One of our favorite wedding photographers, Melanie Nashan, lives in the tiny town of Livingston, Montana, and spends much of summer through fall aiming her lens at some of the most beautiful weddings imaginable. Though couples lucky enough to hook up with Melanie know their pictures will be amazing, finding the right photographer for your own destination wedding is a challenge (of course you could always just book Melanie!). For her inaugural Destination: W post, we asked our Montana muse to share her advice on how to go about narrowing the field, and how to really “read” a photographer’s web site.
“Finding a photographer is a daunting task. Start by asking your friends whose work they love, then ask the vendors that you are already working with if they have any recommendations. Next, look at wedding websites and bridal magazines–both local and regional–to see if there are real weddings that captivate you. It’s great if you can find a photographer in your destination, but also keep in mind that we wedding specialists are usually willing to travel, especially to a beautiful location. Put together a list of all potential photographers, grab a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, and look hard at their work. Take time with this step: Go over their pictures slowly and carefully until you’ve narrowed the field to your five favorite choices.
“Next, visit each photographer’s website and start taking notes. Ask yourself if you like the style and feel of the site. It’s one of the most important marketing tools a photographer has, so if you donʼt like the style of the pages, you should probably look elsewhere. Scrutinize how the photographer composes each image and how competent she is with her tools. Look at every image on the site and pay attention to how the photographer captures all aspects of the wedding. Ask yourself what you like about the photographs—it will help you understand and relate what you want your own photos to look like.
“Once you’ve narrowed your choices down to three photographers, give each a call and ask to see at least five weddings in their entirety. Almost any photographer can show you one strong album, but if you can see five beautiful weddings you can assume that she does a good job consistently. Most people will be happy to send you the passwords to access various client albums, so don’t think of this as an imposition.
“A beautiful bounty of work is only part of the equation, of course. Equally important is how your photographer approaches her job, and what kind of attitude and presence she’ll bring to your day—after all, you’ll probably spend as much time with her as with your new spouse! Next post: making sure you find the right match.”—Melanie Nashan