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For Brides

15 Questions To Ask Wedding Photographers Before You Book

It’s booking season.  Around Christmas time, it never fails, there are TONS of new engagements and January is a great time to start planning a wedding for that year or the next year.  Lots of photographers are in what’s considered “off season” and we’re spending our days talking with potential brides and answering their questions.

It’s important to know what questions to ask a photographer to help you make the best decision.  It’s easy to be confused between print rights/ copyrights and sizes of digital files and be blind-sided in the end when you find out the “disk of images” is really a disk of small images meant only for social media purposes. Or, to find out that to get said images digitally and in print quality it’s going to cost an extra “x” amount of dollars.

This is a list of questions for every bride talking to photographers so you understand exactly what you’re getting and how you’re getting it.  Also – my answers.

  1. How long will it take to get my full wedding day gallery back? At the most, 3 weeks.  I typically have them delivered in two.  
  2. Will I receive a sneak peek – and when will I see them? I give my brides a sneak peek within 2-3 days after their wedding.  And it’s big.  Typically around 100 photos.  I know you’re excited.  I am too. 
  3. How do you deliver the images? I deliver images in color and in black and white.  (That way, you get to choose! And, if great-grandma doesn’t like that hip black and white, it’s there in color for her too.) They are delivered via downloadable gallery that is mobile enabled.  All photos can be delivered in high resolution print quality images. 
  4. How will you edit our photos? I have a matte style of editing.  I will mildly re-touch skin if needed and remove obvious clutter. (like that huge trash can in the corner.) I try my best to shoot without distracting things but sometimes, it just can’t be helped. I don’t, however do heavy re-touching. After delivery if further retouching is requested by the client, an additional fee my be applicable. 
  5. Are all delivered images edited? This may seem like a silly question, but I assure you, it’s not.  I know photographers that deliver every image and say, “pick out your favorite 500 and I’ll edit those.”  I cull through the bad ones for you — I don’t deliver my test shots or blurry shots and they are fully edited. (Twice, because I deliver the color and black and whites.) 
  6. How many images (on average) do you deliver? The industry standard here is about 100 per hour.  Give or take.  My averages fall right along with that, 100-120 per hour. 
  7. Printing rights. Let’s talk about these.  It’s important for you to know the difference. Printing rights given means that you have the right to print your images.  COPYRIGHTS mean you own the images and the photographer can no longer use them at all.  Most photographers will not give copyrights up without a hefty price (and when I say hefty, I mean several thousand dollars.)  When we’re selling copyrights, think actors and actresses — they don’t want us selling their photos to every news media outlet.  If you’re not in the witness protection program, you probably don’t need these. PRINTING RIGHTS, however, are included in all my collections.  You can print your images wherever you want.  My only restriction is that you cannot edit them.  
  8. How can I get professional prints? Not at Walgreens, Wal-mart, or Costco.  I provide my brides with the option to order straight from my professional printer at cost, right through their gallery.  I don’t make a dime off prints.  I don’t believe in holding your images hostage.  
  9. How do you handle time restrictions? Full day coverage is actually included in all our packages.  Because I believe in telling the whole story of your day, I’m there from the time the bride is getting ready until the bride and groom leave.  Sometimes, we party until 2 am.  And then I sleep for days.  And then I’m up until 4 am backing them up.  And up with my kids at 6 am.  
  10. How do you make sure you don’t lose our photos?  At weddings, I shoot dual cards — which means I have two cards in my camera shooting the same thing.  I shoot RAW, and a copy of each image is saved to two cards, so while I’m shooting, I’m already backing them up once.  When I get home from a wedding, I don’t go to bed until they’re downloaded onto my hard-drive (third back up.)  When the images are finished, the edits are uploaded into my online cloud storage (4th backup) and stay online for life.  It is, the bride and groom’s responsibility to download and back up their final delivered images, as after 1 year, they are removed from hard-drives.  Lets be real, hard-drives, memory cards, they fail sometimes.  Lots of times.  Their funny little boogers and aren’t to be taken lightly.  I do everything in my power to ensure I don’t lose your images.  
  11. How do you reserve wedding dates? I reserve wedding dates by retainer paid AND a contract signed.  
  12. How do you handle payments? I require a 500$ retainer. From there, the remaining balance is divided up into equal monthly payments until the month before the wedding to make it easier financially for my brides.  The collection total is due 30 days before the wedding date.  All payments are made electronically and brides are emailed invoices each month with an easy link to log in and make payments. 
  13. Do you have liability insurance? Yes. Brides, this is so important. SO SO important.  Like, if the answer is “no” – Run. Run fast.  
  14. How do you work with your second shooter?  This is super important.  As the industry changes, I’m seeing some photographers leave their brides and grooms with their second shooters or send half the party with someone else. I don’t do this.  My second shooter is there to assist me, not as an equal partner.  They are there for when I cannot be two places at once. (example: they are typically catching the groomsmen getting ready a little bit while I’m with the bride if things are running behind and I’ll miss a big event in the brides room by going to get the groomsmen and they provide a second angle in the ceremony.)  Brides are hiring me, not my assistant.  Therefore, they will not get my assistant as their photographer unless I die in a car crash on the way there.  I typically deliver  95% my photos, 5% second shooter photos.  I don’t believe it’s fair to share their work as my own, therefore it also does not appear on my blog.  Everything seen on my blog/website is something I shot unless I say otherwise – in the rare occurrence I share one of their shots on the blog during the wedding post. If a photographer you’re hiring isn’t a “team” you’re hiring, make sure they’re actually going to be doing most of the shooting, as some are relying heavily on the work of others.  
  15. Do you bring your own lighting gear? Yes. I bring my own lighting gear and know how to work it. Don’t worry, your dark reception will be photographed gorgeously.  

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and when you appear all the rivers sound in my body, bells shake the sky, and a hymn fills the world.

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