Finding the Best Vancouver Wedding Photographers (or anywhere else for that matter)
Published March 25, 2013
Written by Daniel Ha
You have a wedding date and a wedding venue all lined up. You have a long list of items to check off, and one of those at the top of your list is probably a wedding photographer. Flipping though the pages of a wedding magazine, you begin to realize what a daunting task it’s going to be to find the right wedding photographer for your big day. Going online doesn’t seem to help much either, there are simply too many Vancouver wedding photographers to choose from (or from anywhere for that matter), and looking through every portfolio seems like so much work.
But don’t fret; you’re in good company. Every year, hundreds of engaged couples go through this ritual. Finding a good wedding photographer is no easy task, and finding the best wedding photographer for your wedding can sometimes seem like a full-time job in itself.
As someone who has been through this process and has extensive experience in the wedding industry, I’ve put together some tips and advice to help you on your quest to find the best wedding photographers for your special day.
1. The best photographers aren’t always listed on the first page of your web results.
A photographer who lists high on Google search results may just be very good at online search marketing, but you’re not looking for a marketing expert, you’re look for a wedding photographer who can give you the type of photos you want and the level of service you need for your wedding.
Often times, the best wedding photographers are not listed anywhere near the top of a Google search page. The best wedding photographers are often in high demand, and may be aiming focus (no pun intended!) on their clients rather than web traffic.
The only way to find the right photographer is to go through as many results pages as you can, and often times, that will mean going past the 10th or even 20th search engine results page.
2. Ask to see only wedding photos from real clients
Yes, there are photographers who only have portfolio photos from workshops or perhaps even from second shooting with other photographers. Why is it important to see photos from their actual clients? Because wedding photography isn’t just about the photos themselves, but the process behind creating the photos.
If a photographer is only showing photos of models from photo workshops or photos in which they were not the primary photographer, you’re only getting to see a small part of their skill set. As impressive as their photos may be, you want to know that your candidate can handle the ups and downs of a wedding day as a primary photographer. You also want to know that they can properly pose you on their own and coach you through portrait sessions like a seasoned expert.
The only way to really know how your candidate performs is to see actual wedding photos from clients that hired him or her as the primary photographers.
3. Ask if the photographer has professional insurance
One of the signs of any professional is how seriously he or she takes their business, and an important commitment any business person must make is to have the proper insurance to protect themselves and their clients.
Photography may seem like a basic service to some, but the business of wedding photography can be a difficult one to manage. During busy times of the year, the risks to losing equipment, equipment failures, and even damaging venue property are ever present. Having the right professional insurance also means protecting you from liability. What happens if the photographer you hire accidentally damages an expensive stained glass window at a church? Who will be on the hook for the repair costs? If it’s your photographer who is responsible, will he or she have liability insurance to cover the costs? This is an important question to ask your photographer candidate, and one that many couples overlook.
4. Online reviews aren’t all that reliable
There seems to be online reviews for everything nowadays, and like most people, we often won’t make a major purchase without consulting an online review first. However, in the wedding industry, reviews can say little about the actual skill level, professionalism, and “fit” of a photographer.
A 5-star rating or lots of Facebook “Likes” isn’t always a good measure of a good photographer. Someone who’s new to the industry may just have one or two 5-star reviews to their name, while someone who has been around for a long time and done hundreds of wedding may have a 4-star review.
Facebook “Likes” is also not a good measure of a photographer’s skill or “fit” with your requirements.
In such case, would it be fair to judge two photographers simply by how many stars or Likes they have? Probably not.
Moreover, there have been so much online review fakery (e.g. cyber shills) on the internet, that such reviews are just simply unreliable.
5. Use your friends and family as a source
Don’t just use your Facebook friends, I mean really talk to your family and close friends about their experiences with photographers. They’ll give you a lot of insight into what’s important to them, or the top photographers on their wish list.
See out friend who are married and ask them for tips and advice. They may suggest the photographer they used, or others they met with that they think could be a good fit for you.
6. Book your photographer early!
If you’re really after the best wedding photographer, you need to get started as early as possible. Good wedding photographers book up key dates quickly. Don’t think that by waiting until a month before your wedding to decide that you’re going to be getting a better deal. You may end up paying a little less (or often times, even a little more), but only because you’re getting a photographer who has booked that date yet.
So if you’re getting married on a Saturday in between June – September, be sure to book your photographer at least 9-12 months before. For example, most of the best Vancouver wedding photographers will have booked their summer dates by the fall of the previous year.
Conclusion: It takes work!
This probably doesn’t sound much like a concluding tip, but it’s important advice. If you want to find the best wedding photographers, you’ll have to do the leg work.
This means gathering a list of potential candidates and actually arranging in-person meetings with these photographers. You don’t need to meet with a long list of photographers, just 2-3 is usually enough to get an idea of what you’re looking for. If you need help, ask a friend or relative to shorten the list for you and then contact the candidates to arrange an meeting.
There are no easy shortcuts to finding the best professional for your wedding, but using these tips will help you narrow the field.
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