How To Choose Your Wedding Photographer in 2023

Below you will find 4 Most Important Things to Consider and 5 Common Mistakes

4 Most Important Things to Consider
When Hiring a Wedding Photographer

1. The Basics: Considering both Photography Style and Service (My Own Experience)

When planning our wedding, we prioritized photography as the lasting memories of the day. We chose a photographer based on style and service, opting for timeless rather than trendy edits or old-fashioned photography, and selecting someone who took the time to understand our preferences.

Style: Do you prefer Candid and Photo-Journalistic vs Posed photos, or a mix of both? Do you prefer “Dark and Moody”, “Bright and Colorful”, “Light and Airy”, or fairly “Natural and Balanced”? When we chose our wedding photographer, we had a certain style and “colour tone” that we had in mind that helped us pick the photographer.

Service: We made appointments and met with a few photographers. The way that the various photographers communicated with us also helped us decide who we were comfortable with, and who seemed to only want our business by selling to us with their affordable prices, but not really take their time to understand what we need and what our preferences were.

Remembering that these pictures will be the first heirloom photos of our new chapter together really helped us eliminate many potential photographers who only fit our budget.

2. Do you like the photographer as a person?

When choosing a photographer, it’s important you like them as a person as much as you like their work. The photographer’s personality DOES matter, especially if you already feel like you’ll be awkward in front of the camera. You want to enjoy having this person around. You’ll want to have a peace of mind that this photographer is readily available and responsive as you plan out your special day. Is this photographer personable? Do you like your interaction with them before you hire them?⁠

As a past bride myself, I am super glad that not only did I had fun during my prewedding photo session, but I also enjoyed having my photographer following me around the entire wedding day. I can’t imagine what my day would’ve been like otherwise! On a similar note, I believe it’s really valuable to have engagement photos taken with the same photographer who will be shooting your wedding. This is so that you get to experience what it’s like being in front of their camera, and learn how they provide directions. Portrait time during your wedding day will be a lot more efficient than otherwise.

3. Does the Photographer offer Any Tangible Heirlooms? How is the Quality of The Printed Products? Will They Stand the Test of Time?

If the photographer offers tangible heirlooms, ask about them! What’s the quality like? Are they archival and supposed to last a lifetime? What are the pages like? How’s the binding and overall make of the album? Will the colours be reflective of the photography? They should be worth your investment!

3b. More About Albums (because it’s a “digital world”)

How much is it worth to you to have an heirloom album to tell the story of your most beautiful memories? This artwork that you have created with your photographer, these memories that you cherish, these fleeting moments captured in time, they are worth so much more than being “digital dust” in your hard drive, buried within thousands of other files. ⁠

The albums that my family has created throughout the years mean so much to me. Every time I flip through them, gratitude and joy swell up from within my soul, and there is a growing appreciation for the most important people in my life. ⁠

This is why, even though it’s so much more work for me, I take it off my busy clients’ plate, and help design and create professional albums with all my couples and families, so that they too can have this experience for years to come. ⁠

4. Does the Photographer Have Good Reviews and Testimonials?

Google Reviews and Facebook Reviews are the most common places to look for authentic feedback from a photographer’s past clients, and see what their experiences were like working with that photographer. Why do past clients like working with this photographer? What stood out to them? Do you see a trend or consistent kind of comments? Be wary of fake reviews – whether fake positive or fake negative.

Even if a photographer (or any other wedding vendor) does not have a “5-Star Rating”, be sure to read the other ratings and see if those lower rated reviews are legitimate. Nowadays, there are a lot of spammers and people who want to ruin someone’s reputation just for the sake of it. How is the photographer’s response to the negative review? Consider if there could be a different side to the story (oftentimes, there is).

A Chan
Vivian was very professional and experienced working with all sorts of couples. We had our prewedding photoshoot with her around the UBC area. Both my fiance and I are EXTREMELY awkward in front of the camera. We have no idea how we are supposed to pose or even how to smile properly for it to not look too forced. But Vivian made it easy to understand, she was also very patient with us, explaining to us every step of the way. Not to mention we also brought our 90lbs excited puppy (yes, puppy) along for the photoshoot. She was able to capture all the right moments despite our chaotic combination. Would 300% recommend Vivian to any couple who would like to get their pets involved or if you have some out of the box ideas that you would like to try out. She can make it work for you. It's a shame that our actual wedding will not take place in Canada, or we would definitely have her be our wedding photographer as well. Such a wonderful sweet lady to work with. She will be our go to photographer from now on if we want any sort of other photoshoots in the future.
Michelle Li
Vivian is a very charming and sweet person to deal with from start to finish. What sets her apart from the rest is her ability to really engage with her clients, like getting to know them better and making sure they feel comfortable working with her even before the actual shoot. She especially has some great suggestions for shooting locations and we took on board her advice. On the day she was an absolute delight: she listened to our ideas and incorporated her own to make the whole process very smooth and enjoyable. The same can’t really be said of all photographers who very much have their own vision of what constitutes the “best” photos! Our photos turned out even better than we were hoping. She captured several silly moments on film that will no doubt feature on the big day. We have no hesitation in giving her 5 stars.
Suzanne Ng
Our family photo session with Vivian was an unique experience unlike past photo sessions we've had. She was professional and extremely detailed oriented. She provided plenty of guidance to help us be as prepared as possible for the day of the shoot. Her warm and bubbly personality made us feel at ease since the first virtual consultation to the end of the shoot, and she was very accommodating to our toddler and newborn. What made her services unique was the idea of turning individual portraits into artwork, perfect printed heirlooms we could pass onto multiple generations. We would definitely recommend Vivian to our friends and family. Thank you Vivian!
Peter Mai
Vivian made such a beautiful wedding photobook for my wife and I. She's such a pleasure to be around, reassuring and great with guidance. These three qualities are must-haves for a photographer on one of the most important days of your life. Thanks again Viv for all your help and you deserve every bit of praise 🙂
Tommy Wong
Alison: I got married in 2016, but in 2022 I finally decided to print out a wedding album. (It's never too late!) I followed Vivian on IG and saw that the photo albums she designed are gorgeous. Now with two kids, I don't want to risk having a precious album ruined by their rough hands ^_^", so I decided that the investment is worth it. Fun fact: Vivian also did our maternity shoot! Vivian showed me samples and clearly explained the differences between the albums. She was also very helpful in finalizing the design and placement of each photo. It was a fun experience overall. When my husband and I looked at the wedding album at the end, we were amazed by its beauty. It brought us back to our special day. The quality of the album is excellent, and you can't compare it with Walmart/Costco. I highly recommend having Vivian as your photographer and printing your album with her! -Alison & Tommy
Andy Navarro (andycapped)
Vivian wasn't our photographer when my wife and I got married but we approached her to design and print our wedding photo album. She was very helpful with the process from start to finish, showing us samples of albums and how we can customize our own. She was able to layout the album nicely and give a story. The quality of the album was really nice, the photos are printed on the pages and all the pages are thick so you won't have to worry about it getting damaged. We highly recommend her services -- have your wedding photos arranged and printed by her.
Elaine Ng
​Vivian Ng is an awesome person working with her on our engagement photo shoot was a blazed and we had so much fun doing all the fun poses and it was just an incredible time. We would definitely recommend her to any of our friends who are looking to get there engagement photos done or wedding.
Victor Lee
Vivian is super nice, kind and helpful. Before the wedding day, Vivian advised us on nice photo shooting spots and gave us possible rundown on the wedding day. She also helped us a lot on our wedding day. She helped us to smoothen our wedding process and helped us to relax such that we could perform better during our wedding shooting. Vivian delivered the photos in a short period of time. The photos are nice. The album is well designed. My wife and I are so grateful to have Vivian as our wedding photographer.
Jessica Li
We really love Vivian's bright and natural photography style and ​our experience with Vivian has been so fun! She has a great eye for detail and made us feel so comfortable during our photo sessions. We had a lot of fun taking our engagement photos at Belcarra Park despite the fact that both my husband and I are quite camera shy. Outside of just taking our photos, Vivian dedicated a lot of time meeting with us virtually to go over wedding day details and timelines, so that we would be able to capture the best photos on the day of. As a bride who did not have any wedding planning experience, I really appreciated all of her guidance and helpful tips! On our wedding day, Vivian was great at directing us for the bridal party and group photos. We were able to get all the photos we wanted, at all the different locations, without any rush because she had planned everything with us so well beforehand! Overall, our experience with Vivian has been very pleasant. My husband and I were looking for a photographer who could not only take great photos, but also help us feel comfortable in the process. Vivian was a great fit for us - she was both the professional photographer and also the friend who was in for the ride with us. I have already been recommending her to our friends, and will definitely be booking her again for our future photography! 🙂
Having Vivian to be our wedding photographer was really our smartest decision. I am a bride who has camera shy and doesn’t know how to pose; But Vivian tenderly guided me with her professional skills made me put down my fears and the photos turns out are beyond our expectations. During the whole wedding, we really felt her seriousness and care about us, which made us less stressful and enjoy the shooting. Most importantly, the photos are stunning, and we give Vivian a five star rating. Thank you Vivian!

5. How does the photographer backup your photos during and after your wedding?

Disclaimer: a professional photographer can shoot with any camera, so it matters less whether they have the most expensive gear, than whether they know what they are doing. Having said that, having the right gear for the right occasion is still important. Here’s why…

During the wedding day
This is not to say photographers who only shoot with a camera that only allows one card slot are not professional photographers. Many of them are! I personally prefer to shoot with cameras that allow two memory cards recording at the same time. This is because memory cards can become corrupt, so having a camera that has two card slots helps ensure I have a backup even as I shoot.

After the wedding
The files are transferred onto my computer hard drive and uploaded to a secure cloud backup system, and not deleted off the memory cards until the gallery is delivered to the clients. This way, there are four locations where your raw memories are stored: two memory cards, computer hard drive, and cloud-based storage.

Backup Camera
Most of the time during the wedding, I also bring two cameras with me. This means, if one camera stops working, I still have another camera to continue photographing. In the UNLIKELY event the WORST case scenario happens, even if both of the cards in the same camera become corrupt, you will at LEAST still have memories from the other camera, rather than losing everything. If you choose to have a second photographer there, that is another level of insurance that another professional is there to photograph your wedding with yet a third camera!

6. Can the photographer show you a whole wedding day before you hire them?

Even if you do not see a complete gallery of every single photo from a particular wedding (for reasons such as if the couples have requested their photos to be private, etc.), the photographer should still be able to show you what their photographs may look like from getting ready through end of reception, and seeing photographs that are shot from different lighting scenarios. During consultations with my couples, I generally walk through a whole wedding day album so that they can get an idea of what it’s like having me as their wedding photographer for the whole day, and what their wedding album and gallery might look like at the end of the whole experience.

5 Common Mistakes When Hiring A Wedding Photographer

When it comes to hiring a wedding photographer for your big day, I have seen some common mistakes that people tend to overlook before signing a contract with a photographer.

Mistake #1: Portfolio Skimming

Not looking thoroughly through their portfolio! Here are some questions to ask yourself when you look at their work:⁠⁠

  1. Are their photographs taken and edited in the style that you prefer? ⁠
    • Do you believe you will enjoy looking at them even 30 years later, or will you think to yourself “that’s so 2020’s… What was I thinking”? ⁠
  2. Do the skin tones of the people in the photographs look natural or are they kind of wonky?⁠
  3. Is their work consistent? After looking through their blog/client galleries, are you confident you will receive similar quality and results? Just like how you go into a certain coffee shop and order a latte, you expect it to taste a certain way because they consistently produce the same flavour. The same line of logic goes for your photographer as well!⁠
Love me some fun shots at the photobooth with my couples

Mistake #2: Not Talking to the Photographer in Person

Not talking to the photographer in person or virtually or at least on the phone: I get it, we are all busy people, and email seems to be the best way to communicate. But it’s so important to get a sense of who your photographer is. When you are able to talk with them face to face, you will see how they interact in person and hear their tone of voice. Are they easy to communicate with? Do they seem fun and easygoing? Are they professional? ⁠

Mistake #3: Not Considering the Full Experience

Not considering the complete experience the photographer can provide. This actually ties into the second point I talked about–with regards to meeting with the photographer at least by phone and video chat, not just email. ⁠

Your photographer will be with you the entire day. You should feel comfortable around your photographer so that you and your fiance can just be yourselves when they are there. Some things to keep in mind: Do they respond in a reasonable amount of time? Will they help you plan and style your engagement session? Will they help with your wedding timeline? Will they be connecting with you before the wedding day, or will they be MIA until the month of your wedding? In other words, what will the overall client experience and process be like? ⁠

Late night selfie with bubble tea.
I share a love of bubble tea with most of my couples.

Semi-Mistake #4: Forgetting the Physical Heirlooms

Not considering whether they offer prints. This is not really a “mistake” per se. Many photographers don’t offer this service, and that’s totally OK! If you only want digital files, that’s perfectly fine, too! But if you are someone who is sentimental, love flipping through your parents’ photo albums, value printed tangible heirlooms of your photographs, then this should be important to consider! ⁠

⁠Most of my brides and grooms are busy people. Who has time to choose which photos to include and how to design the album? Who has time to research into which lab to print the photos from? What if the colours print out funky? What if the album starts falling apart after a few years? It can certainly be a daunting task. You know you won’t have time to do it–even if you intend to–and do it well, after the wedding. ⁠

A photographer who also offers professional prints will save you the headache of figuring out which lab to print your photos at, which products will last for generations and become your first ever heirlooms, and even help you design your album or help fill that blank wall in your forever home with sweet and beautiful memories. ⁠

Mistake #5: Being Laser-Focused on Price alone

Not considering much else other than the budget. Yes, that budget is extremely important, but it shouldn’t be the only determining factor. Remember, when the day is over, your spouse and your photographs are pretty much the only things that continue to last after the wedding!⁠ When our memories start to fade (even just a month or a year or two after the wedding), what will remind us of that special day? Your spouse and your photographs!

⁠When my husband and I were choosing our wedding photographer, we determined that we don’t want to regret our decision years later just because we hired someone who was just “more affordable” or “cheaper”. ⁠I am NOT essentially comparing the quality of work amongst photographers at different price points—though that is definitely a factor! What I am trying to say is that the price point should not be the only, nor the most important, factor. If a photographer you really like (after considering all the other points) is not too far off from your original budget, consider rearranging your wedding spendings. ⁠

⁠For example, if you minimize your spendings in less essential areas, you may just be able to save from those areas and invest more in your forever memories! (Tip: We found that most guests don’t care about wedding favours all that much, and they will not miss it if you don’t have any at all.)

Also, why not consider adding wedding photography or photo heirlooms like albums and prints into your wedding registry? Now that’s an idea most couples will not have thought about!

⁠Remember, you should be able to trust the photographer you hire and be confident that you will love the photos!⁠

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