Welcome to my Q & A! These are my honest answers to common and sometimes difficult questions.
My Questions and Answers blog posts are meant to provide guidance on important aspects of wedding photography. This series of continuing blog posts will be an attempt to publicly answer important or common questions backed by over ten years of professional photography experience and years of continuing education received from my mentors.
I see a lot of these questions in Facebook groups or in Online forums. Many times, the questions Online are answered by other couples based on the experience that they had or what they think should have been and not normally what is standard professional protocol in the industry. I also hear a lot of questions during my consultations with prospective couples and couples who hire me. These questions will be featured here so that you too may learn what to expect from your wedding photographer.
If you’d like me to answer one specifically for you, please feel free to send me an email.
Questions and Answers about Wedding Photography from a Pro
Photographer Response Time?
“I have hired our photographer for our wedding in October. She is the first thing I nailed down and at first was super responsive. In the wake of this COVID-19 issue, we have had to reschedule my engagement photos twice. But even before that when scheduling the time to meet about them, she was extremely hard to get in touch with. What should be solved in a quick text, results in me having to text, email, and email again for a response. She always gets with me on it, but it’s usually later causing me to wait days for an answer. I don’t want to be annoying, but she is paid in full and I’m starting to feel stressed about her lack of response time. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.”
The only acceptable excuse I can think of that should prevent any vendor from responding to you within 24 hours is if they have had a death or very tragic event in their immediate family. Beyond that, you should never have to wait more than 24 hours for an answer. Anything longer than that is unacceptable—no matter if there is a pandemic, if your photographer is shooting another project, or traveling cross-country. They are working for you and should be able to provide an exemplary customer service experience. If not, this is your red flag that you’ve hired the wrong photographer. It is a great indication of how your future experiences will be moving forward, i.e., preparing for wedding day, performance on wedding day, image delivery, album design, album delivery, and follow up.
How much time do we need?
“So our wedding ceremony starts at 4:30 and we will be doing couple pictures after the ceremony and during the cocktail hour. We want to do a first look, bridal party, and family photos before the ceremony. How long do you think this should take?”
Without knowing how long your ceremony will be, how big your bridal party or family is, it’s impossible to accurately answer this. You can use this wedding day timeline calculator I developed to come up with the perfect amount of time. (If you don’t have MS Microsoft Excel™, you can upload the form to Google Docs™.) Please note the time for bridal party and family photos is noted as family formals. Per the worksheet, allow three minutes for each grouping. This is a little padded, but by allowing three minutes for each grouping, you will never run out of time or be rushed.
Photographer has another job?
“So my wedding is coming up July 10th. My photographer messaged me yesterday and asked if I knew it was a Friday and informed me she may have to work… but would try to get it off. I booked with her at the end of April, shouldn’t she have done this at that point? Not wait until 6 weeks before my wedding. I’m starting to wonder if I should just find a different photographer to ensure I have one for my date and to avoid her bailing last-minute on me. What advice do you all have?”
This is the risk you take when you hire a wedding photographer who does this as a part-time gig. (Actually, this is just one of the many risks that you take, but I’ll address just this one.) Ideally and to receive the best experience possible, you should hire a full-time, professional wedding photographer. Here’s a blog I wrote many years ago with tips for vetting your wedding vendors.
Deposits and refunds?
“I’m getting ready to book my wedding photographer and wondering what the standard deposit and refund rules are. For instance, how long does a photographer typically allow for a full refund? It’s so nerve-wracking making plans this far in advance and putting down money you won’t get back should something come up. I know it’s the nature of the business and that the vendors have their livelihoods to consider, but it’s scary!”
First off, there is a legal difference between a deposit and a retainer. Deposits are almost always refundable–no matter what your contract says. Retainers, depending on contract language, are usually non-refundable. Look at the exact verbiage in your written contract with your photographer. Deposits/retainers range anywhere from 10% to 50% of the amount of the package. Refunds are usually not permissible because a photographer is likely turning away business from other couples because they have committed to your date. In theory, they have lost business if you choose to not have them cover your wedding day. The non-refundable retainer at least guarantees them some compensation should you decide to back out. Some written agreements allow for refunds only if the photographer chooses to not shoot the wedding. Also, some photographers will transfer your retainer to another date and/or another type of photography service, i.e., family photos, pet photos, etc. In all cases, I recommend insuring your big day. This will protect you should a vendor flake out, your wedding gets canceled due to weather or military deployment, etc. Each policy does have different coverages and different riders, so be sure to purchase exactly what you need and then some.
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I am San Antonio’s most unique wedding photographer. I specialize in a 10-day image delivery, same-day prints, same-day slideshows, Italian handcrafted wedding albums and I have a mobile meeting space.
I am a full-time, internationally-awarded and WPPI-C certified professional wedding and senior photographer based in South Texas near San Antonio. I offer a premier and personal service coupled with an unforgettable photography experience. I cater to clients who appreciate quality photography and help them to create family heirlooms that will last for generations.
I started Ata-Girl Photography Co., LLC in 2010. I firmly believe that the unique set of circumstances I have faced in life has prepared me to take a personal and genuine interest in my photography clients. I enjoy documenting the important milestones and captivating moments in people’s lives. I love being a part of people’s journey and consider myself privileged to document their legacies.
When I’m not photographing a wedding, family or high school senior, I love to spend my spare time hiking, camping, cycling, reading, listening to Elvis and Prince. The most important things in life are for me to see my two daughters happy and to create a family history my grandparents and grandson would be proud of!
The post, Q&A Blog #1, first appeared on Ata-Girl Photography Co.’s website and blog. Please feel free to comment here, or share this post with your friends via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Please email me if you have any questions about this article or want to share a neat idea for a future blog post with me.