Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Finding our Photographer

One thing Jay and I immediately realized was that photography was very important to us. After breaking down the budget, I realized that Jay and I were solely responsible for our wedding outfits, gifts and our photographer.

After countless hours searching the web, perusing wedding blogs and asking friends (or stalking their wedding pictures on FB) I was a little overwhelmed by the price of a photographer (well actually two) for the 6 hours we needed them.

Our original budget was $2,500 (and honestly I thought that was high). Then we revaluated. At this point I had digitally bonded with a few photographers, and, well, they were just not in our price range and not even close. Plus we had a few requirements: Digital Negatives along with the rights so we could print on our own, an Engagement Session included and Two Photographers day-of.  We decided to meet with the photographers who fit these criteria, all ranging through a wide spectrum of prices.


The first photographer we met with was Laura Black Photography. I instantly liked her online because she was affordable, responsive and offered one free sitting a year to her brides. Laura was very impressive and we felt that we really clicked with her (she got us laughing a lot). When Jay and I got in the car after meeting with her, we looked at each other and said I hope they all don’t go that well because we would have a hard time choosing. She was immediately added to our “definitely considering” list. She also earned brownie points for a follow-up e-mail a few days later.


The next morning we met with Maria Linz Photography. Maria was mentioned to me by a friend one weekend while I was home. I went online and really liked her photography. The only problem, she wasn’t in our budget, her second shooter was. When it came down to it, we liked her second shooter’s work but we didn’t love it. We thought the overall meeting with Maria went well, she had a sense of humor but  showed she could keep a family under control during pictures. But unfortunately, she just didn’t work with us. 

Then we kicked back on Federal Hill for a couple of minutes to organize our thoughts and look over our notes, or rather, my notes as Jay didn’t really take any…


After our quick break, we headed to Glen Burnie to meet our third photographer, Emily Chastain.


Emily was very flexible and accommodating via e-mail when I had to change the time and area of our meet-up (hey, it’s hard to coordinate several vendors in one day). She hit traffic on the way to meet us and was about 5 minutes late (which was no big deal) and she gave us the address of a Starbucks in a Target (also not a huge deal). Unfortunately, I think both of these things flustered her. When everything was said and done, Jay and I were not blown away with her photography and she was already at the high-end of our budget once you added in all of our “must-haves”. Plus, since she was nervous I don’t feel like we got a great representation of her personality. The main reason we met with all of our photographers was to judge character (we wouldn’t waste our time if we didn’t like their photos). So Emily was crossed off the list.


Our fourth photographer, Artful Weddings, was recommended by our location and honestly just not in our budget. But, they got such raving reviews online that I wanted to see what the “best” was so we met with them just to compare our other choices. Joe and Anne have been in the wedding photography business for a long time and it shows. It was nice to sit with Anne and talk about our wedding and what we should look for in a photographer. Plus, she had great vendor suggestions! I am so glad we met with Artful Weddings just to gain perspective, but have no regrets in not choosing them.


Our fifth and final photographer, Dani Leigh Photography. Dani was the photographer I was drooling over at my desk. I probably increased her blog traffic that week (especially for “Elkridge” searches) with all the times I scoured through her pictures. So of course I e-mailed her and was disappointed when I saw she just wasn’t in our price range. 

Jay and I talked about it, considered meeting with her just to see (like we did with Artful Weddings), and recalculated our budget. I even took a moment to put together a few collages of pictures that I liked to fully evaluate all the photographers. And guess what? 90% of the pictures I choose were Dani’s… I took it as a sign and e-mailed her, I was finally honest and told her that I would love to meet with her but she just wasn’t in the budget. After Elkridge, I should have known, but was pleasantly surprised when she e-mailed me back with an offer that was close to our budget. We realize that after the cake disappears and the guests leave, all we will have is our pictures, therefore we were willing to go a little over our initial budget.

Rest assured, Dani did not disappoint! We were impressed by her photos. An added bonus was that she not only has experience at our location, but she also got married there herself. I think the biggest selling point to us was that I loved her rainy day photos too! I was very impressed with her creativity on a day that it just poured. Elkridge has some great outdoor areas (where she also takes some great photos), but it takes real talent and creativity to take equally stunning pictures when it’s raining.

In person, she is prompt, funny, down to earth, knits, loves blogs and really clicked with us. As soon as we left the meeting Jay and I knew she was the one. We were impressed by her follow-up e-mail the next day telling us how excited she was for our wedding.

As many bloggers would say, social media is big to me. Dani really impressed me with her blog that she updates frequently (and is on my blog roll, I love seeing her photos). I mean how fitting is it that my photographer reads some of my favorite Healthy Living Bloggers?!?!

We did take a day or two to think about it. We knew both Laura and Dani would do a great job. As a budget-minded person, who usually chooses the least expensive option, I had to give this a second look over. But in the end, both Jay and my gut said Dani, so we picked Dani!

So far I am very glad we did! and both Jay and I am very excited for our Engagement Session in September. In the end, you just have to go with your gut!

Tell me about your wedding photographer experiences.


Tell me the last decision you made by going with your gut.