Don’t know what to ask the guy or gal you’re about to hand over a few thousand dollars to? Don’t worry, I got you covered my friend! Often times I’ll ask my brides and grooms if they have any questions and occasionally they’ll have a couple, but most of the time the couple doesn’t know what to ask and will even ask me for suggested questions. So, just in case you’re like a lot of other brides and grooms out there, here’s five questions you need to ask your photographer, why to ask them and what to look for.
1. What’s your approach to the wedding day?
What you’re looking for here is how unobtrusive or intrusive they are. Will they be highly visible during the ceremony and possibly a distraction? Will they give directions on where to stand and what to do? One of the major trends in wedding photography is the documentary approach. If a photographer is truly a documentary photographer they will be extremely inconspicuous, often blending in like a guest at the wedding. Many photographers say they have the documentary approach, but will still change the lighting in rooms, suggest where in the room you should get your hair and makeup done, set up shots with rings, shoes and dresses. The true documentary photographer will only photograph things as they are found and not stage anything thus producing candid “authentic” images. The other end of the spectrum is the traditional photographer. This photographer can be seen asking your guests to look and smile, posing this and posing that. This approach produces more posed, traditional images. My personal approach is to set the stage for the moments, but not stage the moments themselves. I want you to look your best when you’re getting your makeup on so I’ll change the lighting. If what I do ends up being a distraction or alters the story of you day then I won’t do it. At the ceremony, most guests won’t even be aware of me. No approach is right or wrong, but there’s probably an approach that you fill more comfortable with. Now you know to ask about it.
2. What do you offer as a finished product?
I know you are probably thinking you only want the digital files and you’ll go and get your own prints. I caution you against that. First, all digital files corrupt eventually. All of them. If you wait too long to get those prints, your digital images could corrupt and then your precious memories are lost. Second, your photographer probably has color-matched their images to their chosen lab so you’ll get true colors and your images will be printed on higher quality paper with ink that’s going to last much longer than that 10 cent print from Walgreens. Ask them how they ensure you get quality prints. If they can’t articulate that, then that’s a flag you should pay attention to. Do they offer a wedding book, wall prints or specialty products? Are they included in any of the packages offered? Make sure to get a finished product from your photographer. It’s going to cost more, but trust me, it’ll be worth it once those digital files become corrupt or the USB they’re stored on becomes obsolete. A wedding book or wall portrait will always be accessible and available.
3. Do you have a back up?
This applies to so many things. Back up equipment, back up for those corruptible digital files, but I’m especially talking about a back up photographer. Life happens to all of us, so what back up plan does your photographer have in case life happens to them at the wrong time? A wedding is a once a lifetime thing – it’ll never be recreated – and as such, your photographer should have back ups for everything, including themselves. Make sure your photographer has a backup plan, and make sure that’s in the contract. I’m a little crazy and wear slip on dress shoes because I don’t want to keep up with back up shoe laces.
4. Can you cover the entire event?
This goes a couple of ways. Does your photographer charge by the hour and thus might not afford for them to be there the whole day? Also, will they be able to cover every aspect of the day you want covered? For example, you’ll be getting ready at the hotel, but at the same time your future hubs is getting ready at his house across town.
Both of those events of the day are important to you and you want them captured, so how is your photographer going to capture it? Sometimes you can adjust your schedule so the photographer can cover both, but another option may be to hire a second photographer. That opens a whole other set of questions regarding the quality of the second shooter, etc. A lot of times a second shooter will be someone who’s just getting started and trying to break into the wedding business.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it should be a concern if your photographer can’t quickly assure you or is unwilling to show you some of the second photographer’s previous work. You don’t need to sit down with the second photographer and interview them, but you should feel comfortable asking to see their work.
I simply provide the website of my second photographer. You can check out his awesomeness at dannyrod.com.
5. Can you help with the wedding day schedule?
You might have a planner, and wedding planners are worth their weight in gold, but they’re not experts when it comes to photography. If there are some shots or events that are important to you, then the proper time and place must be reserved for those shots – like the example from question four. Here’s another example. Let’s say you want a shot of you and the hubs kissing at sunset. Who do you think is more qualified to make sure that gets set up properly – the planner or the photographer. Don’t be concerned about a possible conflict between what the photographer wants and what the planner wants. Both should be professionals and both will want what you want. You get to decide what’s important to you on your wedding day and you should use all the expert help available to you. As wedding professionals, we’ll work together to make sure your ultimate vision for the wedding day comes to pass.
Need some help choosing a photographer? I know several great photographers in San Antonio and could help you if you are having problems. Just give me a shout!