Choosing the Right Professional Wedding Photographer: Going beyond the “canned” questions!

Now that the fall Ottawa Wedding Show has passed, you have almost literally a TON of information about everything from venues to cakes to dresses to a professional wedding photographer. Now, all you have to do is sort out who you will meet and when. (Yes, we’re laughing because we’ve been there…)

Continuing our series on choosing a wedding photographer, let’s talk about questions. Take a minute and Google “questions to ask a wedding photographer”. You will come up with literally thousands of hits! Many of the questions are the same but really, a lot of them are pretty self-evident. For example, any professional wedding photographer WILL have a contract that spells out every aspect of their services for your wedding, including the name of the actual photographer that will photograph your wedding. (We do NOT recommend hiring someone who doesn’t have a detailed service agreement). A professional will also happily provide several references. A photographer’s style should be evident from their website. You get the idea. So, why waste time asking questions that are easily answered online? You want your meeting to happen in a professional space (hyperlink to previous blog post) and you want to make the most of your time with your photographer during that initial meeting.

Once you answer the “canned” questions using the photographer’s website, you can dig into the details of YOUR wedding photography. Below are four questions we suggest and the thinking behind them:

  1. “How will you capture the theme of our wedding?”Themed weddings are the trend so let’s say you are having a storybook themed wedding. Perhaps you’re wearing an exact replica of Cinderella’s wedding gown (which, by the way, should be white, not blue). Asking this question and the answer you hear will tell you if your photographer understands the vision you have for your photos AND whether or not they’re on board with you. An answer such as, “That doesn’t fit in with my style,” or body language that is off-putting are big, giant red flags that this particular photographer is not going to tell your story the way you want it told. Move to the next photographer until you find the one who gives you the answers you need to hear and supports their answers with evidence.
  2. “Have you photographed at our venue in the past at the same time of year and/or the same time of day?” If the answer is yes, those photos should be provided without hesitation, along with contact information for references. The fact is, some photographers will say “Sure!” when in reality they may have photographed there once, in the summer, in full daylight at 3:00 p.m. That doesn’t really help you if you are having a wedding at sundown on a cloudy day in early February at a different venue. There may be different aspects of the venue that you prefer to others. A photographer with experience at your venue or something very similarwill be reflect that expertise in the photos you’re expecting for your wedding AND that they’ll make your wedding look like it was the first one that ever took place there.
  3. “Can you explain your lighting techniques to me?” All lighting is not created equal (blog post on that coming soon). If your Ottawa wedding photographer tells you it’s a “no-brainer”, that’s another big, giant red flag! Your photographer MUST be working with good lighting equipment, even if you’re taking photos outside. They also need to be able to explain their lighting techniques in a non-technical way to help you understand their approach.

The wedding photo below is an excellent example of this. It looks like it was taken in the late evening.

In reality, it was taken at about 4:00 in the afternoon in July 2017. This is the difference that lighting makes.

Now take a look at this photo.

Multiple lighting angles were used for this photo. It took some time to set up both inside and outside the structure but even we were caught off guard with how beautiful it turned out to be! (A little self-pat on the back every now and then is apparently healthy…I Googled it!) You want a photographer who takes great care with your lighting with more than just a flash!

  1. “Can I contact you anytime if I have more questions?” Any answer other than an emphatic “Of course!” is the wrong answer. If a professional wedding photographer wants the opportunity to capture the vision you have for your wedding day, they should be willing to work for it, even before you sign on the dotted line.

You may be able to think of questions that we didn’t include here (there’s only so much you can say in an 850-word blog post). We encourage you to make those questions detailed and personal so your wedding day memories remain alive in photos for years to come.

What are some other questions that you’ve thought of? Tell us below!