There’s something we do in the Bridal Photography Industry called Consultations. They really are a mandatory part of hiring a wedding photographer, but sadly many couples are scared off by this idea. I suspect this is either because A. The couple is “just browsing” or “price hunting” and meeting with the photographer feels like committing to something or B. The idea of meeting with the photographer is either an inconvenience or is intimidating. I thought I would share why this step is so important in helping you pick your photographer and why we as photographers provide this service.
1. Are they the right photographer for you?
Something you need to remember when you’re picking a photographer for your wedding is that it’s about more than the cost, the style, and the deals. You will be spending the entire day with this person and letting them photograph those intimate moment between you, your partner, your family and your friends. You will want someone you trust and feel comfortable around.
Because of this when I get initial inquiries about pricing and available dates I always add a line to my response saying something like “I would love to meet you both and get a coffee some time.” It’s an opportunity for the couple to meet me and see if we mesh. I want the people I work with to feel comfortable around me, and for them to feel like they can trust me.
If you find yourself planning on using a random photographer you found on the internet, (which is totally acceptable), that you don’t plan on meeting until the day of your wedding, you are taking a risk. You just have no idea what type of individual you may get. I have sadly heard stories from many friends and acquaintances who had photographers not show up, who were unprofessional, rude, or that they just didn’t get along with; which totally ruined the mood on their wedding day. Don’t let that happen to you. If your photographer doesn’t offer to meet you, offer to meet them. If they don’t want to meet you in person, this is a red flag and you should maybe consider someone else.
2. It’s your chance to ask questions.
Any questions or concerns you may have in regards to your photos can all be addressed best and quickest in person. If you know you want, for example, sunset photos, ask the photographer how they they would approach this task. Their responses will give your a better idea of how they work and if you think their methods will work well with you.
I have also noticed during my consultations that through creating a dialog the people I am meeting end up having more questions, and I don’t mean this in a negative way. I mean I will mention something in passing and that will remind the clients of things they otherwise would have forgotten or never thought of to ask. Most people have never had to work with a photographer before and don’t always know what to expect. Meeting with them will allow the photographer to guide you through the process of booking them, while answering your questions as you think of them.
3. Going over packages and coverage.
Any questions you may have about the packages a photographer offers can be best answered in person. Meeting with the photographer will allow them to direct you to the package they feel is the best for you. You may even be provided the opportunity to customize a package just for you.
For myself I have noticed that quite often the couples I work with usually don’t have their timeline for their wedding day figured out when they hire me, and they usually have no idea how much time to alot for formal photos (which ties into some of my package pricing, as I charge by the full or half day.) By sitting down with my clients and discussing with them what exactly they want photographed and can help them with their timeline for the day.
4. Your photographer has seen it all. Why not utilize that?
I had a couple early last year who decided to hire me. We sat down to talk, and it became clear to me that they were still in the early stages of planning their wedding, and didn’t know what to do. I was able to direct them to other professionals I knew in the industry that could help them. I was able to give them style ideas I had seen around, I was able to help them with their venue, I was even able to recommend some caters. Your wedding photographer has a network that they can tap into to help you plan. They are by no means a replacement for a wedding planner, but they usually have just as many connections and can help point you in the right direction.
I could give you many more reasons why you should meet your potential photographer but I think I’ve covered the highlights. In summary, get to know them, ask questions, and use their network of resources. And don’t worry if you decide not to use every photographer you meet. They are used to it and know that meeting potential clients is all part of the business; you won't hurt their feelings and you are not wasting their time. This is about getting the best option for you as a couple and making sure your wedding day goes without a hitch. As I mentioned previously, you spend most of your day with your photographer, so placing value in them and taking the time to meet them is the best thing you could do when preparing to book a photographer.