How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Photographer

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What should our readers know about you?

"The moments we capture are the first heirloom of their marriage so it's this really precious thing that we do."

Hey! Thanks so much for the opportunity! We are Dylan & Sandra Photography and we are a husband and wife team that got married in 2012, moved to Australia for a few years, and while we were there we surprisingly got hooked on shooting weddings!

It started when a friend in the industry suggested that we could make a living with Dylan’s camera, but shooting landscapes and nature alone (which was his main passion back then) and making it as a nat geo photographer was not too likely; and then came the suggestion “you should try weddings”.

Our first wedding was a beach wedding—where almost everyone was a little bit too drunk. Before we completely threw the towel in, we were blessed that we were scheduled to shoot a second wedding for Aussie fashion designer, Rhonda Elmasri, and Sam, possibly the coolest barber we have ever meet. The experience was euphoric, to photograph a couple that was madly in love and so alive and fully present to every moment of their day together, as they walked through the streets of downtown Sydney, Australia.

Fast forward 6 years, and our days are now filled with photography proposals, engagements, and weddings, and creating the kind of dream family life we've always wanted with our toddler and chocolate lab rescue. Our couples are really down-to-earth with modern romantic weddings throughout Southwestern Ontario, including London and Toronto. For our couples, these photos represent the beginning of their greatest legacy: a marriage defined by devotion and unconditional love. The moments we capture are the first heirloom of their marriage so it's this really precious thing that we do.

We would love to learn more about your love story! Feel free to visit our site

How should couples choose a wedding photographer?

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"You want to feel like you have someone on your team so that you can let your guard down and fully enjoy your day."

This is such a great question because choosing a wedding photographer is such a personal thing! Your wedding photographer's personality and photography style can be the difference between you loving your wedding day and photos, or feeling uncomfortable and even ashamed of your photos. We recommend considering the 3 P's before picking your photographer:

Personality: You want to find a photographer that has a personality you connect with. You will spend a lot of time with your photographer on your wedding day. Assess how you feel when they email you, or if you are meeting by phone or email, how effortless does it all flow? You want to feel like you have someone on your team so that you can let your guard down and fully enjoy your day. A photographer should be like you bonus bestie with a camera.

Portfolio: A portfolio that you love with galleries that show consistent well-exposed images throughout the day, including in low-light, is key. You also don’t want images that will look dated in one, five even ten years. Do the images capture how the day actually looked, are they natural, are they timeless? Don’t be afraid to ask to see a gallery from a wedding to get a feel from a whole day.

Price: How does your photography work with your budget? Is your budget unreasonably low? We've noticed that very low budgets attract photographers who are not shooting professionally but rather "on-the-side" or as a student; this means chances are they don't have insurance if something goes wrong, or the education on how to pose people in the most flattering ways. it's important to think about the "20 years from now" self, and how your photographer's skill level will inevitably impact just how much you will love and cherish your wedding images, and ultimately feel about your day. (Photos trigger feelings in powerful ways!).

It's not uncommon that brides feel completely overwhelmed in searching for a photographer, and it's usually because they may never have paused to look at what sets each photographer apart. Here are 2 keys we suggest to start with:

Step 1: Determine your style

There are many different styles and approaches in wedding photography. Finding the style you connect with the most will help direct you and help you narrow down your search. Three of the more general sweeping styles include:

  • Light, bright and airy
  • Dark and moody
  • Bright and contrasting

Step 2: Determine you posing preference

Along with the style you chose, there are also many approaches to posing. Some photographers are quite traditional and maybe even stiff with their posing. Others are completely hands-off and don't pose anything. You will also find some photographers that have a mix in their posing approach. Our own photography leans more towards a natural feel while remaining timeless.

  • Timeless shots: Classic and elegant
  • Natural: More photojournalistic, documentary style producing candid-looking images
  • Posed: Traditional posed images that feel more

We wrote a guide all about how to pick your perfect wedding photographer and you can read it HERE

How would you describe your style?

We take a storytelling approach with what we do and love capturing the candid, in between, and emotional moments that define each unique wedding day. Our focus is to create and capture natural authentic images that remain timeless and really capture the emotion of the moment.

Which portion of the process keeps you busy the most, and what takes the most energy?

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Our wedding days start by capturing getting ready photos.

Going through and editing all of the images for our clients is the part of the process that keeps us really busy during wedding season!

Our wedding days start by capturing getting ready photos. We typically start with the groom and then move over to the bride. There are so many special moments to capture during this time. We then typically move into a first look (you can read more about the benefits of having a first look here). This moment is one of our favourites; there is so much emotion and so much connection happening at a first look. The bride and groom get a quiet moment with just the two of them. It provides some of the most raw and intimate photographs because your guard is completely down.

After the ceremony and family & wedding party photographs, we capture the details of the reception before the party begins. Dylan’s favourite part of wedding days, especially during the reception, is the father-daughter dance. We don’t have a daughter yet but it still gets him every time!

What was the most difficult request you have handled?

We were at a ski resort for a wedding one summer and I don’t know if I would call it a difficult request, but it was definitely an experience to photograph the bride and groom on a chair lift while riding down a chair lift myself. “Just don’t drop anything!” is all I could think the whole time!

There are also consistently times we have to improvise on a wedding day. Weddings typically (for many reasons) end up running slightly behind. As photographers we do our best to help get this back on schedule. Sometimes this means we only have a few minutes to capture portraits of the bride and groom, but we always do everything we can to serve our couple and all of their guests well.

What are your thoughts on having second shooters at a wedding?

By having two photographers you are able to get another perspective, another angle and also more special moments captured.

There is so much value in having two photographers on a wedding day. By having two photographers you are able to get another perspective, another angle and also more special moments captured. The two photographers are able to compliment each other and deliver you so much variety and capture more of those in-between moments.

The times you notice the benefits of having a second photographer especially would be during the ceremony, the reception, and if the two photographers are working together well during the couple portraits.

That value increases when you have a husband and wife team. Often times a second photographer can be someone that hasn’t worked with the main photographer you have hired. If the second photographer is good at being a second photographer, this won’t be a problem, but it can cause some issues.

As a husband & wife team, we work together all the time. We have created a system and often know what the other person is doing so we can compliment them and serve our couples really well. You also have the benefit of knowing who will be walking into your getting ready room at your wedding!

How does a typical wedding photo shoot go?

A full wedding day for photography is typically between 8-10 hours. We find 8 hours works well when there is no travel and everything is happening at one location. We help clients maximize their time with us by providing them with suggested timelines and recommending minimums for each part of the day. We want our couples to take the time to savour this day, revel in it, because it's their day and it will always yield the best results in their photographs, as well.

The rule of thumb we recommend is to add-in more time when:

  • You have a longer/catholic ceremony
  • Add in any travel time (overestimate travel time; it takes time to move big groups around, plus deal with any traffic)
  • You have a special exit planned or want more of the party captured

We typically schedule 30-45 minutes for bride and groom photos. But honestly the more time you can have for photos the better. In the end it gives you more photos for your album.

We also highly recommend going out for sunset photos. It is worth it! We typically sneak out about 30-40 minutes before sunset for 10 minutes during the reception for this for more portraits! our couples never mind because when they hire us, we know they love having a lot of moments captured! Read more about wedding day timelines HERE

Any tips for locations / backgrounds / places that would result in best photos?

For getting ready locations prioritize lots of natural light and clean, simple and light coloured backgrounds. Depending on the size of your wedding party you also may need more space. If you are planning to do an outdoor ceremony, consider where the light will be during your ceremony. Ideally, the sun is behind you or you are in an area that has even shade.

For your portraits, we always look for clean, simple non-distracting backgrounds that incorporate some open sky. We are also suckers for really nice historical architecture. At your reception we recommend if you are having a backdrop, to have it go higher and wider then you think you need. If it goes to the ceiling, even better. It will help create a really consistent, higher-end look in your final images. For readers that want to know more about our top tips for getting the best photos, we wrote about that HERE

If a couple chooses you as a photographer, what should they prepare and arrange ahead of time for you to be the most effective?

We don’t expect couples to have anything prepared ahead of time, although there are things they can do to make the most of their photos. We do help guide and work with our couples to create a special experience that is unique to them and do everything we can to serve them really well and support their vision.

If you could ask one thing of the grooms and brides that would make your job at their wedding easier, what would it be?

Be in the moment and make your wedding your own, that would be our only recommendation. This is your wedding day, the beginning of your marriage, and it should be fun! Take the time to savour each moment and really experience it. Your married life with your best friend, your husband/wife, it all starts on your wedding day. Enjoy it!

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