…and What to Ask of your Wedding Photographer Before Booking

The last shoot I was a part of was right before the mandatory shutdowns. It was obviously an odd situation. The wedding of 150+ had dwindled down to less than 10 people, as we decided to postpone the reception until a later date when everyone could be there. It was like showing up to a wedding the day before! But more on that later. This story is one to show the importance of communication, relationships, and the questions you should always ask your photographer before booking.

As a wedding couple, with their planning, choosing and paying vendors, sending invitations and setting up venue day-ofs, hotels or Air B&B’s.. Planning one of the most important Big Day’s of their lives for months and months, to have that crumble in a heartbeat because of this crazy virus is heartbreaking. 

The anxiety we live in right now is real.

There is a virus right now that is very real.

It could take someone close to you after all is said and done, or it might have already. People are unable to work, like myself. I have been relegated to quarantine at home, which is mostly house projects, cleaning, and taking photos of my daughter. My job is non-essential in times like these, but so many others are not. I do what I can, buy one shoot get one for free for a friend, family member, or giveaway to the public for someone on the front lines as an essential worker (when the quarantine has been lifted of course). I have lost loved ones to accidents, cancer, and old age, but me being a carrier that led this to someone I love is not something I take lightly, or am willing to risk. 

That is why I have worked with my couples that have upcoming weddings to try and plan or postpone their big days when it is both beneficial for everyone overall to flatten the curve and can be the glorious celebration of love my couples envisioned and deserve. I want to find days that I and my couple both have open, to make my services the easiest to setup in these trying times, and to just be there for whomever needs it. 

But I have seen a lot of posts of wedding couples and photographers where the vendor is holding the wedding couple’s deposits and payments and then not agreeing to change or move dates, or telling them that future pricing is different and a new contract, deposit, etc would be required. I find this ludicrous, but not surprising. Many small businesses, and that especially includes wedding photographers, live off of seasons and can go lean in the offseason, but many cannot. Like the broader picture, many are living paycheck to paycheck, or retainer to retainer. When you agree to book, you are paying their rent/mortgage, kids school, medical, or electric bills. 

The only problem with this type of living is when something crazy happens like Covid-19. What do you do when you dont know the next time money is coming in? Monetary anxiety is added to an already trepid times.  

Questions for your Photographer about your Wedding Day

If you are looking for a photographer now or you will be in the future, I have a few important questions to always ask:

1. Do you have insurance? 
Just a good rule of thumb: Insurance companies like people who already have insurance and give them lower rates because people that worry about the what-ifs before they happen are far more likely to not put in claims. Whether that be because of financial status, risk aversion or prevention, I have no idea. But in the Photography world, having insurance means my gear is covered, as well as unforeseen circumstances or conditions. *Added one* I like to know they are registered with tax ID’s/federally registered too.

2. Ask to see their contract.
Contracts keep you covered as well as the Photographer. What happens in case of emergency, Force Majeure (Coronovirus could be a case here), as well as retainers and when they want them and how much is kept in the event of cancellation. 

3. Do you carry backup equipment, in case of damage or mechanical issues?
A DJ at an event without a mixer is probably not a great idea. Likewise, A wedding photographer filming a wedding without a camera can be cumbersome. Make sure they have the adequate equipment to fulfill their end of the bargain!

4. What happens in the event of an emergency where you would not be able to provide services?
This is a tough one, but to me the most important question. If I am going to pay thousands of dollars (A lot of time before the event happens) I want to make sure the photographer I choose, the DJ, the coordinator, will all be there. 

We had our little girl a month before she was due with an on-call physician, because the doctor we were meeting with for the previous 5 months was on vacation. And what happened? We had a great experience with a very talented midwife and had our baby girl with no complications. 

Stuff happens! And if they say it never will, then it won’t be until it’s your big day that they miss. Car accidents, emergency surgeries, sickness, alien abduction, who knows? But have a gameplan for the what-ifs. I have a list of backup photographers that I work with for those just in case moments that I let the bride and groom choose from, as well I offer to move my full retainer/payment to another Photographer in the case I am unable to fulfill my contract. I also have my hubby who has filmed and photographed many weddings himself as my backup for immediate help. 

Alright, I rambled quite long enough before getting to my lovely couple! Now these two were so bummed because it looked like everything was going to be pushed back until next year. They decided they still wanted to elope. So a little finagling later, we got their venue now for the ceremony and on their future date for their big-time reception with all the friends and family to celebrate!
So that is how we managed to fill rooms meant for hundreds of people, with a photographer, officiant, the bride and groom, and a few close friends and family.

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