Tag Archives: Wedding Photography

Wedding Photographer Q&A

In this blog post, I tried to put myself in a couple’s shoes and ask questions I think most would want to know when choosing their wedding photographer. Let me know if you can think of anything else you would like to ask me!

What is your training in photography?
Both my parents loved capturing the world around them through a lens – either a 35mm camera or an 8mm film camera. And since I was always a quiet (ok, shy) and curious child, I spent a lot of time looking and exploring rather than being the centre of attention like my brother. I got my first camera in the early 80s – a Kodak disc (remember those?). My first attempts at being artistic where not great but I still kept taking pictures. In high school I discovered the magic of a darkroom and was President of our Camera Club. Then I discovered the power of story telling through moving pictures and won awards in video competition. This led to my application to Ryerson University’s Image Arts: Film Studies program. I absolutely LOVED my time at Ryerson. It was so hands on and we were encouraged to be creative and being with other creative people just kept feeding the fire. By my fourth year, I realized that working in the film industry was not for me. I loved documentary work and cinematography but could see how difficult it would be to make a living being so young and needing to work my way up the ladder to prove myself. In school there was freedom but in the real world, it all seemed too scary so I played it safe. I moved to Ottawa and started working for an arts organization. Luckily, through this and subsequent jobs, I discovered a new art form that utilized my keen visual sense – graphic design. Over the years I took courses, both in photography and graphic design. I subscribed to PhotoLife magazine, bought countless photography books, joined a local camera club and never stepped shooting. I was feeding my creative soul outside of work but as I got older I started having a strong desire to combine the two. I think everyone dreams of making a living doing what you love. It took a long time (and a husband with a good job) for me to have the courage to take such a huge risk but I am so happy to have made the plunge. Now that this is my business, I continue to hone my skills by taking workshops, attending industry conventions and finding inspiration online, in magazines, films, television and every time I step out the door – studying the light and noticing interesting locations. I live and breath my art every day.

Why wedding photography?
Wedding photography first caught my interest when the style changed to photojournalism rather than taking traditional posed portraits. With my background in film studies, I am all about telling a story with even one image. What also made me fall in love with wedding photography was attending more and more wedding as my friends and cousins started getting married. Of course, like many guests, I carried my own camera around and more than once heard the comment that the ones I took were better than the professional photographer’s. These comments planted the seed but it wasn’t until I got married and watched our photographer at work (Storey Wilkins) and saw how much fun she had that I thought: “yes, this is what I want to do”.  Being a bride myself and understanding what I wanted was a real turning point for me. It still took me two years to get the confidence to just do it because I knew there would be pressure to capture precise moments that only happen once and also making sure everyone (especially the bride) looked gorgeous in all their pictures. It is quite intimidating to take the leap which is why, like many, I asked to shadow and second shoot with a seasoned photographer. I feel really blessed to have worked with such amazing wedding photographers like Storey Wilkins (named one of Canada’s top 10 Wedding Photographers) and Claude Gagnon (internationally renowned Master Photographer). I then felt confident to shoot solo and LOVED it! Of course, the pressure is there but it pushes me to strives for excellence. My goal is not only to meet expectations but to surpass them. I want my clients to feel that truly understand how important their day is and how important I see my job to capture it in such a way that when they look at their album in 10, 20 or 50 years that all the emotions they felt come rushing back.

Have you ever shot a wedding  at _____ (insert your venue here)?
If I have never seen the church or reception venue you have booked, I will make a point to scout it beforehand (with the exception of destination wedding – although that would be nice!). I will also make sure what the rules are for photographers in certain venues so that I can prepare my game plan accordingly (i.e. some churches do not permit the use of flash photography).

How far would you travel for a wedding?
I have travelled extensively and absolutely love the opportunity to go anywhere and everywhere. Please factor additional costs to cover my travel expenses if your wedding will take place 100km outside of Ottawa or the Kawartha Lakes.

Do you use an assistant or second shooter?
Depending on the size of the wedding, I would recommend hiring a second shooter. This would be at an additional cost but can be well worth it for the added coverage they can provide (I still haven’t figured out how to be in two places at once!). I only hire fellow professional photographers to second shoot with me so that my high standard is always met.

Why is it important to have an engagement session?
I want my clients to feel comfortable and confident that I can really capture who they are and that comes with trust. I like to meet with couples beforehand so I can get a feel for their personalities and also put them at ease in front of the camera. That is why I include an engagement portrait session with all my packages. It breaks the ice and there is no pressure so it’s a fun way to prep for the big day. Of course, you can choose to start with an engagement session as a real test to see if I am the right fit for you. It is a small investment with no strings attached. There is no minimum order requirement from this session so the couple can simply enjoy having a look at my style or can purchase images that can be used in wedding websites, newspaper announcements or a custom guest book that people can sign during the reception as well as any of the many products I have to create beautiful artwork for your home. If I ‘pass’ the test, the engagement session fee will be deducted from the wedding package you choose.

Why don’t you have a package that only includes the digital files?
I completely understand the desire to own the digital files from your wedding which is why I include them in my higher packages. However, all my packages include an album because it is my belief that a disc of images will just sit there collecting dust for months and even years if you don’t get an album made right away. I have heard this so many times from friends who still don’t have a wedding album many years (and a couple of kids) later. That is tragic. All the time, effort, money and emotion that go into your special day should be showcased and an album is one of the best ways to do so. I also encourage my clients to use photography as wall art in their home. The images I have on my walls make me smile every time I see them. Although many of us have made digital albums using software or online tools, the quality available to me from suppliers that only deal with professional photographers is far superior and I want to make sure your album and artwork are the very best quality. Like many who regret having hired a cheap photographer, don’t regret making a cheap album.

Do you offer customized packages?
Absolutely! I created packages I thought covered what most couples might want but I am entirely flexible in terms of coverage and products included. I would be happy to build you dream wedding photography package and give you a discount once you reach certain price points. My motto in life is to not have regrets so my goal for my clients is the same. I want to make sure you get everything you want so you can look back on your wedding day with nothing but fond memories and a smile on your face.

I know it can be overwhelming trying to sift through the many wedding photographers to choose from so I hope this helped you find out a little more about me and if you think we could be a good fit, please contact me to set up a time to meet in person.

Thanks!

Your Ottawa Wedding Photographer,

Vanessa

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How Much is an 8×10? and Do You Give the Digital Files?

These are two questions that I get a lot. I’m sure most photographers do. My answer is simple: what is your reason for wanting to hire a professional photographer? Do you want to capture a special time in your life by an artist or do you want snapshots? Artists like to see their art showcased in a form that honours it and photographers are no different. As an artist, my goal is to create something beautiful to display in your home, whether as a gallery wrap (an image stretched on canvas like a painting – see example below), a framed print or an album. To give the digital files would be like giving away a sketch of a painting and not even the canvas to reproduce it on. In other words, incomplete art. I do, however, include the finished files in my top collection and top two wedding packages because I also understand wanting copies of those memories for safe keeping and this is a way of thanking my clients who have invested in finished art and value my work and the time I spent creating it.

Back to the first question, most people understand what an 8×10 is in terms of size and think of it as a substantial enlargement because we got so used to getting 4×6 prints back from the lab and now seeing even smaller images on our computer screens. The amazing thing about photography is how accessible is has become with the advent of digital cameras but the tragedy is that photography as an art form has been hurt in the process. You cannot compare what it costs to get a vacation snapshot enlarged to 8×10 with what it cost to purchase an 8×10 gift print from professional photographer. It would be like asking why a painting sells for x amount when you know the canvas and paint only cost so much. Or why a meal in a great restaurant costs so much more than the ingredients used to make it. It’s not about the size and type of paper the photograph is printed on (though quality professional paper does cost more than what the 1-hour lab uses!). The real value comes from the years of training, technique and time it takes to create something worthy of calling art. Art is about making you feel something. If done well, it will be worth so much more than any price tag attached to it. I recently attended a workshop with photographer Doug Box. He had a client that grumbled about how much a large framed print would cost him. Doug then asked how much he paid for his leather couch under where the frame would hang. When the man told him what he paid, he asked what would be worth more to him in 20 years, the leather couch or a portrait of his family. It was a light bulb moment!

Yes, professional photography requires an investment and yes, like in other industries there are star photographers who have managed to be seen and hired by the elite so the demand for them warrants their higher prices but there are more affordable options. But beware when it becomes too affordable! You may save money but you may be sadly disappointed with the results. Read my blog: Avoid Hiring a Cheap Photographer to see why I feel so strongly about investing in a quality professional photographer for your wedding. And for a more in depth breakdown of costs associated with being a professional portrait photographer and why an 8×10 costs more with us than a big box portrait studio, please read this wonderful article: Why Does Custom Photography Cost More?

I hope this helps more people see the value of investing in professional photography to capture those important milestones in your life and your children’s lives.

Your Ottawa Portrait & Wedding Photographer,

Vanessa

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