We only met with two photographers. One was Michele from Square Root of Red photography. Michele appealed to us because she was a good photographer with a lot of photography experience and technical skill but her prices were really close to our small photography budget. If you go to her website, you'll see that she starts at $1500. Michele has a day job (she's a lawyer!) and that allows her to keep her prices lower than photographers who are trying to make a living off of their business which has it's own pros and cons, and comes down to your personal expectations of your photographer.
The thing is though, the real reason I wanted to meet with Michele wasn't her price point - it was the honesty with which she approached her business practice. Her blog is awesome - she talks about the edits she makes, the software she uses, and her process. She also shares other fun wedding details, like renting bridesmaid dresses and how to make your own photobooth. When I emailed her, she was responsive and she really understood what I was asking when I asked about things like her style.
Oh, and then there was that thing that we would be hiring a photographer to do - take awesome pictures:
So when we met with Michele, I did everything you shouldn't do, according to the knot, and everything that felt right, according to me. I didn't bring a list. I asked the questions that mattered to me. Mark asked the questions that mattered to him. We talked about photography style and philosophy, we talked about lighting, we talked about the day itself. We talked about daytime vs. nighttime, we talked about posed portraits vs. letting the moment happen, we talked about Square Root of Red and where Michele saw it going. We talked about time and how many weddings she books. We talked about why she photographs weddings. We talked about what she shoots on and second shooters and all of that. Another thing I really liked about Michele was her personality. The wedding industry is an industry that lends itself to really artistic people who can be difficult for people like lawyers and engineers to interact with. Michele comes across as throughly practical and realistic, and just artsy enough. One of the first things I asked her was, "why weddings?" Her response was pretty much exactly what I was hoping for - there's something really nice about photographing people at their happiest. I liked that, because who wants to hire a wedding photographer that hates weddings?
After the meeting, I emailed Michele to ask for a copy of her contract and whether we could see a full wedding that she's shot, from start to finish. I think that these are the two most important things to ask for - anyone can put the 10 great pictures from a wedding on their blog or portfolio; but you want more than 10 great shots from your wedding. A contract is key because a lot of the stupid questions they say to ask are easily ascertained in the standard photography contract.
We really liked Michele, but ultimately we decided on someone else, who I will post about tomorrow (oh the suspense!) But you should totally consider hiring her if you live in the DC or Baltimore area, because she is really awesome.