As a New Zealand wedding photographer, I do meet with many wedding clients in person, as well as online when they are not in the city. Many of my clients are also from Australia and abroad, so Skype conversations are a must. There are often common wedding photography related questions that get asked, and thus I put together a list of 10 questions you should ask your wedding photographer during your research, to help you find the perfect photographer for your big day.
1- What is your wedding photography experience?
This is where you get to know just how well versed the wedding photographers are when it comes to handling the fast pace environment of real weddings, where proceedings are often cannot be interrupted, such as the wedding ceremony.
For my part, I have been doing wedding photography for over 10 year now and definitely consider myself as a veteran, scary as it maybe. I do love it though. There are not many jobs in the world where I get to laugh and have fun every single time, even in the blistering wind, torrential rain, or cold as winter. With over 300 weddings across 4 continents, I am certainly pretty luck to have celebrated with so many wedding clients around the world.
2- How long will the wedding photography service last on the day?
It is always good to know how long the photographer will be there for so you can plan the day accordingly. Most New Zealand wedding photographers, including myself, enjoy the full day cover where we get to have fun from when the boys getting ready right up to the first dance at night. I know there are photographers who do offer even longer coverage, to document the super early part of the getting ready like when the boys go for their rounds of golf, up to the wee hour of the night amidst all the drinking and dancing and partying. My most popular wedding photography package is the 9 hours service which seems to strike a good balance.
3- How many images will I get from the wedding day?
I firmly believe in quality over quantity when it comes to the number of wedding images you can expect from a photographer. However, it is still always good to know ball park figure. You should not use the answer to this question as a deciding factor when choosing between several wedding photographers. You want to book someone because of their creative skills, their artistic eyes, and their personality, not by how many images you can get from the wedding day. However, you would find that a typical 8-9 hours coverage should give you at least 500 wedding images in most New Zealand wedding photography packages.
4- How long will it take to receive the wedding images?
Good things take time, please do remember that. For some of us professional wedding photographers, the summer can be extremely busy. We also have families, children, and other personal things that are as equally important. And then there are the issues of the thousands upon thousands of wedding images that need to processed, up to the standard that we are proud enough to share with our clients and the world. On the other hand, we are living in the digital age where we want information now and right now. I know most brides are always eager to share their wedding images as soon as possible, and to relive the day as well. You will find that most wedding packages and wedding contract would say in excess of 8 working weeks. From a business point of view, I feel it is always important to under promise and over deliver. Sometimes I can deliver the wedding images within just a few days, while others, it could take up to 10 weeks, depending on the amount of work and what else is going on. The most important thing is the communication so you, as the clients, always know what is going on.
5- What equipment will you bring, and do you have backup gear?
This is a question that likely to be asked the techie-orientated clients, or those who have passion in photography or just cool and high tech gear. It is always fun to talk about gear, and brand, and canon vs sony vs nikon and what not. At the end of the day, photography gear is just at tool, just like a car, or a computer. The wedding images come from the visions of the wedding photographers. When you book, you trust that the photographers use the necessary gear to help them with their vision and their business goals to help you capture your day. This does not always mean the most expensive gear, or the most up to date, etc.
It is probably more important just to quickly ask and confirm if they have backup gear just in case something fail. Mind you, if the photographer is confident, they can still create something beautiful and unique with any camera or phone, or the weather really hits the fan.
6- How will you handle wet weather?
Us crazy New Zealand wedding photographers love wet weather, and in fact, any kind of weather really. But the rain certainly does bring such a different and romantic mood to a wedding day. If you can cast your mind back to some of your favourite chick flicks and romantic movies, some of the best scenes were done in the rain. We just all have to be careful with the hair and make up, and this is where the umbrellas come in. At the end of the day, whether rain wedding photos will take place or not depend more on the attitude of the brides, than the wedding photographers. I have been lucky enough to have clients who want to push the boundary with me, and want beautiful and artistic wedding photos, no matter what. And it is always with this enthusiasm and attitude that when the best wedding photos will take place.
7- How will you handle bright sunny environments?
Bright sunny days are always nice for weddings, giving such happy feel to the days. The harsh sun does bring some challenges to wedding photography with lots of harsh shadows every where. It is good to know how would the wedding photographer prefer to work in this situation. There are really no right and wrong answers. Some photographers would move you in the shade, while others would embrace the bright and open and colour richness of the scenes.
8- What is the deposit and why is it non-refundable?
This is a tricky one. Wedding photography deposit, similar for any other wedding vendors really, allow the wedding photographer to secure the date for the client. In another word, if any other enquiries come along on that same date, those wedding photography enquiries will be turned down because of the existing booking. This is why the deposits were typically non-refundable. I am sure that you would not want your photographer to offer the date after the contract is signed. If the photographer does not have a deposit policy in the contract, or even any contract at all, it is probably a bad sign in terms of how they conduct their business. It is important to find this out yourself to see how much the deposit would be, and if there are any refund policy or not.
9- Who owns the copyright to the wedding images?
I would hope that most New Zealand wedding photographers understand the issues of copyright and operate as recommended by the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography, NZIPP. My wedding photography contract is based on that provided by the NZIPP, where, essentially, it states that the copyright would remain with the photographer, who in turn, would provide a personal license to the wedding couples to use the wedding photographic work for personal use. I know on my part, it means my clients can print, enlarge, share, make their own wedding albums, as often as they want, without asking for permission from me. However, that original copyright to the wedding images will always stay with the creator.
10- What can i do with the wedding images?
As explained above, the standard NZIPP wedding contract allows for personal use of the wedding images. We, wedding photographers, would certainly appreciate to be credited when the images are shared in the public domain. Most of my wedding clients do check in if they are unsure of anything, such as if other vendors want to use our images, or magazines, etc.
11- What happen if you get sick?
In my 10+ years as a New Zealand wedding photographer, I have never been sick enough to not turn up to a wedding and have a blasting good time with my clients. This is one of the reason why I love wedding photography so much. I survive the whole day on pure adrenaline, laughing and mingling with the brides and grooms, and all their awesome friends and families. Touch wood here.
However, as professional wedding photographers, we do often have a little network of fellow artists that we can call on if things are desparate. It is best to check with the photographer to be sure.
12- Do I need to feed you?
I think it is quite standard nowaday that photographers, and other vendors who happen to be around during the reception, do get fed. Videographers and musicians tend to be the only other two wedding vendors that do stay late into the night. Some vendors prefer to wait at the end before they get their food, while some would like to get fed early so they can get ready for the rest of the night.
13- Is there any hidden costs?
Most wedding photography packages are quite straight forward, and clearly spelled out in the wedding contract. However, it is always safe to ask this question. Some extra costs would include travel and accommodation, overtime charge, and editing.
14- Do you provide albums or prints?
Digital files are definitely the standard when it comes to wedding photography services and packages. Some photographers do provide a selection of prints in a beautiful box or display. A tiny portion would include wedding albums and/or prints as part of the wedding collections. I know on my part, wedding albums and prints are additional. I always tell my wedding clients, if you do have budget to consider wedding albums, why don’t you look at wedding videography instead. With albums and prints, this can be done at any time in the future as you already have the wedding images. But for wedding videography, there is only one chance to create the memory. Most clients do choose the wedding videography instead, and never regret it.
I hope the above list of questions and answer give you some good ideas on your search for your wedding photographer. It is never an easy task. Some clients just know very quickly who they want to capture their wedding days, while others would visit hundreds of websites and talk to dozens of photographers before they are confident in their decision. At the end of the day, you will know when you have found your photographer. Its a pretty special day so go with your instinct and don’t settle for anything less.