Answering Every Single Question You Need To Ask Your Wedding Photographer Before Booking

Answering the questions posed by Brides magazine, covering all the topics, and hopefully answering all of your questions and queries along the way too!

Wedding Photographers Staffordshire – Answering Every Single Question!

Stuart James, Wedding Photographer based in Staffordshire, answering each and every question posed Jaimie Mackey and Brides.com 

I came across this article from Brides, written by Jaimie Mackey, and thought the questions were well and truly worth answering.

As a professional photographer for the past 14 years, I’ve answered many of these questions before, both in person with brides and via our Frequently Asked Questions page.

However, it never hurts to clear any queries up for new brides :)

“You’ll be spending almost the entire day with the photographer you choose, so in addition to loving their style, having an in-person or phone interview is a great way to make sure you’ll be happy to have them around.”

– How true this bit of advice is!! The pointer above is one of the biggest reasons we always arrange an in-person meeting at our studio or meet via Skype with all of our couples! The connection and comfort are essential!

Best of the Year from Wedding Photographer Staffordshire

So onto the questions…

Is my wedding date available?

Always the best place to start! Afterall, if we’re not available, we can’t photograph your day! The first thing I do with all couples who contact is check the diary first, and if I’m not available, I will try and guide you towards other photographers of a similar style who may be able to help!

Will you be the one shooting my wedding? If not, can I meet the photographer who will be on-site?

Absolutely! I am Stuart James, and it will always be me with you on the day.

My brother also works as my associate photographer and is available for second shooting alongside me, or as a solo photographer when I am prior engaged, but if this is the case, all meetings will be with Stephen and me. Getting to know your photographer personally is essential!

How many other weddings will you photograph that weekend?

I only photograph one wedding a day, naturally! But will often take multiple weddings on the weekend, especially during the busier periods.

Keeping in good shape, and wearing comfortable shoes helps!! I’m always as fresh and driven for the last wedding of a grouping, as the first…if not more so!

Will you have any assistants with you on our wedding day?

Not normally. I have found over the last ten years; working solo allows me to blend into the wedding day in a more natural style. I dress as a guest and work with small quiet cameras, and with my storytelling approach, find I blend into the day better than when working with others. There are occasions two photographers are required, and this is something we can always add in. I’m accustomed to setting up lighting on my own, and indeed handing multiple cameras and mics when producing PhotoFilms alongside photographing a day…it’s all about being prepared, and knowing what you need to do and when!

Best of the Year from Wedding Photographer Staffordshire Best of the Year from Wedding Photographer StaffordshireCreative documentary wedding photography at The Moat House in Stafford by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James

How long have you been shooting weddings? How many weddings have you photographed?

I’ve been photographing weddings for over 17 years, with my company established for 14 years. Over that time I’ve captured the weddings of more of 350 couples…and loved every single one!

Do you often shoot weddings that have a similar size and style to the one we are planning?

Understanding traditions, how particular days will flow, and indeed your numbers are essential actually. However, as I found many years ago when first photographing Greek weddings, it doesn’t have to be prior shooting experience, but education can always help! I’ve photographed weddings with as few as four guests and as many as 1000…and pretty much everything in-between.

Can we see the full galleries of a few of your recent weddings?

Of course! From the featured galleries on the website, to access to full wedding galleries where you can see the full set of photographs from that couples day. And of course, our sample albums are mirror copies of our bride’s albums, so you can see the full story come together.

Have you ever shot a wedding at our ceremony and reception venues? If not, do you plan to check the venues out in advance?

Having previously photographed a wedding at your venue isn’t as vital as some may think! Sure, having prior experience of your location is helpful, but it’s not essential.

Often I find when planning the photography for a new venue, I talk through plans and ideas with the couple, and whether we have our final meeting at the location, or I arrive early on the day to scout locations, I will always have everything planned out, whatever the weather will be bringing to us!!

Have you ever worked with our planner? Videographer? Florist? DJ? Etc.

Having worked with suppliers before can help, and indeed with the case of a videographer/photographer combination can be vital. Get a mix between the two that is different in style, and you can ruin one or both coverages!

When working with someone new, I always check out their work and speak before the day. Talk about how we both approach a wedding, and ensure we’re on the same page with ideas. Also sharing timings and plans for the day helps too. I also have a list of videographers I can wholeheartedly recommend who I work well with. You can see them listed on my suppliers page!

Creative documentary wedding photography at Pendrell Hall in Codsall by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James Creative documentary wedding photography at Weston Park in Staffordshire by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James Creative documentary wedding photography at Packington Moor in Lichfield Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James

How would you describe your photography style? What would you compare your work to?

My style of photography brings together the best of documentary, storytelling photography, with relaxed and natural portraits. 95% of the day I’m capturing the day unfold, taking only the time we need to create beautiful natural pictures of you both, and photographs of your families. For me, you enjoying your day, and me capturing that, is what wedding photography is about!

How would you describe your working style? Do you prefer to blend into the background to capture candid moments, or do you like to be more visible and take charge to choreograph images?

The answer to this one is a bit of both! I blend in 95% of the time, where you won’t even realise I’m there! When I do need to take control of the family photographs, everything is kept fun and relaxed, but very organised. Taking no longer than 20 minutes family photographs don’t take long with me!

Do you shoot digitally? With film? Or both?

I shoot digitally and have for over ten years. Learning and starting my career as a film photographer, there is a certain magic that’s not there, but the quality and indeed quality of images you can now capture just blows film away! Sure I miss my old FM2 and FM3 cameras, but I love my Fuji’s just as much!

Creative documentary wedding photography at Weston Park in Staffordshire by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James Creative documentary wedding photography at Weston Park in Staffordshire by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James Creative documentary wedding photography at Nuthurst Grange in Warwickshire Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James Creative documentary wedding photography at Wroxall Abbey in Warwick Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James

What is included in your standard package? What add-ons do the more expensive packages include?

My packages are all based on the same principle – an amount of time, with a storytelling album of your day. The difference between them is time – whether it be six hours, ten hours or indeed unlimited coverage that you would like on your day!

There isn’t a confusing difference between one package or another, but I can always tweak and customise to suit each couple.

Can I customise a package to fit my needs?

All of our packages can be completely customised. Whether it’s tweaking the time, adding in parents albums, adding on the disc of images, or indeed adding our PhotoFilm coverage, you are in complete control!

Do you include engagement photos in your packages? What about pre-wedding events like rehearsal dinners?

I believe engagement shoots are important, and so include them as standard with all of my coverages.

Getting time in-front of the camera, becoming accustomed to the process, and indeed getting to know me is what it’s all about!

I find spending an hour together on the lead up to the wedding day makes such a difference on the day…and means we’re not strangers too!

Being comfortable in front of the camera is massive! And also, there is then a gallery of great photographs that you can order from too!

How many hours are included in each package? How much do extra hours cost?

My most favourite package is my ten-hour package, but I also offer a six-hour package and an unlimited coverage package, to suit each couple perfectly.

Creative documentary wedding photography at Walsall in West Midlands by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James Creative documentary wedding photography at St James Church in Acton Trussell Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James Creative documentary wedding photography at St James Church in Acton Trussell Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James Creative documentary wedding photography at The Moat House in Penkridge Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James

Do you offer a photo booth?

I do have a booth…that’s a little different to most you hire! Very sleek and simple, and not taking-up much space, my booth can be the great addition to a wedding. Please ask me for more details, and I’ll happily share!

Do you offer retouching, colour adjustment, or other corrective services? Are those included or an additional charge?

All of the finished images that make your story is edited and colour balanced. Tonally corrected, and processed to our style. Additional retouching of images is available and charged per image. All of the images in our galleries are completely edited, ready for printing or use within the album.

Do you charge a travel fee? For what distance? What does that cover?

I charge a standard mileage fee, and also require overnight accommodation the night before the wedding, if taking place more than 70 miles from WS6. This ensures we have no issues with travel on the morning of your wedding!

Can we order prints or albums directly from you?

You can indeed order albums and prints directly from us, whether additional albums to your package, prints for the wall or gifts for friends and family. All printing services are available from us.

Best of the Year from Wedding Photographer Staffordshire Best of the Year from Wedding Photographer Staffordshire Best of the Year from Wedding Photographer Staffordshire

What type of album do you offer? Do you provide assistance selecting images and designing the album?

Our albums are digitally printed storybook wedding albums, with all albums designed over 40 pages within the packages. 

I like to bring together an initial design from my selection of images and your favourites selection, brought together to tell the story of your wedding day. This we then view and tweak at our studio, to get everything just perfect for production.

Are albums or prints included in your packages? How many pages or prints are included, and what is the turnaround time?

Albums are included as standard in our packages, based on a 40 page 14″x10″ album. There isn’t a limit on the number of photographs included, instead, additional pages can be added as required when we design the album. Turnaround time from our meeting signing off on production is usually four to six weeks and can be delivered directly to you from our manufacturers if more suitable than revisiting our studio.

How long after the wedding will we receive the images? How will they be delivered?

Our aim is always to have the initial preview ready within 10 working days of your wedding, with the full gallery ready 15 working days after the wedding. The album is usually designed four weeks after the wedding, for us to then meet and tweak to perfection.

Best of the Year from Wedding Photographer Staffordshire Best of the Year from Wedding Photographer Staffordshire Best of the Year from Wedding Photographer Staffordshire

Will we have the rights to the images?

The copyright of the images will always remain with Stuart James Photography, however, should you upgrade your package to include the digital files, you receive personal printing rights. Which is essentially all you need!

Will we receive the negatives and/or high-resolution digital images? Is there a fee for that?

There is a fee of £350 to add on the high-resolution digital images to your coverage.

Will the images be accessible online? For how long?

We always publish a storytelling slideshow and a full gallery of the wedding as soon as they are ready. This remains available for your friends and family to view for at least 12 months after the wedding, usually much longer.

When will we receive the contract?

The contract is all set up when you choose to book with me and is sent the next working day via email.

How much of a deposit do you require? When is it due?

The booking fee is payable at the time of booking and is currently £250.

Do you accept payments in installations?

Payment in instalments isn’t a problem at all. As long as we meet the two payment milestones set out in the contract, payment can be made as easy as possible for you!

What is your refund or cancellation policy?

Our full refund and cancellation policy is available in our contract. However, the booking fee is non-refundable after 14 days. Cancellation policy is time variable, with payments altering on the proximity of the wedding date to cancellation. Please ask for full details.

Do you have liability insurance? Does it cover your assistants, as well?

Liability insurance for Stuart and Stephen is included, with further liability insurance for any assistants should they ever be required.

Best of the Year from Wedding Photographer Staffordshire Best of the Year from Wedding Photographer StaffordshireBest of the Year from Wedding Photographer Staffordshire

Do you carry backup equipment?

Backup equipment is essential. Equipment fails and accidents happen! We always carry spare cameras, lenses and lighting with us to every single shoot. Also choosing to shoot with two cameras at all times of the wedding, means no moment will ever be missed, whatever awful timing occurs!

What is the backup plan if you are unable to shoot my wedding for an unexpected reason?

Written within our contract and personally backed by us is the guarantee that should the unexpected happen, you will have a photographer capturing your day, with a quality and proficiency the same as ours, and with a style that is as close as possible. Having a wide network of photographers who are always willing to cover each other should the unexpected occur is crucial, after all, we are all only human. So far I have never needed cover, having photographed weddings with knees and ankles strapped up, and an arm in plaster, nothing has affected my coverage. However, I have covered for other photographers in the past. Knowing that backup is there is a huge peace of mind for everyone!

How will you and your assistants be dressed?

We always dress like guests – usually shirt, tie, with waistcoat, trousers and shoes. Dressing professionally is so important – especially when you wish to blend into the wedding. I have dresses in black tie for functions before to match the wedding, and shirt sleeves to match the groomsmen in Sorrento. We always look extremely professional and get complimented on how we dress on the wedding day.

Can we request a list of specific shots we would like?

Requesting specific photographs is indeed possible – just don’t present a “must have shots list”! This is impossible to work towards on a wedding day!

When having our final meeting before the wedding, I always talk through the full details with my couples, understanding families and key people. We plan the family photographs as required, and also cover any ideas you have for creative/fun photographs you have found online! I always say to my couples show me your ideas, which I will then take as inspiration…

Will you be posting about our wedding on your website and social media? Will you be submitting our photos to magazines or blogs?

I love sharing my wedding stories online, both on our website and on our social media. When possible we also like to share images with other suppliers and indeed share with blogs. If you would rather keep things private we can always accommodate this – just talk to us!

Creative documentary wedding photography at The Belfry by Staffordshire Wedding Photographers Stuart James Creative documentary wedding photography at Bishton Hall by Staffordshire Wedding Photographers Stuart James Creative documentary wedding photography at Packington Moor by Staffordshire Wedding Photographers Stuart James

And that is the end of the questions…do you have any more?

If so, please shout-up! I would LOVE to be asked something new ;)

If you are looking for a Staffordshire Wedding Photographer and would like to find out whether I could be the right photographer for your day, please do get in touch! 

 
To help clear some of the confusion, and indeed help you decide if I could be the right photographer for you, please do drop your email below, and I will be in touch with our full guide. 

 

Creative documentary wedding photography at Allerton Castle by Staffordshire Wedding Photographers Stuart James

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Hey there! Just to let you know, we're away from the office over the easter break so it may take me a little longer to get back to you :) Please bear with me! Happy Easter!!