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Questions You Should Ask A Photographer Before Booking

BY DEWWOND MAPP /MONDAY, 30 MAY 2022 / PUBLISHED IN BLOG, PHOTOGRAPHY


As a photographer, I’ve been fortunate to work for and with many people, groups, and organizations. The experience to date has been nothing short of an amazing ride. However, that ride definitely has had its bumps in the road. What I mean is, there’s this heightened level of anxiety… particularly with new clients.  They often exhibit a subtle sense of uncertainty due to not totally knowing what to expect from their photographer. So, after having numerous, similar experiences with my clients, I decided to provide my audience with a solution. A solution that matters. Answers, to all the important questions every client needs to know.  If you need to hire a photographer, what questions should you ask them? What questions will put your mind at ease?

I’ve developed a list of essential questions for photographers that I highly recommend you commit to memory. These are the types of questions that will give you the best, most useful advice, and they’ll also help you understand how the photographer approaches their own photography. That way, the next time you run into a photographer you admire or you simply engage with a photographer on a website or forum, you know how to come away with the most helpful information.

Let’s get started with my first question:

01

What is your style?

A photographer’s style is the look of their images. Are they bright and airy, dark and gloomy, colorful, joyful or emotional, etc? Before you even meet with your photographer, take a look at their work and see if you love the look of their images. If you love the shots and you can picture yourself in the images, chances are that you like their style and overall look. For me, I believe in bright and colorful images. I believe in a classic look that will stand the test of time rather than following a fad. After I photograph, I do add a little pop and contrast to the shots that give them a little extra oomph before sending them over to my clients.
02

do you edit images?

By ‘edit’ I don’t mean heavy photoshopping that most people think of. Editing can be cropping or straightening the images, adjusting colors, and making other small adjustments so that the overall look of the delivery is consistent with the photographer’s style that was showcased in their portfolio.
For example, after shooting a portrait session, event, or wedding, I take out any extra shots (test shots, duplicates, unflattering shots, etc) and I make adjustments to the remaining images. I go through the images one by one and make sure that each image looks its best and is cohesive as part of the story of the day.
 
03

When do you deliver the final images?

This is a great question to ask because it gives you an idea of when to expect your images. Different parts of the year might have different turnaround times, for example, in the high wedding season of summer and fall, turnaround times can be longer whereas in the winter and spring they tend to be shorter because there are fewer weddings and engagement sessions for a photographer to edit and deliver back to their clients. For my clients, I always offer a featured blog post preview 1-to 2 days after their session. I deliver...
  • Portrait sessions within two weeks.
  • Events such as parties are submitted in 2-3 weeks.
  • Weddings typically take 4-6 weeks.
04

how many pictures do i receive?

This is a really great question. Many people are somewhat confused by it, as well. Most photographers have their own method of handling the number of images that a client receives. For me, portrait sessions for a single individual come with 15 digitally enhanced images (retouched images). That's from a 1hr portrait session.
On the other hand, when it comes to events like parties, large public gatherings, corporate events, galas, award ceremonies, music festivals, conventions, prom sendoffs, grand openings, church services, etc., I submit all of those images.  Of course, I remove any weird, blurry, or otherwise unpresentable images from the gallery before I submit it. Those images will receive my standard color adjustments.
05

what's the difference between portrait photography and event photography?

This is another really good question. Essentially, both are considered portrait photography. The main differences are...  
Traditional Portrait Photography is one of the most popular genres of photography, with good reason. In essence, it allows a photographer to capture the personality and emotion of a person in an isolated setting, such as a studio. Individual portraiture requires a focus on a specific person(s). The client receives images that are digitally enhanced. Or, high-end retouched.

As for Event Photography, for the most part, you’re walking around being a documentarian. You're taking pictures of all of the memorable moments. Telling the story of the event through photo documentary. The images from an event are not high-ended retouched. However, the images do receive a standard color grading.

All of the following shot types are removed before delivery.

06

do you release original raw images?

This is another one that magazines always say to ask, but trust me when I say you do NOT want the RAW files. Photographers (myself included) almost never release the RAW files for several reasons. One is that they are totally unfinished and well… raw. They are not representative of the finished product or the photographer’s style. Photographers build an entire business on their style and that style usually depends on the edits that they make to the raw images. The very reason that they were booked in the first place. The second reason is that RAW image files are HUGE. You need special software to even be able to access them. I never release RAW images because they are not reflective of my brand and they ultimately would do my clients a disservice to have. I believe in creating a cohesive and curated gallery of my client's stories. I do send my clients high-resolution JPEG images that are printing grade quality in an online gallery where they can share, download, and order prints.
07

do you charge a travel fee?

If your venue is outside of a photographer's range, they will typically charge a travel fee to recover the expense of traveling. Depending on how far away from your event is, there might be a mileage fee or if they need to stay overnight at a hotel it may include a hotel and a small stipend. For every photographer it is different. It’s important to ask this upfront so that you don’t get hit with an unforeseen fee.
08

WHO OWNS THE COPYRIGHT TO THE IMAGES?

This is a very important question that a lot of people miss. The reason this is so important is that affects how a photographer can do business, promote their images and showcase their work in competitions and magazines. What most photographers will include in their contracts are sections about their copyright. After photographing a wedding, the photographer usually retains the copyright. This way they can continue to use the images to continue their business. Limited copyright is extended to the client so that they can use the images for personal use ONLY. That means that you would be able to post your images to social media or print your images but you would not be allowed to sell or publish the images without the written consent of the photographer. A potential photographer might do things a little differently so make sure to ask them about this. If the photographer did not retain the copyright, they would have to contact the couple about every image they post on social media, wedding websites, magazines, etc, and would be a headache for everyone involved.
09

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT?

Sometimes things outside your control can happen. In the case of an emergency, it’s important to make sure that your photographer has a backup plan in place should the worst happen. That may mean calling another photographer to step in for them or sending additional assistants. This actually happened to me a few years ago when I was subpoenaed by the courts….and there was a wedding the next day. Talk about crazy! It was one of my worst fears that come to life as a wedding photographer. In the end, it all worked out as I was able to find another photographer that was able to take my place on the wedding day. Having this conversation with your photographer can give you peace of mind for the just-in-case moments that sometimes happen.

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