Couples are often confused about the process of booking a wedding photographer, how the photographer works on the wedding day, how their photographs are stored, choosing the photographs for their storybook wedding album, when will they receive their photographs and how can they use them. So, we thought it might be useful to share how we do things. Every wedding photographer in Northern Ireland will have their own way of doing things but this is what we have found works best for us.
FIRST CONTACT FROM THE COUPLE
Most couples contact us by email, but we also receive enquiries from messages via our Facebook page, messages via our Instagram account and by telephone. We always try to respond to all enquiries within 24 hours. In the first instance we will confirm if we are available and point the couple towards our website so that they can view previous weddings we have photographed, what our wedding photography package options are and so they can read some reviews from previous clients.
We then wait to receive a response from them. We have been told many times that we shouldn’t do this and that we should contact the couple after a few days, then again and again until we receive a response from them. We aren’t really comfortable with doing that, but this would be the normal process for most wedding photographers. We prefer to provide as much information to the couple as possible, ask them to contact us if there is anything else we can help with, and then leave it up to them to decide if we are a good fit for what they are looking for.
Once the couple has come back to us, we answer any additional questions they might have and offer them the option of a consultation. When we first started photographing weddings we would call out with every couple and explain how we photograph a wedding. It’s quite rare that we do this now though as most couples seem to prefer to do everything by telephone and email, so generally we do a telephone consultation instead. We won’t take a booking from a couple until we have done this first. We think it’s important to have a chat with the couple about how we do things to make sure that they are 100% happy with everything before we agree to taking their booking.
HOLDING DATES FOR WEDDINGS
We often get asked if we can hold a date, unfortunately this is something we can not offer even if it is only for a few days. We often get multiple enquiries for the same date. To try and be as fair as possible to everyone that contacts us, we operate on a first come first served basis.
CONFIRMING A BOOKING
Before we can confirm a booking, we ask our couples to make a deposit payment and complete a booking form. The booking form is important, it is provided by the company that provides our public liability insurance and we have to have a completed booking form for every wedding we photograph for our insurance to remain valid. For deposit payments we prefer bank transfer as the method of payment. Once we have received the payment, we will send a receipt by email.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Nothing, usually for a long time unless the couple has also booked an engagement session. We offer engagement sessions as part of one of our wedding photography package options or if you choose one of our other package options they can be booked at half the normal cost once you have booked your wedding. You can find details on engagement sessions here. http://bit.ly/engagement-sessions-belfast
Most couples book their wedding photographer well in advance of the date of the wedding, so normally there would be quite a long period of time in between making your booking and the next step. Once a booking has confirmed however we always encourage our couples to contact us if we can help with anything else, sometimes couples will come back to us and ask us to recommend other wedding vendors which we are always happy to do. We also give them the option of joining our wedding vendor Facebook group where thy can interact with other wedding vendors. You can join the group here. https://www.facebook.com/groups/466214243532635/
MAKING FINAL PAYMENT BEFORE THE WEDDING
We like to be as flexible as possible when it comes to payment, so we only ask for our couples to make their balance payment 2 weeks before the date of their wedding to try and allow them as much time as possible. As with deposit payments, we prefer bank transfer as the method of payment.
FINAL CONFIRMATION OF DETAILS AND WEDDING TIMELINE
Around one week before the wedding we will contact the bride by telephone as we will be going to her to photograph the getting ready part of the day. We will have a quick chat to confirm all the details so we can put a plan together at our end for when everything is happening. The day before the wedding we will send the bride a quick message confirming the address for where she is getting ready and our arrival time just in case of any last-minute change of plans.
PHOTOGRAPHING THE WEDDING DAY
Every wedding is different but this is how a wedding day normally breaks down for us.
There are of course lots of other photographs taken as well. We always offer our couples the option of us doing another quick session with them later on in the evening. There is always some time between the end of dinner and the first dance while the venue staff set everything up. A lot of the time though the couple prefer to use this time for spending some time alone or for spending time with their guests which is understandable.
We would love to shoot more first looks, we photographed a first look recently and loved the emotion, hopefully this is something more couples will consider for their own wedding day.
STORING YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHS
Once we return from a wedding all of the photographs are backed up multiple times and stored in two different locations. The memory cards we used during your wedding are also stored away. We won’t erase them and use them again until all of your photographs have been edited and are ready to supply to you. A final online back up is also created as well. This might seem like overkill but we will do everything we can to ensure that clients images are protected.
EDITING PROCESS FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHS
As a first step all of the photographs from your wedding will go through a culling process. This is where we delete any photographs that won’t make the cut in terms of what we provide to you. For example, photographs from the ceremony that are unusable due to guests jumping in front of us and obscuring our view with their phones and tablets etc. Once the images have been culled, we have our own process for editing to get the images to fit in with our style of photography. We prefer natural, real photographs so we never over Photoshop images or do excessive skin retouching etc.
Once all the images have been edited, we start work on your wedding album design. When the album design is completed, we include a digital mock up of the design along with your digital images. We provide an album design to every couple even if they have not chosen a wedding photography package that includes one. This allows them the option of deciding on an album later on once they have their photographs.
In terms of timescales from when we photograph your wedding until we provide you with your digital images our normal turn around time is within 6 weeks.
WEDDING ALBUM ORDERS
All our wedding albums are put together with the idea of telling the story of your wedding day as it happened. While we provide you with a mock up of the design you also have the option to make changes. We would usually advise that any changes be kept to a minimum though as this can often disrupt the story book feel of the album. Couples can sometimes want to just include their favourite photographs but this can result in the album just becoming a normal photo album rather than a story book. If you prefer an image that was not included in the original design it’s always best to use it to replace an image from the same part of the day so as not to disrupt the story. Once you have confirmed that you are happy with the design, we place the order with our supplier. Delivery is normally within 6-8 weeks.
LICENCE FOR USE
When a photographer provides you with your wedding photographs, the photographer still owns the copyright of the photos. When we provide photographs to our couples, we licence them for their own personal use. We always provide full resolution files so that you can have your own wedding album or prints completed wherever you prefer and your licence will allow for this. Please note though that this does not include commercial use. If for example you are contacted by another wedding vendor or by your wedding venue asking to use your wedding photographs for any purpose you will not be able to give them permission to do so. They will need to contact your photographer for permission first. Also, if you wish to have your wedding photographs used by a magazine or blog you will need your wedding photographer’s permission for that as well.
We hope this helps you better understand the whole process of booking your wedding photographer, right the way through to receiving your wedding album. If you are in the middle of planning your own wedding you might also find these other articles useful.