Are you a bride (or a groom) on a lookout for your perfect wedding photographer and have arranged a consultation with them?
Or perhaps you wanted to book your photographer without having a chat with them first (whether in person, Skype or telephone) and have no idea what a consultation is for?
After having had several consultations in a row recently myself, as well as seeing quite a few posts of brides-to-be asking in Facebook groups about what questions to ask their possible wedding photographer, I decided to put down a few hints and tips for you!
Some couples like to meet their possible photographer to determine if they’re a good match, or equally if a couple books a photographer through their website / social media/ word of mouth, they sometimes have a face-to-face meeting before the wedding to go through all the in’s and out’s of the wedding to ensure everyone knows what they’re doing, where and when.
It also helps to put a face to a name! Of course, when bigger distances are involved there’s always Skype video meetings that can be held from the comfort of your own home!
1. What type of wedding photography do you do?
Okay, you might have seen their portfolio on their website or social media page but it doesn’t mean it’s always completely clear as to what style of photography they do, especially if they have a variety of different types of images on show.
Are they more unobtrusive and capture candids of your day in a photojournalistic / documentary style or do they prefer to shoot mostly posed shots? Will they let the day flow or will they have a set of “must have” shots that they’ll want to create?
Do they shoot formal group shots?
Do they encourage their couples to shoot quirky and fun looking photos (e.g creating scenes that are meant to provoke laughter / smiles, such as jumping up and down shots, using different angles that create fun compositions, using props)?
Determining what type of wedding photography they do will allow you to understand whether you’re a good match! This also means listening to what you and your partner are looking for NOT what others (e.g family and friends) say you should do. End of the day, if the style of photography doesn’t match you, your personalities and your day, then you’ll be disappointed with the outcome.
This is a rather controversial part that many photographer still argue about amongst themselves. You don’t need a specific equipment to be a wedding photographer, but you do need a reliable kit that’ll help you produce results that you’re promising your couple.
The way I would approach it would be simply asking the photographer if something goes wrong, do they have a back-up equipment? Professionals regularly re-invest the earned money into their kit and that also means always having a back-up gear because if something goes wrong and their only camera, lens or light gives up on them, what will they do for the rest of your wedding?!
There is no need to specifically ask which camera model and lenses they are using, just ensure you cover the what if’s in regards to equipment failure on your big day.
This part also includes seeing their work – have you seen enough on their website or would you like to see more? Most photographers tend to bring albums, books or portfolio samples of their work with them to show you!
3. Terms and Conditions
Have they shown you their contract (either before the consultation or during)? It’s easy to fall in love with an artist and their work until you later find out that their business terms and conditions are totally unacceptable to you, so make sure
Make sure you read through the contract and ask them if anything concerns you. Here’s just a few parts to look at:
•Your rights – Most photographers note down how and where you are (or are not) allowed to use your images, for example, if you wanted to submit your images to a wedding blog or magazine.
•Your obligations – how and how much are you paying? How much is the deposit to secure the date? When is the remaining balance due? Can you pay in instalments?
•Timescale – how and when do they normally deliver their images? Do they have a typical timescale or perhaps they don’t?
•What happens in the case of equipment failure?
•What happens in the case of them cancelling? And what happens if you cancel your wedding?
•Do they have any requirements, such as do they request a hot meal? Do they reserve the right to leave the wedding if one of your guests or bridal/groom’s party members are rude to them?
These are only a few bits from a typical wedding photographer contract but at least it gives you food for thought.
Even better if you can see the contract before the consultation to allow you to read it in your own time and understanding. If you need help from other professionals, you can always ask other photographers or consult with a lawyer!
4. End Result
This might already be on their website / price list, but ensure you are fully aware of what you’re actually given. Whether the images are given only on a downloadable online gallery or are they delivered also on a USB? Is an album or a book included?
Will you receive high resolution images or only web resolution? High resolution images will allow you to print photos without losing any quality.
I don’t offer albums included in the price because weddings and suppliers vary so greatly it’s impossible to offer something that would be applicable to each and every wedding. Furthermore, if a couple didn’t want an album, would it mean the fee for the wedding coverage is reduced? That’s one of my reasonings for not including an album!
Another controversial topic of sorts. On one hand if they promise to deliver the results as per terms and conditions, whether they have insurance or not should not matter. Similarly, if some of your guests trip over their camera bag and hurt themselves, and now want to sue them – it shouldn’t be a reflection on what they deliver to you.
If they do not have public liability or equipment insurance, it doesn’t mean they will not deliver the results. However, some venues require photographers to have public liability insurance to work there, therefore, if your photographer didn’t have one and your venue requested it, it’d be something that you’d need to ask your photographer to sort out (or take your business elsewhere).
If their equipment failed on the day, again it wouldn’t matter whether they have insurance or not. If they state in their contract that they have back up gear, they’ll still deliver the work. What they have to pay out to repair it (whether out of their own pocket or through insurance) shouldn’t be a concern to you.
However, having said that if the photographer does have the appropriate insurances, it’s bound to reassure the client that the photographer is a true professional and is considering all the different possible risks in their business, and want to protect themselves and their business against them!
This is not to say having or not having particular insurances means the photographer is or isn’t good, it’s merely to give you something to think about whatever the photographer’s response is and what impact it’ll have on your decision to book them for your wedding day.
Of course, one of the first questions they’ll ask you is how long you want to book them for (whether you already noted that in the enquiry e-mail or they asked you following your first enquiry).
Depending on your meeting (are you interested to book them? Or still not so sure?) – it will be useful to discuss the timeline of your day. If you’re still unsure, there’s no need to start discussing what time each part of your wedding day will start and end, etc. but of course it’s important to know the length of the booking and the area you’ll hold your ceremony and reception in.
This also means bringing up the question of – do they request a travel fee for this booking? Or is it within their radius of “travel included”? Do they need an overnight accommodation the night before to ensure they’re there on time in the morning?
Whether you agree to discuss your wedding timeline there and then, or whether they have asked you to fill in a questionnaire online about timings, names, most important telephone numbers on the day, etc., make sure it’s one of the topics you discuss when you’re confident you want to book them for your day.
This means you both will feel confident and know how the day is meant to flow, who’s supposed to be where and how much time have you allocated to formal shots (if any) and couple’s portraits. It’s also likely that you may discuss this after your initial consultation, whether over telephone, another meeting or e-mails.
OK, my last somewhat controversial topic. Of course, it’s nice to hear feedback from other couples who have used the same photographer but what if they don’t have a page on their website for feedback, or maybe they don’t have reviews / ratings on their Facebook page. Equally, whenever you shop in Amazon you will come across bought and fake reviews! Everything can be faked.
So, always be mindful of that.
Many photographers now have a Facebook page which generally (if enabled by the photographer) allows clients to leave rated feedback, so you can always take a look at them but go with what your instinct says. Sometimes certain clients and suppliers do not gel together at all, and if you see a negative feedback it could be for various reasons, whether the client and the supplier didn’t communicate well with one another or whether they simply weren’t a good match to work together, or perhaps indeed the photographer didn’t deliver what they promised.
Read the reviews but be critical of what you read!
I know this might not be the most helpful advice, but I would suggest going with your instinct – do you get along and do your personalities match or compliment one another? Have you seen enough of their work to be confident in their skills? Are you happy with your rights in the terms and conditions?
If you want just that one more thing to convince you, why don’t you book an engagement shoot with them to see how they work, how they engage with you and whether they make you feel at ease? And of course, you will see the results of their work from your session which should either make you fall in love with your photographer more or perhaps change your mind!
If you ever have any questions, why don’t you drop me a message?
Find me on www.europeanweddings.co