Wedding Advice: Wedding Photography with Jessica Blaine Smith


My Wedding Advice blog series is wrapping up with this post and I thought that after featuring every other vendor that is involved in weddings, that I should include a post about wedding photography. Since that is what I do and this is my blog, it was obvious that I should feature myself but it felts strange to interview myself. I asked my pal Crystal of Distinct Occasions who I featured as the wedding planner expert for this series. Below are the questions that she asked and my answers giving you best advice for when it comes to hiring a photographer for your wedding.

Jessica Blaine Smith

Photo: Rebecca Wood

How did you wind up in the wedding industry?
I feel somewhat lucky in that I always knew that I wanted to be a photographer. In high school I assisted a wedding photographer and thought that the job was pretty great. I then went on to study photography at Ryerson University. Throughout my time there, I always focused on portraits. Once I graduated, I decided to jump right in and start my business predominately as a wedding photographer. I figured it would give me the greatest access to photographing a lot of people and I loved the challenge of having to capture the moments as they happened.

What services do you provide?
I am a straight up full-time photographer. While I began solely as a wedding photographer, my business has naturally grown to include photographing families, as my wedding couples have babies, and I also do a lot of corporate portraits (which I love but are often less visually exciting work that doesn’t make it to my blog!).

Jessica Blaine Smith

What should someone consider when hiring a photographer?
There is so much to consider when looking to hire a photographer for your wedding. First, you must like their style. If you are looking for more candid and photojournalistic images that really document your day, hire a photographer that you know can capture these images. If you are looking for bright and airy colours, do not choose a photographer that has a lot of dark and moody portraits. Find a photographer that suits you as a couple. By doing this, you know that they will be able to document the day how you experience it which will then help you remember it later on as you look at the final images.

Secondly, price. Photographer range in all kinds of rates and you need to choose one that fits your budget. There is a reason that some photographers charge a lot more than others and a big part of that is experience. Choose a photographer has has experience. I cannot emphasize this enough. You need someone who has a lot of weddings under their belt. The value of their experience is gold. These are the photographers who will capture all of the moments because they can predict what will happen when. And finally, you need to choose a photographer who you actually want to spend the day with. You do not have to be friends with your photographer but you do want someone that will jive with you and your crew since you will be spending a lot of time with them.

Does gear matter? If so, what should couples be looking for?
Yes and no, at least I believe so. I am not a big “gear” photographer. I got through four years of university with one SLR, two lenses and one medium format camera with a lens. I believe that great images can come from basic tools. But, I also believe that if you are a professional photographer, you need to have at least a professional camera, preferably full-frame. Something that you can shoot with should the weather turn bad. You must also have backup equipment. When meeting with a photographer, always ask if they have a backup camera. Should anything go wrong with their gear, you want to be sure that they are prepared for it. For myself, I have enough gear that I feel I am prepared for any situation. That is what makes me sleep well at night!

Jessica Blaine Smith

There was an article featured in Vogue recently suggesting Bride’s consider NOT hiring a Photographer. How do you feel about that?
Hands down, I disagree. Yes, photography for your wedding is an investment but it’s 100% worth it. You need to have your wedding properly documented by a professional because as cheesy as it sounds, after the flowers are wilted and your dress has been trampled, the only thing that you have left of that day is the photos.

Who is your ideal/dream client?
Clients who have a vision for their wedding and follow through with it. I love being a witness to the weddings and documenting them as the client sees them. I think that the best weddings are those that really represent the couple.

What can people expect when working with you?
When my couples hire me to photograph their wedding, they can expect that it’s a job I don’t take lightly. It’s an honour when someone hires me to document their big day and I work hard to be as professional as possible throughout the entire process. I do my best to get to know my couples so that I can be personal with their photography. I also include a complimentary engagement session with every Wedding Collection because I believe that it’s an important thing to do. It allows my couples to get comfortable with both myself and the camera so the day of the wedding, everyone knows what to expect.

Do you have any ‘perfect shot’ pose suggestions? How should someone “prep” for a shoot with you?
I don’t believe in perfect poses but I do believe in real portraits. When being photographed, I believe that it’s best to be as relaxed as possible, let everything go and just truly be yourself. All of your natural beauty and happiness will shine through in the images if you do so.

How should someone “prep” for a shoot with you?
Be yourself. Wear clothing you find flattering. Ladies – makeup will help you look flawless on film whether you wear it daily or just on your wedding day. Remember to breathe. Focus on your better half and have fun. It will all show in the photos!

Jessica Blaine Smith

In a sea of photographers (because there are literally thousands), what makes you stand out?
I believe that what I offer is that I am able to capture weddings as they truly happen. When new clients look at my photos, they often tell me that they feel as though they attended the wedding and I think that that is the greatest compliment. I stay away from photography trends & filters and photograph people just as they are while keeping colours true to life. I want to create timeless images that everyone will love now and twenty years from now.

What’s the best image you’ve ever captured and why?
Ones that make you laugh out loud or smile. There are images that I have taken that actually make me tear up because I remember the moment the shutter clicked and to me that is a pretty powerful thing.

Jessica Blaine Smith

From my own wedding. Photo by Rebecca Wood.

After being a bride yourself, what advice do you have for brides (& grooms) to be?
When I got married a year ago, I had been photographing weddings for twelve years and I thought that I knew it all. Boy was I wrong! I learned a lot after experiencing my own wedding. I learned that weddings truly do bring out the best and the worst in people and that through your wedding planning process, you will not please everyone. But that that is okay. You need to focus on yourselves as a couple and stay true to that. If you do, the day will be a success. I felt so much love on that day. It’s a real excuse to honour the people that you love and we planned our day with that in mind. In the end, the day seems to fly by. One moment I was getting into my dress and the next I was laying in a hotel bed. Savour each moment. Take time to look around that room knowing that all of your favourite people are present. Let go of any drama. Things will go wrong but as long as you have an officiant, you have a wedding. Everything else is extra.

Based in Toronto, Canada | Passport ready for travel.