Yes, we have a wedding date set – and it’s happening in a couple of weeks. Ponzi has a countdown clock on her desktop, and it tells me that we’re almost a month away from the day. So much to do, so little time! We have the flowers, the food, the venue… the photographer! Someone’s gotta take pictures of our hallowed event. We didn’t just flip open the phone book and pick the first name listed, though. I went by a small set of guidelines to narrow the field:

  • Avoid Extreme Discounts – If there’s one part of your wedding that you shouldn’t cheap out on, it’s the photography. Don’t skimp on or sacrifice this element, as your wedding photos will undoubtedly last longer than the sandwiches you serve. Should you have a relative or close friend who is a professional wedding photographer, you could likely book ’em at a lower rate. But don’t just grab uncle Willy at the last minute. Grabbing uncle Willy is a bad idea to begin with, actually.
  • Get the Rights – First thing you should ask any photographer is if you will be able to post the photos online. And if you can’t, then think about using another photographer on your list. I’m sure some wedding photographers would disagree with this assertion, but I’m the kind of guy who can’t wait to share that day’s experience with everybody – and proper credit will be given to the lens. It’s your life, and you’re spending the money, and there are plenty of photographers who would die for the added exposure. No pun intended.
  • Seek a Slick Site – Pictures don’t just speak a thousand words, they’ll likely cost you more than a thousand dollars. If someone is still hosting his or her wedding photography site on Geocities.com, run far and fast. I’m not saying that their site should be award-winning or anything, but it should certainly reflect their skills in this arena. Background music is par for the course, sadly.
  • Meet in Meatspace – Even the most elaborate Web sites will never give you all the information you need. If you don’t meet the photographer face-to-face long before the wedding day, how can do you know that your personalities won’t clash? Even if the shutterbug doesn’t laugh at all your stupid jokes, at least you’ll be able to judge their general demeanor. And demeanor they are, demore you need to keep looking.
  • Subjective Style – Let’s say you find the world’s best wedding photographer. Art is subjective! The “best” in your eyes may not be the “best” to everybody else. Find someone who is going to be able to capture moments as you would capture them. Take your time, review portfolios, get recommendations, have discussions, talk about your likes, discuss your dislikes – and for goodness sake, don’t settle for second best.

I’m not a wedding expert. Then again, who is? I’m getting married and I don’t want to look back on the photo album 20 years from now and wonder… “Whose thumb is covering up my head, there?” If you have any other tips to share, by all means – do.

[tags]wedding, wedding photographer, wedding day[/tags]