Don’t ask your photographer these questions

Have you heard my spiel about the most common first question couples ask me? “Hi. What are your prices?” This question drives me bananas! It is important to me that I get to know you and your plans and that I recommend the perfect package rather than just hurl a bunch of numbers at you. But this isn’t the only question that stuns me.

It’s time for the strangest questions I’ve been asked, and I’ve had some head scratchers over the years. These aren’t questions I don’t have the answers to, but questions that have left me asking, “Why?!”

The internet is a spectacular resource, and I love it so. But it has inspired marketing checklist after marketing checklist of “What to ask potential <insert industry professionals here>,” and some of those checklists will really gum up the planning process for you.

So here are 3 of the most unusual questions I’ve been asked. These questions will either serve you little to no use or will result in a mess of information that might unnecessarily confuse you. Don’t worry, though! I’ve included some questions you might ask instead that will get you real, actually useful information.

1. What equipment do you use?

This is the equivalent of asking your accountant if she uses pencils or pens. I have a real hate for this question probably from my years as an insecure student. In college there was an inaccurate expectation that skill was tied directly to the size of the lenses in your camera bag. We called it lens envy. The bigger the lens, the more skilled the photographer, whether or not she knew how to use it. Now that I’m a full-grown human photographer and have actually spent 12 hours on my feet shooting a wedding and carrying 2 fully-loaded cameras, I think differently.

The truth is that your photographer will use the proper equipment in the proper moment. You should trust her to do her job to the best of her ability, and you certainly shouldn’t consume yourself with micromanaging her to the point of suggesting a lens change.

Instead, you can ask if your photographer has backup gear in case she takes a tumble into the bay or if her camera spontaneously combusts.

2. What is your style of photography best suited to?

Well, you, hopefully. Honestly, this question still leaves me more or less speechless.

You might describe your wedding style and ask if it is a style your photographer enjoys. A photographer will produce some of her best work when covering an event which inspires her. But even then this question shouldn’t be necessary. You should know by looking at a photographer’s work if her style is for you.

Instead, ask yourself this question: Do I like this photographer’s photos? If the answer is yes then book her before she’s snapped up.

3. How many weddings have you done and how many will be booked in and around our big day?

A bride asked me this year, “Have you photographed many weddings?” That is not a good way to start the conversation. Had this couple looked at my photos? If they had they would see that I’ve photographed quite a few weddings. How did they know they liked my work?

I can tell this question was a copy and paste from some “Questions to ask your photographer checklist” (which I suspect wasn’t written by a photographer). Here is a perplexing truth: some of the most experienced photographers are the worst to work with, and some of the greenest photographers are the most talented.  You should work with someone whose style you like and whom you get along with. Now onto the second part of this question…

The number of weddings I have booked around yours doesn’t matter. (Hold on; there’s more…) What matters is my ability to arrive on time, to pay you and your photos the attention you deserve, and to get your photos back to you in a timely fashion.

Instead, ask when your photos will be available and what kind of editing she will perform before you see them. Ask about her process following the wedding, and if you’ll see proofs before your final photos are delivered.

Moving forward, when you’re searching through lists of questions to ask various vendors, consider stroking off questions if you won’t know what to do with the answers. Pay attention to how a photographer interacts with you. Does she ask you questions? Is she happy to take the conversation off email? Absolutely meet with your photographer, speak on the phone, or meet over Skype before booking to be sure you like each other and that your personalities mesh. You should also read her reviews and look for praises of her communication skills before and after the wedding, her flexibility, and her personability with guests on the big day.

If you’re getting married in 2016 or 2017 in Ontario and you’re looking for your photographer contact me! I’d love to learn about you and your plans and at the very least help you navigate the booking process.

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