The final interrogation of a person with a camera...

Sounds sinister, I know, but it's not. It's actually a crucial part of decision making when choosing your photographer for your wedding. I have already previously posted about wedding packages, what people offer you, styles and how the photographer works etc. But this is more about you, the client, the couple, doing your own investigation while you can. While your potential prey is sitting right in front of you. 

It's a simple thing, but one that's overlooked. Ask questions. Yep, thats all. Speak up, get into the nitty gritty with the photographer, have a list of crucial and revealing questions for them so it gives you much more of a picture (excuse the pun) of them and whether they are the right person for you. 

I have compiled a list of 10 questions you might want to ask when you get the chance. Don't worry about putting them on the spot. Most photographers are a hardy lot and have had a lot worse in worse situations. You won't hurt them (this side of throwing a brick at them.....)

1) How many hours do you cover in your package for the day? 

This is a pretty crucial question as it varies a lot. Some photographers do set hours and charge per hour, some as a set time they will work for, others have open ended coverage etc. It all depends on what you want from the day. It will matter depending on what kind of wedding you're having or what kind of guests you're likely to be inviting and how you think the day will do. For instance, if you think the day will be pretty formal and chilled, but you know the party is seriously going to kick off and be a proper dance floor banger, then you need someone who is willing to stay longer than half an hour after first dance. If on the other hand you're having a small ceremony and don't think much will happen after a certain time, then get someone who does set hours. It's a simple one when broken down, but don't pay for something you don't need, but don't miss out on great memories either. 

 Taken at midnight. Was planned, but didn't charge any extra. It was New Years Eve for goodness sake! Was always going to be epic and didn't want to miss this!

Taken at midnight. Was planned, but didn't charge any extra. It was New Years Eve for goodness sake! Was always going to be epic and didn't want to miss this!

2) Can I ask for particular pictures to be taken?

Most photographers can't and won't say no to this. It's your day. But also, for you, its YOUR day! I know, I repeated myself there, but that is paramount! Don't let something take longer than it needs to so you can't enjoy time with your friends and family. If you're not careful, formal shots, group shots or specific shots that are on the edge of possible will take time. Be aware of that. See what the photographer says. Have they shot there before, do they know if they can achieve what you're asking for, are they letting you know the constraints etc? Yes, by all means, ask and hopefully the photographer will accomodate. But you have to balance them doing the job you paid them to do against something that might not be worth doing and wasting time on. The photographers experience in this is everything. Be led by them. They know. 

 Doesn't look planned does it? The bride had mobility issues, so we had to get this set up properly, but the effect was lovely! 

Doesn't look planned does it? The bride had mobility issues, so we had to get this set up properly, but the effect was lovely! 

3) Have you done weddings at our venue before? 

I alluded to this in the previous point. Have they shot there before? It's a loaded question as I myself think it doesn't really matter. But it can be a bit double edged. If they have, great. They know the place, the staff, how it works, what is best to get certain shots etc etc. That is massively helpful. But there is a flip side. It can mean that all the shots they do at that venue are the same, regardless of the wedding. They lose spontaneity, creativity and fall back into what they know. Again, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. But if a photographer is worth their salt, they should have it covered and be able to deal with it, wherever the venue. What's important to you? 

4) How much will extra time cost? 

If a photographer, like myself, offers a single package with unlimited hours until they have what they need in the bag, this is irrelevant. But, anyone else, find out. Ask. It's important if you have set aside a budget for the photographer as the cost can mount up. Some don't charge much extra, some are kind enough to not charge at all if they know its a short time after the time they discussed. But if it's any length of time extra that is eating into the photographers down time, then ask. It could, unwittingly, become expensive. 

 These guys had a late first dance, but it was well worth the extra time! 

These guys had a late first dance, but it was well worth the extra time! 

5) How many images do you hand over? 

Don't get short changed. In the digital world, anything less than 300 photos is really taking the biscuit for a whole wedding. Anything above that and it's in the realms of ok. I personally provide 400+ images. But then it comes down to what else that photographer is providing in their package. Weigh it up against those things. Are they offering albums? What else are you getting in their price? It all balances out and it's what is important to you from this knowledge on how you choose the best person for your job

6) Do you have a second shooter and how much is that? 

An interesting one as really, this should be up front and known. Some photographers, like myself, work completely alone. But some like to bring a second shooter along anyway, some others prefer, depending on the size of the guest list, to offer a second shooter but at an extra cost and so on. What's your day going to be like and do you think they are needed? Do they come as a duo anyway? Can they provide one if you think they need it? Do you think someone working alone would miss anything at YOUR wedding? I have never felt the need to have a second shooter and have always worked alone, but I totally see the benefit of a partnership. So your call

7) How will we get the photos? 

So many different ways of providing images in packages to couples nowadays and I have covered that previously in another blog here. But when deciding on your package, what exactly do you want? Albums mainly? Digital mainly? Extras, like a pre-wedding shoot etc? When you have weighed that up, then you can make a decision to shortlist that photographer. 

8) When will we get the images? 

Good question. A photographer will always cover themselves in case of things outside of their control. It will also depend on how busy that photographer is. If they are very popular, don't expect to see the images really quickly. They will be editing loads of other weddings in the queue before yours. If they are not so well known, but you love them and their work/package, you might be lucky and get them back well in the time they state they will hand them over to you. Only really make this a deal breaker if its any more than 8 weeks as that is a little excessive. I state 8 weeks to cover myself, but really, if you haven't had them in 6, it's really unusual. Not a deal breaker, but don't let them pull the wool over your eyes either. 

9) Oh no! What happens if you suddenly can't make it? 

It does happen. Photographers get ill. They have deaths in the family, they have family emergencies that they have to attend. They can be hospitalised......and so on. Doomsday scenario, I know, but it's not unheard of. I myself was recently called to see if I could finish off a wedding that had been started by a photographer at a local venue because the photographer was taken really ill and couldn't carry on. I unfortunately couldn't do it as wasn't around, but someone covered it eventually. It's all about the network and who you know. Any decent photographer will be there even if they are on deaths door (I did one a couple of years ago with the worst case of tonsilitis even my doctor said he had seen in quite some time and I felt truly horrific. But I got there and did it and it was all good). But if they really can't, then make sure they have backup. A network of people they know. It's a last resort as it will be a photographer you don't know and don't know their images. BUT.....they are better than nothing. Which is the most important thing. If they are flakey on this issue.....think twice before hiring them. You only get one chance at this! 

10) Do I need to provide any information for you on the day? 

ABSOLUTELY! I know of only one photographer who utterly wings it and they thrive on this and their reputation goes before them for it and it's known before the clients book them that this is how they work, but they really are the very, very, very exception to the rule. Almost all photographers will have planned and double checked everything before the day, even if the style of their images doesn't look like they have. So ask. The photographer will need to know certain things for them to feel comfortable working....timings, destinations, guest numbers and so on. Vital contact information such as phone numbers for the day, people who are helping out and so on. If the photographer wants and needs it, help them out if you can. It will make life a lot easier on the day

Here's a couple of bonus questions you might want to throw their way. Go on, they can take it....

Do you have references? 

Why not? It's not a difficult question and they should have something to offer you. A lot will have a testimonial or kind words page on their website and they might just point you in that direction. Fair enough. Go read what people have to say. Of course it will all be positive. It's unlikely they will put up anything that is negative. But read the tone of the reference. Does it fit your idea of what is needed from your day? 

What is the deposit and when do you need it? How can we pay? 

Everyone works differently. If you're in the business in looking for a photographer, be prepared for this bit so as not to lose the date and make sure you have enough to cover all eventualities. Just do a little research before you meet up. It's usually on the website. That way the deposit won't be a sting in the tail you weren't expecting. All photographers have a different way of looking at it. But most will have this in mind and it's worth knowing for you......they are covering their back in case there is a cancellation and they can't rebook that date. That way they take something away from it and they have not lost too much in earnings. Some say a set fee. Some say a percentage of the final deal. Whatever it is, be aware that that poor photographer might miss out if for some horrible incident the wedding is cancelled. They got to pay the bills too! 

 

Once you have all this info and have collated it all together, ask yourself a few questions then. Do you think this person's work is good and are you happy with it? Do we get on and do you think they will fit in with your wedding and guests and style etc? Do you trust them? Will they get the images you are hiring them for? And finally, have they listened and given you answers that make you feel at ease and armed you with more knowledge? If ALL of the above is affirmative, completed, filled in, informed and so on, then decision time. Now THAT is the hard part......it's over to you.....

 

Still taking bookings myself for 2019, so get in touch! 

John WoodwardComment