YOUR STYLE AND THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER FOR IT
When I got married, people kept asking me what my "theme" was going to be. Why did I need a "theme?" Your wedding is about you - it should feel like you - knowing your style and finding the right photographer to compliment that style is crucial. There are things you to look for as you sort through your options, and red flags to keep in the back of your mind.
SETTLE ON A STYLE
There are a few 'camps,' or styles, that a lot of photographers fit into, more or less. Some might straddle a couple from time to time, but overall, each has a dominant direction. As you plan your wedding, your photographer and the kind of images you're looking for will probably start to align with the style of the wedding as a whole and help narrow-down your choices a bit. If you're looking for a pretty traditional wedding with tons of people and formal portraits, you might want a Portrait photographer. If you're looking for photos of your guests laughing, or if you're like me and married someone who HATES have their picture taken, you might opt for a Documentary-style photographer who focuses on candids and the unposed moments. Similar in style but with a little bit more artistic influence, some photographers treat each image as Fine Art and add-in some creative posing, an artistic point of view that takes advantage of backdrops and details, and a heavy emphasis on composition and color. And lastly on the spectrum, there are photographers that really push the boundaries and play with crazy angles, shots that are out of focus or less conventional with composition, or really dramatic lighting.
Most photographers, like I said, have some kind of blend of the above - the important thing is that you find someone who captures moments the way you want them to be captured.
My approach grew from a few different influences that hopefully shine through in my work. I'm not a huge fan of being photographed (and neither is my husband) - when we got married we searched for someone in with a documentary-style and loved the experience. We nearly forgot she was there, and love how genuine the images are to our day. That said, I've also got a background in graphic design and can't seem to remove that from my perspective. I love saturated colors, creative compositions, and finding a little bit of drama with each wedding.
SCOPE 'EM OUT
One of my favorite tools of our day is Instagram. When you start looking for wedding photographers, it's pretty easy to find a few hashtags that align with what you're looking for and start scoping out the results. For example, if you're getting married in Durham, you might start with #durhamncphotographer and see what comes-up. Or, if you're getting married at the top of a mountain, you might search #adventureweddingphotographer.
Once you've found a few people you're interested in, take a look at their portfolios. Look at the way they use light, and the way they edit photos. These images will last you forever - do they feel timeless? Do they elevate the weddings they've photographed with the images? It's really easy to follow the trends, but just in any field, the trends don't last. As I've found my own style, I've worked hard to find a balance between timeless and creative. I want your photographs to feel like an awesome and authentic view of your day. I keep colors true to what they were, I don't airbrush your skin, and I don't do any "skinny editing." If you're ugly-crying, I want you to look back at that photo and remember what brought out that emotion. I want you to look at portraits of you & your spouse and feel confident and beautiful, like for that day, you were you, but a well-designed, happy, stunning version of you.
CAN THEY HANG?
Chances are you'll spend more time with your photographer on your wedding day than with any other one person, so you'd better like them as a person, because it's going to be intense. When you've found a photographer and scoped-out their work, get to know them. Either set-up a Skype call or a coffee date and get to know them a little bit. Are they going to feel like an awkward presence in the room while you're anxiously getting primped and prepped, or are they going to pour the champagne and joke around with your maid of honor?
Your wedding day can feel hectic - there are a lot of people and details all coming together on one day - and your photographer should make things easier, not get in the way. On my wedding day I went from feeling organized to like I was going to pass-out in about 20 minutes time. I remember it each time I see a bride start to take deep breaths and anxiously check her to-do list on the morning of her wedding. At that point, I'm there to help however I possibly can. If you need someone to get you a glass of champagne, I'll pop the cork myself. If you can't get your dress to zip, I'll set the camera down and break a nail trying... then we can stage some photos with your mom pretending. I want to dance with your favorite uncle at the reception, and laugh at dirty jokes your dad tells in his speech, and hang out with you months after your wedding because we're friends now.