Choosing your wedding photographer is a huge decision. Chances are that they’ll be by your side for more of the day than any friend, family member, or other vendor. Investing in a photographer who you love to be around, who is professional and knowledgable, and who represents your and your partner’s style well is crucial!

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Now I know what you may be thinking…”Lindsay Anne, aren’t you just trying to convince me that you’re my dream photographer?” And the honest truth is…no. I’m not. I don’t believe that I’m the perfect photographer for every couple in the Baltimore area. But I do know that I’m the perfect one for some: couples who love pretty but natural portraits, who think candids of their friends’ crazy dance moves are awesome, and who, when we meet for coffee or cocktails, feel like old friends. If I meet an engaged couple and we aren’t a good fit, I believe that I can serve them best by recommending a different photographer who might fit them well. It’s best for everyone involved!

So how do you, the engaged person, accomplish this? How do you find someone who feels like a friend, who you’ enjoy being nearby all day, as they document your little and big moments? Let me take you through a process that will end with you booking your ideal photographer!

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If you and your partner are taking the lead on different parts of the planning process, decide which person will start the search. That person should take some time Googling and searching social media channels to find a list of 10-12 photographers – any more and it will get overwhelming! Choose these 10-12 based on your overall impressions from their blog, their “about me” page, and price range. Don’t worry too much about analyzing the little details until the next step.

To create this first-cut list, Google your location and style keywords – boho, natural, classic, traditional, organic – for better results. For example: “Maryland Natural Wedding Photographer” or “Baltimore Gramercy Mansion Wedding Photos.” Ask friends online or in-person for recommendations, and if you like the style of their past photographers, add them to the list, too!

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Once this initial list is done, have a planning session with your partner. Together, choose 4-5 photographers from that list! To do this, I wouldn’t recommend contacting all 10-12 of them, but by just browsing the photographer’s blog posts together, especially if they’re photographed at your venue before. Once you have a shortlist, it’s time to get in touch!

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Email the shortlist of photographers to check if they’re free on your wedding date, to see their pricing PDF, and to introduce yourself. Photographers love to hear about your story – it helps them know if you’re an ideal client too! Another good thing to ask for when inquiring is to see a full gallery. If a photographer is willing to share this with you, especially if they’ve shot at your venue before, it will give you lots of helpful information, such as average number of final photos, how well they photograph after the sun goes down and they’re relying on existing light and their flashes, and how easy the gallery is to view when it’s full of the final photos.

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Wait a few days for responses, and if you haven’t heard from any one of the photographers within a week, this isn’t a good sign for of consistency and responsiveness. Eliminate un-professionals who don’t quickly send you clear and helpful information. Someone who isn’t responsive noe may be even harder to work with when you get closer to your wedding day. Set up meetings with as many who are willing, or at least a Skype or phone call. This is so crucial – you might love someone’s photos, but not love how they interact with you. That is NOT the kind of person you want around on one of your most memorable days! I would always recommend rearranging your a little budget for a photographer you love who’s just out of your price range, rather than settling for a less expensive photographer who’s not the nicest to work with.

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And my last (but possibly most important piece of advice: go with your gut! Once you’ve met or chatted with your shortlist and are deciding between 2-3 photographers, decide with your partner who you’d most like to spend time around on your wedding day. Who will be kind and respectful to your grandmother when arranging her into a family photo? Who will have fun laughing with you and your girlfriends while you’re all getting ready for the ceremony? Who will know when to speak up and help move the day along, but also know when to quietly observe and photograph candids of whatever’s happening in the in-between moments? That’s the one you want to be your wedding photographer – without a doubt.

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