So you're looking to book a photographer, woot woot! I am a core believer in documenting your life moments with photos that really bring you back to your special day. Whether it's a professional or a quick photo on your phone, photos are the perfect way to look back on your memories. So when looking for a photographer, that someone is your kind of like your "memory keeper". The person that will be providing these photos to protect these moments.
As a wedding photographer this might sound like a daunting task. For me it's more of an exciting honour that you would want me to be the ONE to capture these moments. That's my approach, that you're trusting someone to frame these memories in their raw, candid, and documentary way. But that's just me. There are so many talented photographers (memory keepers) out there that have their own style, their own look, and their own approach that will fit with their ideal client.
But there are so many options right? There are so many amazingly talented people out there that choosing a photographer that is the RIGHT FIT for you can feel a bit overwhelming. Am I right? So how on earth do you go about choosing one?
There's a joke out there that finding the right photographer, is like going on a first date. You’ve no idea what your signing up for and your pretty hesitant.
Let's be real, we live in the world of Instagram. I've gone down many "rabbit holes" like dogs eating peanut butter and even the best colours that match a yellow dress. If you can think it, you can search it on "the gram." And I know this place isn't a starting point for everyone but I know when looking for a photographer it's a stressful task. That’s why I’ve put together this simple guide on some things to really honestly consider before you sign the dotted line. Oh, and always make sure there’s a dotted line to sign (i.e. always make sure you sign a contract…) Sorry, giving you advice before we even jump in. Here’s my Four-Top Things To Consider When Booking A Photographer.
What is the experience that you’re getting when you book with them?
Yup, you read that right. What is the experience you’re getting when you book your photographer. Sure, they may be cheaper than a lineup of other photographers however, are they really investing in you as a client to make sure that your fully taken care of? Are they able to make you feel at ease about having you be a part of their special day?
Beyond what they offer, their pricing, their packages, the referral you received to reach out.... how do they see themselves being there for YOU on your wedding day. For example, when I first meet my couples (typically at our engagement shoot well before the wedding), I always take the time to get to know them. Ask them how they met, ask them what they're most looking forward to for their wedding, what they want me to know about their families before I meet them, and the list goes on. After I deliver their beautiful gallery I make sure they LOVE their photos and that they understand how the gallery works. I use a program called Pic Time where they can download, share, and order products with their photos. But our interaction doesn't stop there. One month before their wedding I send my Wedding Questionnaire where I ask all the questions. From wedding details, scheduling, and vendors list to their family members names, family relations, and their favourite music. Everything and anything is on there so that I can walk into their wedding day knowing exactly who to talk with, when their dog will be arriving for photos, you name it! This questionnaire is so helpful because questions they may have not thought of are all answered and relayed in my knowledge about them.
It makes my couples feel much more comfortable and taken care of that they truly hired someone that cares and knows them.
"We did our engagement and wedding photos with Danica and they could not have been more perfect! First of all, the engagement shoot was incredible. The pictures were so unique and full of movement and love. It was also amazing that we got to include our beloved dog. Our wedding photos we received are beyond amazing. Danica outdid herself and captured every important moment, from beginning to end. She helped us create memories that will truly last a lifetime. We received so many compliments from our friends and family, both on the quality of the photos and professionalism and kindness of Danica at the wedding. The photos aren't overly posed and I can't find one where my husband and I aren't smiling. She captured the joy we felt that day and for that I am forever grateful. Thank you Danica, we love you!!"
Your relationship with your photographer, I cannot stress enough, is so so important. The client relationship is pivotal in my business. It eases your stress, gives you a peace of mind and can even make your day so much more enjoyable and fun if you have a good relationship with your photographer.
Do you actually like their style?
(Not just their photo style and not just looking at their price point)
Okay, this is an issue I hear far too often from couples. They went with a cheaper price point and put their money into other things for their wedding, meaning, photography wasn’t very high on their priority on what they valued the most during their wedding. However, after all was said and done and they had received their wedding photos, found that they were more than disappointed. This is truly heartbreaking to me when I first heard this.
I was working a wedding when a guest came up to me to compliment how well I was doing. I said a quick "thank you" and starting moving on with the wedding. She continued to say, "if it's possible can I chat with you when you have a moment?" Later on we spoke and she couldn't get over how her and her new husband hired the wrong photographer for their wedding earlier that year. By watching me work, seeing my attention to detail, how I was very patient with family members, and my overall "easy vibe" (I was more than flattered I'm not just making up these SUPER kind words) really made her realize the disappointment she felt toward her own wedding photos. After I asked why she hired that person she mentioned that they were a referral and they felt they HAD to hire them at their price point. She continued to tell me that, THAT was the biggest regret she had from her wedding day. That she felt pressured to hire someone she wasn't "crazy about", just because of the price. Meeting this lady has always stuck with me.
And with that, don't settle on someone just because you don't know anyone else. I think the internet is a big place that if you do your research and take your time you will find the best match for you.
I had another couple tell me how they put a deposit down, on a "friend-of-a-friend" referral to do their wedding because they didn't really know anyone else. After their engagement session they said the photos were beautiful but the experience wasn't fun. That they wished they went with someone else with a similar style and a better vibe that best matched theirs. After working their friend's wedding this past summer they wished that "they had found me sooner" (my heart literally broke. Knowing that your wedding hasn't happened yet and you aren't happy with your photographer BUT you already put a deposit down.... ugh! Makes me so sad). Again, lots of stories just like this one where a client and photographer just didn't match up.
Your wedding, no matter the size or where it is in the world, is worth capturing. It is such a huge part of your story and it's only one day, there are no re-do’s! Your wedding photos will be the one thing you will have for generations to come. Don’t just pick a photographer because they're cheap, if they're cheap, there might be a reason for that. Find a photographer that’s willing to work with you and that you genuinely like as a human. Remember they're going to be hanging out with your favourite people all day long!
What makes a good photographer at a good price point?
The number game. I get it I like the word "discount" and "deal" just as much as you but when it comes to your wedding day I would be careful. For me, I'm currently having a deal on any weddings between March - May of this year. Why? I explain that this is the "non wedding season" and I am willing to take on more work. If I have to lower my pricing for the slow season then that's fine with me. I do that because I love what I do and love my clients. Unfortunately there are services out there that don't think the same way and will undercut pricing just to meet their quota. That maybe they built a business on the demand of weddings at the time of wanting to have a job and not because they loved this industry.
Me? I seriously love what I do and find any opportunity to make it happen. I pour my heart and "editing soul" into each and every client no matter the shape of size of their wedding.
But why do photographers cost so much? How do you value your own dollar?
A lot of the pricing game has to do with the city, place, and market you are in. If you are in a big city with lots for choices then pricing can be anywhere from $$$ to $$$$. So here's what I will say about any service based business: what does it take to run a successful business? What kind of margins are put into their business for it to be successful within an industry?
Here's a breakdown to better understand what it takes to run a photography business that you may not know about:
Client Programs and Legal -
I put my client relation/experience very high on my priority list. To ensure my clients are covered and feel like they're taken care of I pay annually and monthly for programs such as Honeybook (how I send you contracts and invoicing), Wix Website (my website), Adobe Creative Suite (to edit and create your photos/video), We Transfer (your wedding video file transfer), and Pic Time (your online galleries) to insure you know that you’re not left hanging and that everything is professional and legal.
I shoot with Canon 5D camera bodies for photography & videography. Which are all expense equipment but I don't think the average person would know all the other costs associated with the upkeep to take care of our gear. As well as external hard drives, routine maintenance and cleaning on ALL of my gear (which is $100 per camera body or lens each time) and these prices can go up depending where your photographer lives and how extreme the damage may be to their gear.
I truly believe in one should never stop learning. Not only do I have a BA in Film Studies and a postgraduate certificate in Post Production, I also attend yearly workshops as well as invest in online educational programs to insure I am always growing to help me document my client’s special moments better.
Client Relations -
When a client books with me, they don’t just fork over a bunch of money and then never hear from me again until a week or two before their wedding. I spend countless hours emailing, FaceTiming and meeting face-to-face to make my clients feel most comfortable with me. Another reason why I show my face on Instagram story all the time (I know I'm annoying but I want people to see the real me). I give them resources and vendor lists that helps them plan their day and then I’m there for them after the wedding as well.
My clients feelings and comfortability with me is my top priority. If they need to meet more often or run questions about wedding details I am here for them. I don't ever want someone who hired me to feel like there isn't an open communication because I'm always here for them.
What do you ACTUALLY get after your wedding?
As a photographer and videographer I want every couple to know exactly what they're getting after their wedding day. I want to set an expectation to them right at our initial "hello" because I truly want them to find their right photographer for them.
For Photography -
I send over 2 - 3 full online galleries from past weddings so they can see the Pic Time Program I use, see how many photos they are receiving, and different examples of weddings I have captured. This is my initial email to every client along with my Pricing Package to give them a breakdown of everything they will receive. Every wedding is different but I deliver about 800 fully edited images ready for print. I also include an Engagement Session because that's how I like to connect with my couples before their wedding day. It gives my couples the opportunity to see me work and get a better feel for what it's like to be in front of the camera. A process I take very seriously because I never want anyone to feel awkward or uncomfortable. Unless you're a model we're all awkward in front of the camera, trust me, it's not a natural place to be. Something I understand and make you feel better about.
"Danica, you're such a dream to work with! Our heart skips a beat with every photo. Hyder and I had so much fun together as a couple during the session with you, and you have been nothing short of amazing. Thank you for allowing us to be ourselves -- it really does take a skilled photographer to capture picture perfect candid moments. So glad to have stumbled upon you and knew that instant we'd make magic together."
For Videography -
I send a questionnaire and links to all my Sizzle Reel videos. That way you select your favourite edits and tell me what you love most. Once you tell me your favourites I then go ahead and send a full wedding video to give you a better idea about the final product. Again, every wedding is different and calls for different moments to highlight.
I offer a creative edit. The duration for these videos range but essentially an edit that is cut to beautiful music (which we collaborate on) in a creative way that brings you right back to all the moments. Video has a beautiful way of saying so much more than one single frame can for a photograph. And I don't hold any moments back. I also include a complimentary Speeches Video with every package. There are going to be speeches that I won't be able to incorporate in a creative edit but something I know is so important to every couple. I put them all together, unedited and in their real time glory, in one video for you to have.
"Danica was our videographer for our wedding in June 2019. Right from our first meeting over a beer, she made my husband and I feel so relaxed and comfortable in the planning process but most importantly, on our wedding day. Danica and her second shooter blended into the background, just naturally capturing all of our special moments. She has the most natural, easy-going personality. Her pricing was exactly what we were looking for for a video and the turnaround was super quick. We loved the end result and I swear I have watched the video 100 times and still cry every time I watch it. Thank you for all your work Danica! We are so grateful."
After everything is delivered I make sure it's exactly how you want it. If there are any changes that need to be made I always include one complimentary full round of changes to any project to ensure that your expectations are met. I think when finding out what you actually get after the wedding beyond what their package might say, is to see examples. See a full wedding in its entirety and see if that's something that would satisfy your price point and what you want out of your wedding.
Those are just four basic pointers to consider when booking a photographer/videographer. I hope this helps you in your search for the perfect photographer for you. If you like what you've read and think we could be a good match I am always happy to chat! You can go to my contact form and give me the deets and we can go from there. Happy searching!
Photos from Create and Wander Workshop - https://www.instagram.com/create.andwander/
Florals by Flowerz Design - https://www.instagram.com/flowerzdesign/.
Real Life Couple - https://www.instagram.com/tykamp/