Start Smart: Finding a Photographer

Reviewing our resource list is the must-do first step in finding a photographer

By Jennifer Belkus Goolkasian

Believe it or not, where you look can put you on the fast track in locating a photographer that is the right fit for you. Too often couples realize this is the case after trial and error, and much time and energy.

Take into consideration that some professionals thrive on the excitement, bling, and give-away frenzy found at wedding shows. Others decline to participate, preferring to operate in more intimate settings, perhaps conducting consultations in the convenience of your own home. And while certain photographers sidestep advertising and rely on word of mouth to run their reputable and established services, new school photographers tend to advertise and may emphasize the convenience of media and technology in their business practices and products.

You and your loved one will discover that you have distinct preferences and needs as your planning develops and takes shape. Keep in mind that two, unique couples can perceive the same resource as either a “high pressure sales” environment, or, on the flip side, an “all-inclusive and service-oriented solution.” Being aware of your options, and reviewing a few “to do” steps can streamline your efforts and allow you to glean the most from the resources available to you.


Wedding shows

  • Meet and greet several photographers in one afternoon, comparing both their styles and personalities.
  • Fill your goody bag with promotional “take-aways” for review at home.
  • View photographer’s products, such as albums or specialty framed items.
  • Enter raffles for a chance to win free or discounted photography.
  • Be prepared for high-powered professionals eager to book you!


Internet searches

  • Search from the privacy of your home in your spare time.
  • View dozens of photographers’ styles quickly.
  • Read photographer’s mission statements and philosophies and compare
  • View or request rates immediately.
  • Bookmark your favorites with ease, to simplify re-visiting sites
  • Locate photographers overtly associated with gay weddings, civil unions, and commitment ceremonies, domestic partnerships and other alternative weddings instantly.
  • Request email addresses or other contact information of referrals


Print and online trade magazines

  • Locate tidy lists of vendors can often be found on the back pages, which can serve as a checklist. 
  • Circle and check off ads in the same fashion.
  • Find articles on photography that inspire and influence your decisions.


Your local civic or social group

  • Often photographers will develop a relationship with a local non-profit. Ask who provided images for the website or the annual calendar. Receive a

    detailed, professional reference.

  • If knowing the photographer’s politics is important to you, especially in terms of identity, this option provides a comfortable lead.


Personal referral

  • Receive firsthand experience—the whole story, and nothing but the truth!
  • View referral’s proofs or album to develop a realistic expectation of what you will receive; this can be helpful as some photographers only showcase select images and avoid exhibiting full volumes, bloopers, etc..
  • Recognize similarities and differences in your tastes and your friend or associate’s tastes.  Ultimately, listen to your intuition when listening to your friend’s advice.


Event venues (usually your prospective ceremony or reception sites)

  • A site coordinator should share a resource folder or list of preferred vendors during your site visit and consultation.
  • Photographers familiar with a location and/or good terms with the establishment are one way to help your day run smoothly.


Other vendors

  • Choosing one vendor referred by another means that you are hiring a team,professionals that have already proven that they work will together.
  • Some vendors that work closely with photographers to make your day run smoothly include event planners, site coordinators, officiants and DJs.


Chambers of commerce/tourism offices

  • Get the insider’s point of view by asking the courtesy desk for inside tips on how photographers conduct their businesses. 
  • Freebie directories, flyers, and sometimes even coupons are available.
  • Out-of-towners benefit by receiving maps and other touring information.