The stunning work of Niagara wedding photographer, Wendy Alana, has graced the pages of Vineyard Bride many times before, which is why I'm so happy to welcome this talented lady to our Vendor Directory. Get to know Wendy a little better through our conversation below, which is loaded with tips for couples looking to hire a wedding photographer!
(all images courtesy of Wendy Alana Photography)
How long have you been photographing weddings?
Long before Pinterest, I used to save photos from Google to my desktop. 15 years later, I would realize this was to be my destiny. They say that where your passion meets life's demand and people start responding to your talent, is what your life's purpose is. I was planning my own wedding, stumbled upon a photographer's work and thought to myself, this is what I need to do with my life. I picked up a starter camera, taught myself, followed other photographers and worked day and night until I finally "got it.". I have been photographing weddings for two years now, but the amount of hours, weeks and what feels like decades I have poured into it, makes two years sound insignificant.
What drew you to becoming a wedding photographer?
First and foremost I'm a writer. I pour my heart into my words but when I started to document other's lives, I realized the importance of imagery to accompany the text. I'm an old soul romantic and after a long day of shooting a wedding, I can't wait to get the images home and start reviewing the couple's love story from morning until evening. I photograph everything from real estate to boudoir to family photos and commercial work, but weddings are my number one love. There is so much candid emotion that is unfolding throughout the wedding day and so many opportunities to capture that on film. We take the time to get to know our couples, their unique situations, and we are ready for the moment when it arises whether it's laughter, tears, a knowing look between bridesmaids, the wild uncle on the dance floor, or the hilarious groomsman.
What makes your photography unique?
I've built a business model around stellar service and hope to exceed client expectations in all regards. Having 13 years of the corporate world under my belt has allowed me to handle all aspects of my business with best practices. First and foremost, my response time is quick. I do my best to turn around emails and phone calls within an hour, if not minutes of receiving. My clients can attest to this and have booked me alone based on response time. Brides are anxious and busy and don't like to wait for answers. Having planned my own wedding a few short years ago, I remember the frustration of waiting for a reply.
I work as a team with my husband who is more than a second shooter to me. He is an equal first photographer and the only person I would trust to be as big of a perfectionist as I am. This husband and wife team works well during engagement and wedding photography scenarios as the guys warm up to him instantly and his relaxed personality make people feel at ease. When it comes to the wedding day, our couples feel comfortable with us and most importantly, we have built a trust level that ensures they don't worry about anything to do with photography on their day. My husband spends the morning with the guys and myself with the ladies which makes logistical sense. There are some photographers who work with a team of second shooters but as a client, you never know what the qualifications are of the second shooter and if it's not their own company, you aren't sure if they really have your best interest at heart.
We offer an unlimited package of photos for engagement and wedding photography. We shoot as long as we feel necessary to capture all the moments, don't cap the number of photos or hours, and the most important thing, EVERY single image is retouched for colour, skin corrections etc. You get all images (typically 800-1000 per wedding) retouched and in high resolution. There are no add ons, hidden costs or trickery involved. Our package is simple, a one stop shop with one package, because it covers all you would need. (Because really, who needs more choices when it comes to planning a wedding?)
We come dressed to your wedding as a guest would. We like to blend in and be as unobtrusive as possible and dressing the part shows that we really do care about the professionalism and importance of your day.
The turnaround time is very quick. There are nightmare situations out there where clients are starting to plan a family before they even get their wedding photos returned a year later. (More on things to watch out for when shopping for a wedding photographer, below.) Our maximum turnaround time in busy season is 8-12 weeks.
You don't have a photography business if people don't love your photographs. Each photographer has their own shooting and editing style. We love to photograph outdoors and at the dreamy time of magic hour (an hour before sunset) but in Canada we understand how to photograph in all types of weather, lighting, etc. People always ask me how I get my clients to look so relaxed in their photos and I truly believe that it's because we take the time to get to know our clients through meetings, emails, phone conversations and understand their comfort level in front of the camera, what makes them tick as a couple and as individuals and how we approach their shoot. There is never any cheesy posing or awkward moments. It takes a fine art to bring out someone's personality and have it translate well onto a photograph.
What do you include in your packages?
We include two full time dedicated photographers to cover multiple angles. An engagement shoot is always included and helps our couples relax and get to know us before their wedding day, ensuring they are comfortable on their big day and as well gives us feedback on any photos/poses/angles that they didn't necessarily love during their engagement. Sometimes what we think looks amazing is totally different from the way someone else views themselves. We try our best through communication to ensure that what we deliver is what the client envisions. We also include travel time within an hour of Hamilton area and unlimited hours of coverage as we see fit. This ensures that our couple isn't worried in the middle of their first dance if we are ducking out soon or, alternatively make an emotional decision and have to pay per extra hour. There is no financial worry or exchange when it comes to the day of the wedding. We also include all edited files on a disk or USB for the bride and groom both in high resolution and in web format (for facebook) and an extra 2 disks for the parents. There is a $500 album credit towards a purchase of the final album if this is something else the couple would like. We have various options for printing out photos when the wedding has come and gone whether it's albums, brag books, canvases etc.
How would you describe your photography style?
Fresh. Bright. Real. Candid. Ethereal. Romantic.
What advice can you give to couples looking to hire a photographer for their wedding?
Do your homework. Don't take what you see online at face value. We've had images stolen and ending up on fake photographer's websites advertising as their own. Ask to meet in person, ask to see an entire wedding from beginning to end. Anyone can post their best work on a website but to be able to photograph and do it WELL in any lighting condition, any time of day and weather is a different story. Ask what the credentials of the second shooter are. Are they a student? Will your images end up on a portfolio you don't necessarily want?
Ask around for client referrals. I would say almost all of our clients have come to us from a referral. Word of mouth is everything.
Ask a photographer what their backup plan is. Having worked in disaster recovery for years, I have a backup plan for a backup plan. We have multiple cameras, flashes, lenses, hard drives, cards in case anything goes wrong on the day of. We backup our images off site as well. We are armed with the knowledge of being able to troubleshoot and fix our camera issues in seconds. There is no time to waste on a wedding day and you cannot afford to miss that once in a lifetime moment.
Meet your photographer in person to understand if you are a good fit. As in any relationship, go with your gut feeling. Price isn't everything. We live in an experienced based society and I would say that 50% of our client's satisfaction with us is the experience from beginning to the end of the process. We don't want the photography aspect of the wedding to be met with sighs and groans. We work quickly, we are fun we get the shots you need and we want you to be able to join your guests during cocktail hour and enjoy the rest of your evening.
Don't just go with the cheapest photographer. If photography is your number one or two priority of your day, we can make your budget work for you. If your heart tells you to choose us, then we are meant to work with you. We offer payment plans for those who need assistance. We have had too many people tell us that they are unhappy with their prior wedding photographs and it breaks my heart. Don't make the mistake of making a hasty decision, your first choice or a friend of the family to photograph your wedding if they don't have experience. It can cause relationship issues down the line if you aren't happy with the photos and most importantly, cause you heartache if the images are lost or not up to your satisfaction. These are your lifetime memories. Leave it to the professionals.
Our clients have become lifelong friends. We really love what we do and I hope you can see that in our photographs, client testimonials and words. Don't just take our word for it, ask around. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Hope to meet you soon.
Get in touch with Wendy by visiting her website at wendyalanaphotography.com