There are a number of standard questions that I ask during the negotiations for a wedding photography contract. Most of them are operational; where the ceremony is to be, when it will start, how many will bein the bridal party, etc. There is a complete chart to be filled out to plan the mission, complete with forecasts from the Met office and the latest intelligence about flak positions and fighter opposition expected. And I do not do this just the once – I check back with the bride a week before the event to see if there have been any changes.
This has saved me from several awkward situations; in one case I discovered that the entire wedding had been shifted fifteen miles away to a different suburb and in another I discovered that the bride and groom had decided not to engage me after all – had I turned up at the church I would have been majorly embarrassed. As it was I could drive to the right suburb for one and stay home for the other and no-one was hurt.
But there are also other questions that are asked – of me – that act as semaphore signals about what might be expected. See if you can read the code as well as I do…
a. ” How many pictures do you take and do we get them all ? ”
This is an indication that they want a lot of images, which is in turn an indication that someone has told them that they need a lot of them. This is the couple that wants 3000+ shots from the day. The fact that they want them all says that they are worried that someone will retain copyright and make extra money from selling images to other people.
My answer is to tell them that I take as many images as I need to tell the story of their day. And I take the things that look good, and funny, and beautiful. I have taken as few as 36 shots for a wedding – and as many as 500. Occasionally some of them have been technical failures…and these are not supplied on to the clients, nor are they charged for. After all, no chef worth their salt would serve a failed soufflé and demand payment.
As far as copyright goes, when you have paid my bill, you are the sole arbiters of those images. Give ’em, sell ’em, or burn ’em as you wish.
b. ” Do we get the RAW images ? ”
No. I would no more think of putting them into your hands than a chef would think of putting the raw eggs on your plate. The soufflé is his art – the finished JPEG is mine. You may have it in TIFF form or any odd finished format that you fancy. You may have it printed through inkjet or RA-4 machine if you wish to pay for that option.
c. ” How late do you stay ? ”
Until 10:00 PM on a standard basis and however long after that you may care to nominate. Be aware that my charge for attendance after 10:00 PM rises exponentially in direct proportion to the drop in my energy and enthusiasm. If you require me to remain after midnight I will either bill you for taxi transportation to and from the event or for overnight accommodation – driving home after 12:00 PM is an industrial hazard.
d. ” Do we have to feed you at the reception ? ”
Not if you do not wish to do so. I am perfectly capable of bringing my own food and drink. I am also familiar with the state labour regulations that mandate a meal break for a half an hour after 5 hours work. Should this fall during an important period of your reception it may be difficult to contact me if I am away from of the reception room eating out of my lunch box. I must leave the decision up to you.
If you insist that I stay on duty during the 30 minute break and provide no food or drink I will simply add the cost of a reasonable meal to your account at the end.
e. ” How long do we have to pay /”
That is simple – a deposit of $ 250 now to secure my attendance and then the balance of the bill just before the finished product is delivered. I will contact you when the discs, prints, or albums are ready so that you may have time to withdraw money for the payment.
f. ” How Many Awards have You Got /”
I received a Posture Pin in 1954 from Christopher Robin school for standing straight, the senior academic award for 1964 from Quesnel Senior High School in British Columbia, and a silver and a gold raven from Grey Company in Perth. These are the only signs of external approval and recognition that I have ever received.
All the rest of my certificates and awards have been purchased as tokens of trade or professional self-congratulation and are essentially dross.
g. ” What If I Don’t Like The Pictures ? ”
I find myself wondering ” What if you don’t like your choice in marriage partner…? “. Life for some is a gambol, and for others a gamble. Roll the dice…
h. ” My friend knows this photographer who…”
Let me stop you there. We photographers know your friend.
i. ” Do you use flash ? ”
j. ” Do you use a Cannon or a Nikon camera like it said in BRIDES magazine ? ”
Yes. I use one of each. One I use as a door stop and the other as a boat anchor.
I take pictures with Fujifilm cameras and lenses. I bring two complete systems to every wedding with 3 x the amount of battery power and memory capacity that will be required. Each system is set identically and ready to react instantly should the situation require it. I also have a third regiment in the woods that has never been called forward to the firing line, but is there in case of emergency.
k. ” Do you give discounts ? ”
Yes. If I am booked for your first, second, and third wedding you will receive a 20% discount on finished discs for the fourth …and any subsequent nuptial…occasion. Should you wish to book all four attendances at the same time there are early-bird coupons. I also do pre-nup keggers, divorce parties, and golden anniversaries. You may trash your wedding dress yourself – I never know what to shoot on those occasions.
l. ” Do I get my deposit back if we cancel the wedding ? ”
Does a pigeon get its deposit back if the statue moves? No. What you do get is older, and possibly wiser.
m. ” Do you do gay/lesbian/trans weddings?
Sure, but you’re probably aware that at present the state government doesn’t. That doesn’t prevent us from taking some dynamite pictures, though. Let ‘er rip!
n. ” Do you do Catholic/Anglican/Jewish/ Muslim/Sikh/Buddhist/Orthodox/Quaker/Hindu/ etc. weddings?
Sure. If they let me in and out of wherever you are going to hold the ceremony and if the celebrant says it is okay, I am delighted to participate. If it is well outside my own cultural experience I am going to need a briefing to know what will happen and what is of significance to you.