10 Questions Your Photographer Will Ask You
You will almost certainly meet with your wedding photographer prior to the big day. At the very least, I meet face-to-face with all my couples around 4-6 weeks before the date when the finer details have been confirmed and we can discuss the plan for the day. This is an ideal opportunity to get to know your photographer if you haven’t already met them and to ensure that both you and they are feeling confident about the schedule, locations and expectations.
When I meet couples, I take along a questionnaire that I have continued to refine over the years to capture as much information as I need to do my job to the best of my knowledge and ability. There are many questions I ask and whilst some are unique to individual weddings, I thought I would share some of my most-asked questions so that you can feel a little more prepared at your meeting with your own photographer:
1. Who is in your bridal party?
Your photographer will benefit from knowing who and how many people are in your party. It will help them plan the logistics such as timings, shot locations and poses for any formal photos you may wish to have. It’s also to help them know who to expect in the morning if they are photographing your preparations – being clued up as to who’s who helps them to integrate into the scene and knowingly capture images that truly reflect the relationships and dynamics in your party. Similarly, don’t be afraid to let your photographer know who your nearest and dearest are so that they hopefully have a better chance of focusing their attention (and lens!) on whomever is most important to you.
2. Are you hiring a videographer?
By letting your photographer and your videographer know who they’ll be working alongside can help them to establish a relationship and make a plan to work co-operatively to ensure that they aren’t distracting to you or to each other. Videography is becoming evermore popular and I enjoy the opportunity to bounce creative ideas off another artistic contributor. I am also a videographer for ‘Rosey Films’ when I’m not photographing so I like to think I have an insight into the job and can work sensitively alongside your videographer.
3. What time are you leaving for your ceremony (if this is not at the same venue as your preparations)?
This is such an important question because separate preparation and ceremony locations mean your photographer will have to carefully plan their exit! Although it depends on the journey between locations, this most likely means that your photographer will leave ahead of you so that they can arrive in time to park up (we probably can’t just pull up outside like you can!), have a quick chat with the vicar/celebrant/registrar, capture a few shots of the groom/partner waiting, and most importantly get set up to photograph those crucial moments of your arrival. This means that there may not be time for your photographer to stay and capture you getting into your dress during your bridal prep. It’s just a case of logistics and expectations – if this shot is particularly important to you, make sure you plan ahead with your photographer to ensure that this doesn’t mean you end up waiting for them at the other end!
Your photographer knows full well that you are likely to want shots of your dress, your shoes, the centrepieces, the rings and so forth. This is for those images that your photographer would otherwise not know to capture. Are you subtly commemorating a lost loved-one? Are you planning a sudden surprise for guests or your new spouse? Is there a certain shot at your venue that you want to recreate to continue a specific family tradition? It’s advisable to make these unique elements known to your photographer before the big day so they can ensure they are clued-up and factor in the time and equipment needed to capture them for you.
5. How long will you have for formal/posed/traditional photos?
It’s perfectly ok not to want these, however, many couples opt for a few traditional group shots to reflect the fact that their families and friends have made the effort to come together on this happy occasion and look their best. Plus, it’s also the most reliable way of ensuring you have some sort of record of everyone who attended. Let’s suppose you opt for these shots… the general rule is that less is more… less time standing around posing means more time enjoying the company of your guests! On average, you may need around 5 minutes per group shot, as it takes time to rally people and get them into position. So, if you’ve scheduled 30 minutes then you might expect to be able to capture about 6 groupings. These take organisation and planning so be sure to talk to your photographer and create a realistic descending-priority list that includes names. Don’t forget that the time between the end of your ceremony and the beginning of your meal (if you have this usual kind of schedule) will also include some portraits of you alone together which typically takes around 20 minutes, though like some other photographers, I often also aim to capture a second set of couple shots later in the afternoon/early evening. If you specifically want more group shots than is realistic in the initial time slot allocated, consider leaving shots of friendship groups until after the meal as this will help to break-up the day.
If you have any specific family dynamics about which your photographer will need to be sensitive, now’s the time to declare them to avoid great aunty Maud accidentally-on-purpose spilling her champagne over arch-enemy-since-school great aunty Ethel if she is made to stand next to her in a group photo…
See my previous blog post here for more on how to make the most of these group shots!
This helps to determine when your photographer might arrive if you’ve requested coverage of your bridal preparations. Often, as a bride, if you are having your hair and makeup taken care of professionally, the artists and stylists are likely to begin with your bridesmaids or mum and leave you towards the end so that you feel at your most fresh. If you have booked your photographer based on coverage by the number of hours, this will be helpful in deciding on those hours based on your priorities. You may prefer, for example to begin your photographic coverage a little way into this getting-ready process to ensure that you have sufficient time for photos at the other end of the day. I tend to photograph around 1.5-2 hours of bridal preparations which enables me to capture all the detail shots as well as a little of everyone at some point in the preparations, though this may well vary according to your schedule for the day.
7. Will you be feeding your photographer?
Most couples do, even if it’s just a smaller, less expensive ‘supplier meal’ sandwich-based which would no doubt be very welcome and appreciated. If your photographer is going to be on their feet for 8, 10, even 12 hours capturing your day, nothing will prevent them from needing the loo and some refreshments at some point. It’s even more important to let them know of your intentions not to provide a meal if your venue is one where there is no facility to purchase food. Your photographer will not expect to be seated with your guests so don’t worry that you will have to include them in your numbers. They will understand if you really can’t stretch to feed them, but do let them know in advance of the day. Whilst the majority of couples do offer, I still feel such gratitude to be treated to a little something to eat and drink (soft drinks only of course)! If you read this and decide to offer your photographer a meal, please accept my thanks on their behalf!
8. What time are you planning your first dance?
Much like Q.6 above, this helps to determine the coverage that your photographer will provide. The first dance usually signals the end of the photographer’s day with you. Of course, you may negotiate that your photographer will stay for a few songs afterwards to capture some boogying or else you might be planning late night fireworks which you would like photographed, but in any case, be as clear as you can about communicating the end of your coverage requirements. Don’t forget, depending on your agreement with your photographer, you may be charged for significant over-running or risk losing the final portions of your day if you haven’t first made clear arrangements with your photographer. There will surely be some degree of flexibility as many weddings do run over a little but if things go on longer than is deemed acceptable by your photographer, you would do well to be prepared by ensuring you know their policy about late-running.
9. Are you okay with public sharing on social media?
Whilst you will have most likely already given/not-given your consent to your photographer using your images on their website and/or Facebook, it’s still likely to be an area of discussion in your pre-wedding meeting. I always double-check that my couples are completely clear on how I wish to use their photos and give them the opportunity to express any thoughts they may have had about this since signing a contract with me. Couples usually book their photographer well in advance, sometimes up to two years prior, and I, like many others, respect that circumstances and people change, so I always raise this issue to make sure I still have their blessing to post on Facebook and on my website. Where possible, it’s always much appreciated if you are flexible on this issue, even if you stipulate provisos such as wanting to agree specific photos prior to them being shared. Your photographer will go on to book future weddings and would very much appreciate the opportunity to showcase photos of which they are proud. When you were looking for a photographer, you no doubt expected to see their work before making a decision, so in a ‘pay-it-forward’ kind of way, it would be lovely to allow them to share a few of your images with other couples who will bill and coo over your beautiful photos!
10. Is there anything that might impact on the photographer on the day?
This refers to anything at all! Is there someone who cannot or will not be photographed? Are there any parking issues? Is your uncle an aspiring photographer and wants to second-shoot the wedding? Is your ceremony location only accessible by canoe?! If there are any factors that might affect the photographer’s role, equipment or otherwise at your wedding, give them a heads-up!
I hope you’ve found this article to be useful? In my next blog post, I will be featuring 10 Questions You Should Ask Your Wedding Photographer, so please return here next week if you would like to have my handy checklist!