Your wedding - all the questions you wanted to ask me

You just got engaged – congratulations!!! It is so exciting to plan the wedding, but you`ll have to do a million little things. Wedding industry is there to provide you with help and advice, and you`ll definitely see a lot of lists, questions to think about and ask yourself and potential vendors, wedding photographer being one of them. I`ve decided to put together a list of questions (and my answers to them) for you to know me better before you`d even meet me for a consultation.

How far in advance do I need to book with you?

I`d suggest, as soon as you know your wedding date. Popular dates (Saturdays being the most popular, Sundays and Fridays are next, from May to October) are being booked up to a year in advance.

So as soon as you have your date decided on (probably will be connected to venue availability), please get in touch. We`d arrange a free consultation (usually about an hour long meeting), ideally with both bride and groom.

We`ll talk about your wedding day, ideas you have about photography, see if we are comfortable around each other. I will be happy to share my experience and provide some planning advice.

How long have you been in business?

I have been doing wedding photography for two years full time (photography being my only job), and for 3 years part time prior to that. It is usually how photographers start in this business, testing the waters and gaining experience, before diving head first into it.

How many weddings have you shot? Have you done many that were similar to mine in size and style?

Over 40 weddings, different size, cultures, styles, number of people, and location. Very likely there was something similar to yours, but I`d need more information on what you are planning to answer this question.

How would you describe your photography style (e.g. traditional, photojournalistic, creative)? How would you describe your working style?

I would probably have to call it eclectic, because depending on the time of the day and the events I will be acting differently. For example, during the bride getting ready part I may be wearing a hat of a product photographer, capturing the details, rings, flowers, the dress etc, and being in the corner, trying to catch the reactions of the bridesmaids helping her, or her mom hiding tears. I may give a little bit of directions, mainly involving the juxtaposition to the light and backgrounds.

During the ceremony I will be blending in as much as possible, so you won`t hopefully even notice me and I`d be able to get great shots from different angles, capturing candid emotions.

Couple portraits, bridal parties and family portraits involve quite a bit of direction, simply because more than two people are involved. I will likely be moving people around and definitely be conducting the scene to ensure everyone who is important to you is being photographed.

Do you have a portfolio I can review? Are all of the images yours, and is the work recent?

Absolutely! All of the images are mine, there is a selection that represents my style on my website – www.juliedoro.com, as well as a bigger selection from different weddings on my blog posts. I take pride in my work and I`m happy to show you more images at the consultation too.

What type of equipment do you use?

I use Canon equipment, including two cameras (Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 5D Mark III), I`m occasionally using both to get different lenses working, or having one of them as a backup. It is very critical to have a 2nd camera to make sure all possible equipment failures are covered. I only use professional lenses L-series, my main lens is 70-200mm/2.8 II (2nd generation), 24-105mm/4.0, 100mm/2.8, 50mm/1.4, and speed lights.

All of this equipment is commonly used by wedding photographers and is definitely considered top of the line.

Are you shooting in digital or film format or both? Do you shoot in color and black & white? Infrared?

I only shoot digital images, and it is very easy to convert any image into black and white after the shoot is taken. I love B&W images and you`ll see quite a few in your gallery in addition to color.

Can I give you a list of specific shots we would like?

I always appreciate the bride and groom putting the effort into photography on their day, so yes, you are welcome to show me the images you`d like to replicate. However, we`d definitely need to look at them together beforehand and decide which ones can be replicated (eg what kind of background we`d need to produce a certain shoot and whether we could find that close to your location). Also, if the list is really extensive, you`d need to make sure you`d dedicate ample time to just photography. So it is totally can be done, we`d just need to work together to ensure it is possible with your timeline and location restrictions.

Can you put together a slideshow of the engagement session (along with other photos the couple provides) and show it during the cocktail hour? What about an “instant” slideshow of the ceremony?

Yes, both are possible for additional fee. Ask me for details at the consultation

What information do you need from me before the wedding day?

Aside from the usual info about the venue, the number of guests, locations during the day, and the ceremony specifics, I`d send you a questionnaire about a week before the wedding to confirm all the details and times, and addresses, your phone number and other ways to contact you (eg your bridesmaid`s phone number), as well as important cultural details, names of your immediate family, possible tensions in the family and other details I need to know to make sure the day runs as smoothly as possible.

May I have a list of references?

Absolutely! Please see the reviews on my website, Facebook page, and I`d be happy to connect you with a few of my former clients as well.

Are you the photographer who will shoot my wedding? If so, will you have any assistants with you on that day? If not, who will be taking the pictures and can I meet them before my wedding?

Yes, I will be the main photographer for your wedding. Depending on the size of your wedding and your goals for photography coverage, I may suggest bringing a 2nd photographer. It requires additional investment and we`d talk about it to decide whether it will be needed for your wedding.

Do you have backup equipment? What about a backup plan if you (or my scheduled photographer) are unable to shoot my wedding for some reason?

I definitely have backup equipment (see details in Equipment question). This is probably on of the major differences between an amateur and a professional photographer – I have a backup or replacement for every single thing – batteries, lenses, flashes, cameras. There is no way my equipment will fail and I won`t have a replacement to keep going and capturing your special moments.

I will be doing everything humanly possible to photograph your wedding, but in case something happens to me that will affect the quality of my work, I will provide you with a replacement photographer I`ve worked with previously and can guarantee the same quality of work. That is why we are signing a contract, as it is protecting you as a client if a case like this occurs.

If my wedding site is out of your area, do you charge a travel fee and what does that cover?

Everything within 100km from my location (Downtown Vancouver) is included in price package. I will charge a travel fee and potentially will need you to provide accommodation for me or cover a hotel if the wedding is longer than 10 hours and my drive home takes over 2 hours. Please contact me to discuss every case individually.

Are you photographing other events on the same day as mine?

Definitely not. Your wedding day is crossed off my calendar, I won`t take any other shoots for that day, so in case there are some last moment changes on your agenda, I can accommodate you.

How will you (and your assistants) be dressed?

Very professionally – I usually wear black formal dress, long or short sleeve depending on the weather. No jeans, bright colors or inappropriate clothing for me or my assistants.

Is it okay if other people take photos while you’re taking photos?

It is a part of the experience for many guests and they will be uncomfortable not to. Even though I am a huge fan of “unplugged” weddings (when bride and groom are requesting the guests to be present at the ceremony and not to use their mobile devices), I understand that it is becoming a norm. As long as the guests are not preventing me from capturing critically important moments, such as your first kiss, it is fine with me. Usually it is also helpful to be the only person with the camera during family portraits, as people tend to look at other photographers too, and it gets really hard to take the shoot when everyone is looking at the camera. However, I never had a problem and will just talk to the other person and take turns, if needs be.

Have you ever worked at my wedding site before? If not, do you plan to check it out in advance?

I may have, but even if I haven`t, I will try to attend a rehearsal at the church to make myself familiar with the area, meet the priest, or at the very least see the location for myself prior to your wedding day. It is very important to know the location well.

If my event lasts longer than expected, will you stay? Is there an additional charge?

Definitely. That is why I won`t have anything planned for that day, and can stay as long as you`d like me to. Any additional hour is $200.

What packages do you offer? Can I customize a package based on my needs?

I offer three basic packages, depending on the lengths of coverage you are looking for (usually depends on the size of your wedding). 8 hours seems to be the most popular package, allowing me to cover all important events, including the bride getting ready and all the details, the first look, the ceremony, family portraits, bridal party and couples portraits, the reception, first dance, cake cutting, the speeches and flowers and garter tossing.  However, you can totally customize your package based on your needs and specifics of your wedding.

Do you include engagement photos in your packages?

Yes, I always include the engagement session in the most of my packages (8 hours +) and it is complimentary.


Engagement session - what to expect?

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! It is a very exciting time, however, very often both bride and groom are very busy for a few months prior to the big day, so here are a few things for you to consider and to get ready for the shoot.

What is an engagement session?

The Engagement Session is an opportunity for the two of you to get some candid casual pictures of yourselves, to spend some time together, to connect with the photographer, and to talk a bit more about the upcoming event. Very often the couples use the pictures to create “save the date cards”, or a book for good wishes for the wedding, or as a part of their love story slideshow for the wedding. Or it is just some more pictures for a family album!

When?

Usually engagement pictures are taken before the wedding, a month or two prior to the wedding date, or as soon as the couple books the photographer, if there are plans to use the pictures for save the date cards. The session usually lasts from one hour to 1.5 hours.

Where?

It depends – there are couples who know exactly where they want to take engagement pictures based on their romantic history, choosing a place of their first date, or some other significant location. Others just choose a scenic place in Vancouver, such as Stanley Park, Lion`s Gate bridge, Coal Harbour, Queen Elisabeth’s Park, Van Dusen Park, Whytecliff Park, Vancouver Library Building, Granville street, Capilano/Lynn Valley suspension bridges and others. You may look at the list above for ideas or suggest your own. There could also be some activities integrated into the shoot, for example, biking, rollerblading, golf, a game of tennis…

What to wear? What to bring?

Again, everybody is different, and the location will define the clothing too. Here are just a few ideas to consider:

  • matching outfits (eg jeans and white shirts)
  • classy (dress and suit)
  • sporty
  • raincover style – rain boots, umbrellas and rain jackets
  • anything else you always wanted to try, but never had a chance to…

Usually it is easier for the girls, many like to use this opportunity to wear amazing dresses and shoes they don`t have an occasion to wear otherwise. It is great to try to match the bride`s style with the groom`s, eg a dress shirt vs a t-shirt if there is a fancy dress involved.

Please remember to dress for the weather, bring an umbrella just in case. It is also nice to bring something to sit on, like a blanket or a yoga mat.

Some props to consider – colorful balloons, bubbles, picnic baskets, champagne glasses and strawberries, hand-written signs (“we are engaged!”) and everything else you may think of!

It is a good idea for girls to wear some makeup, and bring some powder with you, so you can freshen up.

What to expect afterwards?

The pictures will be ready within two weeks, very likely sooner. You will get digital copies through Dropbox for personal use. You could also print “save the date” cards, and/or a book for written wishes at the wedding.

I hope you`ll have a wonderful experience and great pictures to keep!


How to prepare for a newborn session?

Even though it is totally possible to have amazing pictures taken when absolutely no preparation is done beforehand, it is always best to have some things done and ready before your shoot. Newborns are often being photographed at home, as it is more convenient for the family and the baby – everything you may need for the baby is there, the environment is familiar and comforting, and the weather is not a factor.

When?

Newborn pictures are usually being taken during the first two weeks after the birth date, the sooner the better. The reason for that is that at that stage the babies are sleeping most of the time (which is exactly what we need for those adorable pictures), and can be moved around quite a bit without waking them up. Also, they are not suffering from stomach issues yet and are much calmer and cooperative compared to after two weeks from birth. The downside is that the parents don`t know the routine yet, don`t have a sleeping/eating schedule defined, and therefore can`t predict the best time for the shoot. However, I find newborn photo shoots being a game of waiting and patience. If the photographer is the most persistent one, the baby will have to give up eventually and fall asleep=) That is why it is hard to say how long the shoot is going to take – from my experience, it can take anywhere from an hour to four hours.

Find a photographer

After the baby is born, you`ll be very busy adjusting to your new role as parents and may not have time to look for a photographer. Therefore, it is very helpful to make the arrangements prior to the due date. When you contact the photographer, he or she will need to know your due date to plan their schedule. As soon as the baby is born, you should let the photographer know and plan the day for the shoot, preferably the next week. Newborn photographers often do maternity pictures as well, which is a great way to remember this special time, and also to get to know the photographer. After all, you are letting this person into your home and around your baby, you really need to be comfortable around them!

What to prepare

For the baby - It is always nice to have a few clothing options – consider having ready something light colored – white or light pink for the girls, and something with bright colors. Please make sure you have something – pants or a cute tiny skirt maybe to cover the diaper, which is usually not too photogenic.

Some accessories are great to have handy – think about little hats/bows, flowers bands, maybe a favorite toy or a teddy bear. Also, think about some cute items that you got from the grandparents – maybe there is a blanket that the grandmother made herself? Or a doll from a family collection? There is always something that will make family members happy!

I will bring a lot of different props, baskets, blankets, covers and throws, so we`ll have a lot of options, but I am always happy if there is something you have that could be integrated in the picture and have special significance for you and your family.

Things to consider

Also, it is good to think beforehand whether you`d like some undressed pictures of the baby, or half-dressed, wearing just a diaper? Some parents are comfortable with the idea, the others are not as much. It is totally up to you.

I usually find a diaper a bit distracting, especially with the newborns, when the size may not be even small enough. But if you`d choose to have your baby wear something, consider having something to cover the diaper (pants or a skirt).

Usually, when we are talking about newborn pictures, it is mainly about the baby, however, I am always happy to take a few pictures of the whole family, or with big sister or big brother (or both!)

At the same time, there is a whole separate area of newborn photography involving the parents, mom or dad, or both. I usually recommend to wear dark clothes for these types of shoots, but being at home, you`d have all your clothes to choose from, and I am happy to make suggestions.

So if you are planning to be in the picture, it is great to think about hair and make up beforehand. Some foundation and powder, a bit of mascara and lipstick will be helpful for the mom to feel confident and beautiful. Even though it may seem a very low priority during the first couple of weeks after baby`s arrival, it really helps to get confident!

More on lighting and background

The biggest thing in photography is the light. It is possible to bring lighting equipment and set up everything at home, and I do bring lights with me just in case, and use them when I have to. However, I personally prefer to use natural light as much as possible. First of all, because the whole light set up constrains natural flow of things, and the pictures are much more posed compared to natural light pictures.

Therefore, natural light is preferable for candid pictures, and your photography session should take place during daytime to ensure enough light. Big windows are the best, providing very soft flattering light. So if possible, try to arrange a spot in front of the window, with some room for the photographer to stand her back to the window, and you and the baby facing the window.

Background is also important. I am bringing a few choices and stands to set up the background, so it won`t be a problem as long as there is some room for setup.

Don’t worry, relax, and enjoy the experience!

Every parent knows that kids, especially newborns, are amazing in picking up their mood. If you are worried, or anxious, your baby will be nervous too. So try to relax, enjoy the experience, don`t stress, take it easy=)

I will be there as long as it takes to capture that perfect picture, and I promise you that I am the patient one! So whatever happens, even if it involves some little (or big) accidents or time to nurse, it is all good. I never schedule more than one shoot a day, so we`d have ample time to make things work!

What to expect afterwards?

The shoot will take us 2-4 hours (depending on how the baby will be feeling that day), you will get 30 digital retouched pictures usually within a couple of days, one week is maximum. I am doing my best to send the pictures to you as soon as possible, so there is very little wait time. You will get digital copies through Dropbox for personal use.


In order to help you plan your wedding day, and maybe offer some useful ideas for your wedding, and also to make sure you get the best possible pictures, please see the information below.

Plan of the day

It is important for all of us – bride and groom and myself, the photographer, to get together prior to the wedding and discuss the plan for the day. At our first meeting it will very likely be general – you know roughly what you want, you have some idea about the number of people, maybe the venue, but you won`t know the exact time or any specific details yet. It is totally fine, as long as we briefly go through the plan and I get an idea about the scale and the theme of the wedding. We`ll have our next meeting closer to the date, maybe a month prior, and by that time you`ll have much more details and very likely a plan of the day will be defined.

The reason why I need to know all this information is because I need to understand where and when all the events are taking place, so I can be there on time and be able to get the best spot for the pictures. I may need to go to the location prior to the wedding to make myself familiar with the conditions, lighting, backgrounds etc. Also, if there are any cultural traditions you`ll be integrating into your day, I will need to know about that in details. It will help me to position myself better and get the best possible pictures for you.

So, to summarize, I need to know the following info:

  • date of the wedding
  • time of the ceremony and other critical events
  • all the locations with addresses (eg your house for “getting ready” shots, ceremony location, reception venue)
  • any specific traditions or parts of the wedding
  • some family and friends connections and maybe some details your families, such as someone needing special assistance or having special needs of any kind.

In order to have all these information in one file, I will be sending you a questionnaire to fill in about a week before the wedding.

Family formals – how to manage

Family formal pictures are usually taken right after the ceremony. However, occasionally it may happen before the ceremony, if logistics require. Often it happens close to the place of the ceremony, next to the church, or at the park nearby. Sometimes it may happen next to the reception location.

Depending on the size of the party, it may be helpful to create a list of formal pictures that you want to be captured in. It will be a different combination of people from close and extended family for both bride and groom, mixed together and separate. For example, you may want a picture of bride and groom with groom`s all family, then just close family, then just the siblings, etc.

Even though I will do my best to remember most of your families, it is always a good idea to have someone from your side of the family who knows well both families and/or is known to them. She or he will have the list that bride and groom will create, and will coordinate with the guests, directing them to the location of the photo shoot.

Some ideas for props and other

There is a list of common and traditional props, such as bubbles, balloons, glasses and fake moustaches, hearts and letters (such as LOVE or I DO). It is always a great idea to think about something that is personal to just the two of you, and has some kind of connection to your love story. For example, if you met playing volleyball, you may consider including that into your wedding (through decoration, like table cards or invitations). Think about “your story”, and if it sounds like fun, go for it! It is your wedding, after all!

One very cute tradition I recently noticed among bride and groom is to exchange presents and love notes before they see each other. It creates very nice moments for pictures, and also sets a mood for the day.

Another thing that bride and groom do is “the first look” or “the reveal” – the moment when they see each other for the first time on a wedding day, all dressed up and beautiful, if it is not happening at the ceremony the way the day is developing.

Guest book - a book for “best wishes” from the guests

This is one other thing you may want to consider having. There are a few different options:

  • create and print the book using your engagement pictures and other pictures you have as a couple. There will be a lot of clear white pages for your guests to write.
  • You could use a clear white book, bring an old Polaroid camera with instant prints for guests to use. They will be taking pictures of themselves, sticking it in the book and adding their words.
  • There is also an option of bringing a photo booth with instant printing. It may also be an additional entertainment for the wedding party. The pictures from the photo booth could be added to the book.

Advice on makeup

I strongly advise brides to consider having professional make up and hair stylists on your wedding day. It is not too expensive, but it will help you feel and look your best, and also feel really special and pampered up. It is a good idea to meet with the professional before the wedding, discuss what you have in mind, and maybe consider a rehearsal for make-up/hair style. If you decide to have a professional makeup artist working with you, she will know all the recommendations to makeup from the photography standpoint.

However, if you decide to do it yourself or have a friend to help, please consider not using any glitter in eye shadows or powder, and choose matte options vs glossy. The reason for that is that glitter particles reflect the light and especially with flash photography, you may get unnecessary spots on your face from reflected lights.

It is also a good idea to carry through the day some matte paper, as well as some powder and lipstick. You may also need a tissue and a little mirror, just in case of an emotional overflow.

What to expect afterwards?

The evening of your wedding you will receive a few (3-5 images) from your day, slightly retouched, so you could share them on Facebook and other social media.

The rest of the images will be delivered to you through PASS gallery and/or Dropbox, ready to download and use. I try to take 10-14 days to deliver the pictures, and up to 4 weeks, if it is in the middle of the season.

If you choose to have a wedding album as a part of your package, you will get proofs of the layouts soon after the pictures are ready. As soon as you approve them or make changes, after that another written approval, the wedding album will be sent into production. It takes 4-6 weeks to print and deliver your album. As soon as I get the confirmation that it is ready, I will pick it up and we`ll meet so I could deliver it to you.

If you would like to order prints, on paper or canvas, I could arrange that for you as well.

I will be very happy to stay in touch with you after the wedding, and I really hope you`ll have wonderful memories from your wedding day and my pictures will help you to keep and cherish these moments forever!

The biggest acknowledgement of my work is your referrals to friends and family, as well as you trusting me to keep capturing your family history. Maternity pictures, newborn sessions, family celebrations – please consider me to photograph your events!

Why wedding photography is so expensive? And why is it still worth it?

Wedding photography is quite expensive, that is true. However, wedding overall is an expensive event. While you are spending thousands of dollars on the dress, décor, food, drinks and venue, the day is flying very fast. The pictures, along with the video, are often the main thing that captures all the moments of the day, and preserves the memories for your family forever.

Wedding photography is a huge responsibility; there will be no second chance to take a picture of the first kiss. It is a combination of a lot of practice, education, skills, experience that brings the successful and predictable result. Professional photographer knows very well how to choose the perfect location, always mindful of backgrounds, aware of little details. He or she is always ready to capture the moment, always prepared with the equipment (batteries are charged, memory cards have room, flash is charged, lenses are appropriate).

There is always a lot of expertise behind the back of a professional photographer, not to mention the costs of the equipment. Just to suggest an estimate, the cost of the gear is over $10000, not including computers, professional software, educational expenses.

You may rely on your friend with a camera to capture your big day, but the cost of a mistake may be too high and no wedding could be repeated. Please trust professionals to do the job and produce the best possible pictures that will be a part of your family history.