For several years now wedding photography has been among the top three priorities of those surveyed in The Knot’s Real Weddings Survey, accounting for just under 10% of the average wedding’s budget. That investment reflects the importance of wedding photos to most couples: your wedding pictures are the record of that special day, a way to capture those memories forever. Selecting a wedding photographer is pretty important! How do you choose the right one? Are there things you can do to ensure that your shots are perfect? What are some common mistakes to avoid?

I recently spoke with photographer Trisha Millier, who has spent a decade capturing images of special events. After all this time, she says, “it still feels fresh!” Trisha’s obvious enthusiasm for photography started early; that interest led her to Rockport College’s Photography Program, where she “fell in love with the beauty of Mid-Coast Maine.” Trisha continued her education at The New York Institute of Photography, and today she photographs weddings from New England to Hawaii. Trisha graciously agreed to answer some of my questions about wedding photography, and has allowed me to share some of her images with you, too.

What are the most important things to consider before hiring a photographer?

With a little preparation selecting the right photographer for you can be the simplest part of your planning process.

First, decide what your style is. Do you want to be posed and photographed traditionally? Do you love the look of photojournalistic images? Breeze through magazines and find examples of what represents you. Photography is not one- size-fits-all.

Make the most of the internet. Browse photographer portfolios, visit wedding themed resources like The Knot or Wedding Wire where you can find customer reviews and image samples, and be sure to check for photographer listings with organizations such as Professional Photographers of America. This is also a good way to get a general idea of pricing in different areas.

Your research should allow you to narrow down your prospective list to a select group of photographers whose work you find appealing. Contact them! Email, call, or stop in. And donʼt be afraid to ask questions. How long has the photographer been in business? What is their training? Do they work with an assistant? What do you get for the price you pay? Do they offer any special promotions?

It is very important that you feel comfortable with him or her as they will be capturing one of the biggest days of your life!

Are there any specific challenges to working in Maine and New England?
The outdoors in New England provides for some absolutely stunning backdrops and some unpredictable weather! From September through the winter months I carry a “bridal survival pack”. Complete with funky colored umbrellas, tissues for runny noses, Visine for windblown teary-eyes, extra bobby-pins, and a windbreaker for shuffling between chilly locations, my kit has saved the day many a time.

You also work in Hawaii—do you have any destination wedding photography tips?
If not hiring a photographer local to your destination, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Ideally, select a photographer who is a frequent visitor to your destination or at the very least is familiar with it. Many professionals list the locations they work in on their web sites or on wedding vendor directories and forums. Your photographer should also be a seasoned business traveler. When contacting, ask how often they travel for work and what their process is for returning your images to you.

Your hotel, wedding reception venue, and your destinationʼs chamber of commerce are all good places to begin your search if going with a local photographer.

Look up your destination ahead of time. Since these aren’t places youʼre likely to revisit soon after your wedding day, make the most of them! Compile a list of your “must capture” locations near your venue and talk to your photographer about incorporating them. If staying at a hotel the staff is a wonderful resource often eager to share the “low-down” on secret locations— especially on romantic islands.

Your site mentions your thoughts about being “eco-conscious” in your business—is this something clients are requesting, or was it a personal decision? How has that aspect of your business been received by clients?
My decision to be more eco-conscious was born from my love of nature and the desire to be a responsible business owner.

Working on-location has allowed me to witness firsthand the toll we take on our surroundings. While the part I play is on a small scale, I have managed to reduce waste, consume less energy, and offer products produced from recycled materials.

In the interim, being “Green” has indeed become fashionable, and thatʼs fine with me! The brides I work with donʼt necessarily contact me because I am a ʻgreen photographerʼ. When they find out that in some way they are supporting a larger movement by contracting my services, they know they can enjoy their images, guilt-free, and be proud of their choice.

What are some of the mistakes people make with their wedding pictures, and how can they avoid them?
Weddings can be very expensive and a lot of the time couples try to save in some areas that are really where they should invest. Once the cake is cut, food is consumed, the flowers wilted, and the tuxedo and designer gown put away, you have your memories and, hopefully, beautifully captured images youʼll treasure for a lifetime. You should select a professional based largely on their portfolio and how you connect with them—not solely on your wallet. The reality is that while you may save a few hundred dollars by going the ʻcheapest routeʼ, you may be sacrificing service and image quality.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you want to look like the best version of yourself, not a stand-in. Donʼt over-do make-up! If itʼs caked on and looks unnatural, it will still look funny after editing. Practice your hair and make-up a few times before the big day and youʼll be picture perfect.

What are your tips for making the photography run more smoothly on the wedding day?
I am a fan of the “Designated Herder” myself—usually the Best Man or Maid of Honor who is in charge of rounding up family and the bridal party for formal photographs.

In an effort to move things along smoothly, I also meet with clients prior to their wedding day to discuss any artistic images they want captured or any special requests. This little bit of pre-wedding prep-work goes a long way when it comes to having things run effortlessly the day of.

Are you noticing any trends in wedding photography in recent years? Where do you see it going in the future?
Trash The Dress shoots have become increasingly popular, post-wedding. Where once the bride would dry-clean and store the gown away for future generations to behold, the modern bride makes full use of her couture creation by swimming in it, hiking in it, or even horseback riding in it – all for the camera. It makes for some stunning shots though itʼs not for everyone.

What sets you apart? What special skills or qualities do you bring to your work?
I have logged countless hours in a darkroom, developing film and learning the craft that distinguishes a professional from an enthusiast. There is no substitute for training. Even the best equipment will fall short in the hands of someone who doesn’t know how to use it or understand its limits.

And most importantly, I LOVE people and am passionate about what I do! The best part of my job is meeting individuals from all walks of life and getting to tell their story in images. Iʼm open to anything and I pride myself in being approachable and available to clients.

What is included in the photography packages you offer? Do you make digital copies available, or do people ask for them for the web?
With all my packages I include high resolution digital copies with no limit as to the number of images I take. Personal Use Rights are also standard on all my packages so that each couple may print any images they like.

With larger packages I include custom Thank You cards with envelopes, on-line proofing or printed proofs on several paper selections, album design and/or coffee-table style books, and enlargements as requested by the client.

What do you enjoy most about photographing weddings?
There is something so amazing about being privileged to share in a coupleʼs special stolen moments and then immortalizing them in images.

Thank you, Trisha! Please visit Trisha Millier’s web site to see more of her stunning images, and check out her new Facebook page, too!

What do you think? Did you find this information helpful? Do you have any additional tips for choosing a wedding photographer? Any advice for the wedding planning couple? Please leave your comments below!