Are you my photographer? Part III: What to ask

(Yes, I realize something I already said isn’t a big deal to me is consuming my life.)

Going into our meeting with the photographer below (you know, someone else who is not my photographer), I wanted to make sure I was ready with the right questions. People (who aren’t me) care really, really deeply about their photography, so there is no shortage of information there. So then I got overwhelmed by sixty different lists and nitpicky questions.

So obviously I made my own (yep, that’ll help with the information overload, universe!)

JennShaffer

Photo by Jennifer Shaffer, found via Mrs. Unicycle’s recaps on the bee!

After reading up on it, we I decided that a studio* was probably not for us and we’d rather choose an independent photographer.

I consulted all of my various books/checklists/internet to make sure I knew the right questions to ask.

We’ll start with the questions I already knew answers to, but are good to include in case your photographer hasn’t already shared them.

The Basics (aka things you probably already know the answers to)

  • What are your rates? What does that include? (You could also ask if packages are flexible, but they probably are–questions like this make me feel silly but its good to confirm.)
  • Can I see your portfolio? (It was on the website, so I already saw basically everyone’s.)
  • How many images will you provide? Will all of them be edited? (Lots, all of which will be edited because I pick the best ones for you because I’m a pro. And honestly, you probably could do with less than you’ll get.)
  • How many hours will you shoot? (This was probably covered in the part about packages.)
  • Do we have usage rights for our photos? (Yep, probably.) How are they provided? (Website, USB or DVD most likely.)
  • Do you have backup equipment? What if you are sick/get in a car crash/are abducted by aliens? (Yes, they have another camera, yes, they know other photographers, they’ve never missed a wedding but if the unthinkable were to happen they have it covered.)

Extra Credit

  • What kind of camera do you use? (I wouldn’t understand the answer, but ask away if you would.) (Our camera is of the kind “blue”. It has a screen on the back and the GPS feature is finicky. Your camera would therefore be of the kind “better than mine”. See?)
  • Do you shoot digital or film? (I’m pretty sure everyone is mostly digital, but again, I would barely understand your answer–I trust your pro-photog judgment.)

Actual Questions:

  • Do you have a second shooter? Who? Can I see their portfolio? Who will do what?
  • Do you have an assistant? (This is different than a second shooter, apparently.)
  • When will I receive my proofs? My album?
  • How will I have access to the pictures? (I’ve seen DVDs, online galleries and flashdrives.)
  • May I see an entire wedding? (This was great not just to see the whole catalog of shots from one wedding, but also to see what the interface we would use is like–user friendly? Clean and uncomplicated? We really liked the system she uses for client ordering and proof viewing.)
  • Have you shot at my venue before? (You may know this from their website, but nice to ask how familiar they are. My church has a LOT of restrictions and our reception venue isn’t as well known, so familiarity would be a plus.)
  • What is the payment policy? Deposit? Cancellation?
  • How much do prints cost? Are there any discounts for large orders?
  • How long have you been in business? How many weddings have you shot? How many weddings do you do a year? What is your training/background?
  • How will we determine what shots are taken? Locations? Will you scout those or should I?
  • What was the most challenging wedding you ever shot? (Shamelessly stolen from one of the sources below!)

Both this and this helped me out a lot in compiling this list of questions.

We went in all prepared, had a great meeting and….she was booked for our date. It sucked. We really liked her. We were sad. But, I pulled it together and asked on Facebook as well (and then my sister did too) and I added even MORE people to my spreadsheet (now with an impressive FIFTY SEVEN Chicago photographers) and we are meeting with someone else next week. Who, PLEASE GOD, will be our photographer and I will be done with all this. Although I’m currently trying to schedule a backup just in case because I played this game once already and I need this thing done before I go back to work in less than two weeks.

How did you find your photographer? Do you actually know what people are talking about with lenses and bodies and all??

*It looks like they charge low prices and assign you a photographer based on your viewing of several portfolios (but without meeting the photographers). Some people have awesome experiences, some people have terribles ones–and you deal with a salesperson a lot. Sounds pushy.
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2 thoughts on “Are you my photographer? Part III: What to ask

  1. We went with an independent photographer, and I think it was the best decision for us. She wound up being easy to work with, and impressively got our photos to us within a week or two of the wedding. I was expecting months based on some of the stories I heard. I don’t remember how I found her, but did find other girls on weddingbee who used her and that’s what sealed it for me.

    And just letting you know, I’m Miss Ariel on weddingbee!

    • I think I feel a lot more comfortable going with an independent. Ours is pretty unknown (I jUST signed the contract today) but we really like the weddings she’s done so far, and figure she’ll only be better in ten months with that much more experience!

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