Wedding planning is full of many to-do lists.
Luckily, you can pop on Pinterest and find all sorts of pre-made lists, question sheets and ideas. Recently I stumbled across a "what to ask your photographer" cheat sheet and I thought it would be helpful to post my answers here on the blog.
Of course, there will be loads of questions unique to the individual couple, but this general list is a great starting point in deciding if the way I shoot is the best fit for your wedding needs.
1. What is your preferred style of photography?
I shoot with a lifestyle/photojournalistic approach. I'm not looking for those posed/static images, I'm looking for genuine and emotive moments to capture. Typical family portraits are posed and that is the exception, but even during those shots, I'm looking for the in-between posed moments as well. My artisitc style of shooting is dramatic and moody. I'm looking for dramatic lighting, interesting compositions and for the combination of the two to create of a fine art image, rather than just a basic shot.
2. How many weddings will you shoot on my wedding day?
Just yours. Actually I only shoot one wedding a week. Even if your wedding falls on a Thursday and I get an inquiry for a Sunday, I will turn it down. I take a limited number of weddings per year because it is important for me to provide exceptional service. I take a considerable amount of time to plan for your wedding and to edit your images after. If I have too much on my plate, I feel that level of quality will slip, and I'm not okay with that.
3. Have you ever shot at my venue?
I may have, but if I haven't that is not a problem. I actually love new venues because it forces me to see things with fresh eyes, rather than relying on what has worked in the past. I always check in with your coordinator at the venue before hand if possible to make sure I know of any guidelines on their end. I also arrive 15 minutes early and use that time to take pictures of the location and gather some ideas for later.
4. Do you bring your own lighting?
Yes! Quite a lot. I begin with a more portable set up that I use while everyone is getting ready and during the ceremony. For the reception I take 10 minutes to set up my off-camera lighting so I can use that for the rest of the night.
5. Do you work from a shot list?
Minimally. I have a general list of shots in my head that I like to get for my couples, but other than that I like to keep it open. It's important to me that I provide the images one would expect, but also that I'm keeping my mind and time open for the unexpected. Those images are what make your wedding personal to you, and being too focused on a shot list would cause me to miss a good amount of those. The shot list for the formals is different. We work together to get the list locked down, and I then organize the list on my end to be sure kids and anyone elderly is finished early, and the flow of the rest of the shots keep the switching in and out to a minimum.
6. Can I request certain images taken at the wedding?
Of course! Like I mentioned above, a strict shot list is not something I work with, but if there are a few pictures that you are really looking forward to having, I'm going to write those down and make sure I get those for you. If you have a lot, we can put priority to them so I know what to focus on first.
7. How many hours are included in your packages?
Each package varies, but I do not shoot any less than 6 hours for a wedding. A wedding that has a short ceremony, not too many family formals and the basic wedding events will take a minimum of 6 hours. Any less than that, and you will not be getting some parts of your wedding shot, and I do not leave till at least all of the events are finished. My most popular package has 8 hours, which gives us a little more time for getting ready and for part of the dancing. The top tier package is for 10 hours for those larger weddings with longer ceremonies.
8. Do you bring a second shooter?
I offer a second shooter as part of the a la carte add on's. An assistant or second shooter will certainly make my day easier, but I am very happy to work as a single shooter. For most weddings you will receive a great documentation of your wedding with just one shooter. I will recommend two for large weddings or for couples who want a more diverse range of angles that one person cannot physically get. (ex: getting the first kiss from up close, and also up in the balcony)
9. How many images can I expect to see from my wedding?
I average about 50-100 per hour of final edited image that I send to you. I typically shoot many more than that, but look for the best angle, all eyes open, and the best lighting to edit and send. It is my goal to send not a large quantity of images, but a fantastic quality of images.
10. Do I have a limit to the amount of images you will edit?
No. My editing process goes like this: trash all images that are not competent. (ex: flash misfires, focusing on the wrong thing, lighting is off) and then go through the remaining images one by one, comparing all the similar images to each other, and editing the best. When I edit, I color balance, crop and make sure the highlights and low lights are perfect. For images you may frame, like your formals, I clean up details in the background and make sure it's a frame worthy picture. I do not start out with a set amount. I edit every picture that I love and omit any I do not love or are redundant.
11. How long does it take to see proofs from my wedding?
My contract states 6-8 weeks, but I personally feel as if I'm am very behind if I hit 4 weeks. One of the benefits of only shooting one wedding a week is that the day after your wedding I am able to cull and begin editing your images and provide a day-after sneak peek for you to see before heading off on your honeymoon. I then typically aim to completely edit all of your images within the week and use the following week to get prints ordered and to get your images uploaded to your gallery. I have a much longer time worked into my contract because I want to be sure if anything were to pop up unexpectedly, that I was not leaving my couples waiting for their images longer than promised.
12. Do I receive a disc of images, or do I have to purchase all prints through you?
I upload all the edited images to a gallery that you can use to download from. I highly recommend backing these images up in two different locations and printing all of your favorites. A blog post about digital degradation is coming soon. I also send a DVD of the images as backup as well, but may be ending that soon since most computers don't even come with a drive anymore. You are free to print the images as you wish and I provide a print release for you to do that. Worked into the gallery is a print order system that goes directly to one of the best print shops I have ever worked with. Also, as of this year, I now offer prints or an album with every package. Preserving your images is very important to me.
13. Is an album included?
An album is included in my middle and top package. The base package includes a box of prints. To learn more about my albums, contact me!
14. Will you use my images in any advertising?
Yes. In my contract it is stated that I will use your images for marketing. This falls under social media, situations like this blog, in print materials and as prints in any booths I participate in. I also submit to contests frequently. I will never use or submit any images that I feel may make someone uncomfortable without asking first. For example: when getting ready sometimes people are partially clothed and I do not feel it is my place to use those images, unless I had extra permission.
15. Will you request the photography guidelines from the ceremony and reception locations?
Yes. I love to know of any restrictions before the event, but sometimes it is not possible to get in contact before the day. If that is the case, I take a quick minute to check in with all of the other vendors and coordinators to make sure we work together as a team.
16. What is your plan if you are ill, or there is an emergency and you can't photography my wedding?
I'm a planner at heart so this case is something I have sort of over-planned for. I will make every possible effort to be at your wedding, and as of this date I have never had an issue. Knowing life though, I like to plan for the potential issues. If I am sick and feel I would get your whole wedding sick or can't shoot, I will not come. I belong to many photography forums where fellow shooters are helping each other out all of the time. These forums are national so it is easy to find a backup for any location. I also work with a group of photographers that I know personally and trust. These are the photographers I refer others to when I am booked. Of course, I had to dig deep into the dark side too.... what if I were in a major accident on the way to your wedding? Or the way home? Or mid way through editing? I have a work flow that I follow for every wedding and it has been discussed with two people, so my workflow can be picked up at any stage, even by someone who I have not discussed it with. Timing is expected to be pushed back in this situation, but I will never go into a wedding without knowing I haven't done everything to ensure you will get your images.
17. Do you use backup equipment?
Yes! And backup of that backup... really. I do not carry all three sets with me all day, because that would take a good 12 hour massage to work out those knots! But, I keep them with me and prep them just like my primary gear. I have a gear bag I use for the day that I carry, and a backup gear bag I keep in my car. I rarely have had to use my backup, but for those couple times I have... I was so grateful! I shoot with Canon camera and lighting. I have multiple camera bodies, many many (okay too many) lenses, 6 external flashes, backup batteries, stands, umbrellas and any other equipment I may not use, but like to have handy.
18. Is it okay if other people take photos while you are taking photos?
I expect they will. In a perfect world no cell phones or cameras would be out, but that's not what makes a wedding. Your friends and family are excited, and they want pictures. I would rather not have anyone present at the formals taking pictures because the group has a hard time deciding where to look. Formals are usually done in an hour or less, and we need that hour, so we need it to run smoothly. Luckily, you get all of your pictures as part of your package, and the gallery has a very easy "share" feature, so you can send the pictures to anyone who would want them. And they will be professional quality, so much better than an iPhone. There have been situations where a family member has jumped in the isle at your ceremony to get the first kiss, and blocked me. I will never tell your guests to stay out of my frame, but I do find it is important to let my couples know this can be a potential issue.
I hope these general questions shed some light on your wonders, and provided you with information to use with your planning and hiring a photographer.
I would love the opportunity to talk more about your wedding, and hopefully be the one to capture it. Contact me for more info on my packages!