the quest for a wedding photographer

Photography was an early priority for our wedding, and our photographer ended up being one of the first vendors we booked. That sentence makes it sound simple, but the search and final decision wasn’t so easy. (You can read more about how we prioritized photography and other items for our wedding in my previous post, the Focus 3 {part 1} and {part 2}.)

As a longtime admirer and researcher of beautiful photography, I was unexpectedly challenged by the fact that choosing only one wedding photographer meant that all the others would be forever off the market! I mean, I was fully ready to take all other men off the market and commit my life to Woody, but deciding on only one photographer seemed so daunting!


Photo by Kristyn Hogan Photography An acquaintance of mine from college, Lacey, chose Nashville-based photographer, Kristyn Hogan, for her wedding. I stumbled upon her wedding photos on Facebook and fell in love. Kristyn's work is clean, yet rich with color and emotion. She brands herself as spirited, fresh, timeless and I couldn't agree with those adjectives more!

Photo by Kristyn Hogan Photography

An acquaintance of mine from college, Lacey, chose Nashville-based photographer, Kristyn Hogan, for her wedding. I stumbled upon her wedding photos on Facebook and fell in love. Kristyn's work is clean, yet rich with color and emotion. She brands herself as spirited, fresh, timeless and I couldn't agree with those adjectives more!


Whether photography makes it in your Focus 3 or not, I generally find it is a significant wedding element for most couples. Photos are one of the primary ways to remember the details, moments and emotions of your wedding day, so finding someone who can capture these in a way that suits you is important. 


Photo by Timwill Photography I don't remember where I first encountered Tim's photos, but I was hooked instantly. He is a film photographer, and his work has a stunning and whimsical quality to it. I particularly love the artistic yet timeless beauty portrayed in this image.

Photo by Timwill Photography

I don't remember where I first encountered Tim's photos, but I was hooked instantly. He is a film photographer, and his work has a stunning and whimsical quality to it. I particularly love the artistic yet timeless beauty portrayed in this image.


So, where do you start with your photography search?  With a variety of photographers to choose from, how do you find the right one to create an experience and a product you will enjoy and value? There are lots of tips for selecting a great photographer, but I think it ultimately comes back to understanding and agreeing with your fiance about what you want. Essentially, what are the must-haves, red flags, and areas open to compromise that will define your search?

In our wedding photographer search, there were three key factors that drove my heart in the decision.

1.) Relationship. Woody and I are both driven by relationships, and we realized our photographer was someone we would spend a lot of time with on our wedding day. Taking this into account, we desired to find a photographer with whom we felt a genuine connection. I was a bride who not only looked at photos but also poured over blogs. I found I was consistently more attracted to photographers who wrote about their couples and their weddings in a way that showed they actually knew something about their lives—not just their wedding. Essentially, I wanted someone I liked and that liked me back. Someone to not only care about my wedding, but to care about me. Woody agreed, and we both felt this was essential to telling our authentic wedding story.


Photo by Sarah DeShaw Photography I originally discovered Sarah DeShaw through a Google image search for a wedding chapel I liked in St. Simons Island, GA. One of her photos came up in the search results, and when I saw her logo, I thought, "that looks nice, I think I'll check her out!" What I found in her work was captivating simplicity, sincerity and beauty expressed in important moments and engaging interactions.

Photo by Sarah DeShaw Photography

I originally discovered Sarah DeShaw through a Google image search for a wedding chapel I liked in St. Simons Island, GA. One of her photos came up in the search results, and when I saw her logo, I thought, "that looks nice, I think I'll check her out!" What I found in her work was captivating simplicity, sincerity and beauty expressed in important moments and engaging interactions.


2.) Style. I had a very particular aesthetic I wanted to achieve and I was prepared to look at thousands of photos until I was absolutely sure we had found a photographer whose style consistently matched our aesthetic. While Woody's and my taste in photography was similar, there were some differences, so it took a little extra time to find a style we both loved. We collected photos we liked from websites, Pinterest, and blogs, and used these as our “style guide.” One of the best things we did to help us finally decide on a photographer was to ask to see the photos from an entire wedding. Aware that only a selection of the best photos from multiple events were featured on most websites, we were interested to see a collection of work from an entire wedding day.


Photo by Daisy Moffatt Photography Based in my college town, Chattanooga, TN, Daisy photographed the weddings of some of my college friends so I had followed her work for a while. She has a way of capturing the happy side of love and her friendly personality oozes from her work. This particular image is still one of my all-time favorites!

Photo by Daisy Moffatt Photography

Based in my college town, Chattanooga, TN, Daisy photographed the weddings of some of my college friends so I had followed her work for a while. She has a way of capturing the happy side of love and her friendly personality oozes from her work. This particular image is still one of my all-time favorites!


3.) Coverage. I was very particular with what kind of coverage I wanted. This meant I needed a photographer who was willing to work with us to customize a package that fit our needs. Some photographers have set packages, some are completely customizable, and others fall somewhere in between. With a specific vision for coverage, customizable options were the most appealing to me and Woody. We didn’t want to be forced into a package that gave us things we didn’t want upfront like fancy prints or large albums, and more of what we did want, like extra hours of coverage on the wedding day, bridesmaids luncheon, and the rehearsal dinner. I did care about ultimately displaying the photos in our home, but I wanted to focus on getting as much coverage of our special events while I could, and select albums and prints later.

Ultimately, I am so thankful we were thorough and patient in our search. It is clear to me now that God had a specific plan for who we were to work with as our wedding photographer. We ended up choosing St. Simons-based photographer, Sarah DeShaw, in whom we truly got more than we could ever ask for or imagine. Throughout the process she was professional, yet relatable and Woody and I both loved her style. She gave us flexible coverage options, and we felt a great connection of friendship with her and her husband.

The photos she and her team created for us from our engagement shoot to bridal portraits, from the wedding day to day-after shoot, are some of the most gorgeous images I’ve ever seen (even if I do happen to be partial to the cute boy in most of the photos!). She hit our aesthetic spot-on and truly captured our wedding story in a way that still mesmerizes me.


This moment photographed by Sarah's husband, Brent, is from our engagement session. This was just the beginning of a dear friendship between me and Sarah, and the first of hours we would spend drooling over gorgeous photos together!

This moment photographed by Sarah's husband, Brent, is from our engagement session. This was just the beginning of a dear friendship between me and Sarah, and the first of hours we would spend drooling over gorgeous photos together!


I hope these thoughts will help you as you uncover what is most valuable to you as a couple and set out to find a photographer that will capture your love story in a way that will delight you for years to come.

My story is just one perspective, so I thought it'd be interesting to see what insight we could learn from the other side of the lens! I’ve spent time talking with some of my favorite wedding photographers and have collected valuable tips and perspectives to share with you. Stay tuned for a series of posts featuring the feedback and phototgraphy of some very talented folks!

In the meantime, I’d love to know—what are/were you looking for in a wedding photographer?