You’ve done your research. You’ve looked and looked online, trying to find the right wedding photographer for you. Your searches have led you to my site (welcome!) and now it’s time to read more - you peruse my about me page, read a few other articles, and then it’s time to set up a chat.
How do you know what to ask me? Besides talking about the timeline of your day and other important things, what questions should you be asking? How do you know if you’re even asking the right questions?
You hit up the internet for answers. This list might have come to you through Here Comes the Guide, the Knot, or any popular search for “questions to ask your wedding photographer.”
This list is a great starting point, but the problem with Here Comes The Guide and articles found online are often written by non-photographers. I’ve seen these guides with glossaries of “photography styles” and helpful “advice” that isn’t applicable for the current wedding photography market, current client, and every photographer you might speak to.
I’ve been asked this list many times in the past years, and I wanted to write down all of my answers in great detail, so that this could hopefully be a helpful resource to prospective (and current!) clients who want to see all of these answers all in one place!
How far in advance do I need to book with you?
This is a tough one. I can’t tell you when a date will be “off the books”, but I can tell you trends. Most clients book about nine to twelve months in advance of their wedding date. Some book six weeks in advance. Some book two years in advance. It’s always hard to predict when a date will get snapped up, especially popular dates like Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. Winters are a little slower than summers, but again, you just never know.
I’d advise you to book the second you know. It’s first come first serve with booked dates, and to be fair to all of my clients I don’t hold dates or pencil people in without a contract. It’s always completely heartbreaking to have someone be interested in working with me only to come back a few months later and the date is no longer available.
How long have you been in business?
I have been a photographer since 2002, and full time since 2003. This is my only job, it’s my full time job, and I love it with my whole heart.
How would you describe your photography style (e.g. traditional, photojournalistic, creative)?
Photography buzzwords and descriptive terms for styles aren’t new, but now they are virtually meaningless. I could tell you that I’m a documentary photographer, and that could mean that I’m 100% fly on the wall in my approach, posing nothing, interrupting nothing, purely there to document the moments in front of me. I could also tell you that I’m a documentary photographer, and that could mean that I elaborately pose “moments” all day long to look real, but they’re not. I could also be a mix between the two.
The true way to know my style is to answer the next question…
How would you describe your working style?
Ah ha, here we go! A photographer’s working style is representative of their photography style, and the two go hand in hand.
My style is first best described by how I treat you on your wedding day. I’m there to be a calming presence, to make the photography process an easy one, to be your advocate when you need one, to be on your side. I’m there to make what you want happen, whether it’s doing a first look or not, whisking you out of a receiving line that you don’t want to be in for some sunset pictures, or telling your third cousin that I’m so sorry, there simply isn’t enough time to do forty three more family pictures of just him.
I’m also there to capture your day the way your day actually happens. That would fall more under the documentary umbrella of photography catchphrases. I’m not there to tell the story of a day you weren’t at. I’m not there to change the narrative. I’m there to capture your real moments, in real time, with your real family and your real friends. I’m there to tell your story.
Your wedding day is your wedding. It’s not a styled photo shoot. The approach to photography and the final images should reflect that, with the great respect that I have to the sanctity of your marriage and the huge honor that I hold to capture such an important time in your lives.
That said, I can feel some prospective clients cringing just a bit away from this. You want the moments captured, you want the fly on the wall approach, but what if you don’t know what to do with your hands? Or where the best light is for getting ready? Or what in the world you’re supposed to even do during a first look? That’s where I have to back away from the title of documentary photographer and reiterate again that I am here for you. I’m here to ask you to get ready in front of that gorgeous beam of light coming through a window. I’m here to make the first look process so easy and seamless that you can’t even tell you’re being guided gently into a good position, because the moments feel so easy. I’m here to help you know where to put your hands and how to hold your arms without you feeling like you’re being posed.
In short, I’ve been a photographer for a long time, and I’ve photographed hundreds upon hundreds of weddings. I promise that I’m there to enhance your day, not distract from it. That I will help you feel comfortable in all ways, and help you know how to pose and move without altering the moments that I am capturing for you.
What do you think distinguishes your work from that of other photographers?
- My use of light.
- My ability to anticipate and capture moments.
- My work ethic.
- My customer service.
- My unwavering dedication to my craft.
- My ability to see and utilize color.
- My experience.
I use light in an exemplary way, craft gorgeous compositions, capture moments decisively and with ease, and work with people wonderfully. While it might sound like idle bragging - you want to know. You need to know that the photographer you hire can stand confidently in his or her shoes and say “Hire me. I’m the best at what I do.”
What type of equipment do you use?
All of my camera bodies and lenses are from Canon. Same with my flashes. They are a wonderful company, and I am one of their Explorers of Light - that’s basically a brand ambassador. There are very few wedding photographer ambassadors in the United States, and I’m the only female.
My lighting is a mix of video lights, strobes, softboxes, and grids - basically a huge bag of all kinds of lighting modifiers and sources so that I can quickly grab the best, most efficient tool for the job at hand.
I have backups for my backups, and everything is insured like crazy.
Are you shooting in digital or film format or both?
Do you shoot in color and black & white? Infrared?
I deliver all images in color and black and white. I do not shoot infrared.
Can I give you a list of specific shots we would like?
Yes…and no. While we will work together to create a family photo list and a timeline for the day, it’s helpful to understand why most photographers do not want to work off of a shot list.
Yes ABSOLUTELY, tell me that you want a picture with your work friends on the dance floor. I WANT to know that your great-grandmother is going to be walking you down the aisle and that’s super important to you. But a very long list of items, things, people, and manufactured moments will impair my ability to capture naturally occurring moments for you.
Think of it this way - would you want me looking at a list all day, or taking pictures of what I see before me?
If there are important images you want, let’s talk about it to make sure that we can make it happen without changing what your final wedding photography coverage will look like.
What information do you need from me before the wedding day?
We will talk/email/be in touch many times before the actual wedding day. I’ll send you a Wedding Day Worksheet that will help you easily give me a lot of information - from timing to family pictures, special requests to emergency contacts, and so much more. It’s a hugely detailed form, and it helps us get all of our information in one place before the day itself.
I’m not the photographer that you book and forget until the week before the wedding when you email me a start time to show up. I’m here for you, I’m your collaborator and your confidant. I can help you with as much (or as little) as you need when it comes to putting together the aspects of your day. I can help you with your timeline. I can help you find locations to take your pictures.
I will reach out to get the information I need from you, but it’s also just as important that you know that I’m here to give you all the information that you need from me - whatever it is, whenever you need it.
Do you have a videographer or one that you can refer?
I would be thrilled to introduce you to the videographers that I love best. We do have a preferred filmmaker, but also have many other names that we can give you if you’re looking for a different style. It’s imperative that your photo and video have a similar approach to the day. With that in mind, everyone that we refer are amazing people who do amazing work and take great care of their clients!
Do you offer a Photobooth? What does it look like? Can it do GIFs?
We don’t offer photo booths, but we can refer you to many excellent companies that do. Flipbooks, slow motion, gifs, you name it - we know ‘em.
Are you the photographer who will shoot my wedding? If so, will you have any assistants with you on that day? If not, who will be taking the pictures and can I meet them before my wedding?
It’s me, always me. It’s never, ever, ever, ever, anyone else - unless you specifically retain the services of one of my excellent associates. It’s always me. I’ve never missed a wedding, I don’t call in sick to work, and I always show up way early.
I always bring an assistant, always. They help me light parts of the day, help me manage equipment and does a little bit of light photography duties throughout the day.
Do you have backup equipment?
ABSOLUTELY. I am meticulous about my backups. I understand how important these images are to you, and keeping them safe is a huge priority.
What about a backup plan if you (or my scheduled photographer) are unable to shoot my wedding for some reason?
I first have to reiterate that this has never happened. This is not common. Wedding photographers don’t just not show up - it has to be a very serious reason that would keep a wedding photographer from actually getting to the wedding and completing their job.
That said, if the unthinkable did happen, we would provide you with a highly, highly qualified primary photographer. If you were okay with that, things would proceed as usual. If you weren’t, we’d refund your monies paid so that you could retain someone else you wanted.
Again, this has never happened to us. But we do talk about it, my studio is prepared in case anything like this happens. I hope this is like health insurance: I have it, but sure as heck hope that I don’t ever have to use it for a serious emergency.
How would you handle shooting a rooftop wedding if it rains?
That’s up to you. If it rains outside, and you’re outside, I’ll be outside. I’ve never had a client have their outdoor ceremony in the actual rain before, but if you brave it, I’ll brave it.
When it’s pouring rain you are limited in what you can do. My photography equipment is waterproof, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a great idea to stand in a pouring storm with it unprotected. Also, rain obscures vision. There will be lines of raindrops across your faces, potentially obscuring you entirely if it’s raining too hard.
But if you’re out there? I’m out there.
Have you ever worked at my wedding site before? If not, do you plan to check it out in advance?
I might have - and I also might not have.
If you listen to the internet, it will tell you that you have to hire a photographer who has worked at your venue before. How will he or she know the best locations for pictures? How will he or she know how it’s laid out? How will he or she be comfortable taking pictures there? If you have hired a true professional, none of those things matter.
For example: let’s say that I photographed at your venue in the winter. It snowed. Your ceremony was at 6 pm in the dark, and we took all of your images in the dark. Then let’s say I went back there in June for a 1 pm ceremony and a first look. The venue might structurally be the same, but nothing else will be similar. The light will come to the windows differently. There may be light where there wasn’t the last time I was there or vice versa. There might be flowers, or everything might be dead in the winter, or there might be bright autumn leaves on the trees.
I don’t do site visits in advance, but I always do get to a venue early to look at how it is on your actual wedding day, in real-time. I need to see if any rooms are closed off. If any part of the space is being repaired. How the light is falling. What spaces we have access to, and which ones we don’t.
I also do quite a bit of research before your actual wedding day, including extensive online sleuthing to see how weddings are usually set up in the space. I might be visiting your venue for the first time on your wedding day, but I am never, ever going in blind.
What time will you arrive at the site and for how long will you shoot?
This is entirely up to you. I will start as early as you want and stay as late as you want. If you’re not sure when you want me to start or how late you want me to stay, I’m here to help you figure that out.
I always show up early to get acclimated and look around and set up, but that’s not part of your coverage time. Your coverage time starts and ends when you want it to start and end, and I can help you determine those times - or chat with your event coordinator to help!
Can I customize a package based on my needs?
Absolutely. I have customized packages that you can choose from already, or you can pick from my a la carte price list. I can put together something completely custom for you if you need it - it’s completely up to you! I understand that not everyone wants or needs the same things, so there is a lot of flexibility when it comes to the items in your particular contract.
Do you include engagement photos in your packages?
I do not. Not everyone wants them or has time to do them. You’re welcome to add one in if you’d like, they’re on our a la carte list with other items such as overtime and rehearsal dinner coverage.
Do you provide retouching, color adjustment, or other corrective services?
Color adjustment is standard - we hand-correct every single image that we deliver one at a time, not using filters or batch processing. Your digital files will look like what you see on my website, complete and ready for print.
If you desire additional retouching, items removed, or people removed from images - that’s a separate item and is done on a client-by-client basis. I can provide custom quotes for any additional above-the-norm retouching or corrective edits.
How long after the wedding will I get the proofs?
Six weeks! No longer, ever.
What is the ordering process?
Any prints that you would like to order through the studio can take place online. Your images are delivered to you in an online gallery, which is how you’ll download your high-resolution digital files. It’s also the gallery that you’ll use - and your family and friends can use - for any ordering and re-ordering of prints.
If you have an album in your contract, or want to order one (or more!) after your event, my studio manager will help you through the custom process of getting your book created from scratch. She’s a brilliant designer and does a wonderful job helping get these entirely custom books in clients' hands quickly and easily.
How long after I order my photos/album will I get them?
It takes about a week to two weeks to receive printed photographs, longer if custom retouching or artwork is requested, and depending on the shipping option you choose. Other custom artwork like large prints, frames, and canvases can take longer - if so, we will provide you with detailed delivery information before you place your order.
Albums take 6-8 weeks on average to get back once the design is approved. Sometimes it can take up to 10 weeks, but this is rare. Please understand that the albums are completely custom in design and are also handmade, so that process does take time. Our albums are made here in the US, just outside of NYC, so we can always go check on yours in person if we need to!
Will you give me the negatives or the digital images, and is there a fee for that?
Negatives are for film, so we don’t have negatives: we don’t use film! We do have digital files, and they are included in all wedding packages. Whether you choose a package with an album or opt for a la carte coverage, you will receive your digital files.
When will I receive a written contract?
The second you say go! When you decide to book me as your wedding photographer, I will send over a contract online that you can review and sign digitally (no more printing and mailing things!). That’s when you’ll be directed to pay your retainer to reserve the date.
Once the signed contract and paid retainer are received, your date it booked!
How much of a deposit do you require and when is it due? Do you offer a payment plan?
We don’t take “deposits.” The retainer is to reserve the date, and it’s due along with your signed contract. You can use a check, pay via credit card or any other method that you’d like to use (if you’re not sure, just ask!). Your next payment will be 50% of your remaining balance, it’s due ninety days before your event. Your final balance is due thirty days before your event.
What is your refund/cancellation policy?
If you cancel, all monies paid are non-refundable.
Do you have liability insurance?
Yes, yes, yes, and OH YES. Lots of it. We take security and safety seriously, and having up-to-date insurance is part of the job.
I hope this helps answer all of your questions! If you have any questions on any other internet list you’ve found, check out my extensive FAQ to see if it might be there - or you can just get in touch! Drop me an email or schedule a time to call and I would be thrilled to answer any additional questions that you have.
I know how important choosing a wedding photographer is, and I want you to be secure and sound in your decision. I hope that the photographer that you choose is me - I’d love to tell your story for you and for generations to come.
Susan Stripling Photography
58 2nd Ave #17A
Brooklyn, NY 11215
[text or email preferred]
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