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Mistakes I Made When Hiring My Wedding Photographer : Confessions of a Virginia Wedding Photographer

My husband and I will be celebrating our sixth wedding anniversary this fall. I love him now more than that special day where we said “I do,” but sadly I have very, very few photos around our house of me all dressed in white and him in his tux. Strange for a wedding photographer, right? To not show off her very own wedding pictures in her very own home…the reason being is I made some big mistakes when I hired our wedding photographer. Six years latter, I’m still regretting choosing the wedding photographer I did. I wish I could go back in time and really apply what I know now. Sadly I can’t. But what I can do is share with you what I learned from that fiasco and things I’ve learned in my past three years as a wedding photographer myself. So without further ado: here is a list of things I wish I knew when hiring my wedding photographer:

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1. Request to see an entire wedding day’s worth of photos from the photographer you are considering. If you’ve done any sort of wedding photographer research online, I’m sure it’s landed you on countless pages of wedding galleries. However gorgeous those individual photos may be, each photo showcased may very well each be from different weddings. Just because you see a beautifully natural lit bouquet and detail shots of the bridal jewelry does not automatically mean that the photographer is competent in shooting in a low light reception scenario. To get a better idea of the photographer’s skill and know how, ask to see a handful of full wedding galleries – this will allow you to see what one wedding will look like from start to finish and will give you a better understanding in what you can expect from your full gallery.

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2. Schedule an engagement shoot. I can not begin to tell you how important this is! At the time, my then finance and I had a friend take our engagement photos for free so we could save a little money from our wedding photography collection <—- BIG mistake!!! Although I initially connected with the wedding photographer we chose at our very first consultation, we did not actually see her in action until our wedding day and by then it was too late. Truth be told, she was hard to work with. She offered very little guidance and direction when it came to posing. Like most brides and grooms, I had no idea how to pose for the camera and as a result, we have a handful of images of just him and I and sadly, they all look the same. Had we opted for an engagement shoot, we could have discovered this earlier and make the necessary corrections so that our wedding day images would not suffer. Engagement sessions allow time for the couple to get to know the photographer and for the photographer to get to know the couple which will result in a more comfortable setting on the wedding day and will allow more genuine expressions.

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3. Formal photos, no matter how boring and stressful, are important. The most precious photo I have my grandmother is at my wedding. Not too long after, she passed away and that one photo is the very last one that I ever had taken with her. I treasure it. Life is not a guarantee. Grandparents age and pass away, accidents happen and we can loose our love ones way sooner than expected. Get photos of your family, every last member, while you are celebrating what will be one of the best moments in your life.

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4. Not all wedding albums are created equally. The collection I chose with my wedding photographer included an album. For the life of me, I can not remember why I was not shown a sample album nor why I didn’t ask to see one. You can imagine my disappointment after having already invested thousands of dollars when we received a dinky album that was clearly printed for less than $30 at an unprofessional lab who I will refrain from mentioning. That book was such a let down. I remember thinking “this is it?!? This is crap!” I felt jipped and taken advantage of; like all of my hard earned money went to something that felt so worthless. We had two dobermans at the time and not too long after receiving it, that wedding album was chewed up by the dogs – and I didn’t even care – it was an awful album to begin with. No bride should ever look back on her wedding day images and be less than thrilled. This leads me to my fifth and final point….

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5. Invest in a professionally printed luxurious album. When I was hiring my wedding photographer, having the digital images were pretty important to me. Don’t get me wrong – they still are important, but do you know how often I’ve pulled out that CD of images and looked through them? I’ll give you a hint – you can count it on one hand and remember that’s over the course of nearly six years! Digital images are great as a back up, but they should not be the primary focus when a couple is choosing a wedding photographer or deciding between wedding collections. Instead, albums should be one of the primary focal points. Think about it: these albums will contain the very best of the best images from your day and it will be these images that tell the story of how you became husband and wife. An album is what will be displayed on your coffee table and “oohed” and “ahhed” over every time you have guests. An album will be the very thing your children pull out, hop up next to you on the couch and want to flip through and point out all the photos of mommy and daddy. An album is how you relive and enjoy your wedding day for years and decades to come. It is priceless. Don’t take my word for it – see for yourself right here.

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There you have it, friends! The things I wish I knew before I hired my wedding day photographer. I hope you found this short list helpful as you search for your photographer. And if you would like to chat with me further about wedding photography for your special day, let me know here!

Happy Wedding Planning!

Heather

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