Tuesday, July 22, 2008


We booked our photographer a few months ago, but I realize I never told you! There are tons of photographers in our area, at all price levels and styles, so it was a huge headache for me to sort through them all and pick ones to meet with. Craigslist, especially, is a treasure trove of "budget" photographers. A big dilemma was the fact that I really really wanted good photos, and wanted a photographer I enjoyed working with (based on a wedding I attended a couple years ago and our experience with our free engagement photos), but was on a major budget. I like the "photojournalistic" style for the photos it produces, but I need some direction like a traditional photographer would do. Plus, the term "photojournalistic" doesn't really mean anything now, since everyone's using it.

In my usual OCD style, I compiled a spreadsheet with every photographer's info and prices -- again, just as it had been with venue searching, it was hard to compare apples to apples. Some photographers worked for 4 hours, others for 8, others for an unlimited amount of time on the day of. Some included an engagement session, and others didn't. Same with printed proofs or albums. To be honest, albums weren't high on our priority list, but a decent amount of time and rights to the digital files of the final photos were, so that was taken into account as well. Finally, I narrowed it down to five.

I met with Photographer #1 with my mom when she came to visit a few months ago, and she was really great -- very sweet and easy-going, with a great portfolio, but she was a little out of our price range. I then met with Photographer #2 on my own -- she was based out of Cincinnati, and her website looked good, and she sent me a DVD of some of her portfolios in the mail. She was unable to meet with me at any halfway point between Cincinnati and Louisville the weekend I wanted to meet, but I drove up to Cincinnati and met her at a Starbucks. I arrived a little early and got a coffee; she called to say she was going to be late, which was OK. She finally arrived, explained that she had had babysitting issues with her daughter (uh oh), handed me some albums to look through, and went up to get a coffee. This Starbucks was SOOO crowded, though, and by the time she came back with her drink, I had looked through the albums completely, and twice. The fact that she was newer to the business than I thought, combined with an already-bad first impression having to do with an inability to find childcare (although I am totally understanding of people having kids and plans changing at the last minute!), combined with the fact that she seemed more nervous than I was during our meeting, all left me feeling like I had driven to Cincinnati for nothing. I should have visited the then-brand new Ikea to make the trip worth it, but instead, I drove home (although I did get Chipotle while I was in Cincy, since there isn't one in Louisville!).

Then I met with Photographer #3 on my own as well, and I liked him. I did have a few reservations -- he was just getting started, although he had a lot of photos to show me, and something about his personality wasn't quite right for the person I wanted shooting our wedding day photos. Like, he'd be fun to hang out and have a beer with, but that personality quality wouldn't necessarily have a calming effect on me, which I think I'm going to need on the wedding day. Nevertheless, his prices were cheap, and I've heard over and over again from people who have booked photographers before they were well known and ended up with amazing photography at great prices. So when Eric came to visit a couple weekends after that, he met with Photographer #3 as well (also alone; I was stuck seeing psychiatric patients in the office).

Eric didn't get the best vibe from Photographer #3, and felt he didn't seem as qualified as he would have liked. He also agreed with me that I am a person who, if she doesn't completely trust someone she's working with, will attempt to take over and direct things herself -- and I don't need to be doing that on the day of my own wedding! So I definitely need to be working with someone that I trust and who will have a calming presence, because I'll most likely need it.

Together we interviewed Photographer #4, who was really great. It was James from J Higgins Photography, and we met him in his studio (he runs a framing studio as well). I liked everything about him -- he's been in business a long time, but has continually kept up to date with techniques and trends, and had lots of great photos. He was very calm, cool, and collected -- completely the opposite of Photographer #3! He offered a wide range of packages at different price points, and the one we were thinking of had a couple items we weren't interested in (like a signature matte), but he said it would be no problem to use them as credit toward prints or extra hours of service instead. We left that meeting feeling great and J Higgins was, at that point, at the top of our list.

We had one more photographer meeting scheduled for the next morning, so we put off the search for the night and headed off to see Avenue Q with our friends David and Amy. You should totally see this show, by the way. I loved it.

So who was Photographer #5 and who did we finally pick? Stay tuned to find out!