Your wedding photographs will help shape your memory of the day so it makes sense to give your photographer a bit of a grilling before making a final decision. There is certainly no shortage of choice, with a dizzying array of packages, styles, albums, print and disk options, levels of coverage, and costs it can very quickly become confusing as to exactly who is offering what service and for what money. Also there is the question of trust. Who are they? Will you get on with them? Can you be sure they will deliver the images you want?
Below I have outlined 10 questions to ask your wedding photographer to help cut through the confusion.
1. Who will be taking the photos?
Make sure that the person you have been dealing with is the same person who will with you on the day. There are a lot of organisations out there who farm out work for a commission to other photographers, this means you can have a complete stranger turning up to photograph your wedding who may not be as experienced or talented as the person you thought you booked with. Always clarify in writing exactly who it is that will be with you both and taking the photos.
2. Are you insured?
Insurance is vital and it would be foolhardy to book any professional service that isn’t fully covered. Accidents do happen at weddings, I personally know one photographer who knocked over a stone font in a church worth £10,000 smashing it to pieces and another who knocked over the brides Grandmother while stepping backwards to frame a shot resulting in a broken hip. Both these instances the photographers were insured by their Public Liability and Professional Indemnity cover but had they not have been it could have potentially been disastrous for the bride and groom. Ask to see a copy of the insurance certificate or better yet many insurers now post confirmation online.
3. Are all the images in your portfolio from a wedding?
A new trick that a lot of photographers seem to be using is to hire in professional models for a day and mock up a wedding shoot. While there is no doubt this can lead to stunning images as the photographer is free from the time constraints that a wedding normally places on him or her it may not be representative of the standard of images that will be produced on the day. A professional photographer can spend hours setting up a single image with a model whereas during a wedding you can be lucky to get 10 minutes to work with a bride. Just check that the work your photographer will be producing under pressure is the same standard as is advertised. A great way to check this is to ask……….
4. Can I see a complete wedding album?
Any photographer will pick out the best images to advertise their work but to get a feel for their overall quality ask to see a complete album as presented to a couple. Any photographer confident in his or her ability should be more than happy to provide access to a web album so you can see the quality of their work overall (for example you can see one of mine here
) If they seem reluctant then it may be time to look elsewhere.
5. Are you a member of an accredited organisation?
Professional accreditation is the closest you can get to a guarantee of quality. Any accredited society should have a code of conduct that the photographer agrees to abide with (take a look at the one from the Guild of Photographers here
) and this means there is a clear expectation of quality and consistency is their work. Also, should the worse happen it gives you a line of appeal in the event of a dispute.
6. Can I see a copy of your contract?
If a photographer didn’t put forward a formal written agreement when you booked I would be very wary indeed. A contract safeguards both you and the photographer by clearly defining exactly what you can expect from each other in terms of coverage on the wedding day and access to the images thereafter and if this isn’t formally set down you are leaving yourself wide open to big problems. Insist on seeing a copy of the contract before you pay the deposit and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the details.
7. What happens if you are incapacitated on the day?
This is a tough question to give a concise answer to as it depends dramatically on the circumstances but I would expect any professional photographer to take all reasonable precautions to make sure they will be with you on your wedding day. The minimum I would expect is for the photographer run a well maintained vehicle, have backups of all major items of equipment and batteries and to be part of a network on whom he or she could call on should the worst happen.
8. Do I receive a copy of the images on disk?
Many photographers these days include some or all the images on disk, if this is the case you must clarify:
Are they edited? Many budget photographers just ‘shoot and burn’, this may seem great as they will promise 100’s of images but when it comes to your wedding photos quality beats quantity every time. Check that the images will at least be cropped, colour corrected and some will be provided in black and white and colour.
Are they high resolution? Many photographers include ‘web ready’ images only. These are low quality and unsuitable for printing anything bigger than 4″ x 6″.
Are they watermarked? Check that the images won’t have ‘XXXX Photography’ over the middle of them.
9. Who has copyright over the photos?
This again is a bit of a grey area. Many photographers retain the rights to their images and as such keep the copyright however they will hand to a customer the print rights. This means you are free to reproduce the images in any way you would like (email, prints, canvases, Facebook, etc) but you can’t enter them in competitions or sell them for profit. However always check what you will and will not be able to do with the images once you receive them.
10. How many other weddings will you be covering the same day?
It is not uncommon for photographers to cover two weddings on busy days and providing you only want your photographer for a few hours (say, to cover the ceremony) this shouldn’t be a problem. However if you want the photographer longer then you want to check just how flexible he or she can be with you. After all you don’t want them rushing off too soon if your ceremony is delayed for any reason.
Good luck organising your day and I hope the information above helps make it that little bit less stressful. Don’t forget there are many excellent, honest wedding photographers out there who work very hard on building a decent reputation and providing a great service. Just don’t be afraid to ask the questions and do the research and I am sure you will find the right one.