The June 2011 issue of The UKs Best Wedding Ideas magazine is now out, and it’s great value for money at £2.99. It’s full of good advice for brides to be, and the ’50 must ask questions for suppliers’ section caught my eye. There are of course 10 questions for your photographer, and I couldn’t resist publishing my own answers here.
I reckon that anyone with nothing to hide would be open with their answers, so here goes. I’ve even added some of my own questions for brides to try out on their photographers – mine are perhaps a bit meaner, but they really get to the nitty gritty. I won’t give away the Wedding Ideas magazine answers, you’d have to buy your own copy for those!
Please note – I am giving answers on behalf of Steve Ramsden Photography – you will need to ask your own photographers for their own answers. Or just come and see me at the studio if you like what I have to say, after all, if you like our photographs, what have you to lose?
Q1 Will you be my photographer on the actual day?
A great question to start with, and yes, I will be your photographer on your wedding day, and I will be present throughout the whole day according to the package booked with us – ie until dinner or first dance.
Q2 What will you do if the weather is terrible?
We will always have a contingency plan in place, we discuss this with our brides at their pre wedding chat approx one month before the wedding. If you have any particular concerns, feel free to discuss them at your initial meeting. This is particularly important for weddings between November and March, when the weather is likely to be at its worst and the days are much shorter.
Having said that, please try to be realistic. If you have 120 guests in a 10 ft sq room underground at 4pm on a mid December day, things are likely to be a bit pushed. A well established photographer will have had plenty of experience with bad weather situations, and will be able to give you the benefit of his advice, and even show you examples of bad weather weddings form his portfolio. Also ask to see a sample winter wedding shot entirely or largely inside, that’ll put the cat amongst the pidgeons.
Modern day equipment means that we don’t need studio lighting for indoor situations btw, light and portable flash units and quality camera sensors allow us to work much more quickly and efficiently these days, thank goodness.
Q3 Will you own the copyright?
We retain copyright, but provide a license for you to print images for your own use when supplying high resolution images on DVDs.
Q4 How many weddings do you shoot per day?
We only ever photograph one wedding per day, yours! Most of our weddings run from the bridal prep shots through to first dance or fireworks, and (back to Q1) we are there throughout. You receive our full and undivided attention, which is how we feel it should be.
Q5 Can I see a complete set of shots from a recent wedding?
Great question, of course you can!! We have plenty of samples, both online and in the studio. Why not come on over for a coffee and a chat, you can see as many as you like.
Q6 How would you describe your approach?
Friendly, flexible and professional. We also need to be well organised, assertive, creative, good time keepers, diplomatic, and technically excellent with our cameras.
Q7 How long will it be before we can view our photos?
We usually arrange for you to visit the studio as soon as you return from honeymoon to select the images for your wedding album, this allows us to move into the design stage without delay. Some couples might hold off their honeymoon, but take some time off work after the wedding without actually going away. In those cases, we can usually show your images within a few days of your wedding, by arrangement, so that you will see your wedding photographs before you return to work.
Q8 Do you have an assistant?
If you opt for our two photographer option, the second photographer will photograph different angles and viewpoints, giving a much broader coverage. No single photographer can cover the same ground as two photographers working together, this is the best option for a fully comprehensive view of your day.
Q9 Have you shot at my venue before?
This isn’t as essential as you might think. A good photographer working at a venue for the first time could easily produce better images than a poorer photographer who has worked at a venue 10 or 20 times. If a photographer is unfamiliar with any particular venue, he is likely to recce it in advance for the best angles, etc, we certainly would.
Having said that, a good photographer in a venue he knows inside out is a combination that is hard to beat.
Q10 Will you need a hot meal?
If we are with you from preps to first dance, then yes please, but you don’t need to go to the expense of a full sit down dinner. Most venues supply ‘vendor meals’ at a fraction of the cost. We will take a break whilst you are eating, have something to eat and drink ourselves, and take time to upload all your photographs onto back up hard drives. We will rejoin you for the speeches.
Sometimes, it is possible or even necessary for us to go off site during your meal (if you have ever tried to order a bar meal in a hotel when the chef is just about to send out 120 roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, you’ll understand why). On the other hand – ie in the case of venues in the middle of nowhere, marquee weddings, weddings where the speeches are spread throughout the meal, and so on, an onsite vendor hot meal would be a requirement.
OK, here are a few from me, and my own answers. As I said, these are a bit more hard hitting, if you really want your photographer to wriggle, ask a few of these.
Q11 Are you fully insured?
Only 20% of professional wedding photographers carry full professional indemnity and public liability insurance, according to an expert I sat at a photographers’ dinner with a few years ago. He was sponsoring the event and I asked why, surely most of us are insured already? I was surprised at his answer. Goodness knows what the figure is for part timers, and friends of friends, but you get what you pay for in all walks of life, and doing things properly in business surely means having full and proper insurance cover? This of course is over and above your own wedding insurance, which I advise you take out as well.
So yes, we are fully insured.
Q12 What back up kit do you carry?
A photographer should have at least two sets of main equipment with him at your wedding, including camera bodies, lenses, flash guns, and of course, loads of disc space.
Q13 What extras are not include in your price list?
Has the photographer included VAT on their price list, if registered for VAT? That’s a whole 20% extra to add on if they haven’t already added it themselves. They shouldn’t price like this, but I know of a few that do. Wedding photography is a retail product and should be priced as such. There are other hidden extras, eg overtime costs, that those with less than open price lists might hide, so be careful.
Our prices all include VAT, all our price lists are ‘clean’, open and up front. If you want a direct comparison, feel free to bring in what you’ve got and I’ll put it next to mine.
Q14 What is the cost of extra album prints over and above the package price, if we order extra after the wedding?
Another sting in the tail if you’re charged £45 per extra print after the wedding, because you didn’t ask the question when booking. Plus VAT, because you didn’t ask Q13 either. (We charge £15 per extra print btw inc VAT).
Q15 How many wedding have you photographed?
There is no substitute for experience. I once read that anyone with less than 100 weddings under their belt was still a beginner, and at the time I felt that was a bit harsh. With hindsight, I know it was spot on. We are approaching 400 weddings and have handled all kinds of difficult situations – ask me and I’ll share a few stories. Some magazines, websites and bridal forums advise saving money by booking photographers who are looking to build portfolios. Please believe me when I say that’s a false economy. What will they do when it pours with rain, their camera breaks, you need 14 groups in the next 10 mins, and they are fresh out of college? That’s when we really earn our keep – when you’re up against it. Which brings me to…..
Q16 Are you happy to photograph our family groups?
We are, we have a very efficient, tried and tested system which means we can photograph up to 100 people in around 20/25 mins, 150 people in 30 mins, 400 people in 90 mins. Did you ever wait for hours at a wedding whilst the photographer worked through the group shots? It’s totally unnecessary, with our system you’ll be finished in no time. That’s if you want group shots – not everyone does of course, which is also fine by us. If you would like a selection of family groups, check with your photographer that they are happy with that, it doesn’t always go with the territory.
OK, that just about covers it – I hope I haven’t put you off already!! The bottom line is that if you find a photographer who is ‘sorted’ he’ll be your friend for life. Seriously. We have made some great long term friends through wedding photography, and it all starts with us getting it right on the day.
If you would like to know more, please call Steve Ramsden Photography on 01904 479063 or contact me here with your details.