Everyone says that one of the first wedding vendors that a couple hires is a photographer. So today, we have something special for you to help in that photographer search. The DC area is home to many talented photographers and it is tough to know what questions to ask and what things to look for. (You might remember when we did a DC area wedding photography week last year!) Mark, owner of Pier23, just published a FREE e-book entitled, Everything You Need to Know About Choosing a Wedding Photographer. It is a wedding photography primer geared towards couples who are looking to hire the right photographer for their big day. Mark is giving us three important things to know about hiring a photographer. Call it a little preview of what’s in the e-book! Take it away, Mark….


Photo Credit: Pier23

I have something I would like to share with you that has helped brides and grooms who are unsure of what to look for when selecting a photographer for their wedding day. I realize that the vast majority of you are not professional photographers. (Don’t worry – that’s okay!) But this can make it a bit challenging when looking for a wedding photographer because you might not  know what to specifically look for.  To make it worse, there is a seemingly endless supply of photographers to choose from, making it all the more confusing.

That is exactly how this consumer’s awareness guide came to be. I wanted to help couples get educated on the differences between photographers, critical characteristics to search for and demand, as well as the red flags that might indicate lower quality. This comprehensive guide, Everything You Need to Know About Choosing a Wedding Photographer, is full to the brim of helpful articles, delicious eye-candy and pics, and easy tricks to making your wedding photographs turn out exactly as you imagined. Today, I want to share three insider’s secrets to know before choosing your wedding photographer.

The Low-Down on Digital Negatives

There is a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to digital negatives, because so many photographers use the words “digital negatives” in different ways. For many photographers, digital negatives are similar to what film negatives are…unedited, easy to store, with lots of potential. These files have had very minor tweaking (if any), no retouching, no resizing. They are a blank canvas, with lots of potential, if you know how to use them.  While for others, “digital negatives” means that they are the edited, high-resolution photos that they give to clients on a disc or flash drive along with the limited rights (release) to make prints.

Why is this so important? Because if your photographer considers “digital negatives” to be the unedited type, then they will most likely charge you for each individual image you would like touched up or edited. And that can mean costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $35-100/hour, which typically gets you about 3-5 images an hour, depending on how extensive the edits are. Please make sure you know which type of “digital negatives” you are getting with your package (assuming they are included) so as to avoid having to pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars extra to get your photos to look like the ones you saw on their website.

Is Two Always Better Than One?

If you’re thinking of hiring multiple photographers for the sole reason of getting lots of images and viewpoints, don’t forget that you shouldn’t skimp on quality. It’s more important for you to focus on the talent and portfolio of the photographer(s) you are considering rather than the number of photographers who will be at your wedding. Some photographers prefer to work alone and create wonderful images, while some studios like to work in pairs. Both approaches can be successful. The number of photographers at the wedding doesn’t matter as much as whether the photographer(s) you hire can deliver the types of images you want.

A lot of couples these days are looking for a second shooter, believing that two photographers are better than one and less likely to miss crucial moments. However, quantity will never make up for the lack of quality. When you go in for a double bypass, would you rather have two medical students working on you, or one experienced surgeon? For the most part, you get what you pay for in wedding photographers. That said, there are cases where two photographers come in handy.  The obvious situation is when there are two things happening at the same time in different places, such as when the bride and groom are getting ready at two separate locations. But even this example can be rectified with only one photographer with some practical planning such as selecting locations that are close together so that the photographer can spend some time with both the bride and groom while getting ready.  The bottom line is don’t just book two photographers because you think they will give you twice as much in the end. Place your emphasis, rather, on the quality of work produced by the photographer(s).

Quality Trumps Quantity Every Time

When evaluating a photographer, don’t get caught up in the amount of products each photographer is promising. Stay focused on the actual quality of the work provided. We realize that some people are working within a budget. Think to yourself that you can always purchase an album, or additional prints later (even 5-10 years later), but you can’t change the quality of the photographs taken at the wedding after the wedding day.

If there is something you need to cut from your package in order to make it more affordable, start with the products. Cut the prints from the package, remove the album, but don’t go with a cheaper photographer because they are willing to give you all the products you want up front.


Thank you so much, Mark! These are such great photography tips and just a tiny sampling of what’s included in their wedding photography guide, Everything You Need to Know About Choosing a Wedding Photographer, that you can download for FREE! There are so many other helpful articles such as “6 Costly Misconceptions About Wedding Photography”, “20 Questions To Ask Before Booking,” “How to Maximize Your Photo Coverage,” “The Difference Between Value & Price,” and so much more! Also, if you are looking for a wedding photographer in the DC area, check out Mark at Pier23.

If you are planning a wedding in the DC area, we’ve got it all covered! From tips and advice form DC area wedding pros, a real wedding gallery for beautiful Washington, DC area weddings and loads of inspiration in our DC area wedding idea galleries. You can also join the local wedding conversation on our Washington DC area wedding forums!

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