Choosing a Wedding Photographer

“I wish that we had hired a professional photographer for our wedding.”

Sadly, I hear this all too often while working with a bridal party or at the reception.

A common error is to believe that a wedding photographer can be anyone with a camera. A similar thought would be to believe that anyone with a paintbrush is a painter. Obviously, a brush, a canvas and a box full of tools are precisely that; these tools do not qualify anyone as a professional. The same theory applies to photography, especially wedding photography – the camera is no more than a high quality tool.

To excel in this profession, one requires formal education, experience and an in-depth understanding of wedding photography. All these elements are crucial as there is no second chance in creating wedding images. With many civil ceremonies lasting only 10-20 minutes, there exists a very small window of opportunity for photographers to capture those precious images. Photojournalism is another demanding profession that requires the skill and ability to capture time sensitive images. Currently, there are less than 5% of photographers who are qualified and recognized by PPOC (Professional Photographer of Canada). As mentioned, education and experience are crucial to a professional photographer for flawless and timeless images. Communication is also a quality that needs to be mentioned.

It becomes crucial when photographing family portraits and the bridal party.

Excellence in photography is a combination of science and art. A photographer needs to visualize the images before they are taken, otherwise it would be too late.

To create timeless images, the photographer needs to be able to sense the emotions of the couple, as well as the family and friend.  This is an art form that requires years of experience, understanding, and a passion for people.

Technically, a photographer and many people with digital cameras take images using the JPG format or record images on a CD and then have them  printed. Great for basic pictures, but once you understand a simple principle of colour hues, obtaining quality pictures becomes clear. Even a full size JPG, processed in camera, produces only 256 colour hues. The best way to obtain quality images in a digital format is with the use of RAW.  When shooting in RAW format, all the data the camera captures through the lens is preserved and nothing is removed (lossless data). These files are then hand processed with professional software, one by one. A RAW file contains 4097 colour hues!! Yes, that is very impressive in digital technology, especially when you want to artistically capture not only the moment, but the very emotion that is obvious to the professional photographer.

Then there is the staging; bride and groom portraits, the family and the bridal party portraits. A photographer needs a plan and envisions how to group the party together.  There is a need for balance, harmony, understanding  light as well as composition, and  operate camera equipment flawlessly in all weather conditions.  The experience should be enjoyable and memorable for everyone being photographed. All of this comes through years of education and experience, not just because someone has a great camera and takes great nature images.

Ok, you’re probably saying now, this is sounding interesting but how do I get to know who is a qualified pro and who is not? Start with viewing his / her portfolio on line, although even this, can be misleading sometimes. If you enjoy the style of photography, please ask questions!!

  • How did you become a photographer?
  • How many years of experience do you have with photographing weddings?
  • Do you have any recognition for wedding photography?
  • Are you a recognized professional photographer by PPOC
  • (Professional Photographers of Canada).
  • Are you an accredited wedding photographer?
  • Have you won any awards for wedding photography?

If the photographer feels comfortable with your questions and you are satisfied with the answers, then book the meeting in person at his/ her studio. It is important to be in the studio.  Not only will you see the level of professionalism, but also you will find authentic samples of his/ her work. Ask him/her to show you an entire wedding, not just a few great images. Meeting the individual that will capture one of the most important days of your lives is extremely important. You will be working closely with this professional and you need to feel comfortable from the beginning. It needs to be the right fit for everyone. When all of the above is sorted out and you’re satisfied with every aspect, then ask for the price list and work out the cost for your wedding.

Do not hire a photographer based on a price list!! It is better to have 10 professional quality images of your wedding than 100 pictures that may not truly express the joy and emotions of your wedding day.

Lilo @ Lilo PhotoDesign is a university-trained professional photographer located in Victoria, BC, Canada. He has well over 30 years of experience in photography, specializes in photojournalistic wedding photography (story telling), professional portrait photography and corporate events. Lilo holds a MPA (Master of Photographic Arts); he’s a Nationally Accredited Photographer and has won numerous national and international awards for wedding photography. His work is treasured by many national and international clients. Lilo and his equipment also travel.

Best wishes, Lilo

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