Create a Complete Interview

Over the years, I have been asked most questions in the book but often the essential ones are left out. To ensure I have the right relationship between photographer and client, I like to help wedding couples put together a more complete interview.

Here are some “must ask” questions:

How do I know that a photographer has a lot of professional experience?

Portfolios of images say a lot but don’t always give the full picture. A photographer who comes highly recommended or referred is one worth looking at but be sure to ask the following questions

  •  Do you (the photographer) have professional training?
  • Have you done consistently outstanding work outside of wedding photography?
  • Have you worked in industries such as photojournalism, fashion, commercial, editorial or the arts?
  • Does he / she “see” well in colour and black & white?
  • What are your awards, accolades, publications and exhibition records?
  • Can I see published material?

Does the photographer have the right mix of skills and personality?

A photographer’s personality may be difficult to assess through his or her portfolios alone. Be sure you talk to your photographer, either on the phone or in person. Be sure they are on the same wavelength as you. Here are a few pointers I have helped wedding couples recognize over the years.

  • Does the photographer have positive energy – is he / she easy to talk to and enjoyable to be with?
  • Can the photographer integrate your ideas with his?
  • Is he / she genuinely fun. If so, can he/she can truthfully portray laughter and joy.
  • Does the photographer “get you”. Can he/she represent you for who you are? Can the photographer capture your true character.
  • Can the photographer take control during group shots and be non-obtrusive during intimate moments?

A true story…

Jump! Okanagan PhotographyThe most challenging interview I’ve had as a photographer was by an extremely energetic pair of triathletes who were planning to run Ironman Canada the day after their wedding.

Andrea and Kirby wanted a photographer who could portray them for who they were as people – full of life, energy, goals and for their love of people. Their trademark was to “Jump” in all of their photos – in travel photos, in family photos, in pictures of everyday life.

The first thing Andrea said to me when we met was “Let’s see you jump!”

I put down my garden rake, kicked up my heels and reached for the sky.

“Now make us jump!” Kirby demanded!

The rest was history  . . . Kirby and Andrea’s portfolio was one-of-a-kind.

A question of style

Not all photographers excel at all styles of shooting. Some have a flare for glamour and fashion while others take on a more gritty photojournalistic approach. Others have sensibilities leaning towards the fine arts and can reach into the subliminal, the abstract or the unconventional.

  • Be clear on the photographer’s strengths and decide if this is the style that suits you best.
  • Please ask photographers the above questions and some of these as well:
  • Whose work are you influenced by?  (name historical and/or contemporary photographers, artists, etc.)
  • Does the photographer’s portfolio reflect sensibilities about light and design?
  • Is the photographer good at shooting action? Can he / she capture “The Moment”  without skipping a beat.
  • Does his / her work show originality? Is it non-formulaic?
  • Does he / she strive to make each wedding portfolio unique?
  • PROVE IT!!

Does the photographer have a sense of adventure?

Adventure doesn’t always mean scaling cliffs or sailing around the world. But having a  sense of curiosity and a zest for life will reflect in a photographer’s work. I love creating images that are “Larger than Life.” This takes vision and a deep appreciation of Life itself.

  • You may wish to ask yourself these questions when meeting a photographer and reviewing his/her work:
  • Can he/she create wedding images that would be interesting, funny, evocative to anyone – even to people who were not at the wedding?
  • Would the images be good enough to appear in other contexts ie. in a coffee table book about Canadian Life or in a fashion magazine or  photographic exhibition?
  • Does he/she take necessary risks in order to make an ordinary image appear extraordinary?

Dreams, Vision & Reality, a true story…

As strange as it sounds, I had a long-time dream to walk across Saskatchewan on an abandoned railway line to document the changing “human landscape” of the Canadian prairies. I proposed this vision to the B.C. Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. When an acceptance letter and a cheque arrived in the mail, I said to my wife “I guess I’ll be walking . . .”

A year later, the photo essay appeared in Canadian Geographic. The phone rang shortly after that and the editor of the magazine exclaimed “You have won a National Magazine Award for best story with pictures. Thanks to you, our entire staff has won awards for presentation and design.”

“RAILWAY”, now a traveling exhibition, was once a figment of my imagination. Fueled by curiosity, I enjoy presenting work that comes from the heart.

What does location have to do with wedding photography?

Where your wedding takes place can sometimes trump When it takes place. You’ve put a lot of time into planning these things. Why not engage your photographer to be part of the process. Be sure to consider the following:

  • Does the photographer have the desire to make your day an exceptional experience, not just a series of pictures?
  • Can the photographer bring to life the location you have chosen?
  • Does the photographer know of unique locations that are nearby?

  • Has he / she scouted those locations for lighting, obstacles, accessibility, parking?
  • Is the photographer willing to shoot in the rain?
  • Can the photographer keep a tight time line so you are not late for the ceremony or reception?

My take on location shooting

To me, location shooting is a focal point of the wedding. I want my clients to have the memory of an adventure. With this in mind, I seek out places that may be “off the beaten track” – places like a trail through the desert, a pear orchard in bloom or an open grassland underneath an endless sky.  After the wedding day, I often get comments like “Everything else was a blur, but I will always remember the photo shoot”.

The little things that count!

I ask all members of the wedding party to bring practical shoes if we are walking on a trail. I keep an umbrella or two in the car along with an extra pair of mid-sized running shoes. I tip the parking lot attendant in advance to ensure we have easy access to the beach.

As a photojournalist, I am known for my ability to “read between the lines” and to capture moments that can never be repeated. I have the ability to bridge the gap between photojournalism and the fine arts and can blend these two genres seamlessly. I enjoy drawing from fashion photography and documentary work from the 40’s, and ‘50’s to add quirkiness and sentimentality.

I have always believed in:

Seeking the extraordinary in the ordinary, the peculiar in the commonplace
and the romantic beauty in everyday happenings.