I'm a wedding photographer based in Ottawa Ontario, but travels worldwide. My photography approach is intentional, honest and editorial. An organic approach to capture fleeting moments. This blog lives to inspire your wedding photos and provide you planning tips.
Updated May 1, 2022
Yay you probably just got engaged! congrats on locking the deal. It’s safe to say that you are now on the hunt for a wedding photographer that will capture your incredible wedding day.
You’ve come to the right place, I’m here to help make this process easier and as pain-free as possible. So that at the end of this you’ll have the confidence and knowledge on landing the perfect photographer for your unique wedding day.
You know when you go grocery store hungry or without a shopping list you end up aimlessly walking down different aisle and picking up junk food, or you drive back home realizing you forgot something important. You feel guilty at the end, knowing full well that you could have used your time wisely or made better choices if only you weren’t hungry. We have all felt that way, I sure have and I definitely don’t want you to have that sinking feeling of regret 5 months after your wedding day.
Your answer might be “because everyone hires a wedding photographer…” or “my wedding planner list says so.” Fair answers. But I want you to dig deep, like why is wedding photos important to you? what would you wish them to capture?
Starting you off with a bang, my biggest suggestion is being crystal clear, on the kind of memories you memories and experiences you want to create.
Is it having the most luxurious meal? celebrate with the closest people in your life? or throw the best party ever? maybe it’s being surrounded by nature? or going on an adventure on your day? whatever that would be what kind of experience do you want to create?
By answering this question you’ll end up learning what emotions you want your wedding photos to convey? your love for fashion/arts? This might be capturing the excitement and the nerves before the ceremony? is it people laughing and mingling and remembering the love and support that surrounded you that day? do you want to remember the party and everyone having a blast? maybe it’s bringing you back to the best meal you’ve had made by a private chef?
Before we dive in deeper, let’s talk about money. A photographer is usually one of the top 3 wedding investments you make on your wedding day. Before jumping into any wedding decision, you have to know your budget. Things can add up quickly and next thing you know, you’re way over your head. It’s imperative to figure out how much you can spend before you start looking for vendors.
On average wedding photographer cost between $2,500 – $6,000+ in Canada and United states. The prices vary from places, experience, education, equipment, cost of living, travel, etc..
This also varies from different photographers but here are some things that might be included in a wedding package; printing & web-resolution photos, online gallery, engagement, second shooter, USB, customer wooden box with prints, wedding album, timeline help, exclusive wedding guide, to name a few.
There’s a saying ” you get what you pay for ” A little warning though if you feel like someone is way too good to be true and their prices are just suspiciously low you might want to reconsider this and do further research. Yes, you can get lucky with someone that’s just starting out but this also means you taking a gamble on how your wedding day will be documented.
Most photographers cost somewhere between 2,500-10,000. Photographers’ prices vary from each other. Some factors are, business expenses, equipment, software, experience, education, cost of living (because like everyone else they still have to pay for rent, food and possibly kids), etc.
The perks of hiring an experienced photographer is they know how to deal with any situation. The different lighting, family situation, timeline difficulty and even card/camera failure (yes this can actually happen)
On average my couple spends around $3,500 – $6,000, Check the wedding photographers’ website they usually have the starting prices listed somewhere.
It’s amazing that you have found a photographer you connect with but what if they are out of your photography budget? First off I don’t think you will ever regret hiring your dream photographer. Here are somethings you can do.
– move money around maybe instead of buying flowers for every table you go with greenery and add move some decor fund into your photography fund.
– consider a weekday or offseason wedding, most photographers have different pricing for this time of the year. It never hurts to ask.
– ask if they have a payment plan to help offset the cost
– get in touch with the photographer and see if you can work something out that you both will be happy with
I honestly don’t think you’ll ever regret hiring your dream photographer, figure out a way to make it work because at the end of the day you’ll only have these photos to remember your day by.
When I’m talking about style I mean how they take photos, how they frame their couples and the certain details they include or exclude in an image. Each wedding photographer has a different point of view, this is why you can have two photographers capture the same thing but come out with a completely different gallery that conveys different emotions. Individually they have different life experience, skillsets, and values which makes their art unique to them.
Do you want something more editorial (think magazine-worthy images), or maybe artsy? are you more drawn to documentary images with a lot of candid’s with less posing? or maybe you want a mix of both
Once you start scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest there are certain images that will just pull you in, be picky with this since you don’t want to be overwhelmed with hundreds of photos. Once you have picked max 15 images that you LOVE and really connect with.
You might have liked the photo because of the composition, or the emotions that the photo made you feel, or how the couple were posed or the location of the photo. Whatever that might be this will give you a better glimpse on the style of photo you like. Take note and use this knowledge as you research further.
” Mary was a last-minute discovery whose Instagram page I was fortunate to stumble upon a few weeks before our tea ceremony. I was looking for a photographer who could capture candid, raw emotion in photos; work in small, crowded spaces; and adjust well to different types of lighting. We were holding the tea ceremony in November in two houses crammed with over 40 people, so we knew space was limited and natural light would be a challenge. Mary ticked all the boxes.” – Amanda + Jason Wedding
You’re probably wondering, “why does this matter?” Fun fact you will likely spend most of your wedding day with your photographer.
You know when you see an old friend and conversation just flow even though you haven’t seen each other for what seems like forever? well, that’s how I want to walk into your wedding, a trusted friend. Someone you know has your back 110%. I don’t just accept anyone and neither should you. Having someone that you click with and enjoy their company makes working with them just that much more enjoyable.
THIS IS A BIG DEAL!!! (did you see me use all caps) BUT FOR REAL.
NEVER! Just book someone without seeing a wedding gallery. a lot of photographers would have a highlight of a wedding gallery they have taken on their website. Check them out and you’ll have a better understanding of how this photographer captures a day.
When asking for a gallery ask them for one that is similar to what your wedding would be like. This allows you to get a feel on how they will document your day in a similar lighting situation.
Find out what kind of photos draw you in – because you have done the exercise mentioned earlier about bookmarking all the photos that you are attracted you you can now figure out what it is color wise that you liked about the photo. is it bright and airy? moody photos? warm? film like? edgy? artsy? timeless? are the color desaturated? or are they true to color? is the photo vibrant or a little bit tone down like film photos? do they have a lot of black or white, or are you drawn to more coloured photos?
Your final product will drastically change by how a photographer edits the photo.
There are so many times that people just pick someone that another bride, friend, or co-worker recommended to them, without a second thought and ZERO research. This photographer might have been perfect for your friend but that doesn’t automatically mean they would be a great match for you.
It’s good to go through the questions above and make your decision once your clearer about your end goal. I’m a huge fan of recommendations, don’t get me wrong. However, you owe it to yourself to dig deep and be clear on how you want your memories to be documented.
– Reach out to friends that recently got married or trusted wedding vendors in the industry.
– Check out social media such as Instagram and make use of hashtags ex. #ottawaweddingphotographer
– Google search (your wedding location)wedding photographer ex. ottawa wedding photographer and local Facebook group
I want you to know that you already started off on the right foot by reading this blog. Research can take a lot of time and be a little frustrating but it will pay off in the end. Your photograph are the only thing that will be left to long after the wedding day. It’s worth the time investment to find a photographer that can provide you photos you will cherish for a lifetime.
Your photographer is your storyteller. Through their eyes and lens, they’ll tell your story as your day unfolds
I hope that this guide gave you a little more knowledge and confidence in picking the right photographer for your wedding day! Good luck and congratulations. I am so excited for you!!! WISHING YOU ALL THE BEST!!
Planning your own wedding or elopement? I love helping couples get started with their planning, lets chat!
Mary Calotes is an elopement and wedding photographer based in Ottawa, Ontario. Specializes in capturing genuine moments that gives you all the feels.