Ok ok ~ let’s get real and talk about a question I hear about all the time.
If you’re engaged and planning a wedding, you have a lot of decisions to make, and at some point, you’re going to need to find and book a photographer. Good news ~ in any city you’ll have a ton to choose from, and I genuinely mean a ton, like a hundred or more in any given area.
As a Montreal based wedding photographer for nearly ten years, I've worked with couples with budgets ranging from $1000 to $10,000, guest lists from 0 to 300, and always put in 110% effort before and after each wedding. As a photographer I know I am not perfect for every couple I speak with, and many times I refer a couple to other photograhers I know will be a better fit for them because that's the right thing to do right? Everyone wins.
Before I dig in and start off, I want to say that if you’re engaged and planning a wedding, congratulations :) It’s going to be great, amazing, your hand-picked creative people will be there to help make this the best time ever, but right now you’ve got a lot of decisions to make and planning a wedding is a big deal.
So, you ask yourself, “how do I find the right wedding photographer?”
Well, it depends. You need to ask yourself, how important is photography to me? If you want images with real personality, and want something to hold on to closely for years and years, you'll need to work with someone who is as serious about their art as you are. In this case we're not talking about someone who does photography as a side hustle. Perhaps you're not huge on images and the focus to be all about you, but you're inviting people you don't see very often, and want a gorgeous record of everyone you love. If that's you, you'll want to talk with a photographer who is really great at creating portraits of these people, and how it felt like to be there, rather than focus on photos of your dress, and the cake, and things like that. Be clear about what you want from your photographer, and begin narrowing down names of people that show that work, and represent those kinds of images.
During the early stages of your planning, it’s like designing a winning team.
You want to find and book the most talented and ‘right’ people to work with. Surrounding yourself with artists and vendors that you trust and know will do their very best job for you = party all day and night, zero worries for you. Cause, we got this :)
#pickupthephone. The interview is as much about if he/she is a good fit for you as you are for them, and there are important details you can’t learn about via email or text messages.
The kind of questions you might want to ask might cover:
- How long have you been in business for?
- Have you worked at my venue in the past? Are you familiar with the nearby area? (time is tight, and having options quickly is super helpful).
- How would you manage the timing of the day, or can you work at your best within my schedule and timeline? If not, could you recommend a better way.
- If you have a wedding planner, ask for their recommendations. A designer can help match you up with other people they know wil be a great fit.
But that’s just the start.
I think it's essential you have a real conversation about their ‘why’ ~ what is your story as a photographer? Why do you shoot weddings? You want to listen for something personal, or some story that you can connect or relate with). Understanding they're ‘why’ is more important than you might first think because by asking about their ‘why’ will give you a deeper understanding of how this person thinks, and their intentions as a photographer. This makes a difference.
Be wary of social media. Many photographers spent lots and lots of time carefully curating their social media accounts to look very consistent. This is a good thing and will show you what type of vibe or mood the photographer likes to use to express him/herself... yet I’d be wary of choosing a photographer solely based on what you see/read on their social media. What you see from one photographer’s IG posts is likely a tiny fraction of the full range of images he/she may create for their clients, yet you'll want to dig deeper and see more than what they post on IG.
Let's talk about your investment, and understanding the Majors vs Minors.
Imagine you wake up to find a major water leak in your house, it becomes clear that you need to replace or repair your roof. In this situation it’s critical to fix this problem right away; otherwise, you’ll risk more damage to your home, and who knows what else will come of it. You know it's going to cost thousands, maybe $7,000, maybe $10,000, maybe more. For your families safety and well being you need professional specialists for this job, not someone doing it for the first time. This is a significant problem, and it's time sensitive. It wouldn’t make any sense to risk the well being of your family and the value of your home to someone without the experience to find the right solution. A specialist will always cost more than someone who does this occasionally on the weekend, yet many people who make the mistake of 'going cheap' almost always end up paying much more in the long run, having to repair the work several times over when it should have been done properly the first time.
On the flip side, it wouldn’t make sense to put in a major effort for something minor or trivial. Spending days and days on a project or job that you’ll rarely benefit from or use again isn’t a smart idea. People do this all the time, and it costs them time and money. I'm addressing misaligned priorities here, and I hear about this mistake all the time. I've personally spent obscene amounts of time on things no one ever saw and that I never finished, bu haven't we all though?
When thinking about an event like your wedding day, we’re talking about one of the biggest days of your life, it’s a one time only thing, a massive family reunion, and no matter what amount of money you’ve already spent on the venue, food, etc.. this is a major deal, and it wouldn’t make any sense to expect to set aside a minor amount say $1500 or so for photography if photography is high on your list of priorites. If you happen find someone who has everything you're looking for and costs $1500 you might have found the best kept secret in town, otherwise you’ll only be shortchanging yourself in the end. Even if the wedding you're planning isn’t a big deal to you now, I can promise you that 5, 10+ years from now, it will be.
Did this article help you sort of some of the questions you might want to ask your photographer? Click here to share this article with someone you know that can benefit from it. I hope you'll now be better prepared when speaking with potnetial photographers. I belive it's a big decison and a very personal one which can often take plenty of time. In the end I know you'll be better prepared the next time you begin looking for the 'one'.
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