As you plan your nuptials, you might be struggling with identifying the right DC wedding photographers for you. If so, it might comfort you to know that you are not alone. We understand completely how challenging this process can be. And we know from experience that many couples like you have a hard time with this part of their planning. The good news is that there are ways to make picking a photographer easier.
The main reason selecting a Washington DC wedding photographer is so stressful is because there are so many options. It might seem strange to read that, because that seems like a good thing on paper. And it is! The benefit of getting married in or around the Nation’s Capital is you have your choice of some of the best wedding vendors in the world. DC wedding venues rank among the best in the world. The city offers you just about any kind of location you could ever want. It has has world-class planners, caterers, DJs and limousine companies. And the wedding photography industry hosts one of the deepest and most talented fields imaginable. Whatever your stylistic preferences, you are sure to find it.
The problem for many couples is figuring out what kind of Washington DC wedding photographer they want. Picking the right artist from a pool of award-winning candidates is doubly hard if you are not sure what you are looking for. So sitting down with your spouse-to-be and figuring out your preferences is a great way to start narrowing down the field. Determine whether you like photography that is light and airy, bright and colorful or darker and moodier. Ask yourselves whether you prefer a photographer who focuses on portraits or one who specializes in candid shots. Think about whether you are okay with your photographer staging scenes or if you prefer that they let your day unfold naturally. And remember that only one thing matters in all this. The right answer to these questions is whatever you and your intended want.
Once you figure out which style you prefer, you can whittle your list of potential DC wedding photographers down considerably. Then you can start looking more closely at each candidate’s portfolio. But what specific things should you be looking for?
Obviously, it begins with imagining that the photos you see were part of your wedding album. Would receiving them and looking through them make you happy? That can probably be answered with your gut reaction to seeing them. But if you are still not sure about how to evaluate different photos, the factors to consider depend largely on your stylistic preferences. If you want a photographer who specializes in portraiture, what to look for is pretty straightforward. You do not need to worry about the setting, color scheme or any technical considerations like the use of light. All you need to do is imagine you and your future spouse in the pictures in a candidate’s portfolio. If you like how the two of you look in your mind’s eye, then you have found a good option.
Evaluating the work of documentary wedding photographers can be a bit tougher. It is not as simple as just picturing yourself in their work. These photographers focus on capturing emotionally significant wedding-day moments. That means how the subjects look is less important than how the images make a viewer feel. So if you are imagining that the photos are yours, pay attention to the emotions you experience when you see them. How strong are they? Do they match the tenor of the scene the photographer has captured? If you come away from looking at a portfolio feeling something from a picture of a wedding you probably did not attend, chances are the photographer is a great one.
The other aspect to consider when it comes to documentary wedding photography is the storytelling component. As you flip through different photos, ask yourself how well the photographer has communicated what is happening in the scene. Is it clear to you who is doing what and why? Does a particular photo open a window into the wedding at which it was taken? Do you get a sense of what the marriage celebration was like for a participant? Again, if a photojournalistic wedding photographer’s work can make you feel like you were present in those moments, then they are worth a second look.
This process will require a bit more work on your part. In every picture you look at, you will need to focus on more than just the subject. You will need to look at the entire scene so that you understand the full story the photo tells. Pay particular attention to the background, where a lot of contextual details will reside. Look at what the other people in the frame are doing. See if the photographer is telling multiple stories within the same image. All of those things lend emotional depth and complexity to an image. And the deeper and more complex an image, the more powerful it tends to be.
Telling a story within a story is what makes this image so impactful. On the surface, it appears to be a groom getting busy on the dance floor. And it many respects, that is indeed what it shows and highlights. At the same time, a closer look reveals a lot of background details that tell additional stories and at the same time, flesh out the overall narrative. There is the groom’s aunt pointing at him and shouting with joy. There is a little girl being dipped by a relative until her head almost touches the ground. There is her sister on the other side of the groom, rolling around on the floor. Those little elements help give you a better sense of what this moment was like. They help you understand how goofy and crazy this wedding reception at the Omni Shoreham Hotel was. They allow you, a total stranger, to feel some of the energy radiating around that dance floor. And they produce the kind of image that you would want in your own wedding album.
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