Everyone is different…some people know exactly what they are looking for from the get-go. Others begin their search with recommendations from friends and figure things out as they go along. I meet with a lot of couples who need a little help in figuring out how to narrow down their search for a wedding photographer. To that end, I have a list of questions that I think are important in finding just the right person. Of course, there is no right or wrong answer for everyone. Here are the basics that will help you on your way as you compare service providers for your wedding photography and get to know Plum Tree Studios:
  1. Do you use a photo assistant? Whose work am I viewing? Yes, if requested. I will always present my personal work separately from that of any other photographers that work with me. All images on the website are my personal work only.
    Can you provide us with current references? Absolutely.
  2. How long have you been photographing weddings? How many wedding clients do you have per year? I started shooting 17 years ago. I began shooting weddings in particular 4 years ago. Plum Tree Studios is currently in its third year of business. Due to my schedule, I try to do no more than 24 weddings per year.
  3. Do you ever anticipate and prepare for the possibility that something will go wrong? How would you handle it? I always try to expect the unexpected and handle these situations by preparing ahead as much as possible. I come with a sewing kit, band-aids, a lint brush, and Kleenex, aside from extra gear!
  4. How many pictures would you recommend? Why? Enough to get the job done. Because anything less would be too little. ;) I don’t restrict how much I shoot or believe there to be a standard. On average, from me you will get between 80 to 100 photos per hour (depending on the level of activity at the event).
  5. What is the latest time frame for making changes? The day of, depending on the changes.
  6. What style of pictures do you produce? Do you specialize in any in particular? Do you take black and white as well as color pictures? I am a photojournalist and this is my specialty. I do recognize the importance of traditional portraiture and am well versed in this too. For the most part, aside from your formals, your photos will consist of candid shots. I will adjust photo colors for every wedding (you can always request a standard color photo if you are given a colorized one).
  7. What kind of equipment do you use? Do you bring back-up cameras and flashes? I’m a Canon girl, and I shoot digital. I bring back-ups of all gear to every wedding, no exceptions.
  8. Do you offer touch ups, hand coloring/digital coloring, or any other services included, or are there additional fees for these services? Yes, I do offer this with every wedding. It is my standard practice to touch up all photos for you at no extra charge. If you require additional touch-up work there may be a fee, depending on what you are looking for. I don’t do photo plastic surgery, though. ;)
  9. How soon before the wedding will you go over your procedures with us? How many consultations do you provide in your package prices? I offer two in-person consultations. The first is like an interview for both of us. When booked, you will get a second consultation at least 30 days before your wedding to iron out the details. I am available by phone or email as much as you need me aside from this.
  10. How long before the wedding reception will you set up? It depends on the specifics of your wedding. I usually do a pre-event visit to locations I’ve not photographed before to plan ahead as much as possible.
  11. How do you interact with the wedding party and guests? How would you handle it if guests do not cooperate? Always in a professional and cheerful manner. I’m pretty easy going, though comfortable providing more firm direction when needed. Folks who do not wish to be photographed will be given a healthy dose of a guilt-trip. Just kidding, I‘ll gladly respect their wishes.
  12. What attire will you wear at our wedding? I dress professionally, typically in black. In my style of photography it’s always better to blend in as much as possible.
  13. Will you require a meal? I do not require a meal, though if you are not providing one please tell me so that I can prepare accordingly. If you are, rest assured that I will not be sitting down to have a “dining experience“. My priority is to get every single shot, so I eat on the run. And I will NEVER consume alcohol before or while I am working. Neither will any photographer that is working with me.
  14. What are your fees? Are taxes included in the price? What additional expenses may be charged? (other than overtime)? Wedding packages start at $1000 and are completely customizable. Taxes are NOT included (the rate is 8.25% if booking in Texas). The only possible additional expense is travel, though this will be discussed up-front.
  15. What is the farthest distance you will travel? Are travel fees included in the package or are they additional? Can you travel to more than one location, do you charge to do so? I will travel ANY distance. In fact, I love to travel. If you are booking me for a location that is further than 25 miles from Downtown Houston, you will be asked to cover a travel fee depending on the location. I do not charge extra for traveling between church and reception site within a reasonable distance. Additional locations may require a fee depending on location. I’m flexible, just chat with me.
  16. Can we view the photographs online via the Internet? For how long after the wedding? Do we need a password or login to view them? Absolutely. T
    his is one of 2 complimentary things I include with every booking. Your photo gallery will be available for a minimum of 3 months and can be password protected if you request it. The other thing you get with your booking is an online slideshow set to music and it’s compatible with Facebook. This will also be available for a minimum of 3 months (or until I run out of space on my server, whichever comes first).
  17. What is the time limit for ordering the photographs? How long after placing the order will we receive the photographs? You can order photos forever. Just keep in mind that if your photo gallery has expired there won’t be a self-service option. You’ll need to email me. Your gallery will be up within 2 weeks of your wedding (a little longer for multiple photographers), and you will receive most items ordered within two weeks, if not sooner. Albums and other keepsakes may take longer depending on the number of revisions needed.
  18. Will I get the negatives, or if digital, a CD of the pictures? I do provide a high res CD of retouched photos with every booking. I also include a print release so that you can print your own photos for personal use. This is different from transferring the copyrights. For more info on that, please see below.
  19. How long do you keep negatives or digital files? How are negatives or files stored? Are there backups of all negatives or files? Forever. I keep hard copies, back-ups on two computers and remote storage as well. I treat my work as art and preserve it as such.
    Will you be able to purchase additional pictures in the future? For how long? Yep, see question 19.
  20. Do you require a deposit? How much and by when will we need to put down the deposit? Do you accept checks and credit cards? Yes, it’s 50% due at time of signing to block off your date. It is non-refundable and I accept all forms of payment.
  21. Will you provide us with a written contract? What are your cancellation terms? Every. Single. Time. I require a deposit and signed contract to block off your date and consider you booked. All payments are non-refundable, with the exception of special circumstances such as acts of God. Under such situations you will be asked to provide proper documentation for a refund (minus applicable expenses). Again, I’m flexible.
  22. Do you permit family members and guests to take photographs at the wedding? No way. Just kidding! Of course…it’s the digital age and just about everyone has a camera. As long as they do not interfere with the job you are paying me to do, all is good. No other pro-photographers, please.
  23. Do you carry liability insurance? Yes, and should your venue request it, I can have them named on the policy.
  24. Are you a member of any professional organizations? Do you attend workshops, seminars or classes to learn new trends and techniques? I hold a Bachelor of Art in Art History and Studio Art/Photography from the University of Houston. I am currently in the process of joining the WPPI & PPA and I attend at least 3 workshops a year to keep my skills sharp and improving. My last workshop was with world-renowned photographer, David Jay. He’s my hero!
  25. Do we own the copyrights to the photos? I’m sorry, but no. You do get a print release but I will always retain artist rights.

The copyright issue is VERY important! It is illegal to publicly post or make copies of a photograph, taken by a photographer you‘ve contracted, without their expressed, written permission. A good lab will not let you print photographs from a copyrighted CD without a print release. Fines are steep at a maximum of $250,000 and 5 years imprisonment. In my case in particular, I do encourage my clients to share their photos with friends and loved ones in a free manner as long as it is not for commercial use. And I also greatly appreciate being credited for the work, especially if these are posted online. In other words, feel free to brag about me! ;)

Lastly, before you sign any contract, be absolutely sure of the following:

  • You like the photographer’s personality and professionalism and will be comfortable working together.
  • You like his or her style.
  • You are happy with the price.
  • You agree with the conditions posed by the photographer and that the photographer agrees with yours.

Thank you for the opportunity to be of service! Happy shopping!

No Comments Yet

  1. MattDJ says:

    Patricia, great question!

    Yes, I do use Showit Sites but am currently saving my slideshows on another server. Why? Because I’m dumb. :-) Seriously, it makes no sense at all for me to continue doing that because with SIS, you get hosting space FREE. So, if you plan on signing up for the long haul or becoming a Lifetime Member as I am, it makes no sense to not have everything saved there. Hey, feel free to fire off any other SIS questions that you may have! :-)

  2. MattDJ says:

    Fantastic Q&A!! Awesome. :-)

  3. Estello's Best Photography says:

    Wow! I never seen such a detail list of questions so well presented and answered. I like how worked in your personality using humor. Nice job Plum Tree

  4. || davidjay || says:

    What a great list of questions and answer! Keep up the wonderful work.

    Blessings,
    DJ