I have been seeing a ton of blog posts and articles lately about what questions you should ask your photographer. So, I decided to try to put myself in the brides shoes and use my experience as a wedding photographer to help.
There absolutely are things that you, as a bride, need to ask your photographer… but if you just go down some of those lists, you may put your foot in your mouth. It is true that there are no “bad questions” BUT if the question you are asking isn’t really yours, and you are only asking it because an article or a blog post told you to… you could find yourself in an uncomfortable position.
You read a magazine article about the “35 questions to ask your photographer before you hire them.” You feel like that article was helpful, but maybe a few of the terms were fuzzy to you, or you are not sure why some of those questions are worth asking. But you think, “oh well… they say to ask it so I am going to ask it”… fast forward to the conversation with your photographer.
You ask them a few of the questions from the list and the photographer answers them… so far so good! Then you decide to ask one of the questions that you are not sure why you are supposed to ask, but the list said to ask… so you do! Then the photographer answers your question with another question… now you have to admit, well I didn’t really know what that meant… I just read somewhere I should ask it… awkward!!!
For the record, I truly truly… yes that is two trulys… don’t mind if a bride asks me a question that she doesn’t fully understand. I see it as an opportunity to explain one aspect of my job that she may have never understood before. BUT, it pains me to see the look on her face when she realizes that she asked a “dumb” question! I don’t want that for you! I want to make your life more simple, not more complicated… You should feel free to ask whatever questions you want, but let me give you an inside scoop on a couple of questions you have been told to ask, that you may not fully understand….
Do you deliver the RAW files?
Before you ask this question, you need to know something that many of the lists don’t explain… what is a RAW file? Many brides hear RAW file and think unedited file… and I can see why many might think that, but a RAW file is something totally different!
RAW files are the digital photographs the photographer takes that provide the photographer with a larger range of editing options than a JPEG file. You can’t print a RAW file… it is basically a file format that was created to be edited. Unless you have the proper software to process RAW files, you wouldn’t even be able to edit or print them. So, what you were most likely thinking that you are asking for is an “unedited image.”
Most professional photographers will not deliver images that have not been edited… here is why… the images that you see in their portfolio have all been edited to a certain aesthetic that the photographer thinks best enhances that photo. If you like the photographers previous work, then you would not want the “unedited version” because it is not finished. It would be like asking a baker to sell you the cake batter instead of the final decorated cake. When I am asked this question, I always ask “what are you wanting to do with the “unedited images”?
If the answer is, edit them myself, then I explain that if a photo has my name associated with it, I don’t allow it to be edited by the client. I would not want a potential client to see the photo that I took, and you edited and be confused because that photo is not edited in the way they have seen my other photos. That makes me look inconsistent.
Also, I am a business person, but I am also an artist… If I was a painter and I created this beautiful image and it was 70% finished… I would never think of selling it at that stage and letting the client finish paining it for me.
So I would suggest choosing a photographer that is consistent with their editing style and creates images that you love… editing and all. ok… next question…
What kind of camera do you shoot with?
This questions seems to make sense to ask! Right? It does, because really what you are trying to ask is “are you a serious professional, or are you someone that bought a camera and likes to take pictures?” BUT no one want to ask a question like that, and risk offending someone! So they ask what kind of camera do you use…
I am more than happy to answer that question, but are you familiar enough with cameras to know what the answer means? Maybe you are! Thats awesome, but most of my brides have NO idea what the difference between a Canon Rebel xsi and a Canon 5dmiii is. Or the difference between a 50mm 1.4 and a 100mm macro lens.
So maybe the better question would be… “how does your camera do in low light?” This feature is one of the best ways to separate a low end DSLR from a professional level camera. Or “how many lenses do you typically use on a wedding day… if they say 1 or possibly 2… that could be a red flag that they have not gotten to the point in their business that they have invested in a variety of high quality lenses! I personally shoot with four lenses on a wedding day…. I could do less, but I love the variety that the different lenses allow for in the final wedding gallery.
Lets do one more question…
Are you willing to work from a shot list?
This is such a great question! But what I hear when the question is asked is… “can I trust you to capture the images that are important to me?” It is ALWAYS my goal to have a completely satisfied bride and groom! I am happy to discuss specific shots that are important to you, and even look at some of your favorite images you have saved to you “wedding” Pinterest board. I do have a shot list that I use and I am happy to add a few special requests to that list, as well as get a taste of your style by viewing your Pinterest board… However, I want you to hire me because you love what I do! Every photographer has their own eye and artistry that goes into creating their wedding images for a client. So I don’t ever promise to “duplicate” someone else’s image that they created. However, in most situations, I am happy to produce my own take on that same idea. I also think it is really important to be on the same page as my brides for what kind of images they are wanting. This is why I always recommend that they take a look at a few of my wedding galleries. This will give you a feel for my work and if you like my style. Most of my brides give me a few specific photos that are important to them and then they say “I trust you, just do what you do!” I love that because every bride deserves to relax and trust her photographer to capture her day!
I hope this has been helpful! Happy wedding planning and photographer searching! If you are a Spokane or CDA bride I would love to chat about your wedding. If you want to chat with me some more I would LOVE to meet up with you for coffee, or a “get to know you” phone conversation! www.kladuke.com