36 Answers from a Wedding Photographer, Part 2
More questions answered from Bride’s 36 Important Questions To Ask Your Wedding Photographer.
When will we receive the contract?
For me, I send my contract out along with the invoice for the deposit so that everything is done all at once. I see the contract as a way to make expectations very clear on what it is my clients will get when they book with me, so questions are encouraged, and I want to answer them right away. This may vary between photographers, but I would expect you’ll see a contract before any money is exchanged.
How much of a deposit do you require? When is it due?
Honestly, I would be a little worried if a photographer took any less than 15% deposit to reserve your date, and I think somewhere between 20-30% is the norm. Think of a deposit as a way to tell your photographer you’re serious about their work, and that your photographer should also take you just as seriously. If a photographer doesn’t take a deposit, what is there for you to know they are actively keeping your date open? I won’t officially reserve your date until I receive the deposit for this reason, because I also need to know my clients are invested in me before taking my time off the table for others.
Do you accept payments in installations?
I personally haven’t heard of photographers setting up these kinds of payments plans, but it never hurts to ask! Wedding photography is just one of many things that needs to be paid for when planning a wedding, and as long as you are open about what your needs are I don’t see why having installments setup with clear due dates as being a problem.
Have you ever shot a wedding at our ceremony and reception venues? If not, do you plan to check the venues out in advance?
Working at a venue previously is handy to know where the good spots are to shoot, but that honestly can be done an hour or so before the event begins. This gives me a great opportunity to see where the light will be with current weather conditions, rather than trying to guess what it will be like if I check it out on a different date, and potentially at a totally different time of day when the light won’t be anywhere near the same. The real benefit to working at a location previously is to know the people running the joint, and making sure they understand the photographer’s needs and have a good enough relationship to try and support that.
Have you ever worked with our planner? Videographer? Florist? DJ? etc.
Part of what I love so much about working in the wedding industry is how many different people I get to meet and work with! The longer your photographer has been in the game, the more likely they are to have worked with the rest of your wedding team. For myself, as long as I’m communicating clearly with the people I’m working with, it’s a lot of fun to work with new people.
Do you charge a travel fee? For what distance? What does that cover?
This is a question that really depends on where you are! Since I’m located near Burlington VT, and I can get to most of the major wedding locations under 2 hours, I build that into my standard pricing. If I end up needing to travel for more than 2 hours, then I charge for my time on the road. Another thing to consider with longer travel is if it’s worth putting your photographer up in a hotel the night before the wedding. If they are going to travel pretty far for your wedding, that investment might be worth the peace of mind knowing that your photographer won’t get lost or stuck in traffic the day of your wedding!
How many hours are included in each package? How much do extra hours cost?
Most photographers base their pricing on how many hours they will be working, but might have different ways of covering if you end up “going over.” It might be as simple as they’re there until they feel like they’ve captured the important activities for the day, or they check in an hour into when the dancing starts. Either way, make sure you and your photographer have clear expectations on how much of the fun you want covered and understand how much time it will take beforehand.
Do you have liability insurance? Does it cover your assistants, as well?
Liability all over the place, always. Yes. Next question.
What is your refund or cancellation policy?
This should be clearly lined out in the contract you get from your photographer, but generally speaking if the photographer cancels you get your deposit back. If the client needs to cancel, the deposit will likely not be refundable depending on how close the date is. The reason for that is with weddings needing to be scheduled so far in advance, if last minute cancellations happen it’s almost impossible to find work to replace it. It’s the hard truth in this industry.
Do you carry backup equipment?
I’ve heard too many horror stories (and suffered a few of my own!) to not have redundancy everywhere - I carry 2+ cameras, and each of my cameras have dual memory cards in case one of those fail. I also backup all of the final images online and over multiple hard drives. Moral of the story, yes yes yes.
What is the backup plan if you are unable to shoot my wedding for an unexpected reason?
Your photographer should always have someone available who can fill in for them if they cannot. If the worst thing happens and they can’t find someone in time (heaven forbid), you get your money back, period. I have yet to miss a wedding (knock on all the wooden things in a 10 foot area), and it would take me being stuck in a hurricane and hospitalized and maybe have fluffy puppy in the area all at once. Anything less than those three things and I will be there.
Got more wedding photography questions of your own?
Read that last set of questions in Part 3!