By Amy Phipps on | No Comments
As a photographer, you will find yourself wearing many hats. Sometimes you will be a family therapist, a money manager, a baby sitter, a wedding planner, and a communications specialist. This blog post is going to concentrate on that last hat we often wear, the communication specialist.
When photographing a wedding, you will need to be a great communicator at all times, from the first contact with the couple until the images are delivered.
(Note: Don't forget to download our Free Wedding Details and Shot List at the end of this post. This 6 page printable will help you plan and stay organized at all your upcoming weddings!)
One of the first things you need to do if you decide to photograph weddings on your own is create collections and set your pricing. It’s a good idea to have that information printed up and easily available for when a bride call you (it’s usually the bride that makes contact) and says she would like to talk about your wedding collections and what you can do for her.
I never seem to remember this information off the the top of my head, so I keep it in my planner which is always on my desk, right by my house phone. I generally do not give out my cell phone number until someone is a paid client.
I will give pricing over the phone, but in today’s world of technology, I get most of my wedding inquiries via email, and that is how I prefer it. When a potential bride emails me, I try to email them back without giving pricing until my second email.
Even though they may ask for it, I like to email back and get a little bit of information first. Where will the wedding be, when, what style of wedding, how did they meet, how long have they been dating…these types of questions allow you to get to know her as a bride right away and show that you have a genuine interest in her from the very start.
By doing this, you will be forming a relationship from the very first contact. This will often work in your favor if it comes down to you and another potential photographer that is charging the same amount, but all they did in response to the inquiry was to email back with pricing. In these cases, bride will most likely choose you!
Once the bride decides to meet with you and is hopefully ready to sign the contract for their big day, you have to decide how you are going to handle that first meeting.
For me, I like to do the first wedding consultation at my home so that they can get a feel for who I am as a person and not just a photographer. I have large canvas wraps on the wall and a large wall of framed prints of my family when you walk in to my home. Right away, people see that photos are something I treasure and want displayed.
Another reason I like meeting with couples at my home is because my son bakes fresh chocolate chip cookies. No joke! He loves to bake and the house smells so warm and inviting when you have cookies in the oven, who won’t want to sign on the dotted line after a few warm cookies and a small glass of milk!
Once the wedding contract is signed, it’s usually several months before we see each other again. Most of my couples schedule their engagement session when we sign the contract, so we have that that to look forward to.
I try to do an engagement session at least 3 months before the wedding. This gives me enough time to edit and send the the files so they can use the images for any part of the invitations or reception. Make sure that you stay in contact with the bride about the engagement session - send her a reminder a few weeks before the scheduled date and make sure to give her ideas on what to wear. I also encourage my couples to bring a change of clothes so they can have a different look.
Two weeks before the wedding, I get together with the couple and we go over their wedding timeline and shot list. This is some of the most important information you will gather. While the couple is doing a timeline with you, you may find out that they are also doing this with the DJ. These two timelines have to match.
I try to get my timeline done with the couple BEFORE the DJ because I have seen too many DJ’s that do not know how to schedule time for photos.
This bride was the first bride I have ever had that wanted to do all of the photos before the wedding and I have to tell you, it was wonderful! So much less stress after the ceremony and the couple was able to really visit with their guests.
It’s important to remember to get candids and detail shots of everything! I use my second shooter to get photos of the groom getting ready, cocktail hour, different angles at the ceremony, detail shots and different angles of other activities.
A good wedding shot list is a must have! I actually address this in my contract too. Each bride MUST provide me with their must-have shot list or they will not guaranteed photos of certain people or shots.
For example, if I had a bride who's grandparents flew all the way from Japan and were included in the large family photo but there were no shots of just them with the bride. She might email me after receiving her gallery, upset that this photo is missing.
Because I have a shot list from the bride, I can say with confidence if a particular image is or is not on the list. If it was not on the list, I will email a copy of the shot list to her and sleep well that night.
However, if the photo was left off and it was my fault, then I feel horrible and risk bad reviews. Hopefully that doesn't happen (just make sure to get the shots you agreed to) because no good comes from a sad bride.
I also remind brides that if their shot list is full of Pinterest photos, I can’t guarantee any of them. Depending on the light, the venue and the space I have, I may not be able to replicate those types of shots.
Once I am done with each shot, I have my assistant mark it off.
As you can see, we fulfilled the candids and details from her shot list! This wedding was a dream come true for any photographer.
Now that you have all you need to stay organized for the wedding day, we've got a special download to help you plan and stay organized at your own weddings!
Do you have any questions or comments about our Wedding Photography Checklist and Preparing a Wedding Shot List? Leave us a comment below - we would love to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!
Amy Phipps is the photographer behind On the Phippside Photography, located in Stockton, California. Amy has been married for 21 years and has 4 children. When she’s not trying to decide between which of her 43 black shirts to wear, you can probably find her sipping on a Dr. Pepper and walking around any day of the year in flip flops.