Sunday, 21 December 2014

10 Questions to ask your Wedding Photographer

I came across a post the other day by a wedding photographer named Kay English. Her post, entitled "10 Real Questions to ask Your Wedding Photographer - Written by a Real Wedding Photographer" asked some great questions you should consider asking your wedding photographer! Unlike the usual questions you find on wedding websites, they are the kinds of questions your photographer knows you should be asking.

So, thanks Kay! Here are my answers...

1) Why are you worth the amount you charge?

Actually, I think when you break it down, you realize you are getting great value. Consider the expenses and time, not to mention the quality of equipment, training and practice that goes into your wedding photographer and you begin to see why it costs, but I won't get into those administrative details. Rather, Let me explain why it is some of the best money you will spend on your wedding. As an individual working independently (what is termed a "Boutique Studio" by others including Kay) and directly with you as my client, I am focussed on one thing - getting you the images you want and need. My sole purpose at your wedding is to get you your best images, recording every moment of the day.

I am not focused on mass production of a product. I take time to understand your needs and your style and at your wedding I capture an expression of who you are. This not only applies to taking the photos, but the entire process of providing your images from beginning to end. Years later, when you look back at the photographs, I want you to see your story - your wedding - your way - beautifully portrayed; not just stock wedding photos that could have been any bride and groom.

2) Do you shoot natural light or artificial light? Or both?

If you understand photography at all, you know there are two important things: the subject (you) and the light. Knowing when and where to use artificial light is not as simple as putting the flash on when you are inside and taking it off when you are outside. Sometimes you use natural light inside a building and sometimes you use artificial light outside. "Seeing" the light is important as it's direction and intensity can drastically change the appearance of the image. The way you handle the light makes the difference between a snapshot and a photograph.

When I'm shooting your wedding, I use both, depending on the circumstances and what is needed to provide the best image.

3) Do you back up your files online just in case of a fire? Do you have backup equipment?

Having a background in technology, I am very aware of the need to back up files. While at your wedding, my primary camera has two card slots and each image is written to each of those cards simultaneously meaning if I have a card failure, there is already a backup. I typically carry a laptop with me and before the night is over, your images are copied, not moved, from the memory cards to that laptop, They are then copied to the main editing computer which backs up nightly to an external hard drive. Before the night is over, there are four copies of your images. That drive weekly gets copied to a third computer with an external hard drive. Your edited images are posted on my proofing site which is cloud based and has indefinite (as long as the site exists) storage.

So were you keeping track? That's seven different backups through the process, and never less than 2 at a time. You can trust that your images are safe.

I carry two cameras at your wedding and have at least one more ready to go if needed. If something fails, there is always another at the ready.

4) Will I get a HIGH resolution DVD?

Yes! While some photographers only provide a low resolution thumbnail image on DVD, when you order the DVD from me, you get FULL resolution images with rights to print them wherever and whenever you wish. Of course, you can still order prints instead of the DVD, but I have not met a bride yet that prefers to order prints. It's like getting copies of the negatives. Of course I hope you love the "photography", refer me to your friends and invite me to future life events, not just come to me for more "prints".

5) How do you make us feel relaxed in front of the camera?

Such a good question Kay! Remember when I said photography is about two things - the subject and the light? If you look like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car, you are not going to enjoy your photographs at all.

The engagement session is so important as it helps you relax. It is often our first opportunity to work together. You learn a little bit about my style, I learn a lot about how you react to certain poses and ideas. And together we become a lot more relaxed with each other. When the wedding day comes, we are like old friends and it is much easier to work together.

Through the day, we keep the dialog open. They are your images and you are the boss, so what you say goes. I am there for creative input and to operate the camera. I tell jokes, take care of what I can to make your day seem easier, and allow you to either let me work away or take control if you feel the need. At the consultations we talk about some of the things you should keep in mind at your photography session, including time and planning. And I obtain a completed questionaire with places, times, names and any special requests ahead of time so that we don't have to arrange those details at the wedding. I will also check out the venues ahead of time and often attend the rehearsal so that you are more at ease with the camera present.

I'm always open to your thoughts, creative suggestions and to your vision. You can relax and enjoy the day without worry.

6) How do you describe your shooting style? Are you laid back or aggressive? Do you tell the whole story of the day?

The day is your day. It's not about the photographer. As the photographer, I am there to capture all the details, all the events, all the moments. When the ceremony is going on, I respect the solemnity and seriousness of the event. I stay out of the way as much as possible without losing the key shots. 

When you are getting ready, I am tastefully shooting details and family as you share those moments and the butterflies that preceed the day. When the photo session is on, I'm working along with you, posing as necessary to capture great photos of your groups. And at the reception, I'm capturing candid moments of people conversing, of speeches, of the dance, and other events. You see me only when you need to, but I'm always there, laid back, in the background striving to capture all the little details you work hard to put together. I am very laid back and only aggressive when I need to be to ensure you get the best shots.

7) Will you help me with my time line for the wedding day?

There are several points at which I can provide help by making suggestions to your timeline. At our consultations we can discuss how much time is required for events at your wedding, including the photo session, and events between activities. Most brides have an idea how and when they want their wedding to occur, but many also find these suggestions helpful. I also supply a "tips sheet" for those who are interested. Finally, when I receive the completed questionnaire which I provide, I may make a suggestion or two regarding points that might make things run more smoothly.

8) What happens if you get sick on my day?

I haven't been sick yet (knock on wood). Even when I'm not feeling the best, I pull myself together and do the best possible job. We have a partnership and I want you to get the best images I can provide! Still, sometimes things happen. In the unlikely event that I cannot make it, if you have purchased a package that includes a second photographer, that photographer will become your primary photographer. Either way, another photographer will be found within my network to fill the gap. If there is advance notice, you will be notified immediately, and you will not have to worry about any arrangements to make this happen. You can continue with your wedding day without any added stress. 

9) What will you do if it rains or snows?

In the last couple of weeks, we have had green grass, then a foot of snow, raging winds and pouring rain. It's early winter here in Ontario and the weather is very unpredictable. 

Being prepared for circumstances and working with what we are given is the key here. I come equipped with studio lights, strobe lights, and backdrops if needed. We can set up in the church basement, or an empty room at the reception hall and take your formal photos in a full studio setup. Or, if you prefer to be a little creative, use the weather conditions to produce some great photos. 

It's all about being flexible. It's your wedding day and the weather is what it is - it's a happy day. 

Enjoy it, embrace the weather and make it part of your day. In the process, we can get some great, unique, photos.

10) What would you like for dinner?

Yep, another great question Kay. I have been with brides from 8:00 in the morning when they are getting ready, through all the prep, raced to the guys to get some photos, back to the bride for the final dress preparations, then to the church to get ahead of the limo and shots of the guests, shot the wedding (having missed lunch now), then headed to the photo session and out to the reception. At that point, I'm hungry and a little bit tired. It is so nice to be offered something to eat.

I'm not looking for a big meal, and often don't eat a lot if it is a buffet, but a little nourishment goes a long way to improving those final photos of the night, so: thank you!

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