A wedding is incomplete without the perfect photographer and in today’s day and age that photographer includes – candid + traditional + cinematographer + some other things as well. We think that life will get easier with new innovations and new technologies, but it just gets more complicated. Or so is my personal opinion.
I have been looking out for a photographer (photography agency) to cover my wedding for a long time now. In the process, I have already made an excel sheet giving them ranks out of 5 based on their facebook or website pictures, quotations for traditional photos + videos to candid photos + cinematography + wedding film + album (coffee table book, matte finish or gloss) all documented in one place.
If any of you want to get some rough idea about these agencies, let me know and I will share that sheet with you 🙂
I think with every meeting with these guys, I have learnt something new. From understanding the logic behind ridiculously high costs to the timelines required for delivery to also meeting agencies which want to trick me, I have been through it all. In fact, I am still going through it.
So with all this happening, I thought it would be nice to share a list of questions that YOU need to ask your photographer before making that final booking. Its of utmost importance that one clarifies on every point beforehand to avoid any discrepancies later on. In most cases what happens is we book the agency months before, we decide on things and they send out their terms and conditions across which you sign at the moment. But there is always some plus minus happening during wedding planning. Its important that you have your set of QnA’s sent out and answered over mail just so there is no room for any arguments in the future.
So here goes…
P.S. These are the questions that I had recently sent out to an agency which I was planning on selecting. [I don’t think its working out with them]
#1 Who would be the Photographers and Cinematographers?
Ask the agency to send their profile i.e. their work, experience, the weddings they have covered…also, if they have covered your kind of wedding in the past. Very important. The more the experience, the more they can charge you and that’s valid. Otherwise NOT!
But what I have seen is nowadays with this latest fad going around of wedding photography, any agency proclaims to be excellent charging exorbitant amounts without any reason. Its sometimes gets quite difficult to reason with these guys…so careful about that.
Get the whole (exact) idea of who will be around to click your pictures and video.
#2 Meet the Photographer & Cinematographer
Extremely important. After all, they are going to be part of such a monumental occasion in your life. At least you should be able to get along with the team. They need to make you feel comfortable and at ease during all the “pressure-cooker” times of the wedding 🙂
Take some time out and go and get to know them. If they are making that effort to get to know you, your story, you need to build a rapport with them too.
Do not compromise on this at any cost.
#3 Lens used by the Photographer & Cinematographer
Ok, this is not crucial as such, and if you are anything like me…you wouldn’t have any clue about photography except for blurred awesome images 😛 But even then, what is the harm in keeping the information. May be you can check it with someone who actually knows the stuff. Its just a good to know thing.
#4 What are the number of photos guaranteed (Candid + Traditional – separate)
The key is to negotiate, negotiate, and negotiate some more. Nobody wants to do extra work (in editing etc) so agencies by default try to give the lowest possible number of pictures. Do not agree at the first go. Also, if possible ask for raw images as well…all of it !
May be just after the wedding these pictures will not have that much importance, but wait for a couple of years and come back to them…and you will relive that wonderful day with every single picture you have.
So please do not compromise on this quantity. More the better.
#5 Are there any fixed photo-shots that are guaranteed?
What I mean by this is standard pictures like say in an Indian Wedding – when the groom applies sindoor on the bride’s maang, or the mangalsutra moment, jai mala moment, bidaai etc etc. There are tons of these standard moments which if missed are gone forever. Wouldn’t it then be nice if an agency is going to tell you upfront that these shots are definitely going to be covered.
Remember, everything in writing has more importance than blindly promised over a phone call or meeting.
#6 Have a look at an actual (deliverable) album of their past client/s
Most of the time, what I was shown was a sample album. It honestly doesn’t give you any idea of what the final product will look like. Why? Because if you actually have a look at someones wedding album, you get to know if the agency has done a good job in including all the key pictures…the placement…how often has family been included…the kind of mix between candid and traditional shots and a whole lot more.
The feeling between seeing a sample album (one which has some model’s shots) and seeing an actual wedding album is two very different things. So, don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Insist on wanting to see at the very least 2 albums to get an idea of their work.
#7 Timeline for deliverables
Ask them to put down actual timelines from the start of the next day of the wedding to when they will send out raw images (if at all), processed images, images for the album, video, and whatever else. Break it down and get actual dates for each of these.
I honestly have no clue if agencies actually adhere to their timelines, but as a customer of their service, you are at loss if they cannot deliver as per their timeline. And I don’t know what one can really do about that. You just have to wait I guess.
#8 How many photos would be there in the album, the type of album
Try to get this number more as well 🙂 Normally, they have package deals where you can either go for say 300, 450, 500 images and so on. Again it depends upon your negotiation skills how far you can stretch the agency to give you what you want.
Albums are expensive these days. From what I have gathered, the prices go upwards 10k so why not get the most of out of it !
#9 What is the kind of editing for photos?
Every photography agency has some unique style of editing. While for some agency you might see a lot of colors, in others you might see a lot of soft shades and pastel kind of editing. Then there are some who love the black and white and vintage looking images. Depends. Also, the language I am using here is totally non-technical and I am sure incorrect…but you know what I mean naaa…
Its important to know what your agency is comfortable with. At first, they may be like whatever you wish for is our command kinds. But beware, you might just end up getting something totally different at the end of the day. Its better if you have a look at some of their past clients deliverable’s to get an idea yourself.
I would suggest opt for an agency whose editing style you like. You can easily view the company’s facebook page…that’s the easiest way to know about this 🙂 Don’t ask an agency to do something that they don’t do usually or may not be so good at, you will only have yourself to blame later for this!
#10 Ask for all the un-edited raw images
I know, I know, many may not agree to this at all. But what’s the harm in trying. As I mentioned above, you will love to see these not right after the wedding, but years later. All these images will be priceless then. Also, photographers usually come with their DSLR’s, even the raw images won’t be that bad I can assure you.
So, just try your luck!
#11 What is in the package? – Couple Portraits, Getting Ready Shots, Pre-Wedding?
Some agencies might not give you core details of everything that will be covered. They might simply tell you, don’t take tension – just leave it upto us. DO NOT FALL FOR THAT !
Ask about every small little detail of what is included and not included in the package. They might get super annoyed with you, but that’s ok. Its your wedding, even they understand your need to be hyper. Its important to get these details sorted out, otherwise you will keep on spending additional amounts on the last day when the agency simply says no to your requests.
#12 Talk to them about the decor of your wedding – stage, mandap, lighting
No photographer can just get up one day and come and shoot an entire wedding. If you need details, they need details too to do a good job. So, give them all the information. If you have a night wedding (like mine) its important to mention it – just so they are accordingly prepared with the lights, lens and whatever else they might require.
You may think it is not so important, and they will figure things out – but don’t leave that to chance. Make sure there is little or no scope of disaster. You don’t want to deal with all that on your wedding.
One thing that I was thinking of was having lights on the reception stage. Now, I wasn’t sure whether changing light colors or just background lights will take away the show from me and my groom. While the decorators rule is to always flatter his work and his client’s ‘tastes’, a photographer will clearly tell you whether it is a good idea or not.
So, include him in that decision making. You don’t want to end up looking in rainbow colors because of the lighting. Things like these are important to clarify upfront before setting anything in stone.
#13 Watermark, Company Logo on the photos?
Nowadays, all the photography agencies put their watermark or company logo in the wedding pictures. I find that ok to some extent but somewhere I don’t know I feel like erasing it also. I just want to see the picture. Not read the company logo in every picture. Its a little annoying.
So check with your agency if they are flexible with it. May be you can negotiate basis, all social media pictures can have the logo but otherwise no logo maybe? Or something of that sort…But important to find out.
#14 Is their any time limit for the shoot?
Weddings by default go on for way longer than anticipated. You don’t want to be then caught off-guard with extra time charges by the agency. Find out if they have any time limits for covering the wedding. The best way to do this is give them proper idea of the function timings…considering they are in the business, they will be able to figure out better than you how long the event will go on.
So, the key is to provide them with the smallest of the details of all the functions…
#15 Do you want your pictures splashed on the company site and their facebook page?
Somebody told me once that agencies charge extra if you want to maintain your privacy online 😕 Already things are expensive, so better find out about this as well. If at all this is the case…keep a condition that all images need to be pre-approved by you before being uploaded. Also, the number of pictures allowed to be uploaded. Try to being it as down as possible. That’s the only way.
#16 What about backup photographer & cinematographer?
You are booking the agency months in advance. Things change overnight and months is a long way to go. So, make sure you know who the agency is blocking as their backup photographer and cinematographer for your wedding. Normally once booked is booked…but sometimes crazy things happen. And you really don’t want to be in the middle of that mess.
Find out who is assigned to you…and take a call if you are ok about those back up photographer and cinematographer. At the last minute, you might just get anybody just showing up to cover your wedding…then doing all of the above points just becomes one big fat waste !
These were some of the questions that I had in mind whenever I sat to finalize any photographer…Do you have any other questions that you feel should be included in this list?
P.S. Also, who is your wedding photographer?