Before you say "I do" to your bride or groom, you need to do the same with a photographer. Columbus wedding professionals share their advice for making sure you'll be happily ever after with your photos, too.

Before you say “I do” to your bride or groom, you need to do the same with a photographer. Columbus wedding professionals share their advice for making sure you’ll be happily ever after with your photos, too.

Lori DeFrank took her time choosing a wedding photographer. The soon-to-be bride knew what she was looking for and wasn’t about to make a rash decision.

When she and husband Nick became engaged, they flew home to Columbus from Chicago three separate times to meet with potential photographers. Some photographers had a style too artsy for her taste, while others were too generic in their work.

The DeFranks met with 10 photographers before they found the right match. When they finally met Courtney Mason, DeFrank immediately knew she was “the one.”

Aside from style and portfolio, DeFrank wanted a photographer who she felt could be a friend—and she found that in Mason.

“She was just so friendly and easygoing,” DeFrank says. “I knew right away that we would get along and work well together.”

When she meets with potential clients, Mason, owner of Courtney Mason Photography, pays attention to how their personalities mesh. Feeling a connection with the wedding photographer is something every bride and groom should value.

“At the end of the day, you’ll be with the photographer more than anyone else,” Mason says. “You have to feel comfortable with them.”

Mason also talks with couples about their expectations and the images that excite them. She is a behind-the-scenes photographer, catching moments as they happen. She wants to know ahead of time about specific shots that need captured.

Julian Allen also takes time to meet his clients before the big day, often more than once.

By the time the wedding rolls around, “I know them very well,” says Allen of Julian Allen Photography. “It’s like shooting a friend’s wedding.”

To get to that point, couples need to be prepared to share their story. Allen wants to know how they met, where they went on dates, who’s in the bridal party and what everyone is wearing. He asks about hobbies and past experiences, family members and if there’s ever any tension.

“That stuff is like gold to me,” he says. “It shows the love there.”

Benjamin Derkin of Derk’s Works Photography stresses that trust is the foundation of a healthy client-photographer relationship.

“The most important thing is to check out our personalities; to see if we get along,” Derkin says of the first meeting between a couple and a potential photographer. “Couples need to work with someone they can trust. If a couple really trusts a photographer, it frees them up to be less stressed on their wedding day. And that results in better pictures, because the smiles are in-the-moment and natural.”

Couples also should be prepared to answer questions specific to the wedding day, such as how much time they want to dedicate to taking photos and if they prefer more candid or posed shots. Knowing the answers to these questions helps the photographer plan for the day—as does gaining a clear understanding of how much direction a bride and groom want to have during the shoot.

Samantha Evans was a pretty laid-back bride. Once she committed to Ben Barnes of Ben Barnes Photography, she let him take over.

“I trusted that he’d do a great job,” Evans says. On her wedding day in June 2012, she didn’t give direction or even suggestions. “I let him go with his artistic point of view.”

Her only expectation was that Barnes capture the beautiful setting of her ceremony, which took place in German Village’s Schiller Park. He caught candid moments at the reception, too, including shots of the newlyweds holding hands at dinner.

Securing a photographer she trusted to successfully capture her day “really put my mind at ease,” Evans says.

Some couples, on the other hand, have their own vision.

Though he’ll gladly take charge in directing a shoot, Bryce Koechlin of AddVision understands the mentality of those who want more involvement in the creative process—and has no qualms about handing over the reins.

“We’re being hired to do a job,” Koechlin says. “We will do whatever the client wants us to do.”

Social media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest have made sharing concepts for wedding photos easier. Supplying concrete examples of desired scenes and poses helps photographers capture these concepts as best they can.

“We tell them to bring examples of what they like to our initial meeting,” Koechlin says. “Sometimes they show me shots that are impossible given the circumstances, but we [try to] do something similar.”

Logistics are another subject couples should discuss beforehand with photographers. The number of photographers that will be on location, a backup plan if a photographer falls ill and how far they are willing to travel for the event are all key factors in the decision-making process.

The bottom line is simple.

“Trust your gut,” DeFrank says. “If you don’t get a great feeling about the photographer, keep looking.”

SIDEBAR

staying within your

Budget

When it comes to planning a wedding, there are line items in the budget that can be cut. For Myriam Solomon, wedding photography is not one of those.

As an event planner specializing in weddings, Solomon guides couples on what to do and how to save money in preparation for their big day.

Prioritizing is key to successful budgeting, she says, and photography is the one thing couples shouldn’t scrimp on.

“Photos are the lasting part of a wedding,” she says. “That’s what you get to keep forever.

“Everybody’s uncle has a great camera and thinks he can do a great job as a photographer. Brides think they can save money this way. But a great camera doesn’t make a great photographer.”

If money is tight, there are ways to save while still hiring a quality photographer.

Have an honest conversation with your photographer about your expectations and what kind of package you really need. Consider how albums are put together, and ask if digital-only packages are available.

“When I meet with a couple, budget and price are typically secondary,” says Benjamin Derkin of Derk’s Works Photography, adding that it’s all about finding the right personality fit. “A budget can stretch and grow and be manipulated throughout the entire wedding-planning process.”

Still, before meeting with a photographer, it is best to have a budget in mind. Lori DeFrank admits she wasted time and energy meeting with photographers who didn’t fit within her price range.

“Go into it with a solid budget,” she advises. “There is no point in meeting with someone who is over your budget.”