Important Questions from Couples That Every Wedding Photographer Should be Ready For
As pretty much all wedding photographers know, weddings have a way of making even the most laid-back couples a little obsessed with perfection—and the proof of all that hard-earned perfection is the photography.
Decades from now, the couple will be able to look at their wedding album and appreciate just how perfect they succeeded in making everything for their big day. But they’ll need that photography to capture it.
Whether you’re a seasoned wedding photographer or still getting your feet wet in the industry, it’s very wise to be fully prepared for the questions and conversations that come with many couples who are trying to decide if they will be hiring you or not.
Here’s a list put together by the wedding planning professionals at Hollywood Banquet Hall in Los Angeles of topics you can expect to be asked about by couples who mean business.
Portfolio and Full Sets
This is most likely the first thing that couples will ask you about. Even if they’ve already seen your work online or through a friend, they will probably want to see your entire portfolio, and it’s important to be ready for that. Make sure to have a professional printed portfolio for them to look through, as well as full wedding photo sets.
Why full wedding sets? Because couples are advised to not only check out a photographer’s personal selections. They may ask to see photography from an entire wedding so that they can get an idea of how you cover and capture moments, and what your work looks like throughout an entire wedding day. Be prepared for this if they ask.
The couple who’s scouting you is definitely going to want to make sure that you’re reliable, easy to work with, and professional. To ensure this, they may bring up feedback by asking something like, “Have your previous clients been happy with your work?”
At that point, you would answer, “Yes, absolutely. I have very good reviews on my Facebook and Yelp pages. Please take a look.”
The best way to prepare for this important question is to make sure that your online reviews are indeed good. Keep an eye on what people are posting about you, and try to correct any reviews that are not so great. These days, reviews are gospel.
Many couples want the same photographer to take pictures of everything revolving around their wedding in order to have a consistent photography style. This can include their engagement photos, bridal portraits, the rehearsal dinner, the wedding, the reception, a day-after-wedding shoot, and even “trash the dress” photo shoots.
Because of this, you may want to be prepared for this request by having your answer ready. If you are willing to do 3-6 different shoots for one wedding, get your pricing in order for bundles.
Similar to multiple photo shoots for one wedding, you’ll definitely want to have your pricing in order for packages. This is something that basically every couple asks about, even if they aren’t particularly picky. Will you offer proofs? An online gallery? A professionally-made physical wedding album? Different-sized prints?
Having pre-priced packages ready to offer will make you stand out as a professional. Not having pricing ready for this is a red flag that you’re still learning.
Sometimes, couples will have their heart set on a special location for their engagement photos, bridal portraits, or even wedding photos. They will want to be photographed where they met, or where their parents got married, or any number of other sentimental things.
Be ready with questions of your own if a couple brings this up. If the special location is far away, will they reimburse your gas or travel expenses? If it’s difficult to get to (such as a steep hill), what happens if you get injured or your equipment is damaged? And if they happen to want this special-location photo on the day of their wedding, you’ll need to sort out the logistics of that as well.
The “Must-Have” Shot List
Ah, the shot list. Almost every couple has one these days, and with good reason. They don’t want you as their photographer to miss a thing. These lists are often long and detailed, but it’s very smart to go over it with them. In fact, if they don’t have this shot list, you should ask them to make one before the wedding. It’s often even included in the wedding photography contract.
You’re going to be extremely busy on the wedding day, and you definitely don’t need anyone suddenly requesting a bunch of photos that you didn’t know you had to take. Organization and planning is of the utmost importance.
Knowing exactly what shots the couple wants will also help you to determine if you’ll be needing assistance, or any special equipment that you may need to rent.
You’ll most likely be asked by the couple if you’ve ever had a “crisis” during a wedding, and what you did about it. This is their way of giving themselves peace of mind that you’ll be ready for any type of emergency situation on their wedding day.
If you haven’t ever had an emergency, fantastic. Tell them so. But do have a backup plan in place in case anything ever does happen. For example, what would you do if you or an assistant woke up on the day of the wedding terribly sick? What if a camera, lens, or other piece of equipment broke during the ceremony? What if you forgot a battery or memory card?
Figure out what you would do, and then assure the couple of what your plan would be.
These are not fun questions to ask yourself or be asked, but unfortunately they are very necessary. You want to know that you will be prepared for any situation with a solid backup strategy.
The couple who is considering you may be having an unplugged wedding. If so, this means that there is absolutely no photography allowed to be taken during the ceremony (and possibly the reception), except by you – which means that you will be fully responsible for capturing everything yourself.
If this is something the couple really wants, be sure to go over everything to ease both your mind and theirs. Ask questions that you need to know, and assure them that you will cover everything that they want to have photographed. You may need to have a second or third photographer with you to ensure that you’re able to photograph everything that they want.
Be ready with answers if a couple begins asking about your experience. The fact that they’re meeting with you probably means that they already like your work, but they still might worry if you haven’t shot a lot of weddings yet.
If you have a lot of experience, great. If not, assure them that although you are still new, you have had enough experience that you understand the flow of wedding schedules, and that you are very confident that you will capture each important moment.
If they express concern that you have not photographed at their venue before, it may be a good idea to offer to visit it before the wedding, or perhaps at the rehearsal dinner in order to get the “lay of the land”.
Most couples can’t wait to see their wedding photos, but it may take you a while to finish their full set. You may be a slow-ish editor, or there may just be a lot of photos to work on. Figure out how long it will take you so that you’ll have an answer for the couple when they ask you how long they’ll need to wait before receiving their wedding photos. The deadline should be something that is included in your contract.
Weddings from Different Cultures
Every culture is different when it comes to weddings, and the couple may ask you if you have ever photographed a wedding from their background before in order to make sure you understand everything that is entailed.
For example, Armenian weddings have lavish parties the morning of the wedding at both the bride and groom’s houses, separately. Since this is a big part of the Armenian wedding tradition, you would most likely be expected capture the moments from both of these homes.
This is just one example. As mentioned, all weddings vary from culture to culture, so it’s a very smart idea to go over everything with the couple that will be happening at the wedding.
This is quite a serious topic these days. Many lawsuits have been filed against photographers or companies who have displayed images of a couple’s wedding without their permission. This can often happen because wedding photographers use their work to advertise themselves online, and images can easily get stolen and used for any number of things.
This can cause a lot of arguments and controversy, since the photographer may claim rights – “I created the image!” But then, the couple can claim rights as well – “It’s my wedding, and I paid for these photos!”
Because of this, you should have a real discussion with the couple about the image rights and if you will have permission to use them in your portfolio. Be sure that the agreement you settle on is included in your contract with them.
And speaking of the contract, it is incredibly important to have one. From the very first wedding you photograph, you need to offer a contract. Period.
This is to protect you just as much as it is to protect the couple. Here are some things that should definitely be included:
- Your name, or the name of your business, and all information (address, phone number, etc.)
- Their names, addresses, and numbers
- The photographer(s) who will be shooting the wedding and any other photo shoots should be clearly stated
- Everything that is covered in the transaction, including the full number of shoots, locations, and anything that comes in the package that the couple selected
- The exact dates, locations, and times of the wedding and any other shoots
- Fees for if you have to stay extra hours
- Agreed-upon break times for yourself and any other photographers
- Attire that the photographer(s) must wear
- Whether or not the photographer/team gets a meal
- Your responsibilities if you get sick or cancel, if any of your team members get sick or cancel, if you or they are late, or if any of their equipment breaks or is forgotten
- Deadlines for receiving the final photos
- Details of the “must-have” shot list that you have agreed upon
- Cancellation and/or refund policy
- Details for image ownership
- The total cost of everything that you have agreed upon
- All of your signatures
Remember, wedding couples have a lot of concerns, and to set yourself apart as a true professional, it’s best to have all the answers ready for them. From pricing to emergencies to knowing the fancy names of the equipment you use, be ready for any question or conversation from your potential clients. Good luck!