Just like the Boy Scouts, wedding photographers - the successful ones, at least - are always prepared. From multiple camera bodies and stacks of memory cards to shot lists and detailed maps of the venue, wedding photographers are somewhat like the doomsday preppers of the photography world. If anything goes wrong, they have what they need to deal the situation.
But for as much planning and preparation that goes into the having the right gear and taking the best shots, some wedding photographers neglect to ask some very important questions that can make or break their ability to perform their job to the best of their abilities. This is not a trap into which you want to fall.
Have a look at these four essential questions you will want to ask your wedding clients.
What’s your Story?
Your entire purpose as a wedding photographer is to tell a story about the happy couple. And while you can take photos of their big day - and good photos at that - without knowing a single thing about them, it obviously helps to know the story behind the couple.
Maybe they met in college. They could be high school sweethearts. Perhaps they met only six months ago and it’s been a whirlwind romance. Whatever the case, the more you know about the couple, the better you can do your job of telling their story through your photographs.
An added bonus is that asking about how they met, how the proposal occurred, and the like, will demonstrate to your clients that you are interested and that you care about them beyond the scope of your business relationship. It’s this kind of personal connection that will help you do a better job, is more likely to result in work with which your clients are satisfied, and it might get you some referrals too!
What do I need to know about the family?
Having a few details about the couple’s families is critical to your success on the wedding day. After all, if Uncle Jamey and Aunt Tami just got a divorce, you probably don’t need to take a portrait of them together.
What’s more, many people have parents, stepparents, former stepparents, stepbrothers and sisters, and so on and so forth. You need to know who’s who, who is on agreeable terms with one another, who needs to be in the family photo, and potential pitfalls to watch out for, like the Uncle Jamey and Aunt Tami situation.
It can be difficult to ask for those kinds of details, but they are critically important for your work. The more you know, the easier it will be for you to pose family members and arrange shots such that everyone is happy. As hard as it is to ask for personal details, it’s much harder to get people that shouldn’t have been near one another in the first place to stand happily and pose for a picture!
Who can I contact if you aren’t available?
When the big day rolls around, your clients most likely will not have their phones with them as they get ready for the day. That means you need a point of contact (or two, or three) so you can get in touch with someone in the know if you have any questions or problems.
Whether it’s a wedding planner, the best man, the maid of honor, or someone else, get all the phone numbers you need ahead of time. Use them as a relay if you have questions or needs that only the wedding couple can fulfill. Also use your point of contact to help you get everyone together for posed portraits before the ceremony. Your point of contact will also be able to help you identify who’s who, so you’re sure you get everyone photographed that needs to be photographed.
Are there special requests?
When making plans with your client, don’t forget to set aside some time to inquire about any special requests. Aside from the shot list, are there any specific photos the couple wants? Do they have any unusual requirements, like having a photo taken with their pet alligator? Does the venue ban flash photography? Are there specific clothing requirements you must abide by?
Of course, you won’t be able to think of all the possible questions to ask your clients about any special requests, but at least starting the conversation will get you on the right track towards fulfilling their needs and wants. Keep your special requests list handy as there are sure to be additions as the days tick off the calendar and the event gets closer.