HOW DO I FIND A QUALIFIED ON-LOCATION PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER IN TORONTO OR THE GTA?
On-locations portrait photography is much more than just having a nice camera or taking a lot of pictures to cover your bases. The first thing we hear from all of our assistants trying to become professionals is, “Portrait photography is harder than I thought it would be.” Our answer, “Of course it is!” The goal of this article is to help prevent you from hiring the wrong photographer, or even worse, “Uncle Joe.”
How Do I Find A Photographer?
This section will cover more of the soft-skills that your photographer needs to possess. These are areas that you need to pay attention to during your meetings and conversations with professional photographers because they are not things that you can determine by asking a question. We recommend that you read this section first.
Strong Reviews – How Was The Experience of Past Clients?
When a business has numerous reviews they are more likely to be established and deliver a great product compared to a company with just a few reviews. We currently have 11 stellar reviews that you can see on our Wedding Wire account. If we can get 5/5 reviews for something as challenging as a wedding, then you can trust us to cover your family event or portrait session.
Expertise – Being a Technical and Creative Photographer
A professional wedding photographer should not only be well versed in the technical side of the trade, but he or she must also be artistic and creative. Those are two opposite personality traits. How many people do you know are very technologically savvy and artistically creative at the same time?
Expertise Being Technical and Creative
Having a great camera and technical skills will allow your photographer to capture exposed, well-lit images regardless of the lighting situation and time constraints. On the other hand, having great creative skills will allow your photographer to approach each shot with a unique viewpoint and artistic vision ensuring that the shots are not just photos, but they are beautiful images.
Personality – Being Personable and Charismatic
Just as important (if not more important) as their technical knowledge and creativity are the photographers interpersonal skills. How well do they interact with their clients? Are they outgoing, personable, charismatic, professional, and honest? I do have a way with people in person. I am not as impressive on the phone but once you get to know me, it’s all good.
As for weddings, a photographer with a personality that matches your own is essential to the overall experience of your wedding.
Photography Style – Do You Like Their Style Of Photography?
While researching photographers, you’ll come to notice the many styles of photography. At the same time, you’ll begin to notice what styles you do and do not like. You will get a better idea of the photographer’s artistic style from looking at their blog or website rather than a few images on their Instagram. Taking the extra time to research the complete portfolios of your top choices will definitely be worth it in the end.
In these tough economic times, clients often book the shortest session I offer and yet I still manage to capture real moments, the soul of my subject, the connection between the subjects, spontaneity, great compositions and offer professional retouching as well. It is very tough with young children sometimes, but I have never had a sessions that didn’t work. With $3000 lenses I can usually blur out the background and get great shots anywhere, anytime. If you want more style than that, then you want to ask for a real portrait session and have me focus on less people and fewer ideas.
Assistants – Having More than One Wedding Photographer
We often are asked the question, “why do I need more than one wedding photographer?”
Well, if you were to look at a wedding written up as a movie script, you would see a primary storyline surrounded by smaller side stories that are happening at the same moment. For example, during a wedding ceremony, the main story is, of course, the bride and groom. However, there may be multiple side stories occurring at the same moment. For instance, mom or dad wiping the tear from their eyes or the flower girl sitting in the corner picking petals from a rose in her hands.
No matter how good a photographer is, he or she cannot be at all places at the same time; and so, to compensate, we use multiple wedding photographers, each with a different focus. For example, our lead photographer focuses strictly on the bride and groom. Our second wedding photographer would focus on reaction shots from the family, guests, or, if possible, would focus on creative imagery by constantly surveying and moving around the scene to find unique angles and compositions of our subjects.
Having multiple photographers enables our team to broaden the coverage and creative eyes at the event. While we recommend two photographers regardless of the size of your wedding, we tell clients that it is almost required if you have 100-200 people at the wedding. For clients with very large weddings, i.e. 200+, we recommend three photographers.
Quality – Quality over Quantity
When seeking a photographer, it’s best to not get caught up in the number of products each photographer is promising. Stay focused on the actual quality of the work provided. We realize that some people are working within a budget. Think to yourself that you can always purchase an album or additional prints later (even 5-10 years later), but you can’t change the quality of the photographs taken at the wedding after the wedding day.
Quality over Quantity
We strive to tell clients if there is something you need to cut from your package to make it more affordable, start with the products. Cut the prints from the package, remove the album, but don’t go with a cheaper photographer because they are willing to give you all the products you want up front. If you can, always keep at least two photographers in your package.
How Familiar Are The Photographers With Cultural Wedding Traditions?
From the South Asian Baraat to the Chinese Tea Ceremony, cultural weddings include an abundance of exciting traditions. Documenting a cultural wedding requires additional time and attention to detail when compared to North American weddings. It is important that your creative team has that experience and understanding of your traditional wedding ceremonies.
Overall Experience – Professional or Part Time Wedding Photographer
Once you get past technique, creativity, and personality, the next thing you should be looking for is experience. Is the wedding photographer actually a professional photographer, or is this their “weekend gig”?
While experience is important, some of the best and most hardworking wedding photographers we have met are experienced photographers, but relatively new as wedding photographers. In situations where you love the photographer’s style but are concerned with them not having enough experience, ask to look at their entire collection of images from each event they have shot which you will find on our wedding web site.
About Tommy Ray Photography
Creative. High-quality. Different. We are a group of creatives in Toronto and the GTA with a passion for photography and storytelling. Founded in 2009, after working for the leading big box outfit for long enough to see the error of their ways, while studying with the best in the industry through the best online education available, and even working with Photoshop as a wedding magazine layout artist, our studio has been getting great reviews and feedback, offering a boutique service for the most demanding clients as well. We’d love to call or meet you in Etobicoke, Toronto or somewhere in the GTA, Ontario, Canada and walk you through our albums, canvases and other print photography products, especially in person with our the actual albums we have designed for clients.