Before Scheduling A Meeting with Your Photographer - FAQ
TWO TO TANGO
I usually meet (or at least chat over the phone) with potential clients, to see if we both are a perfect match for your wedding. No two photographers are the same, and we all have our respective taste and style as individuals (e.g. I might love a certain little black dress and you might find it horrendous, and vice versa). That's what makes us unique. We can look at the same thing and have different opinions. Clients would like to see if the photographer's style would match their vision of wedding photography. Photographers would also like to get a feel if the clients are a fit for their business and growth. It's a two-way street, really. There is a photographer for every couple and vice versa. I really want to make sure that there is a mutual respect and partnership between the photographer and the clients. I agree with many photographers that say when we meet clients, it's not just the clients interviewing us; it's also us interviewing them. However, I've also booked my clients who turned out to be some of the best clients I've ever had, without having even met them prior to the wedding day!
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
I like to keep a healthy balance between my right and left brain; my analytical side and my creative side. This is why photography is not my sole income; I do it because I truly love creating art and an extraordinary added bonus is to be able to present this passion to a happy couple in the form of photographs to preserve the moments/story from their big day. I keep improving my photography skills by doing workshops (hiring a private one-on-one session with a photographer whose work I admire is one of them), reading from various sources, doing my own trials for new techniques, etc. I do not believe one should rest on one's laurels. Having said that, it's one of the reasons why I believe in my crafts and I am aware some people prefer quantity/price over quality, and I am fine with that (I am not desperate to fill my calendar with wedding shots :)). Quality over quantity. There is a photographer for every couple.
BEFORE THE MEETING
I would like to emphasize that one cannot compare photographers apples to apples. They are different individuals with different tastes and talents. It takes time and efforts for both the clients and the photographers to get ready for a meeting, to drive to the meeting place, and for the meeting itself. To ensure that both parties get the most out of the meeting, I strongly suggest that the potential clients browse the photographer's website, blog, galleries... everything that is available on their website.
Nowadays portfolios are no longer a thick album the weight of the Lord of the Rings' trilogy. Most photographers have them updated on their websites. The blog would have their latest shots, and most of the time it also displays photos throughout the wedding day that will give you an idea of what a half day or full day coverage would look like. From the design, content, and layout of the website, you should get a feel if the photographer's style and expertise speak to you. From the photographer's response to your emails, you can see his/her professionalism and reliability/promptness. If you want to get to know a bit more of the photographer, you usually can find it under 'about'.
Too often do we meet with clients that not only have we driven for an hour for, but who also told us they wanted to look at our portfolio (they have not even looked at our gallery/blog).... to which our answer was always: they are on our website!
If you have other non-negotiable factors, for example:
* you absolutely require a photographer who has shot a specific type of wedding and you are not willing to compromise on this (even if a talented photographer can produce great photos at any location at any time, under most circumstances)
* you absolutely require, say, two photographers who are a wife and husband
* for destination weddings: local photographer or not?
* you require one-stop shop that does both photography and videography (that won't be me, but I will be happy to offer recommendations)
please talk to your fiance to decide first what you want to do, and ask the photographer before meeting in person. This will save you, the future bride/groom (and the photographer), time (and gas) from unproductive meetings. Again, a talented photographer can produce beautiful photos without having to have been in that particular location.
Questions about price, most of the time, can be established prior to the meeting as well. In my website, you can see a link under 'Info' that will lead you to my pricing page. I am also more than happy to answer more detailed questions on pricing via email or phone call. When we have things cleared up in advance, when we finally do meet, it will most likely be a fruitful and effective meeting for both the client and the photographer (in other words: nobody is wasting anybody's time :)).
If you plan to line up photographers to 'interview' them prior to deciding which one to hire, a bridal expo is a great place to do so (you can chat with 30+ photographers in 1 place in 1 day!). Please narrow down your list of photographers to 2-3 when you plan to arrange a meeting with them. Don't overwhelm yourself. You can check their portfolios online and chat over the phone/email for pricing, etc. You only meet them once you have selected a couple of photographers whose style you really love, whose pricing fits your budget, and whom you have the intention to hire. The interview is to see if you click with them when meeting in person.
NO SALES PRESSURE
I believe in transparency; you can find my prices on my pricing page. As a potential client, I dislike very much being under pressure when it comes to sales. That's why I do not use this approach at all in my business. No hidden charges. No high-pressure sales tactic. If a potential client loves my work and wants me to photograph his/her wedding, he/she will book me. I do not want to 'manipulate' that decision.
RAW FILES & EDITING
A lot of clients ask this question simply because they read websites telling them to ask this question (among dozens other 'what to ask your photographer' lists). Most of them do not even know the real difference between RAW and JPEG files, therein lies the misunderstandings. RAW files are not usable before they are edited.
I do not give out the RAW files. I provide clients with high resolution JPEG files that can be beautifully printed on an album, a photobook, and/or a canvas. The end results, which involve editing, are a big part of our artistry and brand identity. Hypothetically, would you buy a half-finished painting, so that you can alter and finish it up by yourself? When a client chooses a photographer, it is because he/she likes the photographer's portfolio; all of which consist of JPEG files.
Likewise, it's is for the same reason that I choose to do my own editing. Some photographers outsource their editing. This means they take photographs of your wedding day, and then send the files to another company that will colour-correct and adjust the contrast, brightness, warmth, saturation, etc. I respect different opinions and different ways, just as I am comfortable in my own ways. To me, personally, giving the files out to others to edit feels like drawing a draft and letting someone else colour the canvas. Editing is part of my artistry, and I love doing it! That is what makes my photographs my signature.
Some photographers will waive this for a fee, some don't. There is no right or wrong in this case. If you do not want to have your photos on the internet at all, this will limit the photographer's portfolio and eventually hurt their business growth (SEO, networking, etc.), so they may charge a non-usage fee.
I do understand there are various reasons that a couple would not want their photos online. However, please keep in mind that at your wedding, there will also be guests that will take photos of you and post them online. Having said this, I offer a service for clients requesting total privacy of their photos at an extra charge.
And more links....
Here is a great link to very insightful tips from my favourite Toronto-based photographer for couples and/or brides-to-be that are in search for wedding vendors:
"Know when to schedule a meeting: After your vendor has thoroughly answered all of your questions and you know that you’re more-than-likely going to hire them, the final test should be the personality match-up that comes with an in-person meeting. Many brides overwhelm themselves by scheduling too many meetings! If you want to do mini interviews with a dozen or more photographers, you should go to a wedding show and spend the day walking and talking until you narrow down your list to your favourite few. You should only request a vendors time for a consultation if you believe that they truly may be the best fit for you and have intentions on hiring them should the personalities match. (This, of course, is assuming that your vendor will provide you with an online quote. If a vendor will only provide a quote if you meet them in-person, this portion may not apply.) "
And here is the link to other FAQs from the same awesome photographer that resonates deeply with us, and that we could not agree more with:
Please do spare few moments to have a quick look at the questions.
Thank you for reading and I sincerely wish you all the best in your wedding preparations!