10 Questions to Never Ask Your Wedding Photographer
Weddings are an exciting time and there’s so much to do! Questions from family members, who to invite, what to eat, what to wear and checklists galore. Being married myself, this is something I remember all too well, and I understand that wedding planning can become overwhelming.
Prior to, and in the heat of the wedding day festivities things can become a blur. It’s common for things that seem important or necessary to take your attention away from enjoying your day. As wedding photographers, we are hired to provide exceptional service for you – but we are human too and do have limitations. Often, we get asked questions during this flurry of activity before, during (and sometimes after) the wedding that may be unnecessary and in fact, can impact our ability to do our best for you. These questions can undermine our integrity, waste valuable time or cause an upset in the itinerary you’ve planned. Sometimes these questions can even come from family members of the couple. In these instances, you might not be able to prevent it, but this post may give some insight to those who see it.
I’ve recently polled some peers from around Canada to share their most commonly asked questions.
1. Can I have the RAW files? I’ll just edit them myself if that makes it cheaper.
Nope, sorry. As photographers, our RAW files under Canadian Copyright Law, belong to us. Just like a piece of writing belongs to a writer, or a painting to a painter. We work incredibly hard (and you’ve invested a great deal) into your imagery, so we need to protect that work. We are often happy to edit an image, alter an element within reason, or send to a retoucher for additional work (and an additional fee) if you request it. However, we do not give RAWs because our livelihood and our brand is associated with our work. RAW files are the highest resolution and can be stolen by companies (as has happened to many photographers, including myself) for editorials or advertisements. If the RAWs are manipulated by another party and then posted with our name attached to it online it can also negatively impact our brand perception.
2. You can make me look beautiful … right? / 20 lbs lighter / make me ‘thinner’ etc….
You. are. beautiful. As photographers, it’s our job to highlight your best features and capture you as you really are. No one should want to look like someone they aren’t. Excessive retouching will be noticeable to friends, family and the people who know you best. It often looks unnatural and unflattering. We do our best to bring symmetry and highlight your features, but be confident because no matter what you will look stunning on your wedding day!
3. You’ll bring your own food so we don’t have to provide a meal for you, right?
I love goldfish crackers, peanuts, powerbars and water – but on a wedding day this isn’t sustenance. We spend 6-12 hours on our feet at times actually running around with our hands on our gear. There’s a lot of bending, heavy carrying and it is very taxing. Sometimes it’s even in the heat of the day. We often don’t even have time to scarf down the few snacks we’ve brought. A meal is always appreciated and in most cases required not so that we can put our feet up and party – but so that we can recharge and bring our best self to your wedding day. A hot meal provides us with the energy we need to power through the rest of your amazing reception and provide a high caliber of work.
4. Is coverage consecutive or can you take a 2 hour break and then pick up later so we have more coverage?
Coverage is and always should be consecutive. This is an industry standard. Weddings are certainly not inexpensive events, and wanting to save some of your budget for extra photography coverage is understandable. However, we are small business owners and service providers who also have bills to pay and families to feed. Think of it this way, if your boss at your job asked you to sit at your desk for 2 hours, or stand on the floor but not do any work – simply to be there, would you still want to be paid for your time? Yes. After all, it’s labour law. Additionally, there’s not much time to drive all the way home or go “relax” somewhere in a short period, particularly with a lot of gear on hand (which also needs to be loaded and unloaded).
5. Can we recreate these shots exactly from my Pinterest board?
Let’s put it this way. What drew you to your photographer? It was their portfolio, their style and personality. Inspiration boards like Pinterest can be incredibly helpful in planning a wedding – I use them all the time! However, they are just that – inspiration. Your wedding and the candid moments that happen are unique to you and your day. Trying to re-create something is disingenuous, and often contrived looking. Use those images to inspire you, but don’t get set on having something identical.
6. Can you take some pictures on my camera too since you’re all set up?
Sometimes family or guests are around for the family photos since the location may be near your ceremony. This is generally not advisable, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Family and guests are often so excited to see everyone together again that they want to capture the moment. Remember – this is why you invested in a professional! If you are a family member or guest, resist the urge to step in front of the photographer or ask them to take a picture of you with the family. They’ve often invested a considerable sum to have amazing images, and they are on a tight timeline to fit everything in. Consider asking for photos during the reception, and you can always reach out to the bride and groom for a copy of the photographer’s family photo after the wedding day.
7. (From guests) What kind of camera is that? What kind of lens is that? How do you shoot with low light? What camera do you recommend for me?
Photography and gear talk is amazing. I could stand and talk about my gear all day long! However, guests or even the bridal party can forget for a moment that you’ve been hired to do a job and you need to capture moments around you. Ask the photographer for their email if you have a pressing question about their gear. Also, professionals at camera stores can help you to find a camera that will suit your personal needs.
8. Why don’t I get ALL of the images?
Because sometimes your eyes are closed, and sometimes someone else is making a weird face while you are camera ready! You’ve hired us to use our artistic professionalism. We’ve invested in education, and have shot many weddings so it’s important that you trust us to select the images that represent you the best on your wedding day. It also takes considerable time to edit your images after the wedding day. This is where the bulk of the work is. I always tell my clients, quality over quantity. I would rather spend my time editing a unique image of you and your groom, then 3 that are identical.
9. (From family) “There’s just about 10-30 more of us, can we do a group shot?” “Did you get this person?” “Did you take a photo of that person?”
Couples often determine ahead of time with their photographer who will be included in the family photos. Every family unit is different, some are small some large and blended. A photographer often has a list to work through and when they are working they are very much “in the moment” with all of the hustle and bustle of people around. Remember, we’ve probably never met a single family member so we don’t know who is who. Interrupting our pre-planned process to take another photo, or include photos that the bride and groom didn’t anticipate changes our workflow which can cause us to miss an important shot on their list. My suggestion is to wait until the family photos are over, and then ask for additional photos and we will let you know if there is time.
10. Can you take a picture of each person at every table during dinner service?
This is generally impossible. Dinner typically doesn’t mean that everyone is eating all at once. We do our best to circle the room and take candid photos of tables mingling (which is much more candid and in the moment) than a posed shot of every table. No one likes a picture of their mouth full of food either, and people are often wandering the room, chatting with other family and friends. Trying to track down 2 people from one table in a limited time crunch is next to impossible. My suggestion is to enjoy the funny and candid moments your photographer captures when guests least expect it. A great idea is to have a wedding hashtag for Instagram, use “Wedpics”, an Instax camera, or place disposables on your table!
This list is not intended to imply that the questions couples and family/guests have are not valid, but more so to illustrate that they are common and can impede our workflow. I appreciate any feedback or comments below, but please keep it constructive. Have you experienced any other questions as a photographer? Are you a bride or groom and have any additional insight?