When you first meet with your wedding photographer it is important that you ask certain questions so everyone knows where they stand. In this article, Matt Pereira suggests 10 important questions that you should get answers to.
“Will we have a signed and binding contract that lists our package and agreed services?”
This is essential. Without a contract and a written agreement you have no comeback if you don’t receive the service or products you were expecting. If you were considering hiring a wedding photographer and find that they will not give you a written and signed contract then walk away and find someone else.
“Do you have insurance?”
Check that your chosen photographer has Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance. You need to be sure that they can cover the costs if something goes terribly wrong. Also, some wedding venues will actually insist on this if they have expensive paintings or artefacts.
“What happens in the event of illness or accident?”
Can the photographer offer an adequate replacement if he or she falls ill or breaks a leg before the wedding day? You can simply ask the question and you will know how confident you feel when you get an answer. If they cannot give you a clear and concise answer in response to a very serious question then you might want to rethink. An unsure reply full of um..s and err..s might mean that they have not really given thought to how they would manage the situation – in which case, what else might they have not given thought to?!
“Do you work with an assistant or second shooter and is there a charge for this?”
An assistant can help the photographer by freeing them up of equipment and helping with various little jobs – fetching water, holding second cameras etc. Whilst a second shooter can offer an alternative point of view (literally), it is certainly not essential.
Some photographers will bring a second shooter, some will charge for this and some will happily work alone with just an assistant carrying bags. If you would specifically like a second photographer to be present, make sure you find out how much this might cost.
“Do you offer an engagement shoot before the wedding?”
For us an engagement shoot is an essential part of the ‘preparation’ process. It gives the photographer and the couple a great opportunity to work together in a relaxed manner with no pressure. As a couple this can give you quite a boost of confidence in your attitude towards having your photographs taken.
“How long will you stay on the day of the wedding and will there be a charge if the event lasts longer than planned?”
Again, this is something that needs discussion well before your wedding day. The last thing you want is for your cake cutting and first dance timings to have overrun by half an hour and for your photographer to tell you that they have finished for the day… or that if you want them to stay it will cost you an extra couple of £100. On the other hand, some photographers will not limit the number of hours they stay at all, so this will not be an issue.
Whatever the options and possibilities, make sure you understand exactly what is and isn’t included well in advance.
“Are you going to be the photographer who attends our wedding?”
Some studios have several photographers who they hire out for weddings. Make sure that the photographer you are meeting and getting to know is the same one who will shoot your wedding. If you have taken the time to go and visit the studio there’s little point having a complete stranger turn up on your wedding day.
“How do you feel about other guests taking photographs at the same time?”
This can be quite a touchy subject. Occasionally, as photographers, we get a guest or family member who is an avid picture taker and will, seemingly, do their best to get in the way and have a go at being a pro for the day. It’s important to remember that you have paid a lot of money to have a competent professional do the job correctly.
Whilst we certainly don’t mind guests standing beside us for any group shots we are setting up, it’s only respectful that the guest photographer stands aside when politely asked (or even better, beforehand) so the professional can get on with their job, unhindered. You would hate for us to miss a shot because Uncle John stepped in front of us at a key moment… and he didn’t get the shot either!
“After the wedding, how long will it be before we are able to see the photographs?”
All photographers will manage their workflow differently, and you could argue that there is no right or wrong way – everybody will do what they think is right. What is important is that your expectations are set, that they give a realistic idea of how long you will have to wait before you see your proofs after the wedding day, and that this promise is met.
“Do you carry backup equipment in case of failure?”
This is one of the main differences between a professional and an amateur. Any photographer worth their salt will always have backup equipment in case their main tools break. We carry two cameras with us (and are able to shoot with just one), and one spare in the boot of the car in case both camera bodies fail. You’d have to be pretty unlucky for this to occur, but we have heard of this happening, and luckily the photographer was able to use her spare. The same goes for flashguns, batteries, memory cards etc.
Guest post by Matt Pereira
Images from Matt Pereira