6 questions to ask your photographer at your initial meeting

The client/photographer interview is a crucial meeting and one that you should be prepared for. I don’t mean to sound so ominous but you can bet you dollar the photographer has prepared even if that preparation is by conducting them previously. So why shouldn’t you be just as prepared? I can tell you that 1 in 15 couples that come to see us for the initial meeting have prepared in some way. The others visit us look at some images and then are more than happy with what they see and book us for their day. But this is your one time to test you photographer, so try to make them sweat a lot. I always enjoy seeing a bride to be coming in with a folder with notes and pages of documents, it means she has an idea of what she wants for the day and she is damn sure her service providers will provide it. Now the grooms they come along and sit; sometimes ask questions but more often than not they are here to make the bride to happy. Nothing wrong with that as long as one of you is asking the tough questions.

So as for the questions you should be asking, here are 6 big questions to get you started;

  1. Who owns the images?
  2. How long after the wedding will it be before the work is complete?
  3. What backup plan do you have if you’re sick?
  4. Do you have a backup plan for bad weather?
  5. How do you back up the wedding images and for how long?
  6. Do they have a finished wedding you can view?

As you can see a lot of these questions are about backup plans. This is very important, the images from the day will be some of the most important of your life so you need to know the photographer has contingences when things aren’t perfect.

Who owns your images? This is a big issue for me. Why would you spend $2000 to $3000 on a photographer only to have access to some prints? As the years go by and technology pushes us towards a digital world and away from the tangible one you want to have access to your images at all times in a high resolution format. Now some photographers may charge you extra to get a high resolution copy, that’s ok, the photographer has to put food on the table during the non-wedding season too. You just want to have the option of getting your images one way or another. Personally I include access to high resolution copies with all our packages because I feel it is your wedding day and these are your images.

Who owns your images?

Once the honeymoon is over and the visiting guests have left, the wedding tends to become a memory quite quickly and reality of normal life comes flooding back. Once you head back to work one of the first questions you will be asked is, “where are the photos?” Ask your photographer the question of time frames, it’s important to get your images back as soon as possible, but you also need to be aware that during that time the photographer may also be working on other weddings as well. As a generally rule of thumb I like to have a web gallery up for the couple at around the 2 week mark. This can sometimes be 3 weeks if it’s a busy time, but I also communicate that with the bride and groom on the wedding day so they are not waiting. I then like to have the printing, proof albums and discs ready at around 4 weeks. One last thing I like to do is on the night of the wedding, I get home I import the photographs and find one great image of the couple, I do a quick edit and e-mail it to them. That way they have a sample of what’s to come and something they can show off until they receive the rest of the work.

What does your photographer do if they are sick or injured? This is a big concern for couples, after all that planning you do not want to get a phone call the morning for your wedding to hear your photographer can’t make it. In your first meeting ask the photographer what their plan is? And while yes the likely answer is I don’t get sick, push them because everyone does at some stage. I am lucky working with Natalie I have a built in backup plan. I have to admit, I would have to be on my death bed not to attend a wedding. But I wasn’t always this lucky, 7 years ago when we started Warnock Imagery Natalie could take great shots but she simply wasn’t ready to shoot a wedding by herself. So I had a good friend who I had worked previously with who had also started doing weddings around that time as a backup and I was hers. If needed to, I could call her and she would cover for me. Now 7 years later I would have no problem sending Natalie if I was too sick to attend or even acting as the assistant on the day I was simply not up being the principle photographer. It’s an important question to ask and one I have only been asked twice in 7 years.

Does your intended photographer have a backup plan for bad weather? OK this one is unlikely here in Perth but it does happen. I wrote an article about here. But just to recap, if the weather is absolutely shocking what will the photographer do? Personally I do what I can on the day, some guest may not be able to make it back again. I bring the immediate family and VIP guest back to our studio where we can supply warm coffee and dry shelter and we at least get some lovely family shoots. I then offer the couple a post wedding shoot at the locations of their choice free of charge, after all the weather is just one thing you cannot control on your wedding day.

How long does the photograph store and backup your images? Weather you were able to negotiate a set of images or not what happens if in 2 years’ time you want one of your images? This is a good question to ask because it starts to involve the “behind the scenes” mechanics of photography. Ask the photographer what their backup plan is; if you don’t hear the term “offsite” ask about it. Without offsite backup your photos are not truly safe. You should also hear “multiple copies”. I like to work around the premise unless the image exists in 3 places at once it’s not backed up. If you are happy with what you hear then also ask for what time period. I state that I archive the images for 7 years, but in reality it’s longer. I will keep the hard disks active and looked after for 7 years but after that time I will not destroy them I will just keep in a draw; I just cannot guarantee images for longer than 7 years.

Image Backup

Finally, ask to see a finished wedding if possible. This is not always possible because the photographer may simply not have one waiting to be collected or they are trying to protect the couple’s privacy. But if you can it’s a great thing to see. A photographer’s folio is their visual resume, only the best images go into the folio. You will see many pictures of many different couples in many different locations. The locations will be perfect and the couples stunning, but what about the other images that didn’t make the folio? This is where seeing a fully finished wedding can be great. It allows you to see all the images that the couple gets from start to finish to give you a better picture of how your day will be recorded.


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