In part 1, you identified the editing style you wanted for your photos. Part 2 covered the posing style, and from there, you started a shortlist of local photographers. It’s time to ask those photographers a few questions! Let’s get to it.
Question 1: Do you provide digital copies of the images in my gallery?
Are you dead-set on sharing your images on social media? Do you need complete freedom to create custom collages/books/albums/calendars or other products with your photos? Is a sweet desktop background of your family a must-have to get you through long days at work?
If you answered yes to any, you need a photographer whose packages include the option to get digital copies.
Some photographers give all images digitally as part of your session fee (“all inclusive”, like a tropical resort, minus the free booze).
Some give a set number while others offer them as an upgrade. There are many pricing models, so make no assumptions.
If digitals aren’t mentioned in the packages and you need them, ask your photographer if they can be added on.
Sidebar: Why don’t all photographers offer digital images?
Some photographers don’t give digital images under any circumstances, ever. That might seem odd if you don’t understand the logic behind it.
Say you’re a wedding cake baker known for delicious cakes and amazing intricate decorating. One day a client asks you to bake a cake with no decoration—just a single layer of white frosting. She wants to do the decorating herself. “But don’t worry!” she tells you. “I’ll let everyone know you made the cake!”
Does the thought of handing over the final (and arguably most important) step to someone with no experience make you queasy?
Printing your photos is the frosting of photography.
When we hand over digital files, we’re trusting that you will make good choices for printing that won’t misrepresent our work.
Using retail photo labs (Shutterfly, Snapfish, Costco, Target, Walgreens, or CVS) is like topping a gourmet wedding cake with Betty Crocker frosting. Their lesser technology, lower quality paper, and uncalibrated colors lead to funky skin tones, too dark/too light images, curling paper, fading ink, and awkward cropping to fit the print size.
Question 2: What’s your print pricing?
Some photographers share print pricing on their website, but you’ll need to ask others. You don’t want to be surprised later to find out that a single 8×10 is way outside your budget.
Even if you’ll have the digital files, this is good to ask. And it’s especially important if you won’t have the digitals.
Question 3: What’s your turnaround time?
When I got married, our photographer promised the photos in six weeks, then delivered my gallery in a week and a half. I sang her praises to all my friends. Overdelivering made me a very happy customer.
I wasn’t in a rush to get my photos, but you might be. Christmas cards, a gift for Grandma, whatever… if you have a hard deadline, or if you’re impatient by nature, 🙋🏼♀️ 😀 be sure you’ll get your photos when you need them.
Question 4: What’s your backup plan if something goes wrong at our session?
A lot can go wrong during a session, and we can roll with most of it: pissed-off kiddos, pouty husbands, clouds, bugs, wind, rain. But equipment failure is only fixable if your photographer has a backup plan.
A solid plan includes:
- Double memory cards in the camera. Their camera should be recording all of the photos from your session on two memory cards at the same time, so if one card fails, there’s a backup. Nobody wants to reshoot a session because a memory card failed, and having dual cards makes that disaster super unlikely.
- Cloud data backup. After your session, your images should be saved in at least two places, including at least one cloud backup.
- Extra equipment. Your photographer should bring a backup camera body and lens to every session.
How common are these failures? Not super common, but I see stories like this every week in my Facebook groups for family photographers. Storage fails, cards go corrupt, lenses stop focusing, and cameras break. It’s not common, but it does happen.
Still to come…
We’ll talk about editing expectations in Part 4, which gives you the key questions to ask so your expectations and your photographer’s are completely aligned—no surprises.
Part four: Editing expectations