Where do you get your inspiration from?
Otherwise known as, what is your photography style? Personally, I phrase this as a question as being about inspiration rather than style as to avoid using terminology that might be lost on Joe Public.
Finding out what or which other photographers inspires a photographer will give you insight into the sort of images they’ll capture. If they follow a Jerry Ghinios or Brett Florens then they’ll be very fashion orientated with stunning eye catching images. Whereas photographers like Kevin Mullins or Jeff Ascough then they will be seeking to work in a completely different way as a quiet observer capturing natural unobtrusive moments. These two styles establish the extremes of the wedding photography style spectrum from contemporary posed couples through to unobtrusive photojournalism, each with its own pro's and con's.
How do you deal with low light situations?
Low light situations are the photographers biggest challenge though one that they should be more than familiar in dealing with. Many venues, certainly churches, are significantly darker than you might imagine when viewed through the camera lens. A good photographer should have the equipment and skills to know how to deal with these situations. Professional camera bodies, high quality lenses and a delicate touch with additional lighting are the solutions here but ask to see examples of their work and ask them how they achieved the look in question.
Do you have a bus factor?
The big question, “what happens if you get hit by a bus?”. Quite a sombre question I know but seriously. If you’ve just paid your deposit or it’s a few days before your wedding, you need to know what provision they have in place. Any established photographer booking work in advance should have asked themselves this question and have processes in place ‘just in case’. It may not even be as serious as a being hit by a bus but it should be a serious question.
Most mature photographers will have established a network of fellow professionals that they can call on should the worst arise. Alternatively, they should have something set out clearly in your contract that stipulates how you will be remunerated if they cannot cover your wedding.
Do you have insurance?
Any photographer worth their salt should have liabilities insurance to cover them for any accidental damage or injuries that they may inadvertently cause. If they don’t have basic cover for their equipment and public liabilities they are risking their very business, to an unacceptable degree, every time they pick up their camera.
Do you back your images up?
So, it’s not as dramatic as the bus factor but what about the provisional electronic bus? What back-up does your photographer have for your images to protect you from all the images being corrupt, deleted or stolen?
Most photographers will have both an offline and online back-up of all the images from your wedding immediately after the wedding day and throughout the post-production process.
How long will you be with us?
This is an important question to ensure that both parties have the same expectations. If you’re expecting to have photos of you and your bridesmaids getting ready all the way through to the first dance, then I’d say that this is pretty standard. If you’ve arranged for midnight fireworks or a morning after get together however, you’ll need to let your photographer know and potentially pay a little extra for the added time.
Do we need to feed you?
Ask this question to your prospective photographer and watch them melt. Wedding photographers work very long hours in a very pressured environment with little or no time to catch their breath. Most run on nothing more than adrenaline and passion for their work, potentially stuffing a quick sandwich in their face between the church and reception or when you’re eating your meal.
Feeding your photographer and giving them the fuel they need to stay at their peak performance is a wise investment and a great way to show you appreciate them. If you are able to offer them a meal at the same time as you and your guests are eating, then this is the perfect time to let them unwind and take stock. Typically, they will eat away from the main party as most venues will have multiple dining areas and will be served towards the end. This gives them a good indication of when you and your guest will also have finished eating and that its time to pick up the camera again.
If you aren’t able to feed your photographer, then don’t worry as they’ll be very happy to get their own food however I would recommend having this discussion and making it clear before the wedding day itself.
Will it be you that we get on the wedding day?
Large photography studios are known to outsource their weddings to other photographers that work under their umbrella. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, typically they will have been chosen as they shoot in a similar style and have the same quality of equipment and skills.
These additional photographers may just want to have the flexibility to pick up some additional work when needed, so this shouldn’t be looked upon negatively. However, if you’ve booked a company based on your interactions with one person, then you should know if this is the actual person that will be there on the day. After all, your photographer will be with you all day and your interactions with them will reflect in the images they take.
Can you replicate a particular image we’ve seen from another wedding?
For most, the answer will be ‘Yes and No’. Yes, we’re happy to visit the same spot and capture the same sort of image but No, as it will be in their own style and not a direct replica.
Photographers shouldn’t be too sensitive about this question though some may stress the point more about their own style however all professionals should know that you may have chosen your venue or dress based on images you’ve previously seen and be open to collaborating with you over particular shots on the day.
How many images do we get?
Now this is a question that is difficult to answer as the conditions on the day can dramatically affect this dynamic. Nonetheless, your photographer should be able to give you an approximate answer of what to expect from a ‘typical’ wedding day. Personally, we expect to provide between 400-600 of edited images on USB for a full 12 hour day of coverage.
When will we get our images?
The post production of images from your wedding may take a little longer than you expect. Though there are photographers that work to shorter timescales, a typical photographer will require 4-6 weeks to fit your work into their schedules and give each image the due care and attention needed. Not all, but most photographers that say they can turn the images around significantly quicker than this are either cutting corners on the quality of their work or outsourcing them to an unknown post production house.
Do we need to leave a deposit?
Every business person taking a booking for months or years in advance will ask for a deposit to secure their services. How much this is, when its due and how it needs to be paid will vary between different photographers.
To secure our services for your wedding day, we require a 50% deposit of the total cost of your wedding photography package combined with the signed completion of our wedding contract.
Can I print the images myself?
It has become common place for photographers to offer ‘digital only’ packages that provide you with the images from your wedding day on a CD, USB or online platform. Ensure that these will be provided as high resolution images (300dpi) in a format you will be able to view. The most common image file formats are JPG, TIFF or BMP.
Once provided they should allow you to print your own images from these for personal, non-commercial use, if you want to enter the images into any competitions or show them off in blogs or magazines then you will need additional permissions; though I wouldn’t imagine any photographer would turn away this sort of publicity. Please be aware that some printers may ask you for proof of permission to use the images though your photographer should be able to provide this quickly on request.
How do you design the albums?
Different Photographers will work in different ways so this question may be better asked as a series of questions. Do we get to choose the images for the album? Do we get to see a draft before its printed? Will we be able to request changes? If so, how many before any additional charges may be applied? And do you have a selection of covers, materials and colours to choose from? How long will the whole process take?
Of course, you should be able to have input over the images for the album however your photographer may also recommend some additional shots if they feel they help to tell the story of the day. Though it may be difficult to produce a shortlist of images with delays at this stage being common, any delays at this point may result in further delays in the future as your photographer has to prioritise their workload.
Personally, we provide a draft of the album prior to printing so that couples can request changes or make comments, though I understand why other photographers may choose to not do so. The presentation of the finished album is a special moment which could arguably be considered lessened, if the couple have already seen the finished design.
This does however run the risk of, “what if I want changes?”. In this scenario either the photographer or the couple would need to pay for the corrections to be made. Many photographers might allow for the first change to be free, whereas further changes are at the cost of the couple. Obviously, this is an important point to clarify as it applies to both physical edits and electronic edits, so make sure you get clarification.
Covers, materials and colours should all be determined by the supplier or suppliers that the photographer works with. Most should be able to offer a reasonable selection featuring full image cover prints, windows or more traditional leather fronts. The best bet is to ask to see their catalogue.
In respect of the time taken to produce an album there are too many factors to even predict, so my best advice would be to ensure that you are quick to respond to any requests you receive as most photographers will work on albums as one project at a time. If you delay too long in giving feedback or answering questions, then your project may be side-lined and another begun. If this is the case it may take time for your photographer to return to working on your project.