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Wedding Photography FAQs

How many weddings have you shot?

As the primary photographer and assisting other photographers, I've shot over 100 weddings. There's almost nothing I haven't seen!

What's your photography style?

I am decidedly anti-Instagram in terms of my visual style. And by that I mean my photos tend to be quite colourful and contrasty, as opposed to the recent and current trend of subdued colours, muted tones, low contrast, and flat blacks. Photography should be timeless, and today's trendy Instagram-style filters won't age well. Have you ever seen wedding photos from the 1980s? Selective colour (where only one part of the photo is coloured and the rest is black and white) and white vignettes (where the corners and edges are white) were terrible 80s-era trends that look incredibly cheesy and dated today. Similarly, current era posing trends go out of style incredibly fast and you'll cringe at yourself if you try them.

In terms of both posing and editing styles, I make every effort to keep my images timeless, classic, beautiful, and decidedly neutral — no crazy poses, no extreme retouching.

Colour or black and white?

I use my own discretion and years of experience to decide whether an image should be processed in colour or black and white. Some things just don’t look good in colour but black and white can make it come alive. Typically, 90–95% of the final images are delivered in colour with the remainder in black and white.

Can you duplicate all these photos I found on Pinterest?

I mean, I could… But I'd prefer not to. Most veteran photographers hate "shot lists" (although they can be useful for newbies). Personally, I prefer creative freedom on a wedding day rather than being hired to photograph a pre-determined list of very specific poses. Here's a little secret: many of the weddings you see on Pinterest are "styled wedding shoots" which means a photographer has collaborated with models, makeup artists, florists, and wedding boutiques to create the best fake wedding possible. They don't reflect the often hectic reality of a real wedding day and all the challenges therein.

Whenever possible, I prefer to work with clients who trust my vision rather than asking me to recreate photos they've seen online.

How long after the wedding does it take to receive photos?

The typical turnaround time for delivery of the final, retouched images is approximately 8-10 weeks. In addition to downloading, sorting, backup, and archiving, thousands of images must also be culled (to select only the best ones) and retouched (to make everyone look their best), which is why this process is lengthy.

How many photos are delivered?

It depends. At a typical wedding, I'll shoot anywhere from 2000–4000 images (and often way more than that with a second shooter). Many of these images are shot for safety/redundancy, to ensure the moment is captured without any technical or real-life flaws. A sudden movement or someone blinking their eyes can ruin a shot, hence there are often many photos taken of the same scene or pose to ensure a good one. Weather, technical errors, or even just the wedding guests getting in the way can also spoil shots. Because of this, a sequence of, say, six images may only have one "good" one, and thus the other five are eliminated from retouching and won't be seen by the client. All in all, a typical wedding will end up with approximately 300–700 final images.

The total number of images is highly dependent on a number of factors, such as:

  • time available for photos
  • amount of details there are to capture
  • how willing your guests are to be photographed during candid moments
  • how many photographers are present
  • how versatile your photography location is
  • amount of travel time needed during the day

After weeding out the duds, I deliver all the most beautiful images, and never hold back on anything good, but once the images have been delivered to the client, their archive is closed and will not be re-opened.

What can I do with the photos once they're complete?

Anything you want (except commercial usage). Since 2012, photographers in Canada are the legal copyright owners of the photos they create (not the clients who hire them). However, the clients have rights to do whatever they want with their photos for personal use, such as sending to friends and family, posting on social media, making prints or photobooks, etc.

What you can't do is use, licence, or authorize the photos for any commercial usage. Let's say your wedding florist really loves one of your photos and wants to use it for a Facebook Ad or Google Ad. The client does not have the legal right to grant this permission to the florist (or anyone else). Legal permissions can only come from the copyright holder, who is the photographer, and who may charge a licensing fee for usage.

Is a second photographer necessary?

It depends on your needs. Here are the pros and cons:

Pros

  • A single photographer can't be in two places at once. If, for instance, you desire coverage of both the bride and groom getting ready in different locations, the best way to do that is with multiple photographers.
  • Likewise, during the ceremony it is impossible to capture close-up reactions and emotions of both the bride and groom at the same time. Having multiple photographers can ensure every angle of the ceremony is captured.
  • If your time for formal photos is limited, having multiple photographers can be a huge benefit as the bridesmaids and groomsmen can be photographed in small groups separately, at the same time. When photos of the full wedding party are being created, the second photographer is useful for capturing candid moments.
  • A second photographer provides insurance in case the primary photographer falls ill or has a catastrophic equipment failure.
  • Overall, a second photographer helps to ensure every possible angle of your wedding is covered, and ensures you get the most photos possible from your wedding day.

Cons

  • It costs more. There's not only what I charge for a second photographer, but also the cost to provide an additional meal.
  • In tight spaces or intimate weddings, even one additional person can make things feel crowded.
What's the best time of day for wedding photography?

You may have heard the term "golden hour" in reference to photography. This refers to the time of day that's two hours directly before sunset (or two hours after sunrise!) where the sun is low on the horizon, and it's at its softest and warmest. This is the best time of day for photography of all subjects.

Conversely, the worst time of day for photography is high noon, when the sun is high in the sky and very harsh. Mid-day sun creates harsh, unflattering shadows on everything it touches, and it makes people squint too!

Tangled Garden Wedding | Grand Pré, Nova Scotia | Leigha & Scott

So when should your wedding photos take place? In the middle of June, when the sun sets well after 9pm, you'd probably rather be eating dinner at that hour instead of out taking photos (despite how beautiful a summer sunset can be). When scheduling your wedding day, photos should be avoided during mid-day at all costs, and schedule as close to golden hour as possible. Additionally, a photo location should be chosen with lots of shade (dense trees are good!) to stay out of the sun whenever possible.

Want to know what time the sun will set on your wedding day? Just type the word "sunset" into Google followed by the city and the date, and it will tell you.

Will you tell us what to do and how to pose?

Yep! That's my job. Don't worry, tons of people feel awkward posing for photos and they aren't used to being professionally photographed. What I'm good at is telling you what to do to ensure you look your best, and ensure you look comfortable and natural!

What can I do to make sure my guests don't interfere with photography?

"Unplugged" weddings are a popular choice these days, where the use of phones and cameras are prohibited at the ceremony and sometimes the reception. It encourages the guests to experience the event with their eyes, rather than through a screen, and has the added benefit of people staying out of the hired photographer's way. All too often, a shot like the first kiss is ruined by some uncle, cousin, or family friend who steps into the aisle with their phone (or tablet!) held high, blocking the view of the hired photographer.

The other super helpful thing (that I can't stress enough) is to immediately vacate the premises after the ceremony is finished. If the bride and groom lingers at the ceremony site for even a moment, they will be inundated with guests coming to talk to them and congratulate them, which eats into the time that's necessary for family and formal photos.

What's the ideal maximum size for a wedding party?

Four per side.

There's a trend in wedding these days to have outrageous, enormous wedding parties, with 8–10 (or more!) bridesmaids and groomsmen per side. I'm not a fan.

Four per side is the ideal number for photography.

Can you do bridal boudoir photos?

Yep. Ask me more about it if you're interested.

Do you shoot same-sex weddings?

Of course! I haven't had any inquiries yet, but I'm game to shoot my first one when the opportunity arises.

Do you shoot destination weddings? Do you photograph weddings outside Toronto?

Heck yeah I do.

Although I'm based in Toronto, I've photographed weddings all over southern Ontario, as well as locations in Quebec and as far away as Nova Scotia and Florida.

I especially love Maritime weddings, so if you're an engaged couple from out east, please don't hesitate to contact me. It's not as expensive as you might think to have me travel! Since 2006, I've been to the Maritime provinces nearly 15 times and I consider it my second home.

Payments

How does the payment schedule work?

A non-refundable retainer must be paid at the time the wedding photography contract is signed. The retainer is $500, with the remainder owing on or before the wedding date.

What types of payment do you accept?

I accept cash, cheque, Interac e-Transfer, or credit card payment (via online secure payment form).

Wedding Consultations

What's the purpose of meeting with you?

It's important for a couple and their prospective photographer to get to know each other, and see if they'd be a good fit for each other and share the same vision for wedding coverage. It's also an opportunity to ask as many questions as possible — the ones that aren't covered here, anyway.

Can we or should we book at the consultation?

It's important to note that a consultation doesn't guarantee or secure a date. While some people book on the spot, most couples wait a day or two after the consultation before making a final decision. Only a signed contract with retainer will secure your date.

Where do consultations take place?

In most instances, I will happily come to your home for an in-person consultation. Coffee shops are also an alternative if you prefer a meeting on "neutral ground". If the distance is too great, then a video call over Skype, Facebook, or FaceTime can be arranged as well.

Rainy Weddings

What happens if it rains on my wedding day?

First, don't panic. "They" (who are they anyway?) say that rain on your wedding day is good luck. That's a bunch of nonsense to make you feel better about the fact that it rained on your wedding day. Any skilled wedding photographer can handle a little rain as long as the wedding party doesn't let it ruin their day. Even when the forecast shows a 100% chance of rain, it's rare that the rain continuously falls, unending, for every hour of your wedding day. There are often gaps in the rain where it lightens up or stops completely that still allow for great photos to be made. Rainy weddings can even lead to amazing photos you might not otherwise get:

Marly & Mike's Saraguay House Wedding and Dingle Park Wedding Photos
Marly & Mike's Rainy Wedding (tap to enlarge)

Second, no matter when and where you're getting married, it's always important to have a backup photo location. Even if you're getting married on a day in July where it hasn't rained in 100 years, you should have a backup plan. This may necessitate a whole other set of arrangements, times, and even paying for a permit you might never use. But you only get married once, so why risk it?

Marly & Mike's Saraguay House Wedding and Dingle Park Wedding Photos

Third, you'll need umbrellas. Clear umbrellas are best for a variety of reasons (see next FAQ below).

Where can I buy clear wedding umbrellas in Canada?

The most foolproof way to get great wedding photos on a rainy day is to buy clear plastic wedding umbrellas. I say wedding umbrellas, but they can be any umbrellas that are clear plastic. Why clear? Two reasons:

  1. They need to be clear so that they don't cast a colour on to the subjects. If you're holding a maroon umbrella above a white wedding dress, now you have pink wedding dress in all the photos, as light passes through the maroon umbrella and lands on the dress.
  2. Clear umbrellas allow light to pass through them, meaning what's under them won't be in shadow.

The best looking clear plastic umbrellas are the birdcage or bubble styles. Generally, each umbrella can comfortably fit two people under it for the purposes of photos, so don't go crazy buying a dozen umbrellas for your wedding party. Now, you ask, where can I buy clear plastic wedding umbrellas in Canada?

Dollarama

A popular choice is always Dollarama. They have small, clear plastic umbrellas with white handles and white caps on the ribs. They're inexpensive but very poor quality. The caps tend to fall off easily, the ribs bend the wrong way if you look at them funny, and the handles will snap clean off with even a slight wind gust. They look decent enough in photos, and using them for a single day they're fine, but they might break just sitting in your closet while waiting to be used. If you need umbrellas in a pinch and can't wait for them to be shipped from other sources, Dollarama is nice because they have stores quite literally everywhere. The downside is that there's no way to check stock (you just have to go from store to store) and the availability of the umbrellas seem to vary widely, possibly based on season.

Loblaws / Superstore / Shoppers Drug Mart / Joe Fresh

The Atlantic Superstore really saved my bacon for a recent wedding. Long story short, after a last-minute, mad scramble trying to find umbrellas at local stores, and having all the online options taking too long to ship, I was ecstatic to find a clear, plastic Joe Fresh-brand umbrella at a Shoppers Drug Mart location. Alas, they only had one but there was a Superstore across the street with a full Joe Fresh location inside. While Joe Fresh itself had traditional umbrellas, they had no clear ones… but Superstore did! Tons of them, in fact. You'll often find the umbrella displays at all these stores near the front entrance or the cash registers. The Joe Fresh umbrellas are a bubble shape, and have black caps on the ribs, a black handle, black tip, and black trim. Ideally white would be better, but I was overjoyed at how well these worked out. They weren't as cheap as Dollarama at $16 a pop, but they're bigger, better quality, and they were actually available. In my travels since then, I've noticed that Joe Fresh now makes these same umbrellas with navy blue accents and the highly desirable white accents too.

Fast fashion stores like H&M, Forever 21

This is going to be the most hit-or-miss option, but in an emergency you might get lucky. Umbrella designs at stores like these vary wildly based on season, but often you can find inexpensive clear plastic umbrellas with a subtle design on them. They won't be top quality, and often the patterns will be too ridiculous or busy to be suitable for a wedding, but like I said, sometimes you might luck out with something perfect.

Amazon

Amazon has a large variety of clear plastic umbrellas, and many that are Prime eligible. The problem I ran into recently was that "Prime" doesn't actually mean much of anything. This Totes umbrella seemed like it would be perfect for a recent wedding I had, and it showed fast, free two day shipping to my home, or same day shipping available for an extra fee. But this wedding was not in my hometown of Toronto. It was in another major urban centre in Canada, where I was staying. When adjusting the address to my current location, the Same Day option went away, and the Two Day option had become nine days. Mind you, it still said "Two Days" on the shipping page. But the promised delivery date was nine days in the future. Amazon customer service didn't reply to my requests for help, even when I contacted them twice. Beware third party sellers too.

Other reliable options:

Not-so-reliable options:

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Do we have to feed you?

Yes, a meal must be provided for the photographer during the reception (and second photographer if applicable). And if you don't, then I'm going to leave your reception to grab some McDonald's. 😂

Are you insured? Should wedding vendors have insurance?

Yes and yes! All your wedding vendors should be insured and it's something you should ask them about before hiring them. If your food has shards of broken glass in it, your caterer better be insured. If a speaker stand tips over and falls on a guest, your DJ better be insured. Many venues require proof of insurance from each vendor before they'll allow them on the premises. Make sure your vendors can provide proof of their insured status before hiring them.

Wedding Hair & Makeup

Do you have any recommendations for makeup artists and hair stylists?

Yes! I've worked with many makeup artists and hair stylists across the Greater Toronto Area. Three of the best:

What are the best ways to stay looking fresh on the wedding day?

Because hair and makeup is often done very early in the day, it might not look as fresh in the mid afternoon when formal photos are taken. Here are a few essential items to make sure you have with you after the makeup artist leaves:

  • Extra lip gloss / lip colour for touch ups
  • Lash glue in case an eyelash falls off
  • Bobby pins to contain complex hairdos
  • Hair spray to control fly aways
  • Blotting papers to reduce shine on hot, sweaty days

Secret Wedding Tips Nobody Tells You

Tips for Getting Ready

Nothing is more challenging and frustrating for a photographer than shooting in a cramped, small, cluttered, dim place. We want the best looking photos possible while everyone gets ready, so keep these tips in mind:

  • Wherever you choose to get ready, ensure the room is large and well lit with natural light. No basements, no pot lights. Ample space and large windows are ideal. There should be enough space for the entire wedding party to congregate and interact without stepping over each other. Hotel suites are ideal.
  • The space should be clean and uncluttered. Anything being worn should be carefully arranged and laid out (dresses and suits hung up, accessories neatly piled). A photographer's worst nightmare is walking into a living room and seeing an explosion of clothes hangers, price tags, and packaging all over the floor, and beer cans adorning every surface.
  • The bride's hair and makeup should be done last, so that she is the freshest for the remainder of the day.
Wedding Ceremony Tips

Some of these tips for the wedding party seem so simple, but they're forgotten or not thought about by so many! For the best wedding photos, consider these tips:

  1. When selecting your ceremony venue and choosing decorations, pay close attention to what the very end of the aisle looks like. As the photographer captures each member of the wedding party during the processional, the background of the photo should look presentable! No DJ booths, no glowing red "EXIT" signs.
  2. Bring a roll of paper towels with you to the ceremony, so you can blot the ends of the bouquets. The flowers are typically sitting in water right until the walk down the aisle occurs, and the last thing we want is to have drips of water down the fronts of everyone's dresses.
  3. Walk down the aisle slowly (it's not a race!), keep your head up (don't look down!), and smile (it's a wedding, not a funeral).
  4. Keep smiling when standing at the front of the ceremony. Again, it's a wedding, not a funeral.
  5. After the ceremony is finished, the bride and groom should make a quick escape, out of view, or they'll be commandeered by the wedding guests and an impromptu receiving line will form. This severely eats into the time required for the rest of the day's activities.
Wedding Reception Tips

The reception is a time to relax, eat, drink, and party, but for the best photos, consider this:

  • Bouquets should never be placed on the head table as decoration. This practice only serves to obstruct the photographer from being able to capture clear images of the wedding party, as their faces are always behind giant bundles of flowers.
  • Pay careful attention to where the podium is positioned and what's behind it. Because many photos take place while speeches are being delivered from the podium, it's best to have a neutral background. A plain wall works great. Placing the podium in front of the bar or the kitchen doors is not ideal.
General Wedding Tips

Every good maid of honour or best man should be prepared with an emergency wedding day kit consisting of: