Wedding Week: Day 4

We are assuming that you aren’t returning to Paper Airplanes on a regular basis to receive … of all things … relationship advise. Or maybe, just maybe, you are? Perhaps you look to our blog as your own personal Dear Abby column (or in my case, a Dear Andy column … ha!). While we do know a thing or two about relationships and how important they are, we’re just acknowledging that the fact that mediating a “he said, she said” conversation isn’t our specialty. However, for Day 4 of WEDDING WEEK, we are going to make an exception.

Seeing as how the single most important thing in any relationship is communication, today’s topic focuses on the relationship between wedding photographer and the couple who hires him or her. Since there aren’t exactly re-do’s of a couple’s first kiss as husband and wife, and there is no option to reshoot a scene a day or a week later, it is paramount to everyone’s happiness that a solid game plan be arranged prior to the big day. To that end, below is a list of things for wedding photographers to discuss with clients, and vice versa. You aren’t required to take our advice, but to steal the words of Ben Franklin, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”


Photographers, address these topics with your clients:

When is the wedding? Are they positive? If you sense any hesitancy, confirm with the venue.
Where is it? If there are two churches with similar names, verify the correct one. Also, verify the address. Don’t show up at “555 S Ave. E.” instead of “555 N Ave. E.” Are there multiple locations, such as a venue for the ceremony, one for dinner and another for the reception?
Who are the key players? Moms, dads, grandparents, cousins, etc., etc. should be tagged as “important” in your mind. Uncle Roy who just showed up for the BBQ and the beer … not so much.
What are the events of the day(s)? Make a play-by-play list of events WITH your client, and keep it on you when shooting.
Why are you being hired for this job vs. any other photographer. Identify your specialty, and discuss your style and approach with you clients. Let them know what you can do, and more importantly, what you can’t do.
How are you going to shoot this event? Lights, no lights, video, time lapse, photo booth? Is this what your client wants?

After covering these basics, go through the chain of events in your head and brainstorm possible scenarios to address with your client. Here is a “get-the-wheels-spinning” list of questions for you to ask them (and yourself).

What is the agreed upon dollar amount for your services?
Do you require a deposit? If so, when is it due?
How should they pay you?
Does the bride want shots while getting dressed? Does the groom?
If yes, where will each be while dressing?
When and where will the group photos be taken? Who is in the group photos?
If a large group is requested, who is going to wrangle all the people?
What if it rains?
When will your job be considered finished?
Are you allowed to eat their food?
Will yo need a second shooter? If so, make sure client is aware of this.
Do your clients understand what they are getting for the money they are spending? Explain that they DO NOT own the copyright to your images.



Engaged couple, address these topics with your photographer:

Who is going to be shooting your wedding? Is it the owner, or will it be assigned to a hired shooter? Is a second shooter required?
What do you get for the money you are spending? Does the price you were quoted include prints, a book, a web gallery, travel expenses, a video, digital archive services etc.?
When will the photographer show up? When will he/she want the wedding party to be in place for individual and group shots?
Where will your photographer be during the event(s)? If you want their presence to be minimal, explain this prior to the wedding day. Where does the photographer want to shoot formal portraits (if any)?
Why are you hiring this photographer vs. any other photographer out there? Do you like their style, their price, their availability? If there is a solid reason, make sure you communicate this to them. Also, check to see if they belong to any professional organizations such as ASMP, EP, or PPA.

How do you want your photographer to shoot your wedding? Are you in love with “artsy” looking photos, black and white images, or sepia-toned prints? Perhaps you demand your photographer create some images with a certain look and feel. Whatever your desired outcome, make sure you know what it is, and that you can accurately articulate it to your photographer.

Now, here is your “get-the-wheels-spinning” list of questions:

Is your photographer insured against possible damages caused to people or property during the wedding?
Do they have other clients you can talk to? References?
Where did they receive their education or training?
Do they have an office, a website, or at the very, very least business cards to legitimize themselves?
When will you see your photos?
How will you see your photos?
If prints are an additional cost, how much will each size print cost?
Is your agreement with your photographer in writing?
If disaster strikes and your photographer can’t make it, what is their back up plan? Who will step in and honor your agreement?


It should be known that this is not an all-inclusive list of things to discuss with your photographer or client, but hopefully it will get the wheels spinning. Do you have other questions you would ask? Please share them in the comments below.