Monday, December 6, 2010

Phinding a Photographer

Given that I'll probably have more pictures taken of me on my wedding day than the rest of my life combined, I think it's safe to say that I put a pretty high premium on finding the right photographer... not a good photographer, but the "right" photographer.  I wanted someone who was easy to work with, who made people feel comfortable in front of the camera, who caught great candid moments, who was experienced, who had impressive technical capabilities, who was creative and innovative, and fit within our loosely defined photography budget.  Kind of a tall order, eh?

Despite my crazy long list of quasi-requirements, I was sure it would work itself out, if only I logged the (wo)man hours to make it happen.  So, I did what any self-respecting bride of the 21st century would do, and I turned to the internet.  I started looking at photographers' websites, starting in Johnstown, stretching out from there.  I figured the first criteria to address would be budget... no point in falling in love with a photographer only to find out that his or her services are 10x what you'd like to pay.  With that in mind, let's begin by discussing how insanely frustrating it is that some photographers don't list their pricing info online.  Therefore, instead of spending 30 seconds of your life looking at their site before realizing it's beyond what you want to spend, you end up wasting a handful of minutes contacting the photographer directly and striking up a somewhat-forced correspondence only to find out that it's still beyond what you want to spend.  Stuuuupendous.

(Get it... waste of time??)

Once you get past the headaches associated with budget, you then face the bigger monster -- finding a photographer whose work matches what you want for your own wedding day.  Thankfully, I didn't encounter a single website where the photographer didn't have a portfolio uploaded.  However, some portfolios were quite small, and some were quite... 1998, for lack of a better term.  Usually not the best way to strike interest in prospective clients.  I looked at portfolio after portfolio, trying to find one that matched what I wanted, style-wise.  I didn't want stiff, posed portraits... instead, I was looking for some cool imaging effects, like blurry backgrounds, like this:

Admittedly, I don't know enough about photography to know if that blurry background thing is difficult to achieve.  I also don't know enough about photography to know what it's really called.  What I do know is that that's a look I want in my wedding pictures.  Unfortunately, a lot of portfolios I looked at didn't really offer this look.  Instead, they were filled with beautiful pictures that just seemed a bit... posed, or static, or stiff, or cold, or something.  

Given that my Google skills were letting me down and that I felt like we were sort of running out of time to book a photographer, GG and I decided to set up a meeting with a well-known photographer in our area.  We'd seen her work on a handful of other weddings, and it's always really nice.  And, on top of that, she's really nice.  She was super helpful and accommodating in our meeting, but I just couldn't talk myself into pulling the trigger and booking her.  I looked at her website a ridiculous number of times, hoping and praying that she had some secret, hidden portfolio that was in line with what I wanted, and that I had just missed it the first 1000 times I visited her site.  Sadly, that just wasn't the case.  Through all of my planning so far, I had seen wedding photos from around the country that looked exactly like what I wanted, and I wasn't ready to give up on finding a photographer like that closer to home.  I just couldn't bring myself to booking a photographer whose style didn't match mine.  I felt like it wouldn't be fair to her as the creative presence or to me as the bride.  So, we decided against the only photographer we'd met with.

Now I was stuck in quite the pickle... our only real lead wasn't right, but I had no plan b.  Nothing to fall back on.  And the days and weeks were trickling away, meaning more and more photographers were getting booked.  Cue panic, stress, and loads of frustration.  Plus, I'm prettttttttty confident that my anxiety about this photographer decision was making GG weary.  I decided to give my trusty Google one more try, hoping to find someone who matched my budget and style criteria.  And let's just say that I'm so glad I did...

Did you have a struggle to find the right photographer?  Was it harder to find a budget-match or a style-match?


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