For this blog we reached out to our favorite photographer Janice Yi of Janice Yi photography to help us out with a guest blog:
One of the first questions friends and family asked me when we got engaged was: “who will photograph your wedding?” My answer? “Ha-ha. If I could do it myself, I just might.” Just kidding! I mean I wouldn’t do it myself because I’d be afraid to let someone else do the job, I’d do it because I really would want to.
As a bride to-be myself, there were a few things that stood out to me as my fiancé and I looked for a photographer for our wedding day. Or shall I say as I looked for a photographer? Let’s be honest, for the most part, it’s the bride who does the research on the wedding photographer. Occasionally the groom would be very involved as well, which is awesome, but that’s rare. Unfortunately, I feel the reason most men aren’t into wedding photography is because they associate us photographers with them being asked to smile awkwardly and strike cheesy and awkward poses. But that’s another topic altogether.
Back to the wedding photographer search then. Many of the clients I’ve met with or spoken with usually tell me they don’t know anything about the industry or anything about professional photography. As a photographer myself, I was very lucky in that I’ve seen tons of amazing work long before I got engaged. 3 years ago when I discovered the online blogging community, it opened up a world to which I didn’t really know existed. With the internet, we can now instantly connect to resources, content, ideas etc generated by someone who is thousands of miles away. It was awesome to see so many creative people out there doing amazing things. This led me to discover wedding inspiration blogs such as Snippet and Ink, Once Wed, Style Me Pretty etc and through them, I discovered a lot of really good photographers. It was overwhelming, well, it still is. There are so many talented photographers out there, at all sorts of price ranges; anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 and up. How would one choose the right photographer? As I became familiar with the industry (at least in theUnited States, it’s a little different here in Canada), I had a few inklings about how I would choose a wedding photographer when we get engaged, and below are my ideas.
These are just my opinions of course, so it’s not that they are the golden criteria for selecting your photographer, but if these might be of some help to someone, then that’s awesome.
1. Make sure you really like their photos and their approach and style of photography, and that their work speaks to you.
There were many times when I fell in love with someone’s work after just a few photos but then discovered that perhaps I’m not so in love after all. The opposite was true where I might not have liked a few initial photos but then ended up really liking their work. What drove this flip-flop of opinion? The answer was the photographer’s blog. Most photographers blog about their work, and by going through post after post, you really get a sense of what their approach and style is, which you might not always be able to put into words, but you’ll have an impression in your mind. So go through as many posts as you can, it will give you a good sense of how the images tell the story of each wedding. Choosing a photographer whose work speaks to you, to me it’s so essential it’s almost common sense, but why is that important? Getting married to the love of your life is probably one of the most important things you’ll do in your life, it’s a big deal no? Therefore, you would want photographs that speak to you, that tug at your heartstrings, that bring a tear to your eyes perhaps, and that will make you re-live those moments every time you look at them. That, is why we say a picture is worth more than a thousand words. (Really if I could take a picture to show you the essentials of this blog post, I would!)
2. Make sure that the photographer is a good fit for you and your sweetie.
This means that not only do you like their photographs, you like them. How do you find out? One of the first hints is through their blog and their website, you get to know them a little. It’s hard to blog about your work and not show bits and pieces of who you are as well, not just as a photographer but as a person. Embrace this opportunity before you even meet them! Find out what their interests are, what they love and what ticks them off etc. Then when you do meet them, even if it’s via Skype, you have another chance to get to know them more. Once you get a better feel of what this person is about beyond the fact that he/she is a wedding photographer, you will either like them or not like them. Which is good, in the sense that it’s better to find out now than on your wedding day. I’m not saying your wedding photographer is interviewing for the position of your best friend, but rather you might want someone who you feel comfortable with, can get along with, and have that sense of rapport with.
3. Make sure the photographer is invested in you.
Now how would you know if your photographer would be invested in you? I believe it’s in the details. Do they respond to emails/phone calls promptly? Do they take the time to answer your questions thoroughly and thoughtfully even before you’d booked them? Are they open with you in terms of communications? As a photographer, do they have your best interest in mind?
I firmly believe that good things don’t necessarily have to cost a lot more, because not everyone has an unlimited budget. That said, I do find that couples will budget accordingly if certain aspects of the wedding are more important to them than others. At the end of the day, the photos from your wedding are one of the few visual mementos you will have to remember your special day by. So once you find a few photographers who fit the above 3 criteria well, it comes down to getting the best quality you can afford. Are you getting the best price or the best value?
I hope this helps, and if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them! I think the above also apply to choosing a photographer for other things, such as family and lifestyle photographer.