Photography is quite possibly the single most important line item when it comes to wedding budgets. Not only do photos capture the special moments on a couple’s Big Day, but they will last long after the “I Do.” It’s important to not only find a photographer who matches your style and personality, but also someone who is professional, courteous and capable. Here, five local photographers share their best tips for choosing someone who fits the bill.
Between big weddings and small elopements, Thad Billiot and Caitlin Guidry, the husband-and-wife photography duo behind September Company, have photographed nearly 150 couples in New Orleans since starting their business in 2016. Their top tip is for couples to research a few different photographers to find a style that really speaks to them.
Thad and Caitlin also know how important it is for couples to not only consider their wedding photographer’s style but also their personality and professionalism. “You’ll spend lots of time with your wedding photographer on such an important day, so hop on a call to make sure it’s a good fit,” Caitlin says. “Also read their reviews to make sure past clients have had a good experience. It’s also a good idea to see some of their full galleries at venues similar to yours.”
If a couple prefers to have more candid photos, Caitlin recommends that couples keep their must-have photo list short. “Let your photographer capture the moments of the day that you didn’t even know would happen,” she says. “Trust between the couple and the photographer will always translate to more meaningful photos.”
Yet another way to ensure fantastic wedding photos is to hire a wedding planner or coordinator who can ensure that all of the details of the day are going smoothly. “That way, you can focus on enjoying your day, and your photographer can focus on capturing it in photographs,” Caitlin says. theseptemberco.com
Linka Odom Photography
Local wedding photographer Linka Odom has always loved the nostalgia and timelessness of photography. Having shot nearly 75 weddings in New Orleans since 2018, she believes in equality, diversity, expression, respect and growth. She also enjoys capturing a couple’s eccentricities, intimacy and true love.
Her No. 1 tip for couples is to always have a phone call or meeting with a potential photographer to ensure there is a mutual, natural connection. She also recommends that couples think about what is unique to them, and then hire a photographer that aligns with those points.
“Also make sure your photographer discusses the photography timeline with you,” she says. “Crafting a custom photography timeline will help the day run smoothly. Another great idea is to keep things really simple or hire a day-of wedding planner at the very least. Finally, the getting-ready location can add so much to your wedding day. Do your research or ask your wedding photographer for their advice on venues.” linkaodom.com
Stacy Marks Photography
Since 2000, New Orleans wedding photographer Stacy Marks has shot nearly 1,800 weddings, and he was named Photographer of the Year in 2004 by a number of local vendors. He suggests that couples ask friends for referrals to find out how they enjoyed the entire experience. “Also, ask your venue who they recommend,” Marks says. “They’ve seen everyone and know how they dress and work.”
Just as important as referrals, Marks says that couples should get a contract in writing from the photographer who is actually shooting the wedding. “After all, that is the work you saw and wanted,” he says. “Sometimes, second or third shooters will show up on your day instead if it’s a big company.”
When it comes to pre-bridal events or engagement photos at notable New Orleans locations, Marks says to book appointments during the week when those locations aren’t as busy. “Finally, relax and let the professional you hired capture your day with his or her eye and experience,” he says. “You will be much happier with the end result.” stacymarks.com
Michael Caswell Photography
Michael Caswell, a local wedding photographer who has shot more than 700 weddings since 2005 in New Orleans and the Southeast, says that, first and foremost, it is important for couples to carefully plan the time of their ceremony. “The preferred light for outdoor photography is generally going to be the last hour before sunset, with the absolute best light being in the last half hour,” he says. “Consider ending the ceremony around sunset, so that the entire ceremony can be captured with natural light.”
Caswell also suggests doing first-look photographs. A main benefit is that the photographer can take most, if not all, of the formal group shots before the ceremony (so the couple can quickly get to the reception). Another benefit is being able to get daytime shots (if it’s a nighttime wedding).
Additionally, Caswell says that couples should gather any detail items they want photographed (such as jewelry, perfume, shoes or the wedding invitation suite) prior to the photographer arriving so that precious time isn’t lost. “Your florist also may be able to supply some loose flowers, or the bride can provide fabric scraps from her dress alterations — both of which are helpful for these shots.”
Finally, Caswell says to include some buffer time for the day of the wedding. “This way, a delay has less of a chance of cascading down to the rest of the schedule,” he says. michaelcaswell.com
Brian Jarreau Photography
Brian Jarreau is a local wedding photographer known for his breathtaking photojournalistic style and amiable personality. His main tip is for couples to prioritize their photography budget. “Your photographs will be the cornerstone of posterity for one of the most important days of your life,” he says. “These photographs will be the treasured moments you share with your loved ones for generations to come.”
Jarreau also suggests that couples should not feel the need to fit a certain trend. Instead, he urges couples to incorporate personal touches that make the couple unique. Equally important, he says, is that couples actually talk to their photographer either via phone or in person.
Yet another tip Jarreau shares is that couples should be specific with all of their vendors about times and locations, and that means planning out the imagery with their photographer. “My studio uses a Wedding Day Details form to collect all the pertinent information,” he says.
Finally, Jarreau says that couples should make time for portraits with each other. “Sometimes your wedding day timeline is tight, and you don’t have the time to spend on solid portraits of the two of you,” he says. brianjarreau.com