We spoke with Toronto-based wedding photographer Claudia Hung to get her tips on selecting the right photographer for your wedding. One of Canada's leading bridal magazines recently ranked Hung among Canada's top 25 wedding photographers.
Hung was married last year, so she has experienced both sides of the hiring-a-wedding-photographer process firsthand. Here's what she had to say about how to do it right.
6 tips for choosing your wedding photographer
1. Create a candidate shortlist after browsing online portfolios. Just like fashion or nature photographers, or any other photojournalist or artist, each wedding photographer has their own distinct style. No matter how well regarded they are, if a photographer's style isn't your cup of tea, the photos won't be either.
2. Meet candidates whose portfolios wowed you. It's important to set a meeting to make sure you click. Don't waste your time if you don't love their work.
"Make sure you have great chemistry with your photographer. Your photographer is going to be everywhere you are from the morning of your wedding day until the end of the night, so make sure you enjoy being around each other," advises Hung.
"If there's any awkwardness or uneasiness, there's no way your photographer will be able to produce the images you've seen in their portfolio for you," says adds.
You'll be seeing your photographer after the wedding too, so be sure you enjoy working together, and that they're easy to get in touch with.
3. Dig deeper. "When viewing a photographer's portfolio, ask to see a full and complete wedding set. A portfolio is a highly selective body of work consisting of ‘the best of the best.' By seeing a full wedding day, you should get a better idea of how the photographer's style translates into each part of the day: the morning, ceremony, portraits, and reception," explains Hung.
Page 1 of 2 – Discover what questions to ask potential wedding photographers on page 2.
Ask questions to get a sense of their vision, experience and troubleshooting abilities, such as:
• How would they describe their style? Compare their description to your own thoughts about their work.
• How many years of experience do they have? "There's definitely a co-relation between experience and a photographer's ability to roll with the punches on a wedding day. However, I'm a little hesitant to quantify that amount to a set number of years," says Hung. "It boils down to each photographer's personal experiences and their style of managing stressful situations."
• To that end, ask how they'd deal with potential wedding-day hurdles like rain, unwelcome creative direction from the mother of the bride, or a tiny 30-minute window in which they've got to capture group shots of a super-large family.
"You'll probably be able to grasp how well seasoned a photographer is based on how they answer your questions, and what kind of solutions they provide for you," says Hung.
4. Consider value when comparing quotes. Remember: You get what you pay for.
Although there may be exceptions, in general, better photographers cost more. How about those cut-rate ones? Well, they're cheap for a reason. That said, there are ways you can save money while hiring a solid pro.
"Take a look at what's included in the price they quote you, whether products or a service, and consider its value to you. Often, wedding photographers will include a bunch of things like loose prints, parent albums, Trash the Dress sessions and so on, but not all of these may be relevant to your needs or expectations," advises Hung. You can save by cutting some of the extras.
5. Ask for references. Narrowed it down to someone you want to hire? Ask for two or three references. Call and find out if the past customers are happy with the work the photographer did leading up to, during and after the wedding.
You can also do a quick Google search to see if anyone has any major complaints with your potential hire.
6. Hire someone you trust. "The biggest favour a couple can do for themselves is to openly trust their vendors to do a great job. That includes the videographer, photographer, DJ, florists, card designers and so on. Give them some artistic freedom," says Hung.
"When artists feel you trust them, we're confident in our skills and we thrive. I can't tell you how insecure it makes me feel when I have a bride micromanaging my job. It makes me feel like she doesn't trust my decisions, or my vision, and then I start second-guessing everything," she adds.
Do your due diligence upfront and don't commit to a photographer you're anything less than 100 per cent confident in. And once you've made that decision and reached a coherent understanding of your mutual expectations for the event, step back and let them work their magic.
You'll enjoy your day more – now and for posterity.
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Plan the most beautiful wedding you can imagine with expert tips and helpful advice from our special wedding planning guide.