Recently a former Greensboro bride contacted me with a photography question. Lauren and Sean Stimpson were married in September 2010 and are concerned because they have not received their wedding photos. Lauren asked, “How long should it take to receive your wedding photos?” Surprised that it has now been approximately six months since her wedding, I thought for sure she could not be asking for herself. However, I was incorrect.
Lauren hired a wedding planner for “The Day of” services and because I was not her planner, I began to ask questions such as: 1) what does your contract state? 2) When did you order the pictures?, 3) What did the vendor state with regards to your request for the status?, etc. See these are some of the questions that a planner may have thought to have written in the contract since the process of selecting photos and receiving them takes place after the planner’s work is done. Unfortunately, most “Day of Wedding” service packages do not include reviewing and negotiating contracts.
Regardless of all of the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s, I provided Lauren with a few ideas on how she could now fix the problem that she is faced with amicably before resorting to other measures. And thus, I began to think about other brides who may have encountered the same issue with photographers and decided to educate my readers.
Here are a few essential questions that I believe should be asked of a potential photographer. Please note that the names listed in this article have been changed to protect the anonymity of the individuals. For that same reason, the photographer’s name has not been mentioned.
- Will it be you taking the pictures?When you first go to a photographer, he will show you a portfolio of his work. Find out if the book you are looking at belongs to the same person that will be taking the pictures. Make sure you meet the person that will be showing up on your wedding day and that his name appears on the contract. Of course, he can have an assistant helping, but he should be the one taking the shots. It’s also wise to have a back-up plan. Ask what happens if he gets sick? Ask to see the portfolio of other photographers he would use in an emergency.
- How many shots are candid? How many are posed?Make sure you are clear with your photographer about what you want. Do you want mostly journalistic style shots or all formal shots? How many will be color and how many black and white? Some photographers are better at one than the other, so ask about his strengths and background.
- How many rolls of film do you shoot?The more rolls the photographer shoots, the more photos you’ll have to choose from. However, if you’re paying by the roll, it is suggestion that you talk about a limit, as it can get pricey. Don’t restrict him too much though. You’ll miss the great shot of Aunt Bertha dancing on the table. Set a ballpark number of rolls and expect him to go over by one or two.
- Do you know the place?Your photographer should be familiar with your ceremony and reception site. He shouldn’t be surprised by any weird lighting problems or if photographers aren’t allowed to use flash. A good photographer will take a trip to scout out the area before the big day. He should also have some ideas about where to go for outdoor shots.
- When will I be able to order my photos? Having the photographer show up and take the pictures after being paid is one thing. Making sure that you receive the pictures that you paid for in a timely fashion is another (just take it from the bride mentioned in this article). As a rule of thumb, I suggest having a scheduled date to meet with your photographer after the wedding already set in place during the time that you sign your contract. By doing this, you lessen the chance that the photographer has forgotten all about you and your photos 60-90 days later, and moved on to the next bride. Having a set date to meet and a specific timeline of how long after you select your photos- it will take to actually receive them, leaves less room for hassling and uncertainty.
- When do I put the deposit down, and when is the whole thing due? Haggling over prices after the fact can get icky, so nail down all the prices ahead of time. You ask if there is a charge for overtime and travel costs, whether you can hold off payment until you get the proofs and if you can buy the negatives.
** In addition, to the aforementioned questions. I also suggest that you make a list of the pictures that you definitely want him to take to avoid a disappointing picture viewing. After all, you can’t go back and do the day over.