am such a big advocate for clients being treated great, and if you have ever been photographed by me you know that I strive to treat you as such from the moment you walk into my office. I am always attached to my clients and their love stories.
  4. ABILITY. Make sure that the wedding photographer has been in the industry for at least two years (with the exception of the extreme rare talented prodigy, maybe one year). The artist should be able to handle wedding stress, make your burden lighter and your day better, and be able to juggle anything new at a moments notice. You will want to place your trust in what an experienced photographer has to say about making your day better… because we know (as professionals) what will make the prettiest picture. We know when and where to photograph, and should be able to educate you on light and location. Are you willing to work your schedule around the light so we can create?
  5. COST. Lastly, a bride should finally put into consideration the cost of the photographer. Even though in my opinion a talented photographer is priceless — a bride should pay no less than $3000 for average talent. I personally paid that much for my wedding images, and they are not even close to what I wanted. I didn’t even get a picture with my mother. At this point in my life, I would pay an extremely large fee for images (and an album) that would last me a lifetime. And (because I am one) I would revolve my wedding around the photographer.

Please understand that this is just my opinion and these are just a few things that I personally would look for now that I am educated in the wedding industry. If I was creating my wedding all over again, I would choose and pay for the perfect talent. I can tell you that every photographer is different in person, growing as an artist, and probably pushing at making their business better. You have the choice. You can completely choose to hire someone “new” in this industry, take a chance, and save money – but there is a risk level involved with this decision. Hopefully even the “new” photographer will be honest and tell you that. (I personally warned my brides when I was starting out, that they were getting what they were paying for, a newbie with hardly any experience). I simply want you to make a choice that embodies who you are, and skip the mistakes I did by hiring the-price-that-is-right photographer and wanting to check off that box on your wedding to-do list. Yikes. If you do, beware, you might be paying the “price” later on! Please, be willing to stretch that dollar for awesome photography, amazing treatment and customer service… and be flexible working with your photographer to create the beautiful images that you want. It is a collaboration and beautiful dance to light. Choose wisely. Choose well.

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  • California Wedding Photographer - Good points. While all of your points are important, I think personality is perhaps the most, next to technical skills. All too often I have seen other wedding photographers who exhibit bad attitudes while taking photos. Thanks for the article. It was a good read.

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  • Cara Griffith - Marin, thank you so much for putting together such a fun shoot! You are awesome to work with and we cannot wait to have you there for our wedding. We still talk about how fun that day was, despite the freezing cold weather!

  • Kat Harris - darlin these are fabulous. i love the color palette, and how comfortable these 2 are in front of the lens. you are gifted!