You’ve researched a handful of photographers and you’ve narrowed down your favorites to contact. You fill-out a few contact forms and now you’re basically playing the waiting game to see who responds first. You get an email that sounds a whole lot of excitement to meet you and your fiance, and so you set-up your first wedding photography consultation. Yay!
To lay out some expectations, I thought I’d drop a few notes about what to expect from your potential wedding photographer at your first consultation in hopes there is more clarity and understanding on what most of us do and how we approach it... at least in my business.
What To Expect At Your First Wedding Photography Consultation:
While some photographers will meet you in their offices, others will meet you at a coffee shop, or shared office space. This is normal in our industry. A lot of times many photographers don’t have an office space or even a studio. This does not mean they are unprofessional or not a “serious photographer”, it just means they have less overhead. And less overhead means more attention to you as clients and you definitely get more of that casual/less pressure vibes. And we like those kind of vibes.
In my business, this means we typically meet over coffee at a local coffee shop (preferably with WiFi), which in LA so happens to be ridiculously easy to find. Or sometimes we meet at a bar and grab a beer and have wasabi fries (okay, maybe we can skip the wasabi fries...but why though??) and we talk.
The location where you and your photographer meet can set a certain tone to your overall experience with this photographer (usually, but not always). Most of my couples like to meet at coffee shops or breweries. This just means that A) We both love coffee shops and breweries, so we have that in common and B) rather than be brought into an office you're not familiar with, you're in an environment to most likely be more comfortable to be yourself.
Funny enough, I feel like this goes without saying; however, I do find myself answering this bit a couple of times.
Do both of us have to go to our consultation?
The straight-up answer is no. You both don’t have to come to meet with me. But I really wish you both came.
Let me just say that there can be a HUGE difference in response when photographing your engagement session and or your wedding when the photographers gets to meet both of you in a casual meeting as opposed to on what is probably one of the most important and memorable days of your lives. When I get to meet both of you at the first consultation, a few things happen: we get to know each other at the same time, I get to familiarize with your relationship, and what your chemistry is like. This is also very much important to know how we as a client-photographer relationship chemistry will be.
Wedding Day Details
I would love to say that having all the wedding day detail information set by the day of your first consultation would be great, but it’s not realistic. Like, not even for a second. With most wedding couples searching for wedding photographers even a year or two before their wedding, it's very likely that you won't have all the information and or haven't booked other vendors yet. So, don’t feel pressured to have all the information ready to go before you walk into that meeting. (Also, don’t be sorry for not having the information ready. You’re not the first, or the last to not have it. It’s okay.)
Just gather as much information that you have, your potential wedding photographer would be happy to have as much as they can get at the time. But as I mentioned in the point above, the first consultation is about getting to know each other and checking our chemistry first and foremost. If you’re working with me, you’ll get a chance to give me all the details when I send you a questionnaire which I’ll get to in just a moment.
In today's market, wedding photography clients tend to focus a lot of their attention to solely digital products, ie. online gallery downloads, usb flash drives, etc. However, I'd love to think that most of my clients love their images so much they would want to have them professionally printed and mounted on their walls, or printed on a custom-made photo album which can be used as an heirloom to the next generation of their family.
Samples are a great way to showcase what the physical products look and feel like. There is such a huge difference in seeing them in a picture from the internet compared to when you can see it in front of you and see how it's carefully crafted the products are.
Although most of my couples book right at the end of the first consultation, don’t feel obligated to book right then and there. If you’re unsure, or you want some time to think about your investment, then by all means think it over. Don’t get me wrong, either! If your hearts say yes, then I’m gonna more than likely going to say hell yes to working with you! I want couples to to be pumped and excited to work with me. The last thing I want is to be seen as just a salesperson who is taking your hard-earned money and disappearing into the abyss. Don’t hesitate. If you hesitate, think about it, talk it over, and then make your decision.
(But always note that with booking, I always require a 50% non-refundable booking retainer and a contract to be signed. Just in case you were wondering.)
After we meet for the first time and you decide to book, I send out a wedding questionnaire to my couples. This questionnaire allows my clients to collect all the information they have about their wedding (vendors, contact information, tasks, etc.). This questionnaire helps me help you.
It helps me see who’s in your wedding party, what your time frames look like to help create a timeline (if you and or your planner already don’t have one), etc. This is a long and in-depth questionnaire for the both of you to fill out.
The main reason why I send this after the consultation instead of asking you at the consultation is because of two reasons: I want to be present and get to know you both, and because it gives you time to sit and fill out (rather than me staring down at a piece of paper writing things down).
I hope that this give you some insight on what to expect at your first wedding photography consultation for more what to expect posts!