Choosing A Photographer by Dixie Dobbins, www.PhotographybyDixie.com You've dreamed of it for years, you've planned it for months and then your wedding day arrives and flies by in a blur! That's why it is so important for you to have great professional wedding pictures. Locating and hiring a good photographer to capture your special day will require some work on your part but with these tips you can have beautiful pictures that capture your wedding day in all its glory. Number one, not all photographers are the same. A professional who is member in good standing with the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) is a good place to start looking. The PPA has a web site and locator set up at www.ppa.com so that you can find qualified professional photographers in your area. The degrees of Certified Professional Photographer (CPP), Photographic Craftsman and the prestigious "Master of Photography" degree given by the PPA shows that the photographer is a serious professional with the highest of standards. Also the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) is a great source to start your search, at www.wppinow.com. The first thing to do is call and arrange an appointment to meet with the photographer and to see samples of their work. Some studios employ several photographers and it's important to meet the actual photographer and see his/her work before signing any contracts or agreements. The next step is to visit at least 3 studios and compare quality. Photographer's styles can range from traditional color - more posed images, to the newest trend, Black and White Photojournalistic looking images. Be sure to ask about number of hours included in the price, if there is an extra charge for the album itself and overtime charges. Get all the information in writing including the time the photographer is to arrive and the time they are to leave. Don't assume they will stay to the end as you hop in your limo, the photographer could have left hours earlier! You want to find someone that you feel comfortable with. Personality plays a major part of how well the photographs will turn out. Remember you will be spending a large amount of time with this person and the last thing you want is someone who is unpleasant. Also ask about reorder prices. That is what extra portraits will cost should you decide to add more portraits to your album, or want or need extra prints for your family and friends. One of the latest conveniences is on-line session proofing. Some photographers are now offering to put the Bride and Grooms wedding images on a web site, which will allow your family and friends all over the world to view the wedding images and purchase prints directly from the web site! A couple of good sites for this are www.collages.net or www.pictage.com. You should plan on spending about 20% of your wedding budget on the photography. After all, it is all that will be left after your wedding day is over. You and your husbands' wedding album will become an heirloom and something that you will want to pass down to your children and their children's children. Be very careful... horror stories have happened when couples let a relative or a friend photograph their wedding, or have chosen the cheapest photographer. It takes a trained professional to juggle all the elements of a wedding day. You will never regret hiring a professional, just follow the above steps and you should wind up with a beautiful wedding album, featuring all the love, beauty and romance of your special day.