Questions to ask wedding photographer before booking

Before The Wedding

  1. How early in the wedding-planning method should I book a wedding photographer?
  2. How do I find the right wedding photographer?
  3. Why is wedding photography so much more expensive now than when my parents got married?
  4. What equipment should our wedding photographer have?
  5. Will our wedding photographer shoot our engagement portrait?
  6. How far in progress do we have to do our engagement photos to have a framed portrait displayed at our wedding?
  7. Do wedding photographers offer discounts for off-season or weekday weddings?
  8. Can we upgrade our package after we book our wedding photographer?
  9. Someone I know has offered to do our wedding photography for $700 & give us the digital files. Wouldnt that be a great way to save money?
  10. Why will our wedding photographer copyright the pictures he takes at our wedding?
  11. Is it better to book a wedding photographer who uses film or a wedding photographer who uses the digital equipment?
  12. Can I give our wedding photographer magazine clippings of certain poses I want?
  13. What is a proof?
  14. What are the advantages of the different types of proofing?
  15. There are many specialties within each profession. How many types of wedding photographers are there?
  16. So many wedding photographers say “we do photojournalism.” I don’t get it! Are they all photojournalists?
  17. What is the advantage of having two wedding photographers from the same company shooting simultaneously?
  18. What are the advantages of having a solo photographer?
  19. We don’t need an engagement portrait. Can we ask our wedding photographer for another product or service in place of it?
  20. Do wedding photographers offer separate pricing for really small weddings?
  21. My mom insists on using another wedding photographer for our formal photographs. Is that okay?
  22. What sorts of packages do wedding photographers offer?
  23. What is a la carte pricing?
  24. Will the wedding photographer we want to hire hold our date or call us if someone else requests that date?
  25. What happens with our wedding photographer if we cancel our wedding?
  26. We’re not getting married for quite awhile. Will our wedding photographer refund our money if we cancel the wedding?
  27. Why is there such a price disparity among wedding photographers?

How early in the wedding-planning process should I book a wedding photographer?

1.The timing of booking a wedding photographer will depend upon several factors. First, consider what time of year youâe getting married. If your wedding is during the most pleasant months in your area, during a holiday, or on another hot date, you may want to consider booking your photographer as early as 12 to 18 months ahead of time. If photography is essential to you, you will also want to book as soon as possible even if your date does not fall within one of those busy periods. If you have a preferred wedding photographer in thought before you have booked your wedding venue, you can request the photographer to confirm his or her availability before signing the contract with the site. In any event, it’s in your best interest to have your wedding photographer booked at least ten months in advance.

2. How do I find the right wedding photographer?
You should choose a wedding photographer based on several considerations. First, of course, you must love his or her work. Look for a photographer whose work moves you, whose style you love, & who tells a story the way you want your story to be told. If you don’t like the pictures, nothing else matters. The second factor to consider is personality. Since your wedding photographer will be with you & your fiancé for a significant portion of your wedding day, & you will have close dealings with him or her both before & after the wedding, you require to make sure that you feel satisfied with this individual. One way to gauge this is to ask yourself: “Would my fiancé & I be friends with this photographer even if we weren’t getting married?” If the answer to this question is “yes,” then you are that much closer to hiring the right wedding photographer for you.

3. Why is wedding photography so much more valuable now than when my parents got married?
A lot has changed in photography since your parents’ wedding. The chances are that when your parents got married, wedding photographers typically worked from set shot lists & only took the photographs that they understood would sell behind the wedding. This led to cookie-cutter wedding photography that left all wedding album looking almost the same. The real story of the day was gone untold. Your parents’ photographer probably took fewer than 200 photos at their wedding. Today’s wedding photojournalists may make ten times that many as they document the unique story of a couple’s wedding day. Digital wedding photography has led to progress in wedding albums, too. Today’s wedding collections are original works of art with custom-designed layouts that are produced using the same techniques employed for art books & magazines. This is a time-intensive process that requires all of the skill, talent, & artistry that professional wedding photographers already bring to their viewfinders.

4. What equipment should our wedding photographer have?
Every wedding photographer should have camera gear & accessories suitable for shooting your wedding in style demonstrated in his or her samples. Depending on your photographer’s particular style of shooting, this equipment may include a variety of cameras, lenses, flashes, additional lighting, reflectors, backdrops, film or memory cards, batteries, & a long list of other gear. Your wedding photographer should also have backup equipment sufficient to deal with the incident of equipment failure. With all that said, I feel by far the most critical piece of equipment your wedding photographer should possess is a creative, artistic eye.

5. Will our wedding photographer shoot our engagement portrait?

Most wedding photographers either include an engagement portrait session as part of the wedding package or offer it as an additional option. At some wedding photography studios, a limited number of engagement prints are included in the wedding photographer’s fee. At others, only the engagement portrait session itself is included in your wedding package. Should you want to purchase prints, you would purchase them. There are certain circumstances in which, brides secure the services of a different photographer for their engagement session. For example, if you live in New York but are getting married in London & have hired a London wedding photographer, it may not be feasible for you to get together with your London photographer for an engagement photo session. In this case, it may be more practical to hire a New York wedding photographer to shoot your engagement portrait session.

6. How far in advance do we have to do our engagement photos to have a framed portrait displayed at our wedding?
Some wedding photographers require engagement photos to be taken only a few weeks in advance of the wedding, while others may recommend scheduling the engagement photo session months ahead of time. Many factors come into play in getting an engagement photo ready in time for your wedding, starting with the photo shoot itself. If you’re doing an outdoor or location shoot, you should allow enough time for weather-related rescheduling. Once the photos have been shot, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to get the proofs back to you. You then need to decide which one to have enlarged & framed, & allow time for printing & framing. You may save some time by picking a frame in advance; your photographer or frame shop can help you with this. The smartest course: Even if the date is a mere two months before your wedding, schedule your engagement photography shoot at the time you sign your contract with your wedding photographer.

7. Do wedding photographers offer concessions for off-season or weekday weddings?
The wedding photography industry is time-sensitive because there are a limited number of high-season weekend dates each year. Photographers often get many requests for the same wedding date but are usually restricted to shooting only one wedding a day. To encourage clients to book off-season or day weddings, some wedding photographers may propose a discount or added services for those dates. Discounts may also be provided for smaller weddings or for years that are booked a short time before the event. Other wedding photographers feel that they work just as hard & that their product & time are equally valuable on any & every day of the year, & therefore do not offer discounts for off-season or weekday weddings.

8. Can we upgrade our package after we maintain our wedding photographer?
Most likely, yes! If you book a photography package & change your mind later (usually before you’ve made the final payment) most wedding photographers will welcome the opportunity to upgrade your package. Keep in mind that this might require an additional amount of the retainer. You may save more if you get the package you want from the start rather than adding items a la carte. Also, if the upgraded package now includes an album, your wedding photographer may want to know this in advance of your wedding in case he or she needs to take album-specific shots at the event.

At R Michael Images, you can upgrade your package anytime before your actual wedding day. Also, we can customize any of our pre-designed packages to suit your needs.

9. Someone I know has offered to do our wedding photography for $700 & give us the digital files. Wouldn’t that be a great way to save money?
Wedding photography is similar to other services in that people are operating at all levels of experience & expertise. Pricing is one way that those with the most experience or knowledge distinguish themselves. So, if you hire a wedding photographer who will shoot all day & h& over the files for such a low price, you may not be getting the quality images that you’d hoped for. Wedding photographers operating at this level are often either beginner with little experience or casual part-time shooters. Most professional wedding photographers have spent hundreds of hours perfecting their craft, from the actual use of the camera to the skill & artistic ability required to create the perfect album design. Keep in mind that operating any small business incurs expenses, & professional wedding photography is no exception. This includes not only st&ard photographic equipment but also more specialized items & backup equipment. Wedding photographers who charge as low a charge as you describe may have not the backup gear should something go wrong nor the insurance to cover themselves in the event of an accident.

10. Why will our wedding photographer copyright the pictures he takes at our wedding?
In the field of wedding photography, copyright is a form of legal protection that wedding photographers have on their images, layouts, designs & other artistic works. This shield grants them the exclusive right to reproduce or display their pictures or authorize others to do so. A photographer is allowed copyright at the time the product is created. Copyright does not need to be declared or registered to belong to the photographer, nor does a notice of copyright need to be present for copyright to be in effect. Copyright is in fact for 70 years after the life of the author (in this case, the photographer). It�s illegal to violate any of the rights held by the owner of the copyright. It�s not necessary to obtain a transfer of the copyright to reproduce the images; a reproduction release will serve this purpose. Transfer & reproduction releases need to be put in writing & signed by the photographer. For more information on copyright, visit www.copyright.gov.

It is most important that you discuss photo reproduction policies with your wedding photographer before signing a contract, as they differ widely.

11. Is it better to book a wedding photographer who uses film or a wedding photographer who uses the digital equipment?
Both film & digital cameras capture & record light. Film cameras do so by exposing the film to light. Digital cameras use an electronic sensor instead of film. Both formats are capable of producing stellar images in the h&s of an experienced professional. The vast majority of people presented with a 5×7 inch print of a professionally shot & processed digital photograph & a professionally shot & treated film photograph will not be able to tell which is which. When shopping for a wedding photographer, review each c&idate’s work with your own eyes, either by viewing samples online or by scheduling an appointment to look at examples of his or her prints & albums. You will likely find that the quality of the prints & albums are of ultimate importance, regardless of whether the photographer chooses to use film or digital photography. The photographer’s medium of choice will not usually impact his or her ability to provide a wide variety of products & services.

12. Can I give our wedding photographer magazine clippings of certain poses I want?
Every wedding photographer has a different working & shooting style. Some are pleased to see examples of photos you like, & will use these as inspiration if they seem to compliment the photographers style. If you have hired a wedding photographer who is more interested in recording the spontaneity of the day, it may be difficult for him or her to try to copy a specific image from another event with a different couple, different light, & different circumstances. Since your wedding photographs will be unique to your day, you will likely find it more enjoyable just to allow events to unfold, & trust your wedding photographer to give you the images that attracted you to his or her work from the start.

13. What is a proof?
The proof is the first set of photos you see after the wedding! You’ll look at all of your tests to choose the final prints for your album as well as your reprint orders. Some of the ways photographers provide proofs to clients include an online website, a DVD of computer screen images, or 4×6 inch photo prints. Printed proofs may also come in the form of a contact sheet, which is a catalog of approximately 12 images on a page. Be sure to ask your photographer exactly what type of proofing he or she offers. Typically, proofs only have a primary color correction or exposure adjustments made to them, with no specific retouching or other finishing techniques applied. Some wedding photographers may add a logo &/or copyright information to their proofs, to discourage clients from making copies of what is considered an unfinished product.

14. What are the advantages of the different types of proofing?
There are several proofing options available: prints, portfolios, CDs, DVDs, & web proofing. Prints as proofs are often 4” x 6” & come in either a presentation box or an album. The advantage of the print as proof is that you can physically sort the pictures into groups for collections & reprints. Proof portfolios are 8” x 10” or 10” x 13” & contains 4 to 12 images per page. The advantages of a proof portfolio are that they make it easy to locate images quickly, & they’re h&y to carry around. CD & DVD proofing allows you to view images on your computer, often with some software that displays the images as a slideshow, sometimes even set to music. Other CD & DVD proofing advantages include the ability to zoom in on images, as well as portability. Web proofing is often the quickest form of proofing & the easiest to share with friends & family. Some websites will offer “favorites” folders as well as the ability to crop & convert images to black-&-white. Some studios will offer only one of these options, while others offer a combination of them.

15. There are many specialties within each profession. How many types of wedding photographers are there?
There are numerous ways to categorize professional wedding photographers, & some wedding photographers may fit into more than one category. Some wedding photographers specialize in portraiture, fine art, or a photojournalistic (or documentary) style of photography. Others defy categorization because their images have a unique look or style. In any case, its important to look at many samples of a wedding photographers work to see whether his or her style fits with your own.

16. Numerous wedding photographers say “we do photojournalism.” I don’t get it! Are they all photojournalists?
Many couples searching for a wedding photographer are attracted to images that look “natural” — unposed photographs that capture a specific moment in time, precisely as it happened. A pure photojournalist will shoot your wedding without interference or interaction. The real photojournalist won’t pose you or your guests, using only his or her unique skill set to capture your images in a most flattering light. The resulting photographs will show your wedding most naturally.

Some photographers call themselves “documentary wedding photographers.” They too will document your wedding day as it happens.

Some wedding photographers will capture parts of your wedding without interference or interaction, but at times during the day, they will pose you, or make suggestions about where to st&, to smile, to kiss, & will interact with you & your guests as they see fit. If you ask these photographers if they do photojournalism, they’ll likely say “yes” because they do avoid interacting with parts of the day.

In each case, after you ask about “photojournalism,” it’s a good idea also to ask “Do you ever pose your subjects, or make suggestions that will help us look our best?” You’ll get a better idea of how the wedding photographer you’re considering works on your wedding day.

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17. What is the advantage of having two wedding photographers from the same company shooting simultaneously?
There are many advantages! Two wedding photographers can shoot from two different angles or locations— they can be in two places at once, to capture all the action. For instance, during the ceremony, one may be up in the balcony shooting a wide-angle view, while the other is near the altar getting a close-up shot of the bride’s eyes tearing up. Two wedding photographers may also shoot from two different perspectives, even if shooting the corresponding scene. One might tell the overall story while the other is pulling an artistic detail of the same story. Having two skilled photographers can allow many more details of your wedding to be captured. A wedding photography team can also be useful insurance in case a guest steps in front of one photographer or a camera fails as critical moments there will still be another professional ready for action. Some wedding photography studios offer two photographer shoots as their st&ard, while others charge an additional fee for the second photographer.

18. What are the advantages of having a solo photographer?
There are many photographers who feel that by working alone, they provide their clients with the best possible images.

Many photographers want their subjects to be themselves & act naturally, & forget there’s a photographer in the room. This is very easy for the solo photographer. One of the things many photographers want to hear is that the bride & groom “didn’t notice that the photographer was there.” The bride & groom can relax & enjoy their friends & family. Working alone allows that single photographer to blend in, to disappear in the crowd, & to be quickly forgotten while capturing magnificent, natural, images.

Having one photographer means you’re dealing with one person who’s had many conversations with you since you first met. The solo wedding photographer knows your wants & your needs & underst&s WHO you are: The photographer can sense when you’re going smile or cry or do that cute thing with your nose that your groom so loves about you. The photographer knows you. The better your photographer knows you, the better & more personal the images are going to be.

19. We don’t need an engagement portrait. Can we ask our wedding photographer for another product or service in place of it?
Some wedding photographers will offer to substitute your engagement session for another option such as a bridal shoot, a post-wedding portrait session for the bride & groom, or additional coverage on your wedding day. If no other option meets your needs, some wedding photographers may consider a small discount on the total price of your package. Other wedding photographers offer the engagement portrait as a complimentary session, & do not provide any substitutes or discounts if this offer is not accepted.

20. Do wedding photographers offer separate pricing for really small weddings?
Whether you are inviting hundreds of guests or are eloping with no guests at all, the work, a photographer, does at your wedding, as well as the work afterward, does not change substantially based on the number of guests. Each event will get the same level of care & attention. Many wedding photographers have packages based at least partially on time spent at the game, so if a smaller wedding means a shorter marriage to you, you may be able to find a package with more concise coverage times that suit your needs. Some wedding photographers may also offer more succinct coverage than outlined in their regular packages for weddings on non-peak days, or for weddings booked within a month or two of the event.

21. My mom insists on using another wedding photographer for our formal photographs. Is that okay?
Many professional wedding photographers will object to another photographer being commissioned for your wedding. Perhaps this issue has arisen because you have selected an informal photojournalistic style concentrating on unposed spontaneous events, while your mother is more focused on a studio style of more traditional, posed family portraits. If that’s the case, consider finding a wedding photographer who is comfortable providing both traditional & photojournalistic-style images. Another alternative is to ask your wedding photographer whether he or she has an associate who could shoot the more conventional formats. Consult with your wedding photographer & check the details of your contract for other limitations on using another photographer.

22. What sets of packages do wedding photographers offer?
Some wedding photographers offer coverage-only packages, which include only photography time. Everything else can then be purchased a la carte (in other words, at an additional cost per item) either before or after the wedding. Other wedding photographers offer packages that can include a variety of services & products, such as photography time by one or more photographers, proofs, online galleries, film or digital negatives, albums, prints, engagement sessions, thank-you cards, & slideshows. Each wedding photographer will be able to explain in detail the types of packages he or she offers.

23. What is a la carte pricing?
A la carte pricing means that each product & service offered by the wedding photographer is individually listed & priced, as opposed to being grouped into set packages.

24. Will the wedding photographer we need to hire hold our date or call us if someone else requests that time?
Don’t expect your wedding photographer to hold your date unless you’ve signed a contract or paid a retainer fee. Although the exact policy may differ from wedding photographer to wedding photographer, many of them will require a non-refundable retainer & a signed contract to hold your date. This benefits both you & the wedding photographer: You benefit by securing a wedding photographer who has now set aside your wedding date, is contracted to provide services to you, & will not entertain inquiries from other parties for the same time. The wedding photographer benefits by obtaining the guarantee to work & receive payment for his or her services. It’s always in your best interest to book your wedding photographer as soon as you have chosen one whose work you love.

25. What happens with our wedding photographer if we cancel our wedding?

First, you will want to inform your wedding photographer as soon as you’ve decided to cancel your wedding. He or she will likely request a written & signed statement from you regarding the cancellation. In most cases, the retainer you paid your wedding photographer to hold your date is non-refundable because he or she has turned away other potential clients for that date once you reserved it. In some cases, depending on how close to the reserved time you cancel your wedding, you may have to pay an additional fee or even the full rate of your photography package. Ask your wedding photographer about your payment schedule & your financial obligation in the event of a cancellation. Some photographers have provisions to refund some of your payment in the fact they’re able to book your wedding date with another couple.

26. We’re not getting married for quite awhile. Will our wedding photographer refund our money if we cancel the wedding?

To retain the services of a wedding photographer, it’s recommended that you book & confirm him or her as early as you can. This involves paying a booking fee or retainer to secure the date, usually a portion of the cost of your overall package. This fee is not usually refundable in the event of a cancellation. However, if you do cancel your wedding, you should contact your photographer immediately. If you cancel several months before the wedding date, it’s possible that the photographer will be able to secure another booking for that time & give you a full or partial refund.

27. Why is there such a price disparity among wedding photographers?

There is a host of reasons why some wedding photographers will charge a lot & some will cost very little for their services. A well-established wedding photographer with an excellent reputation who has been shooting weddings for a long time can comm& a higher price, & still might have more business than he or she can h&le. A wedding photographer may be shooting weddings part time who has a full-time job that pays the mortgage, so, in some cases, this wedding photographer can charge what he or she would like without concern about his or her necessary living expenses. If the wedding photographer is new, he or she might be more concerned with portfolio building than making enough money to earn a profit. There is a misconception that wedding photographer makes a lot of money working only one day a week, but in addition to the actual day of shooting, there is usually at least 25 hours of back-end work involved in each wedding.

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