A PHOTOGRAPHER ANSWERS 5 IMPORTANT QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK!
As an event designer, transforming a space to align with our client's vision is an honour that takes time, creativity and an unrelenting urge to exceed your expectations. No matter the job, our objective is to create beautiful spaces that make you feel alive in the moment and match your level of excitement. For these memories to live on forever, we need the assistance of talented professional photographers to capture you and your guests in their most authentic form celebrating you and your achievements.
Hiring a photographer is a decision that requires its own due process as photography services can be a huge chunk of your event budget. To be frank, hiring the right photographer goes beyond the financial investment and can sometimes ultimately rest on the intangibles such as how the photographer put you at ease.
Similar to event design, you hire a professional photographer because you want to be able to trust them. That gut feeling that allows you to trust your photographer is because of the connection you make with the person behind the brand, their style of work and engagement level. For life's big moments such as birthdays, engagements, marriage proposals and weddings, we sat down with the talented story teller, Tolu Akanni from Fizco to share his perspective on how he connects with clients as a professional photographer.
Here are 5 questions you should ask your photographer prior to booking!
1. Technical know-how and experience are a must have for any photographer. However, clients are sometimes sold on you through soft skills and a safe environment you create. "Prior to booking, how do you build trust with your potential client and how well do you communicate the value you add to their journey?"
The consultation process is a very important piece in the journey towards helping a couple document the most significant day of their lives. Weddings, specifically the white wedding, are quite similar but different. As every couple’s journey is different so whenever I lead a consultation session with a couple, I seek to hear their story so I can get a better sense of what’s really unique to them. So more than anything else, I always try make it a discovery session more than a sales session. The selling is really minimal because most couples would have seen the packages my team offers ahead of this consultation session, so the selling part of it is just me walking them through what the line items entail and helping them understand what a wedding ceremony entails from the perspective of a photographer or videographer.
2. With your years of experience shooting various subjects in diverse settings, there is no doubt that photography has taught you to adapt and think creatively on your feet. "During a wedding for example, how do you stay attentive to key details and recognize what components need to be captured when there is a lot going on around you?"
A lot goes on during a wedding ceremony and I often jokingly refer to it as organized chaos. The “organized” element goes a long way in helping me segment the work to be done in advance. A typical wedding day is broken down to pre-ceremony, ceremony, and reception and I maintain different mindsets during different times of the day. The pre-ceremony is always the most tasking as that’s where all the surprises pop up with some things not arriving on time or needing more time than planned for makeup or any other unplanned thing that could hold us up. However, the benefit of “experience” is that it helps you build a 6th sense. I always keep a checklist on my phone for reference on items/moments I plan to capture, though over time I realize I almost never need them. What makes wedding photography the most fun is that it’s the melting point of a number of photography genres - on a typical wedding day I wear the hat of a street photographer as I watch people and anticipate moments, architectural photography as I look to capture images that show the locations and venue, fashion and portrait photographer as I look to capture that “magazine cover” image of the couple that will end up on their wall, and product photographer as I capture the little details of what the couple and bridal party are wearing.
3. During a birthday party for example, getting the right shot and staying organized sometimes depends on your ability to caral groups of people or contribute to the timeline of events. "With your experience, how would you describe your work style and are you comfortable taking charge?"
I primarily take a documentary approach to photographing events, so I like to be in the shadows most times and capture people as they express themselves in their most authentic form without them noticing there’s a camera watching them. However I always balance it out with group and individual portraits. I would typically work with the planner and MC to have a time when I can get the celebrant for private personal photos and also a second time slot for taking group pictures as the goal is always to have every guest in a photo with the celebrant. I am most visible when I have to coordinate these group pictures.
4. Engagement shoots are typically a smart way for clients to familiarize themselves with a photographer’s style prior to booking for a wedding. "So, as a photographer that is keen on capturing and relaying their story, how do you contribute to making people feel at ease and staying true to themselves during such an intimate moment?"
Every couple is different so I don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach for this. But one thing I do is I try not to put a hard time cap on Engagement sessions. And I do that for 2 main reasons - first being that I don’t like to let the couple go home until I have gotten shots I’m super excited about. And secondly because I occasionally find that the hard time cap can sometimes puts undue pressure on the couple, so I always do my best not to rush them.
5. We touched on connections with clients earlier but we would love to know just how the connection clients have with a photographer is paramount to the success of the shoot. "In your experience, what is the process and the outcome when working with clients that you have a budding client-photographer relationship with and those that you don’t?"
The better the relationship, the easier it is to get more genuine and relaxed expressions from the couple. So the relationship is very important and I try to establish it before the main event, which is why we have the consultation sessions and engagement sessions in advance. Having inside jokes with a couple and being able to offer guidance like “you remember that pose we did during the engagement session? We’re going to do something similar again” definitely makes a difference on the big day. Overall I feel like this relationship part only makes a difference in the couple portraits, it doesn’t change much for the many other elements like dance photos, guest reactions, detail shots, venue/decor shots etc.
After reading this, we hope you diligently approach hiring a professional photographer by taking into account the connection outside of their style of photography. We hope this conversation with Tolu will you make an informed decision when hiring a professional photographer for your next event!
Thank you Tolu for this informative piece discussing the intangible aspects of photography. You can connect with Tolu via