A while ago a wrote a post on ‘things to consider when choosing photographer’ and went over some general points. This time around I figured I would talk more about specific questions you should ask the photographer you are looking to hire. Of course, there are many more then I will list here but from my experience in talking with clients, I find these are probably some of the most important ones.
1. What do I receive once it’s all said and done?
I listed this one first mainly because it is one of the most important. The times are definitely changing but there are still photographers out there that actually charge for prints or only include a certain amount of images in the package and then charging extra for more. Nowadays most photographers included all the finished photos on a DVD or USB stick but be sure to ask some more specific questions. For instance, if it’s a 4 hour wedding, approximately how many photos will you most likely get. It’s impossible to predict the exact amount, but any photographer should be able to at least give you an estimate. Keep in mind that a photographer may take over 1000 photos for even a 4 hour wedding. That doesn’t necessarily mean that those are all final images. They are usually narrowed down to the best of the best.
What I personally do is supply all the final processed photos on a USB stick. One folder has high resolution photos which the client can print. The other has watermarked low resolution photos which can be shared. I don’t give any restrictions to the photos other then that the client will not resell the photos as I still hold the rights. This is pretty common these days but it’s important to know exactly how your photographer deals with this subject.
One other thing that you NEED to ask is how long? How long does it take to get the photos. I don’t know any couple that isn’t anxious to see the final photos so be sure to find out the time frame of delivery. Personally I pride myself on delivery of photos within a month, usually quicker. Some photographers might be quicker, others might take a lot longer. I have heard horror stories of some couples waiting 6 months, even 8.
2. Is there a contract to sign?
This second question is just as crucial as the first. Many couples may get scared away as soon as they hear a photographer asking for a signed contract but it protects both sides. It ensures that, you, the client, has the date secured and will be provided the services promised by the photographer. Without a contract who’s to say the photographer in question doesn’t just change his mind and choose not to photograph your wedding. Trust me, I have had couples book me for this exact reason. Because their photographer bailed on them 3 weeks before the wedding. I’m not saying this happens all the time, but if it does, at least you know you are protected to a certain degree. Some things that the contract should outline are, cost of the chosen package, any deposit that is required, when that deposit is required along with the final amount, and how the rights to the images work and exactly what you are allowed to do with them. There are other things that can be included but the best advice I can give is to read it over carefully.
3. Am I able to share and print the photos we get at the end?
I touched upon this one in the first point, but be sure to find out exactly what you can do wit the photos once you get them. Will you have access to all the final photos? Are you required to buy prints for extra ones? Are you allowed to share the photos you receive on social media or other online methods? Like I said, most photographers these days allow you to print the high resolution images but there are still some out there with the old school frame of my mind that require you to ‘purchase’ prints.
4. What happens if we have to cancel the wedding?
No couple wants to think about this one but it does happen. There are many reasons that a wedding may be cancelled so I won’t go into specifics but what happens if you actually have to cancel yours? Or at the very least move the date? This comes back to the contract. Typically if you cancel, you are on the hook for the deposit. But read the contract carefully as some photographers may say the full amount is required upon cancellation. It all depends on the contract. I have actually had this happen to me a couple times. Each time, the couple gave me plenty of notice and I didn’t charge them anything. I was able to fill the spots so I wasn’t really out the money. If it was more last minute, it might be a different story. My point is that it all depends on the photographer. Some are flexible and some are a more strict.
5. If we need you longer how does that work?
When discussing timing for the wedding always ask your photographer his policy on staying longer if needed. I am always up front about this as I tell each client that if they need me for long it costs a certain amount per hour. Now, with that being said, I have had weddings where I stayed an extra 15 minutes to catch some important photos. I don’t necessarily charge for that but every photographer sees this differently. Usually if couples are aware of cost up front they will have a better idea of exactly what they can afford. It also helps with planning the wedding day, especially speeches and the such.
6. Is there an engagement session, and if so is it included?
For almost all of my wedding packages I include an engagement session. The last thing you want to do is book a package and then find out after you sign the contract that you have to pay extra for an engagement session. Another thing I offer is the option to decline the engagement session and simply add on another hour to the package. Every photographer has different options so be sure to ask. In keeping with the first questions, also find out how long it takes to get the engagement photos once they are done. Especially if you are looking to use some of the photos for invitations etc..
That's it for now. As I said at the beginning, there are many more things to ask but these should help get you started in the right direction when dealing with any photographer. If you are unsure of anything be sure to ask right away so there is no confusion down the road.
If anyone has another questions they would like to share please feel free to leave them in the comments section!