Now that CNY is over, it is time to resume wedding planning! As a BTB, one of the first things that I sought to finalise early was my photographer and videographer after settling my venue & date.
Different couples have different priorities. Some value having a nice venue, some place more emphasis on the gowns, others on the decorations. In our case, we felt that photography (& videography) were most important. My fiancé and I are quite particular about the photos and we have very specific direction in mind for our AD and PWS. We did not want to end up having photos that would never see the light of the day after the wedding.
Over the journey of my search for the PG & VG, I contacted more than 20 PGs & VGs and met up with 7 of them before deciding on who to engage. So I have put together this guide to help fellow BTBs find their ideal PG & VG.
Before you even meet with your photographers, you need to first evaluate/agree on the following:
1. Is your wedding date a popular one?
I started my search for my PG and VG one year ahead. What started as a casual search became an accelerated process when we realised that a lot of photographers were already booked on our date. We were surprised by our popular our date is, because it wasn't a standard auspicious date. And even more surprised by how much more kiasu the other brides were. So to all the BTBs out there, if you already have a preferred photographer in mind and already secured a date, don't wait to contact him/her!
2. Is there a particular style you are looking for?
As mentioned earlier, my fiancé had a very clear style in mind, but that was for our PWS specifically. In fact, there was one PWS album that really resonates with us. And we wanted to be able to replicate a similar look and feel.
(Credits: Sanit.Portfolio Facebook page)
Some of you may have came across Sanit.Portfolio, a Thai photographer who specializes in street wedding photography. When my fiancé and I saw this, we knew that this was the kind of shoot we wanted to do - a lifestyle-ish shoot in a natural setting, even if that means having people around us. We wanted our photographer to capture us as though we were on a regular date. Not too posey or artistic.
(Credits: Sanit.Portfolio Facebook page)
We have came across many beautiful PWS portfolios, which typically feature couples in really nice scenic places in Singapore, with couples looking their best capturing their sweetest moments together. While there are no doubts that these photos were really well taken, we felt that it just wasn't us. We wanted a photographer who could capture us the way we are, as opposed to us being in contrived setting.
On the other hand, for our AD, we had a different set of requirements. We wanted a photographer who is able to capture the emotions of the day vividly. Not just that of the couple, but also that of the guests. We wanted to capture the moments in a timeless, classic manner. So that we won't cringe when we show our kids the photos 10, 20 years later.
The same applies for our VG. But on top of that, we had a few peeves (which explains why the number of VGs I met and contacted are much fewer than the PGs)
- Solemn music
- Excessive slow-mo - when done with taste, slow-mo can really accentuate the drama of the scene. But when done excessively, it can make even the most action-packed movie a boring one
- Showing too much of a certain scene in the Same-Day-Edit (in other words, lack of curation/editing)
- Shaky footage
Every couple would have their own preferences and peeves! So it is important to really understand what your likes and dislikes are to avoid the situation of post-wedding dissonance (i.e. the regret when you receive your wedding photos & videos).
3. What is your budget?
We started our search thinking that the budget of high 2 to 3k each for PG and VG would be a reasonable range, as a result of price anchoring from our initial search. But when we put all the costs together, we realised how they all add up. It's hard to have the best of both worlds - good quality at a reasonable price, so some compromise will be needed. You may have to either shell out more money or take that budget from somewhere else (which is why I may consider putting my bouquet together myself).
So start your search with an overall wedding budget in mind first and consider how much you would want to allocate for your photography and videography. We consulted with friends to get a sensing on what a reasonable budget would be.
There is no hard and fast rule or ideal budget, it ultimately depends on what you and your fiancé is comfortable with. For comparison, my brother is spending probably less than 3k for his VG, PG and PWS. On the other hand, we would be budgeting about 5-6k.
4. What questions should you ask your photographers?
To ensure that you have a productive session, you should also have in mind the questions you might want to ask your PGs and VGs. Here are some questions we had posted to our PGs and VGs:
Can you show me your portfolio that covers [the type of style or event]?
While this may seem like a no-brainer question, PGs and VGs have the tendency to show you their most recent or favorite projects. For online portfolios, you may notice that they don't typically feature much of banquet photos. Instead, most portfolios would feature unconventional venues or church weddings.
In our case, we have neither a church wedding nor unconventional venue. So we were very interested to see how PGs typically shot their banquet scenes. Compared to unconventional venues, it is a lot more challenging (in our opinion) to get great photos from banquets given that the limitations of the setting and nature of the event. As such, banquet portfolios served as an important litmus test for us to gauge the competency of the PGs.
And for PWS, we wanted to see if the photographers had any experience with street style PWS.
Do you have any experience shooting at [venue]?
This is more of a bonus. It is always good to know if your PGs or VGs have experience with your venue, to give you a better picture on how your photos or videos may turn out. They can also provide recommendations on how you can maximise your venue, get the best angles etc. In my case, one of my VG suggested that I do an outdoor solemnisation in the court yard, which we weren't aware was a possible option until he proposed this idea to us.
Do you have any other enquires for the same date?
This is especially important if you have an auspicious date. We didn't want to be disappointed by availability. Knowing if there are other couples considering them for the same date gives us a sensing on how soon we should get back to our PG or VG.
How did you start photography/videography?
This is not a critical question but we always ask this to get to know the photographers better. This helps us to assess if we can be comfortable working with him, and to understand what drives their passion for photography. This is important as we wanted to work with someone who is serious about their craft, and who would be genuinely interested in working on our wedding.
With this, I will end the first part of my wedding guide on photography & videography. In the next few installations of my guide, I will be sharing the detailed review of the photographers I met. Here's a preview of those I met:
Part 2 - Photographers
Part 3 - Videographers