Wedding Party celebrating

You are newly engaged YAYYY, you’ve started browsing venues, and narrowing down dates and finally onto searching for the perfect photographer…. Hey Siri, look up photographers in my area…. “okay, I found 35,624 matches for photographers in your state”… CUE THE PANIC. 

Before you give up all together and decide to have Uncle Jack shoot your wedding on his iphone, Here are a few suggestions to narrow down your search! 

You will spend more time with your photographer on your wedding day than any other vendor!

Let that sink in… oftentimes your wedding photographer relationship begins right after your engagement and can last year’s depending on your planning process. Finding a good match is about so much more than beautiful imagery, you want a partner for your wedding day who is aligned with the same priorities and a working style that makes you comfortable along the way!   

The wedding search process should always start with deciding on a few key factors! This criteria will be great in looking beyond the beautiful photos and fun personalities to what is truly important in capturing your wedding day! 

Charlottesville Virginia wedding venue Wedding first kiss, dip at the end of the aisle

Narrow down your style

There are so many options when it comes to choosing a photographer. With so many different styles of photography it’s best to make your search easier by looking at multiple examples to see what vibe best suits the vision for your wedding day. 

Here is a brief overview of a few of the most popular styles:

  • Dark and Moody: More dramatic and contrasted colors, darker shadows, and evoke a strong sense of emotion and movement.
  • Light and Airy: Utilizing natural light and soft contrast, with classic posing and candid moments.  
  • Fine Art Film Inspired: soft focus and bright color profiles with a more artistic interpretation, often focused on capturing the little details as well as human interactions. 
  • Photojournalistic: Generally very hands off and focus on behind the scenes interactions, limited posing and candid emotions. 


Determine your budget

Wedding photography services are available in a HUGE range of prices and package options, everything from small 2 hour elopement coverage, to full day or multi day destination packages. Determining the type of package that is best for your vision and your ideal budget, will dramatically help along the search process. This can allow you to easily eliminate choices well above your budget, or not enough coverage to capture the essential moments. 

If photography is one of your top wedding vendor priorities, I always recommend allowing a $500-$1000 flex in your ideal budget where it might be worth stretching your expected photo budget if you find a photographer you are connecting strongly with and compensate by decreasing your budget in another area. 


Write out your priorities

Try thinking about the moments that are most important to you. Do you want a photographer who is hands on and helps to direct you throughout the day… Do you have a vision for printing dramatic landscapes from your wedding day around the house… or do you prefer a more hands off approach where your photographer is behind the scenes capturing the details. These factors will help you in finding a photographer who meets the criteria! 

Now that you have an initial list of photography candidates, how the heck do you narrow them down? Here are a few tips for finding the perfect photographer fit! 

bride getting in her wedding dress King Family Wedding, bride and groom first look King Family Wedding Ceremony couple walking down the aisle

Beginning your search process… remember to keep the criteria above in mind!

Referrals from friends: Personal recommendations are always a HUGE selling point, you can get trusted advice from photographers they loved, or even possibly situations to look out for that didn’t go as smooth as planned on their wedding day.  

Instagram location tags: Look up your venue, area, or related hashtags that can help narrow down your search. This will give you a great look into the personality and styles of photographers in your area. 

Vendor Referrals: As you start to meet with venues, and research the aspects that are most important on your wedding day, check in with your vendors for their recommendations. I wouldnt stress about finding a photographer who has previously shot at your venue, a good photographer can easily adapt to any location and lighting situation, but this will give you a great list to use as a starting point.

Above images by Heather Dodge Photography at the following Charlottesville Wedding Venues:

Common House | King Family Vineyard | Keswick Vineyard

I hope these tips have given you the confidence to start your photography vendor search! If our styles align, and you are looking for a natural light photographer obsessed with helping down to earth couples capture genuine, joyful wedding day’s. Inquire below to get started securing your wedding date! 


 Here are a few of my favorite resources to help along the wedding planning process. 

Top 5 Reasons to Add a Second Shooter 

Is a Wedding Album worth the Investment?


6 Steps to Finding your Perfect Wedding Photographer

Feb 18, 2021

hey friends!

I'm Heather, a Wedding & Brand Photographer serving Central Virginia & Beyond! I love sharing beautiful love stories, inspiring wedding details, and practical tips for a stress free wedding!

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