Tips for Finding a Wedding Photographer (part 2)
Advice from some of the best wedding photographers in Toronto
We had the pleasure of interviewing some of the best wedding photographers in Toronto and asked them for tips for finding a wedding photographer. We also asked what advice they had for couples who are searching for a wedding photographer and what are some of the key questions they should be asking. Here’s what they had to say:
“Other than finding a style you like, find people you connect with. Couples will likely spend more time with us than each other on the day of, so make sure you get along.
Also, make sure you allocate enough funds for wedding photography. There’s always sticker shock when it comes to photography pricing but honestly, it is one tough job! You have one shot at getting it right, capturing the memories of this special day, no matter the weather, location, conditions, etc. A great photographer can make magic no matter where we are and the money you are spending is for the skill and talent to capture great imagery and emotion. When meeting with photographers, ask to see a wedding they shot indoors, during winter… pictures where the photographer had to actually create light rather than just using available light. Understanding light and how to create and shape it when none is available is a skill not all photographers have. Available light is great… when it’s available.
Further, make sure you get an album! So many couples want their HiRes files and that’s it – they say they will make an album later… but let’s be honest, once the wedding is finished, they go back to “regular” life and the USB or DVDs collect dust. Who knows how long technology will last, but at least with something tangible, you know you will have a family heirloom to last for generations. Just think of how many times you have flipped through your parents or grandparents albums. This really sinks in once couples have kids… the importance of albums. So don’t under budget photography as this is one of the most important aspects of your wedding – it’s your memories. Save on other areas, things you or your guests won’t remember. But spend on photography, food, music and wedding planning – all worth it!”
“I strongly feel they should take the time to get to know the photographer. You need to make sure that you not only have an appreciation for their talent but for the person as well. You spend the whole day with your wedding photographer; if you don’t like them, they won’t be able to get the best out of them. Check out the reviews of previous clients – this will give you an idea of what to expect.”
“Personality and character of your wedding photographer(s) are important. Photographers will spend 95% of the day by your side, from the getting ready to the end of the night. You want to be comfortable with them and still have fun with them on the day of. Couples can always ask for a frequently asked question (FAQ) information from their photographers so they can have their questions answered before the meeting, such as the gear they use, whether or not the photographers have insurance/back up equipment, the length of time the photographers need to process and deliver the wedding photos.
Our favourite part is when our couples asked us personal questions about our travel or our daily activities as they have followed us on Instagram. That way we know that they connect with us in person and they’re comfortable enough with us to ask these questions like friends on a coffee date.”
“Usually, when you go through a photographer’s portfolio, you see just one photo from this wedding and several pictures from another wedding. Sometimes it can be a gallery of about fifty images. But what about ALL the photos you will get…?
One of the most important things is to ask a photographer to show you a sample of all the wedding day photos you will receive. I recommend you go through several full weddings in high resolution, as this will give you a much better idea of the style and quality of the photography.
Make sure you know how many photos, at least approximately, you will have. Also, what will be the resolution of the photos? Will they have a watermark/copyright sign? How long will it take to get your photos? Some photographers will give you all the images in several weeks, while others may make you wait for months.“
“Look for a chemistry between you and the wedding photographer, as you going to work with this person through your entire wedding day. Keep in mind it’s going to be a bit of a stressful day, so you should feel very comfortable with the crew surrounding you.
Ask to see the product, I mean all images from their recent weddings, and not just the best and selected images.
Ask all of the detail-oriented questions, including how many images you will get in the final product.
Keep in mind what you see – most photographers are not going to change their style or shooting habits for your wedding.”
“You have to make sure there is a great fit. I think too many people get hung up on the portfolio. Sure, that needs to be great, but once that is settled, it’s only a small part of the day. If you visit a photographer’s site, and their photos aren’t immediately a 9 or a 10, pass them by. There are too many excellent choices out there to settle for an 8 or less. However, once the photos are looking great, have a look through the site and see what they have written and how they present themselves. You should ‘click’ with them. I’m always so happy to have clients contact me and say something like, “I just know we’re going to get along!” Or I feel like we’re friends already. This is what you’re looking for! There is a good chance that person you spend the most time with on your wedding day isn’t going to be your spouse, but your photographer! How crazy is that? So if you’re not getting along… that would be terrible! Find someone you gel with. And who has stunning photos, and that you can have confidence in to capture the big day.“
“It’s very common for a couple to have a budget in mind and when they begin their search for a photographer they begin to feel overwhelmed with the number of photographers in the industry and all the choices they have online. After they find some photographers whose work they like, we suggest narrowing down their search based on responsiveness. The last thing a bride wants to do is have to worry about when her photographer will get back to her.
Couples should be asking if the photos they receive are “edited” and whether they will receive high-resolution images without watermarks. They should also get an estimate of how many photos they might receive, to better manage their expectations in the end. They should ask if the photographer has a backup plan in case he/she gets sick, especially if they are only hiring one photographer. If a photographer offers a package with two photographers, it’s also important to know if the second photographer is a primary shooter or an assistant? Will the 2nd photographer be staying the whole day or just until the reception? Hiring two primary photographers for the full day allows both the bride and groom and their families to be captured in an equal manner. It also allows the coverage to be maximized throughout the day since one photographer can take photos of the bridal party, while the other can capture the bride and groom. This type of split photography coverage reduces the time needed to take photos and allows the bride and groom to enjoy the day more.
Lastly, if a couple wants guidance or would like to give suggestions as to what type of photos they want, they should be able to relay that to the photographer.
In the end, it’s about loving the quality of the work and seeing what the relationship is like with the photographers. Photographers are really the only vendors that are invited into the bride and groom’s home and we spend the whole day with the couple and their family, so it’s important to feel comfortable with one another.”
“I feel it’s all about two things. The photography is by far the most important. You have to like the work, be really blown away by the images. When you see a photographer’s website or other advertising you are only shown his or her best photos. If you don’t love what you see they are not the photographer for you. The other consideration is the photographer’s versatility. Look for a portfolio with lots of different lighting, inside, outside, dark, sunlight, big and small rooms. Your photographer has to show he or she is prepared for anything. Versatility also means adapting to your wedding day, not you adapting to how the photographer likes things done.”
“Always be sure that your wedding photographer is someone you get along with well, can be comfortable with, laugh with, and not be nervous or embarrassed in front of. Most couples spend more time individually with their wedding photographers than with each other on the wedding day! Your wedding photographer’s work should have a style that fits your own. Ask to view lots of their weddings from beginning to end and not just a few select photos that they show in their portfolio. This will help ensure that the entire day gets captured the way you want. Also, be sure that your final package includes photos that have all been edited and that they give you a USB of all of your finished, edited photos in both print format (without their watermark) as well as watermarked photos you can share online. It’s important to receive all of your photos upfront so you don’t have to go back to your photographer 10 years down the road for more prints.”
“I always suggest for couples to find a photographer whose work they love, whom they can work with, is experienced, and fits within their budget. To me, wedding photography is art, and as such, it is HIGHLY subjective. That’s why it is really important to find a wedding photographer whose work you absolutely love! It is also very important to find someone who’s working style aligns with yours; it is a working relationship over the many months leading up to and after the wedding, so it is really important to find a photographer you can easily work with. Experience is really important as well because there are no do-overs! I don’t think it is wise to cheap out and hire someone who is learning on your dime. Lastly, the budget is clearly a crucial factor. While I understand weddings can be expensive, it is important to shop around to allocate a reasonable budget to ensure all of the above are met.“
“When looking for a wedding photographer, ensure that the style of photography matches your vision. Review several weddings to get an overall feel for their approach to a wedding day. It’s also very important to meet the photographer in person. You will get a feeling for how your personalities match. This is very important as they will be directing you at many times during the day. This is more important than any specific questions because if your personalities don’t match then your photography experience may be disappointing.”
“How many years of experience does the photographer have?
Ask to see an album that features a couples full wedding day. You can often tell an amateur photographer by paying attention to images from poorly lit locations. If those are overpowered with flash, flat, or underexposed, then the photographer’s experience is quite evident.
Who is shooting your wedding?
Some wedding photography studios have a team of photographers and your consultation is led by a sales representative. Although the studio’s portfolio might look impressive, ask to see the photographers individual work, and if possible inquire to meet with him/her directly to get a feel of what they are like.
Is your photographer flexible?
It is hard to determine 6 months to a year in advance what your timeline for the day will look like, therefore its impossible to know the exact hours of photography coverage you might need. Find out whether you can customize the details of the package closer to the wedding day and know the prices you will be charged if you were to do so.
What kind of products does the studio offer?
Even if you are not purchasing products with your wedding photography package, it is good to know whether the studio offers any products and examine the quality. Inquire about the prices and turnaround times in case you wanted to add them at a later date.”
“Choose a photographer that has a portfolio that appeals to you. There are very distinct styles you’ll find with different photographers: airy and light, sharp and bold, glamorous, fun, etc. Also, pay attention to a photographer’s portfolio to see what strengths they have. Some are great at posed portraits while others are great at capturing real moments (and of course many are great at both!).
Something many couples don’t think of before their wedding is what they want from the photographs. Do you or your parents want a beautiful album? Pictures to hang on the wall? Think about what you’d like to do with your photos after you receive your collection. Make sure your photographer offers albums if that is something you like. Ask to see samples of those albums to see if they appeal to you. Also, be clear on what your package includes. Things like engagement sessions, parties, and any print products are not typically included in the initial quote for the photography unless it’s explicitly written in the package description.”
“There are obvious things you must consider when hiring a photographer: Is this their full-time company, or just a weekend part-time job? What is your turnaround time – do you have to wait two months for your photos, or can you get them within a couple weeks? What is your backup guarantee? – How do you guarantee you will not lose the photos?
Here’s what I tell my customers:
Find the style you LOVE! If you like organic, natural light photography, GREAT! If you love colour, organic moments, and bright even shots, OWN IT! If you’re looking for very posed magazine style images, AWESOME! Once you identify what kind of photos you love, do your research and find three photographers that meet your criteria and have credible reviews that talk about their work and personality.
Now meet with them! Here’s where the magic happens! You’ve already determined that they don’t have a job at a telephone company throughout the week, and you know that they have great reviews and lots of experience – Now it’s ALLLLL about your interaction with them! If you love each other and accept your photographer as a part of your little wedding family, you will get the best images. If you are not comfortable with them, or they can’t bring the true you out, then you are not the right fit. You will naturally be you around your friends and family, so if you don’t have the friend type of relationship with your photographer, it will show in the photos!
You have to be close with your photographer and that gives you the ability to free the ‘you’ in every photo! Boundless Weddings spends so much time learning about our couples and that truly allows us to capture those perfect moments that are perfectly you.“