I did it again – after a very informative interview with wedding planner Kayla, I have been asking another vendor many questions. Just for you!
For your wedding day, you want to make sure you know what your professionals are doing – and then leave the work up to them. 🙂
And let me tell you, being part of the wedding industry is probably one of the most rewarding jobs ever, but also very demanding.
As a Wedding Celebrant, I am encountering a lot of vendors regularly – especially being that the Okanagan valley is a very sought-after wedding destination in British Columbia, you get the opportunity to meet quite a few and you start forming experienced teams over the course of the years with many different wedding vendors, aka “friendors”.
I am blessed to be able to meet and work alongside so many over-the-top professionals who all have ONE goal:
Making a couple’s celebration of love the best day of their lives!
To do so, there is a lot of work that goes into the preparation of your event to ensure your wedding day runs smoothly.
Many people see vendors being masters at their craft, but – let’s be honest – they really only see what happens on the day of.
You rarely get a glimpse into the hard work behind the scenes that results in what you see and experience on your wedding day.
So, I thought I would provide you with some food for thought if you are starting to plan your wedding day.
Because – like me – you may have many questions about different roles and vendors that will be working with you for your once-in-a-lifetime moment.
Today, let’s have a closer look at the work of a wedding photographer.
Michelle Behr, owner of “Memorable and Vibrant Okanagan Photography”, is one of the most experienced and top wedding photographers in the Okanagan, with over 12 years in the industry.
Her background in marriage counseling and mental health provides a huge asset for her work with you as a couple and understand your dynamics.
Why? – Read on and you will see. 😊
Michelle sat down with me, answering a few questions that provide some insights into the production of your wedding photos to remember:
Q: How far in advance are you as a photographer usually booked up?
You may say, as we are all booked up fairly far in advance, you should be looking into at least six months.
Michelle points out: “I recommend ideally 18 months before your big day which is a good amount of time for a reasonable availability and at the latest 6 months”, although she mentions – the later you book, the more you may run into trouble of finding the quality provider you would love to work with for your wedding day.
Q: Why should couples hire a photographer, instead of having someone of their friends take pictures?
The biggest difference between hiring a professional versus having a friend or family member taking your pictures is the quality:
“We charge what we do because I have a camera that takes gigantic file sizes that you could put on a billboard and on average a friend or family member doesn’t have that quality equipment to produce the outcome, as well as quality expert imaging. We use imaging programs, and you outsource to expert editors who’ve had 10+ years of experience doing this, and that’s actually a very time-consuming part of the job.” – Having someone who is an expert at this part is really important, as Michelle emphasizes.
Also, it’s nice to have someone objective about your event, rather than involved in family dynamics.
A friend or family member taking pictures could also end up being distracted from their responsibility if being a guest and joining in the party of your memorable event.
Your photographer gets treated as a professional, there is less chance to argue something stylistically or someone wanting to take over:
”Friends and family don’t necessarily have the expertise with a wedding day with an objective view, they are very emotionally involved in everything.”
Q: What are the average costs vs expenses of photographers in the Okanagan?
I let Michelle explain:
“We are priced fairly average for the Okanagan, and we charge $3,250 for an eight-hour day, which includes two photographers, a complimentary engagement session, 16×20 canvas print, and 500+ expertly edited images.
I’ve done a lot of research – this is the average for this level of quality, experience, and skill, so I would definitely recommend having a photography budget of around CAD 3.000-5.000, depending on if you want to add a videographer, which is usually an extra couple of thousand dollars, but that being said, we have a wide range of prices…” – Different amount of hours, different packages, different prices.
Your budget goes a long way – it splits three ways, to be exact:
- About a third of the revenue goes to the team – editing, the second shooter, and marketing.
Namely, ”People who help me along the way,” as Michelle states.
- Another third goes to equipment – replacing the camera every four years at least, buying SD cards, new lenses, having equipment that professionally edits images for you, and administrative software.
- Then the last third goes to Michelle herself, “which covers my time, my secretarial skills, my financial planning, being the accountant, meeting customers, taking photos and editing.”
This is mostly the work behind the maintenance of running a business and the preparation for the best services possible with the extra mile, that couples don’t necessarily “see”.
Obviously, the photographer’s work goes beyond taking photos and editing in photoshop, which leads to our next question:
Q: What are your daily tasks as a photographer (aside from taking photos)?
Michelle says, “It does depend a lot on the time of the year.”
Summers are wedding season, which is mostly occupied with shoots, come fall, Michelle does a lot of advertising, working on new marketing material, and developing her skills until Spring which leads up to a lot of planning:
“Mostly I get up in the morning very early, and I like to answer my emails first thing in the day and get the professional communication done. Then I like to get into the creative work a little bit later in the day; I find that I’m most creative after lunch, so that’s when I like to do my editing, come up with creative ideas for marketing or plan some posing for my clients or work on a creative shoot, editorial, film photography,… and then in the evening – whenever I can – I like to spend time with my children.
But of course, when it’s wedding season, I’m usually out shooting until 6/8/10pm.
So, it’s long days – I usually start around 6am, and making time for the children is sometimes a real challenge.”
And not only this, but Michelle pretty much works seven days a week – again, things that you probably wouldn’t see if thinking of a photographer.
With the couple, Michelle has her meeting phases, getting to know each other, seeing if both sides are a good fit for what the couple is looking for, talking about the budget, and what Michelle is able to give.
Her new administrative software helps her and her team plan over the course of time leading into the wedding day:
“I love to help planning, I love helping with ideas, and to help recommend vendors – the planning stage usually takes up a lot of the time and I love that.”
Besides, Michelle is very grateful to be able to recommend and work with a great vendor team that she knows will produce the best product for her couples.
The wedding industry provides vendors being a team for the couple and their most important day:
“I really love the collaborative teamwork aspect of the wedding industry. And the word of mouth is the most powerful connection within,” Michelle reaffirms.
Coming from the mental health industry and counseling, Michelle knows how important collaboration and sensitivity toward her work environment are.
Q: How long are you working on a couple’s wedding on average, and what’s included in that time/package?
Michelle emphasizes: “For an eight-hour wedding it’s about 40 hours to delivery. That’s the average; sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.
The planning phase I would say, is about four to 20 hours, depending on the customer, how much they communicate and how much assistance they require. I find that phase ranges a lot.”
Roughly we could say, Michelle probably spends everything around 60-80 hours on a wedding project.
Michelle’s packages come in two, four, six, or eight hours of wedding photography.
Q: What prep work do you do in advance of the wedding day to make sure everything goes smoothly?
Getting to know the client is “the biggest one”, knowing their style and what style of photos they are hoping for, getting to know the family dynamics – whether they have children, parents who are separated, divorced, or deceased, and often also talking through those dynamics before the wedding day, “so that I’m sensitive to and aware of what’s going on”.
Also, “I do a lot of posing research, so, knowing what the body types, the heights, the ethnicity of the clients, etc., is helpful as I spend many hours deciding how I’m going to pose them together.”
It’s a lot of work – good thing Michelle LOVES what she does and finds great fulfillment in implementing her psychological wisdom when working with couples, families, and their dynamics, aside from her technical skills.
Q: What are things that people often “forget” when working with a photographer?
“Maybe to run through their timeline and establish that it serves that:
Some people don’t take enough time for photos, some people create too much of a cushion for photos;
So really communicating with your photographer as well as if there is something specific you’d like to see, such as, you like a lot of black and white, or you like a lot of candid photos, or you want it to be over-the-top silly, or very classy and traditional…
Communicating with your photographer what you really want is something that people often forget to do.“
A lot of people leave it up to the photographer, as they are the artist.
Michelle agrees, “on a default, I am very creative and romantic, but if people want something special, I’d love to deliver, but I need to know my customer, and they need to talk to me.”
Q: Is there anything that you would like to share with couples planning a wedding?
Here’s something special from Michelle:
“We are developing a posing guide right now at work, which I think is going to be really helpful for couples. When that’s out, I am going to be sending it out to all my customers, so they have 5 to 10 poses to practice before the big day – getting used to looking at each other, holding hands, resting their forehead against each other,… we are aiming at teaching gentlemen how to tie a tie because most people don’t know that on their wedding day…
I think that will be a great added value to my services.”
Having engagement sessions is also very recommended by Michelle – so you can get to know your photographer, provide valuable feedback, and get a feel for each other about which poses and angles are best for you as a couple and your personality.
I am truly grateful for Michelle’s terrific explanations on how wedding photographers work – there is so much more to learn about their job and behind-the-scenes preparations.
Are you curious now to talk to Michelle about all the packages and options she can provide you with?
If you want to know more about the wedding planning process in general, feel free to browse the FAQ with a wedding planner and about how to get married in BC.
Come back soon for some questions I’ve also asked one of the top Wedding DJs in the Okanagan about your celebration.
And now, happy planning of your special day…and don’t forget to enjoy the process! 😊
Proudly presented by your Wedding Celebrant Alex.
Have a chat with Michelle about your celebration of love to see how she can assist you with your lifetime memory and your wedding photos: