Tips (sought) on Finding Photographer

Carrie BApril 30, 2006

So, I've now asked everyone I know if they have a photographer they can reccomend. Of the two referrals I was given, one "doesn't do weddings" and the other won't go to where the wedding is.

I live in Philadelphia, but the wedding will be in North Jersey. Many Phila. photographers won't travel the 2 hours for the job (or they'll charge for the four hour total travel cost), and I don't know how to look for a remote photographer.

I have been doing web searches, and looking at photographers' works posted Online. Is that the best way? Is it wise to generally trust their posted photos as representative of the quality of their work?



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Not an East Coast person, I have to ask what is North Jersey? A city, part of a state or what? Could you get a phone book from there and look up a few photog's to check out? Or consult with someone in North Jersey to get a recommendation?

I definitely would not count on photos on the web to judge their work. You need to meet with the photog. personally to judge whether this is the person you want or not.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 10:04AM
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Carrie B

Sorry, socks. I should have said "northern New Jersey". I've consulted with everyone I know, both in New Jersey and in Philadelphia, to find a photographer.

You offer good ideas. I was hoping to get out of some of the legwork involved in taking busy season days off of work (I'm a landscaper) to drive a couple of hours. I guess, in the long run, it will be well worth it!

Thank you,


    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 10:13AM
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I think it would be worth the investment of a day to checkout at least two photogs. in the area, maybe even three. Make a day of it, lunch or brunch, visit friends, etc. Maybe you can think of some other chore/errand to do in the area while you are there.

The pictures are so important, and it could really spoil the memories to have bad photos, photog. not showing up, etc. You won't be sorry if you make the effort to do this.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 1:01PM
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As a wedding coordinator, my recommendation is not to trust web sites without a personal recommendation. I had a recent experience with a photographer who has a very nice web site. The bride hired him before she hired me, based on his advertisement in a wedding publication and his web site.

When I talked with him, he said some things that didn't seem quite right, telling me what he expected from the facility. I explained three times that we needed to work with the requirements of the facililty. Then I said, "You have worked there before, haven't you?" I based that on pictures of that facility that were on his web site. When he said No and I mentioned the photos, he said that they were of his step-daughter. She rented a gown and they did a model shoot at several locations around town. There is a huge difference between a controlled model shoot and a wedding at which anything can happen and needs to be captured quickly.

On the day of the wedding he was clearly out of his element. He was using an older camera; he took quite a bit of time to focus between shots; he wasn't able to capture any shots in motion, such as the exit down the aisle (even I can capture that with a 35 mm point-and-shoot camera).

If you can't take the time to go to North Jersey, try calling a couple of wedding coordinators and see if they will provide recommendations. Some will talk with you, others won't. Then, ask the photographers for references and check them. I always provide half of the references from current or former clients, and half from other wedding professionals, since they are the ones who see another merchant behind the scenes.

The personality of the photographer is also important. You want someone that you feel comfortable working with. The wedding photos are so important that you don't want to compromise on quality or on an undependable photographer. You won't have a second chance to make up for bad photography.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 4:40PM
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Hey! i understand how you feel. for one, wedding photographers are soo expensive, and i couldn't afford their rates, but i didn't give up. i found a photographer who happened to live only about a 1/2 hour from me. he is not a "big" name photographer, but after i emailed him w/my date, location, what i was looking for, and a price range, he called me and talked about it. i love the style he has in taking pictures, such as those unexpected funny moments. and he seems to have the same personality as me, so he's really easy to get along with. best of all, he has specific rates for weddings, but was willing to negotiate with me when i explained that i could only afford xx amount. he has even emailed me several times telling me about things that would make my wedding pictures really unique..i was surprised he was thinking of ways to take pics for my wedding when its over a month away. i did speak to the "better" photogs but didn't feel a personal connection w/them. they were "professional" but not "personal". i want someone who is going to be as excited about my wedding as i am, and that is the impression i got from him. he absolutely loves what he does,and feels that wedding pictures shouldn't cost you your life savings. i do know that he goes to other states but not sure which...we live in its not too awful far away. i'll check to see if he goes to jersey and let you know.good luck!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 12:11AM
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bsniffles, I'm pleased you have found a photog. you like.

It would be best if you have met him personally and he has shown you his work. Also, can he give you a reference, someone whose wedding pictures he has taken? If you feel awkward about asking, just say someone else in the wedding party asked you to check a reference.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 9:59AM
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These days, bridal shops really take the footwork out of your wedding photography. Step into a bridal shop, and youll be presented with irresistibly-priced wedding packages. For three thousand bucks you get this, you get that and you get the photography thrown in - FREE. That's a lot of bang for the bucks, you thought. And so you sign up for one of the packages.

"Congratulations!" says the consultant, "Come in one month before your wedding and weÂll set you up for the photo shoot." It was a set up indeed.

The problem with some of these packaged photography is that they require you to have your wedding pictures taken before your wedding day. Many of these photographers would prefer not to take your pictures on your wedding day. For them, 'actual day' pictures are best left to the amateurs. Curious thinking, that. Ask around. Check with your friends. Find out how many of them REALLY liked their so-called studio wedding photographs.

"That wasnÂt me!"

"Hey! I looked ridiculous in that pose."

"No, no! This one is censored, you canÂt look at this, I looked ugly here."

Sound familiar? Well, what went wrong? How your wedding photos will turn out eventually depends a lot on you too. Just consider the following:


One month, one week, or even one day before your wedding is still not your wedding day. So would you feel the same as you would have felt on your wedding day? While it wouldnÂt be fair to generalize that all photo sessions before the wedding would turn out wrong, weÂre really saying that itÂs not the real thing. Contrary to what some photographers might suggest to you (that youÂll be too tired to look good if the photos were taken on the actual day), actual-day photos will turn out well. And we are talking about studio-quality photography here, not those taken by your aunts and uncles. After all, it IS your big day and youÂll be naturally happy. And this happy disposition would naturally be captured in your photographs.


You canÂt believe why on earth did you allow the photographer to "degrade" you that day. But you were certain you looked stupid in the picture. "Groom, hold up the phone receiver and talk into it. Bride, look the other wayÂthatÂs right, okay now, cup your right ear and pretend to hear him. Perfect!"

Who would want a picture like that? You wonÂt believe the paces some photographers put people through, but they sure are silly. What your photographer feel is art may not really be your cup of tea. So, do be careful. Learn to say no if youÂre not comfortable with a particular pose. WeÂve seen too many poor couples manipulated into poses best performed by contortionists. DonÂt be another victim.


If you really have to take pre-wedding (studio) photography, check with your photographer how many shots and how any hours of photography heÂs putting you through. Setting a time limit with your photographer would be helpful for it is not uncommon for couples to go through 7-hour photo sessions. If you feel that you can take the marathon, fine. But would you still look good nearing the 7th hour mark? Checking ahead with your photographer would better prepare you for the photo shoot. In turn, this will minimize any unpleasant surprises that might arise due to poor planning.

Another thing to consider before signing up with any photographer is the location of the photo session. These days, anything goes and hereÂs where you have to be careful. A number of couples have taken to endanger their lives by taking pictures on railway tracks. WeÂre not talking about disused railway tracks, but tracks that have regular (and speeding) services running on them. So, make sure your photographer really know the train schedule to avoid any unpleasantness, to say the least.


A good and responsible photographer will surely want to get to know the couple first so that a relationship can be built between the couple and him. Usually, a planning conference would be held at the photographerÂs studio or at your home. This is essential as it helps the photographer build rapport with you. You will smile more naturally and readily before the camera if the photographer is somebody who already knows you. That in turn contributes to better pictures.

While not imposing any particular form of photography, we find that about 60% of the couples prefer the photojournalistic concept. The other 40% is shared equally between candid photography and contrived ones. (couples looking at the wedding rings, the sort)

The photojournalistic approach, is not to be confused with candid photography. Candid pictures are usually taken without the subjects knowledge. At times, candid shots may turn out well, but most of the time they become rather inconsequential as they do not adequately capture the mood of the occasion.

The photojournalistic concept, on the other hand, captures the spirit of things. Posing is fine, but is done as naturally as possible. The advantages of choosing the photojournalistic type are aplenty.

Firstly, you donÂt have to pose awkwardly. Some posing, while done correctly (but contrived) are best suited for models who gloss wedding magazines. TheyÂre slick, but cold. ThereÂs no atmosphere of love there.

Secondly, unlike candid shots which end up being inconsequential most of the time, the happiness that permeates the occasion is captured in the photographs. It could be the audience laughing in response to a good joke or the glances that the newly weds exchange with each other. Or it could be a picture of the bride with her bridesmaids having a good time while looking into the camera. A good photojournalist would be able to capture not just the subjects but also their moods and feelings too.

So, if youÂre getting married, discuss with your photographer first on the kind of photography you like. Ask for his portfolio and see whether you are comfortable with his works. As mentioned, a good photographer will tailor his works to your needs and not the other way round. Check with family and friends, youÂll be surprised how much they know about wedding photography and how to avoid the pitfalls of wedding photography.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 8:49PM
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As a wedding photographer who loves and has a daily passion for photography (not just a business), I'd love the opportunity to speak and then even meet with you to decide whether or not my wife & I would be a good match for your wedding. We are not located in your area, but we do destination weddings. happy to talk with you and/or put you on to another photographer.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 3:22PM
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