How to Choose the Best Wedding Photographer

When it comes to planning a wedding, choosing the right photographer is crucial. After all, these photographs will be cherished memories that you and your partner will look back on for years to come. But with so many wedding photographers out there, how do you know which one to choose? In this article, we’ll discuss what to look for in a wedding photographer, with a particular focus on their ability to capture the moment.

Capturing the Moment through exceptional Wedding Photography. The bride and her father share a heartfelt moment.

Great Wedding Photographers Capture the Moment

Bridesmaids gasp at the first site of the bride.

A distinct ability to capture “the moment.”  This is THE MOST important part of the process because it takes an internal component within the photographer to connect, comfort, and unobtrusively move through an event.  It’s the only way to document reality.  In our opinion this is what makes each wedding day unique and taps into the wishes of society’s most educated and successful individuals.  To put it in a simple fashion, successful people pose for imagery throughout their careers.  When getting married, they often internally desire that real emotion and personality comes through…..not for the public or social media…..for themselves.

Spend time in their portfolio

Newlyweds share a kiss as they ride away by horse carraige.

So, what should you look for in a wedding photographer when it comes to capturing the moment? First and foremost, they should have a portfolio that showcases their ability to capture candid, unposed moments. These are the shots that truly tell the story of your wedding day, and they require a photographer who can anticipate and capture them without disrupting the moment. Look for photographers who have a talent for capturing emotions, whether it’s the joy of a bride and groom seeing each other for the first time, or the tearful happiness of a parent watching their child get married.  Remember, a photographer’s portfolio is their chance to display some of their best moments captured. 

How should the best photographers communicate? 

An adorable flower girl waits patiently at the feet of the bridesmaids.

In addition to a strong portfolio, a good wedding photographer should have excellent communication skills. They should be able to put you at ease and make you feel comfortable in front of the camera. This is particularly important for capturing candid moments, as you don’t want to feel self-conscious or awkward. A good photographer will be able to strike a balance between directing you when necessary and stepping back to capture natural moments as they unfold.

Another important consideration when choosing a wedding photographer is their equipment and technical expertise. They should have high-quality camera gear and be skilled at using it in a variety of lighting conditions. This is especially important for capturing those candid moments, as they may happen in low-light situations or other challenging conditions. A photographer who can make the appropriate adjustments quickly is the photographer who captures the best candid moments. 

It’s also important to ensure that the photographer is professional and reliable. Ask for references from previous clients and check online reviews to see what others have to say about their experience. A professional photographer should be punctual, dress appropriately, and conduct themselves in a manner that reflects positively on you and your event.

Do your styles align?

When choosing a wedding photographer, it’s also important to consider the photographer’s style. Make sure you take the time to look through different photographers’ portfolios and find one whose style matches your vision for your wedding day.  A professional photographer should display the different styles they’re capable of capturing in their portfolio. 

Portraits are still important

Newlyweds share a moment after their wedding in front of The Greenbrier in West Virginia.

In addition to capturing the moment, a good wedding photographer should also be able to create beautiful portraits. These are the posed shots that you will cherish for years to come. Look for photographers who have a talent for posing and lighting, and who can create images that are both timeless and unique.  A talented photographer portrays qualities of a journalist; displaying the ability to document moments that capture the authentic expressions and spirit of a couple on that special day. 

How much should our budget be? 

A masterfully crafted wedding ring is on display.

Finally, don’t forget to consider the value of your wedding photographer. While it’s important to stay within your budget, remember that your wedding photos are an investment in your memories. Don’t be afraid to spend a little more for a photographer whose work you love, as the memories they capture will last a lifetime.

Bringing it all together:

When looking for the best photographers, start with searching your local area, reading reviews, on search engines as well as local directories, and start with. Choosing the right wedding photographer is essential for capturing the moments that will be treasured for a lifetime. Look for a photographer who has a distinct ability to capture the moment, as this is what will make your wedding day unique and memorable. Consider their portfolio, communication skills, technical expertise, and style to find the perfect match for your wedding day. With the right photographer by your side, you can relax and enjoy the moment, knowing that the memories will be captured beautifully for years to come.

If you have any questions or would like to work with one of the best photographers in and around the Charlottesville, Virginia area, please contact us here.

one moment – Omni Homestead weddings – Sharon and Onkar

When photographing weddings, it’s very important to compose, look for moments, and see the light. It all came together this afternoon in a very simple image. The Omni Homestead hosted Sharon and Onkar’s wedding.  There were two ceremonies, a traditional Indian wedding in the morning, and a western ceremony in the afternoon. During the traditional Indian ceremony, I noticed this little one drifting off to sleep with the window light was perfectly cast on his face.  The gesture of the hands is an important component. You can see the tremendous detail on the hands along with the feel of a caring mother’s touch.

one moment – Omni Homestead Weddings – with Tina and Monte Durham from “Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta”

Tina had no idea that “Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta” host Monte Durham would surprise her when she put on her wedding dress this summer day.  She was told her husband-to-be, Adam, was sending her a gift. She immediately became concerned and said, “We agreed not to get each other a gift.  I didn’t get him anything.” I reassured her that it was something small and not to worry. We had her cover her eyes while we brought Mr. Durham into the room.  The is her reaction. She is such a big fan of the show and was absolutely thrilled to have that experience.

Tina grew up

one moment within Veritas Winery Weddings – Natalie and Andrew

My passion is to make photographs at every wedding that make the day unique.  Simply put, I’m looking for “the moment.” That one split second, captured with the camera, that won’t ever be repeated.  It might be the way the light is falling on a tear, a laugh, a touch of emotion, or that feeling within someone that resonates when looking at the photograph of the moment.  I want to be surprised and give my clients that piece of the day that isn’t planned or something they didn’t notice. All photographers capture images of the wedding couple in an embrace, kissing, processing, recessing, dancing, cutting the cake, and the details.  It’s all part of a wedding weekend and so important to capture. To compliment those images, I have to go after something more avant-garde, special and heartfelt. It’s what I crave every time I pick up the camera, whether it is an image of my daughter in the comfort of my own home or a wedding photograph at any one of the many exceptional locations world-wide.  Here is just one of those moments and the story behind it. There are more to come.

one moment – A Wedding at The Greenbrier

I absolutely love this photo-journalistic portrait that was taken just before Dawn processed down the aisle for her wedding at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs.  I was changing positions and noticed that she and her father were in beautiful lighting next to the door, both in tears. They are wrapped up in the moment.  To me, this is simply beautiful.  I love that she is seemingly unaware of the camera and he is unaffected by my presence.  Greenbrier weddings are simply stunning, as there is such a beautiful backdrop everywhere you turn.

one moment – Courtney and Kip – Omni Homestead


I love layering images.  In this case, I got in between all of the groomsmen with a telephoto lens and tried to capture the intense expression of the bride gazing into the grooms eyes during the wedding ceremony.  Her look is so powerful and it’s enhanced even more by framing her within the men in the foreground.

Rob Garland is the owner of Rob Garland Photographers, an award winning Charlottesville wedding photographer that specializes in wedding photojournalism and fine art printing. Rob prides himself on a classic, intuitive, heartfelt documentation with the utmost in visual integrity. He has documented many destination weddings throughout the U.S. and abroad as well as Charlottesville weddings at many of our outstanding local venues. Rob loves imagery that fails to go in and out of style and personal touches that make each wedding unique.

one moment – Courtney and Kip


As many of you know, I am attracted to reality in my photography.  It goes deeper than that – I want to capture your soul and print it on paper (I wish people would print more on true fine art papers… is starting to become a lost art for a generation tied to their phones).  I don’t blog too many of the “standard” wedding images showing the details (giving us a taste into how much you did or didn’t spend), the typical posed group photos, the bridal party being silly, etc.  Weddings are fun….a joy…..I wouldn’t trade my job for the world, but I just can’t repetitively show the same thing time and time again.  I have to have capture feelings.  It’s why I frequently blog images in black and white, to not distract.  I love to simplify.

This particular photo is an image where I was watching Courtney and Kip for reactions during their toasts.  Kip lost his mother not too long ago and when Courtney’s father started speaking about how proud she would be of her son, Kip couldn’t help but show some emotion.  Courtney leaned in to her new husband and softly gave him a kiss.

To me, this is what we celebrate.  Love.  There is no better example than the image below.  Kip is expressing love for his mom, Courtney is expressing love for her husband.  In the background, you can see the look of concern….the love of a friend.  All three examples wrapped into one image.

Enjoy.  I certainly did.

Wedding: The Omni Homestead

Rob Garland is the owner of Rob Garland Photographers, an award winning Charlottesville wedding photographer that specializes in wedding photojournalism and fine art printing. Rob prides himself on a classic, intuitive, heartfelt documentation with the utmost in visual integrity. He has documented many destination weddings throughout the U.S. and abroad as well as Charlottesville weddings at many of our outstanding local venues. Rob loves imagery that fails to go in and out of style and personal touches that make each wedding unique.

Monte Durham surprises Tina to “Say Yes to The Dress” – Omni Homestead Weddings

OK…it’s not every day that Monte Durham, Fashion director on TLC‘s “Say Yes to the Dress,” knocks on the door while the bride is getting ready to say yes to her dress.  This was a complete surprise to Tina.  Check out the moments below:


The Omni Homestead, our nations oldest resort, provided the setting for this wonderful afternoon.  It was so fun to hear Tina talk about how she watched “Say Yes to the Dress” and how it would be amazing if Monte Durham would stop by her wedding (she heard he was in town and actually stopped him to get a selfie earlier in the week).  Well, little did she know, he arrived at HER ROOM (!!!) and surprised everyone!  (On a side note, I really like that blazer!).  Tina’s reactions are priceless!  Many more to come!  🙂

Amy and Edwin – Trump Winery Weddings – Charlottesville Wedding Photographer

We hope you enjoy a few photographs from Amy and Edwin’s wedding and be sure to read the story at the end from the two of them!  Congratulations you two!  We were blessed to be a part of your wedding day!





























































Wow!  I can’t say enough about this lovely couple who were married at Trump Winery in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Amy and Edwin were lovely and they had families to match.  I am thrilled to blog showcasing Amy and Edwin’s own words below:

We selected Rob Garland to document our wedding after performing an extensive search for wedding photographers online.  After viewing pictures on Rob’s website, we were immediately drawn to his work.  We like the fact that Rob specializes in journalistic photography.  He captures the raw, “real” emotions of the day in a candid, natural way.  These are the kind of memories we want to look back on fifty years from now as we reminisce about our wedding day.  Rob was an easy choice!

Weddings can be such a blur and you miss so many small details of the day as you are pulled in different directions, greeting guests, dancing, etc.  The “real” moments that happen in life, especially during a milestone in time were what we were interested in remembering.  To us, you can do posed, formal pictures anytime, but it takes someone special to find those moments in time that evoke true, raw emotion in “real” time.  When we received pictures back from Rob, we had tears in our eyes.  The whole collection was absolutely beautiful and we were overwhelmed with happiness.  From the tearful expression on my dad’s face as he gave me away to the private time together as husband and wife mere seconds after saying “I do”…Rob captured every moment so perfectly.

Amy and Edwin’s favorite pieces of the wedding:

 -The grand and elaborate antique gold candelabra table arrangements.  They were overflowing with an abundance of beautiful fruits and flowers that were absolutely breathtaking.

 -The late night sliders and fries.  Our guests raved about this delicious surprise!

-Our cake, both wedding and groom cake was so meticulously done.  The spiced carrot cake was divine and fitting with the fall theme.  The clay figures of the doctor and nurse, bought in Spain by Amy’s parents, were placed on the wedding cake.  This was a unique twist to the traditional cake topper.  The groom’s cake was perfect, tying our Navy heritage into the celebration but also allowing guests to sample our other favorite flavor, salted caramel. 

-The picture table with two generations of our parents and grandparents on their wedding day.

-The military pomp and circumstance of the occasion with the sword arch ceremony and the cutting of the cake with Edwin’s Navy officer sword.

-The Sparkler Send-Off in the courtyard

We choose the Grand Hall at Trump Winery because of its gorgeous, ethereal views of the vineyard.  The property is hands down one of our favorite places in Virginia.  We also love the fact that this venue has so much to offer. The Grand Hall is entirely yours on your wedding day and there are so many different rooms to choose from-you are bound to find that one perfect room(s) that fits your style!  Also, we love wine in our family, so this was a no-brainer. Trump’s wine selection is just as delicious as their views!

Floral Design (name/website/details of what they were): Tourterelle Floral Design/

Bridal Bouquet: Romantic bouquet of soft pinks and blush with merlot accents. David Austin “Patience” roses, white astrantia, burgundy scabiosa, merlot dahlias, Peegee antique Hydrangea, white “Majolica” spray roses, dusty miller, burgundy astrantia, jasmine vine, seeded eucalyptus, white ranunculus, freesia and cream lisianthus. Wrapped with D Stevens taupe grey velvet ribbon.

Bridesmaids Bouquets: Lovely but simple bouquets of garden roses, pink astrantia, antique hydrangea, spray roses, dusty miller, lisianthus, seeded eucalyptus and jasmine vine. Wrapped in antique gold ribbon.

 At the Altar: Two Trump wine barrels with low and lush arrangements spilling over the tops. Peegee hydrangea, grapes, pears, persimmons, roses, dahlias, heather and dusty miller.

 Aisle Chairs: Simple swag of grapes and dusty miller tied with a gold ribbon.

Head “U” shaped reception table: Tourterelle gold, 24” oblong container with a low cornucopia arrangement. A low gold-footed urn on the two ends of the table. Dramatic and elegant “Table scape” with voluptuous arrangements of russet dahlias,“Baccarat” roses, “Stelle” roses, “James Story” orchids, “Tess” garden roses and pee gee hydrangeas. Cascades of seeded eucalyptus, jasmine vine, deep colored “Nine bark”. Plums, persimmons, grapes and pears to create a lush cornucopia.

 Reception round tables with high, gold candelabras: Voluptuous, flowing arrangements on the top middle bowl of russet dahlias, “Baccarat” roses, “Stelle” roses, “James Story” orchids, “Tess” garden roses and pee gee hydrangeas. Cascades of seeded eucalyptus, jasmine vine, deep colored “Nine bark”. Foliage anchoring the base of the chandelier with a cornucopia of plums, persimmons, with dahlias, roses and hydrangea blooms.

Reception tables with low gold-footed urns: Arrangements with garden roses, dahlias, orchids and hydrangea. Jasmine vine, seeded eucalyptus and grapes spilling over the edges.

 A collection of gold vintage votive candles on each table.

Caterer (name/website/details of what you served): C&O Catering/


Hot apple cider served as guests arrived

Cocktail Hour:

C&O crab cakes with herb aioli

Kite’s Virginia ham on Irish cheddar scones with orange chutney

Smoked bacon wrapped dates

Grilled cheese with tomato soup shooters

Plated Dinner:

Autumn greens salad with candied pumpkin seeds, sliced apples, local chevre and Carters Mountain apple dressing

Beef tenderloin with potato-gruyere gratin, seasonal local vegetables and sauce Marchand du vin


Baked Rag Mountain trout with wild mushrooms, lemon butter sauce, seasonal local vegetables and Carolina gold rice


Butternut Squash ravioli with sage and parmesan

Late Night Menu:


Pomme Frites

Event coordinator (name/website/details – why you chose them): Amanda Gray/ We needed someone to help us coordinate month-of services prior to the big day.  Amanda was very personable, organized, and allowed me to check in with her to ask questions or seek guidance whenever I needed. She orchestrated the flow of the wedding and put our minds at ease so we could enjoy the day without having to fret over details.

Event lighting company (name/website/details – why you chose them): Blue Ridge A/V and Lighting/  Such a great company!  They are reasonably priced, professional, and do a fantastic job!  Don came out for the walk-thru even though he had been to the Grand Hall on numerous occasions to touch base with us prior to the wedding.  He really listened to what we wanted (soft, romantic lighting). The ballroom was romantic with a candlelight glow on our wedding day, exactly how we had envisioned.

Rentals (name/website – details): MS Events/  MS Events provided the beautiful linens, gold rimmed plates, glasses, and silverware.

Ceremony Music/Musicians (name/website – details of the type of music you liked, etc.): Scratch Weddings/DJ Bounce/ We wanted everyone to be out on the dance floor (which meant an eclectic mix of music), and DJ Bounce delivered just that.  He also did a great job with the pre-ceremony and cocktail music.

Reception Music/Band/DJ (name/website – details of the type of music you liked, etc.): Same as above

Videographer/Cinematographer (name/website): Butler Films-Jeff Butler/ Jeff and his crew are awesome…enough said! Highly recommend!

Officiant (name/website): LCDR Robert Bradshaw-Navy Chaplain

Wedding gown designer (name/website – details): Stella York/  The dress was a lace over lustre satin fit-and-flare with sparkling diamante embellishments, with a traditional train and delicate pearl buttons down the back.

Wedding gown (dress shop) (name/website): Maya Couture/

Groom’s attire (name/website): Navy Formal Dinner Dress Uniform

Groomsmen’s attire (name/website): Calvin Klein-Men’s Wearhouse

Cake maker (name/website): Sweethaus/

Hair (who was your stylist and how would you describe the style): Ambyr Domonell for Bride/Liz Clancy for Bridesmaids. Ambyr is my cousin’s talented, beautiful wife from Connecticut.  She runs her own business in Torrington, CT called Mirror Mirror.  She did my hair for the wedding.  I wore my hair down with vintage, soft, romantic curls.  I really wanted an elegant, “old Hollywood” feel, and she helped me attain that style.  Liz did the bridesmaid’s hair.  They all wanted something a little different and she did a great job working against the humidity that day!

Make-up (who was your stylist and how would you describe the style): Ambyr Domonell. I wanted a soft, warm glow with a more dramatic eye.  Ambyr did a fantastic job accenting my features, so I was still “me” on my wedding day.

Wedding day stationary/paper goods (name/website): DIY

Invitations (name/website): Minted.

Bridesmaid’s dresses (name of designer):  Jasmine

Shoes (name of designer): Adriana Papell

Favors (name/website and a description): N/A

Transportation company (limo, vintage car, etc.): Ambassador Limousine- provided shuttle buses to and from wedding


-We did all of the escort cards by hand, stamping them with wax seals to match the invitations.

-The wedding programs.

-The “Virginia” inspired welcome bags.  These bags were waiting in guest’s rooms when they arrived.  Inside was a map of Charlottesville, wine trails, and “Things-To-Do”, Virginia water bottles, Carter Mountain apples, handmade salt dough ornaments, bride and groom Oreo cookies, and Virginia peanuts.

The story before the wedding:

Amy and Edwin met in the Navy over seven years ago. Amy was working as an ICU nurse and Edwin as an intern at the Naval Hospital in Virginia. They were immediately drawn to one another, but were both too shy to ask the other one out. Shortly after meeting, Edwin was sent to Peru for a month-long tropical medicine course. With the safety net of having distance between them, Amy mustered up the courage to email Edwin while he was away. Little did she know, he had returned that same day, and was devising an excuse to come see her. Imagine her surprise when he showed up on her unit at the hospital and asked her out on a date!

The date went great and they were inseparable for many years. But unfortunately, their Navy careers took them away from each other often. Amy was deployed to Afghanistan and shortly after was sent clear across the world to Guam for several years. Edwin went to Navy dive school and then spent the next few years working with Naval Special Operations. Although Amy and Edwin were not together during this period, they managed to remain in each other’s hearts and minds in spite of time and distance.

They both would learn a lot about life and love before they would meet again…

Flash forward to December 2014. Edwin was in New Orleans in surgical residency at Louisiana State University and Amy was just a semester away from finishing Nurse Practitioner school at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. By this point, the two of them had not corresponded in over a year, and had barely seen each other in the five years since they first dated in Virginia. Amy received a text from Edwin saying he needed to speak with her and wanted to do so in person. He told her that whether she decided to meet him or not, he would keep trying.

Long story short, with no time off from work, Edwin flew in to Charlottesville for just 24 hours to say, in a nutshell, “I love you, and I don’t want to spend another moment without you.” Even though they had been apart for so many years, their hearts remained intertwined all this time. Amy and Edwin always knew the other person was “the one” and they felt like this was finally their time to be together.

Just two months later, Edwin drove through a snowstorm to ask Amy’s parents for their blessing to marry their daughter. He planned a romantic weekend in New Orleans for the proposal, complete with a stay at the fancy Ritz Carlton, dinners, rooftops, suits and dresses. As luck would have it, Amy woke up on the day of her departure with a stomach bug and a blizzard that shut most of the runways down. Call it fate, but she somehow managed to make it to the Big Easy on time. However, instead of a romantic proposal, Edwin spent the night taking care of her.

The next morning Amy felt better, so they decided to walk the French Quarter before the tourists arrived, while it was still calm and quiet. It was a beautiful day and it was as if they had the whole place to themselves. They slowly made their way to Jackson Square, where they sat near a gorgeous water fountain and listened to a saxophone player belt out jazz tunes. Coincidentally, the fountain was in front of a cathedral, and as the clock struck 9:00, the church bells began to ring. Edwin quickly responded to the cue, and to Amy’s wonder, he knelt down, pulled the ring from his pocket (that he had been carrying in case a good plan B presented itself), and asked Amy to be his wife.

The wedding day at Trump Winery:

My mom was with me all day, orchestrating rides, ordering breakfast, steaming dresses, etc.  I do not know what I would have done without her.  She was so beautiful in her gold floor length dress and I am just so proud she is my mom.  We were able to steal a couple private minutes together in the bridal suite so she could read a letter I wrote her.  I wanted my mom to know how much I have appreciated her over the years.  She shaped me into the woman I am today, and I am so thankful for her love and support. We were both misty- eyed after!

The First Look with my dad was a great memory.  Edwin and I decided there was something romantic about the tradition of seeing each other for the first time when I walked down the aisle, so instead I opted to have the “First Look” with my dad.  This was such a sentimental moment for us both.  I have always looked up to my dad and will always need him in my life no matter how old I get.  He is such an amazing man.  It was so nice to have a quiet moment with him before the ceremony to take it all in. This was the first time I have ever seen my dad get emotional, and I lost it! 

Seeing Edwin for the first time was overwhelming. He looked so handsome in uniform and I was choking back tears as I made my way down the aisle. We have come so far and I couldn’t believe the moment was finally upon us. There were so many emotions that day and I thought I would be a nervous wreck. But for some reason, right before walking down the aisle, I felt a calm wash over me and although everything seemed to fly by, walking down the aisle to Edwin was such a serene experience, as if we were the only two in the room.

Edwin: Time stopped completely.  Waiting to see Amy, for the first time, as she walked down the aisle was both anxiety-inducing and calming at the same time.  I loved being at the end waiting for her, knowing there is only this one moment in a lifetime. No matter how much planning goes into the event, you cannot ever be fully prepared for that very second that you first see your bride.  She was more stunning than I could have ever envisioned, so beautiful.  It was certainly a moment that I will relive for the rest of my life.

Time flew by!  The one piece of advice we can give is SLOW DOWN, take in the moment, and be present.  My favorite part of the day was getting out on the dance floor with my husband (I still get giddy every time I say it), friends and family!  So many of our guests came from all over the world to help us celebrate, and I think every single person made it out to the dance floor!  We had so much fun and there was just so much genuine and heartfelt love out there!

Edwin and I danced to Ben Folds “I’m the Luckiest.”  My dad and I danced to Michael Crawford “She Used to Be Mine.”  Edwin and his mom danced to Carly Simon “Love of My Life”.

The Honeymoon:

We went to St. Lucia for our honeymoon and spent six fantastic days relaxing and decompressing.  We are both avid scuba divers, so we took advantage of some amazing dive spots off the island.  We got to swim with a couple sea turtles and take in the breathtaking coral reefs along the way! It was perfect.  Of course we soaked up the sun…and the food and drinks too!


Rob Garland is the owner of Rob Garland Photographers, an award winning Charlottesville wedding photographer that specializes in wedding photojournalism and fine art printing. Rob prides himself on a classic, intuitive, heartfelt documentation with the utmost in visual integrity. He has documented many destination weddings throughout the U.S. and abroad as well as Charlottesville weddings at many of our outstanding local venues. Rob loves imagery that fails to go in and out of style and personal touches that make each wedding unique.