But they do happen and I just had one happen recently. I never like to get that message, but it happens at least once a year. That’s why I wanted to post a reminder to couples to read your contracts carefully and make sure you understand what your signing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Most wedding vendors will have retainer amounts in their contracts. This is an amount that the vendor will retain if the contract is canceled by the couple. On my contract, the 1/3 paid at the time of the contract signing is a retainer that is nonrefundable. I also have all payments made within 30 days of the event are nonrefundable as well.
You might be wondering why. From the time we sign a contract together, I will turn everyone else away when they contact me about the date, potential income I’m turning down. I can only afford to do this if I know I’m absolutely going to get paid on the date I’m holding. Re-booking the date with a new couple is nearly impossible because the couples I turn down have booked with other photographers. So that’s why we have to have a retainer policy in the contract.
You’ll want to think about who is signing the contract, too. For instance, I had a situation where the soon to be mother in law paid for the photography, but the bride signed the contract, making the bride my client, not the mother in law to be. Any credits or refunds that might be due will go to the bride because she is the one I have a signed agreement with and only her.
Anyway, I always hope to not have cancellations in the first place. I’d rather be working and doing what I love. Read your contracts, keep copies of them, and make sure the appropriate person signs the contract.
I shot the lively wedding back on October 16, 2010 and it sure was lively. I was only there for 2 hours but I still shot tons of pictures. The wedding party was humongous. It must’ve been crazy getting all those people ready on time. I think the lively wedding party must’ve been my largest wedding party to date. I love the men’s suits, they were a lot of fun. I could tell they enjoyed wearing them too. Without further ado I present to you the lively wedding pictures. I hope you enjoy looking at them.
The first question you should ask is to see the photographer’s business license. I’m surprised that in 11 years of photographing weddings not one couple has asked to see my business license. This is the easiest way to eliminate nonprofessionals. I always keep my business license close at hand in case somebody asks to see it. Another reason you want to ask about the business license is to make sure your photographer is honest. If they are charging you sales tax and don’t have a business license, then they are dishonest and are only trying to get more money.
The next question you should ask is if the photographer has liability and equipment insurance. You want to know that you are protected if someone in your family gets hurt by accidentally tripping over one of the photographer’s cables or equipment. Your photographer should also be protected against theft or equipment damage. A nonprofessional photographer without Equipment Insurance may try to sue you for damages if their equipment is broken by one of your family.
Ask if the photographer you’re considering accepts credit cards even if you’re not going to pay with a credit card. A photographer who takes their business seriously will have gone through the trouble to learn and set up credit card processing.
Ask to see a wedding from start to finish, every picture that was taken at one wedding. This will give you an idea of what type of pictures the photographer will take during your entire wedding day. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, then don’t hire that photographer. It will also show you how competent the photographer is. If there are only a few good shots, then that photographer is not a professional. If they can’t show you an entire wedding, then you don’t want to hire them. It’s a clear sign they are an amateur.
Ask for references. A photographer who is good will have no problem giving you references. They’re clients will be happy clients and will volunteer to give their reference. Almost all of my clients volunteer to give a reference for me. If a photographer you’re meeting with is reluctant to give references, then keep looking.
Ask for a list of photographers that will step in and take over in case your photographer is ill. I am lucky to say that for 11 years I have never had to use my list of backup photographers, but I will always have a list just in case. Ask for a printout of that list so you can check and make sure those photographers are also professional.
Ask the photographer if they have a money back guarantee. A true professional will have confidence in their work and will have no problem offering a limited time money back guarantee because they know they will never have to give that money back. They will work hard for you to create what you want to make sure you are happy.
Ask your photographer if they use a contract. If they say no, then don’t book them. Without a contract neither you nor the photographer have any protection. Your photographer could accept your payment and then never show up to the wedding and you would have no legal proof of your agreement. A contract also helps spell out what each of you expect so there are no misunderstandings. If it is not on the contract, then your photographer may not honor what you agreed on verbally. Always have your expectations in writing on the contract. Ask if you can have a copy of the contract before booking so you can take your time and read through the terms and ask questions.
Tell your potential photographer who your other vendors are and see if they have worked with them before. The more experienced a photographer is the more vendors they will have worked with in the past. You’ll also learn the relationship your potential photographer has with these vendors. Your wedding day is more likely to run smoothly if your vendors are familiar with each other. You may also want to ask how many years they have been working as a photographer and if they work as a photographer full time. There are a lot of weekend warriors out there who only shoot weddings on the weekends for extra money. They may not be as serious about their craft has a photographer who completely depends on their wedding income.
Ask the photographer specific questions about past weddings they have shot to get an idea of how experienced they really are. A competent photographer will have excellent ideas on how to solve problems you have planning your wedding. They will have been to many weddings and seen many different ways of handling different situations. For example, ask the photographer how they would solve a problem with exiting the church after the ceremony. A photographer who has shot a lot of weddings will have many suggestions for you. Perhaps your minister has told you that flash is not allowed during the ceremony. An experienced photographer will know how to handle that situation and will have no problem shooting without flash.
I t was an early wedding. I had to get up at 5am. Being so early and the fact that the bridal party were an hour late getting to the rehearsal, I figured the bride and bridesmaids would not be ready a 8:15 am and I was right. Not a big deal, it happens all the time. As I tell all my brides, “If we don’t get it done before, we’ll just do it after the ceremony”. It just makes the after session a lot longer and I have to cut out the more creative stuff I planned to do. Which I was sad about this time because I’ve never shot at Berkeley Castle before and had all kinds of cool ideas I wanted to do. Oh well, that’s the way wedding photography goes. Maybe next time.
Wedding at Berkeley Castle in Berkeley Springs WV
At least it didn’t rain even though it was burning hot. It was probably better we didn’t do outdoor shots before the ceremony because the bride would have melted into a puddle of white lace and chafon. The ceremony went perfectly even with six kids all under the age of ten. The kids did make the group shots after the ceremony quite interesting as they wondered in and out of the frame. I was using a very slow shutter speed on a tripod because the castle is very dark and in one shot a little boy jumped in from no where and he looks like a ghost in the shot. I don’t know how the couple will feel about it but I thought it was neat looking and kept it in.
The reception was at the Bathhouse at Cacapon state park. Normally it’s a great place for a reception but yesterday I guess it was just too hot for the air conditioners to keep up and it was a bit warm in the room. I enjoyed meeting the string quartet that played at the ceremony and reception. They were very nice and extremely talented players. They called themselves the String Poets and I highly recommend them. The fairy tale theme went wonderfully with the castle. I think it turned out to be a great day and the couple seemed so happy. I hope they had a safe trip back to Michigan.
You took all those photos. Now you can sit back and let Crouse Photography design the album.
Did your photographer happily hand you a disk then disappear leaving you
unsure what to do with your images? Then give Crouse Photography a call. I can
help you get your images into a beautiful and affordable wedding album
Crouse Photography provides photographers and brides with custom-created,
magazine-style albums. You just send me your photos on CD, DVD, or Blur-ray and
I hand you back a magazine-style, custom-designed album or your design on DVD in
PDF or JPG format.
My Millers Layflat books, Millers layflat Albums, and Photobooks by
Zookbinders are some of the most beautiful and affordable wedding albums made
today. The layout of each album is done on computer so each page is a unique
creation. The albums come with photo covers and are an original design based on
your wedding colors and tastes.
The Millers Panorama Albums and Zookbook Panorama Albums are a nice step up
from the options mentioned above. The covers are made of leather and the inside
pages are thicker and made to last and be handed down generation after
generation. They also feature computer laid out pages like the albums above
giving your photographer complete creative freedom.
All of my wedding albums come with a variety of photo styles from color to
black & white, infrared, sepia tone, selective color and overlays. This is
why my albums are so unique and are cherished for a lifetime.
Contact Crouse Photography for pricing information.
Before I take off to shoot another engagement session I thought I’d share a pic I took at Hagerstown City Park a while back.
I always liked this pic. Hopefully I’ll get some today that I like too. And the couple too, I hope they like them. I’ll be posting on my website a new session soon, a family/ engagement portrait session. You can see all my current work by going to this link http://crousephotography.portraitstorefront.com/ All the hosted sites are open to the public so don’t be shy, take a look and see if there’s anything you like.
Kristen and Matthew’s wedding happened back in September of 2010. The bride and groom were both ready on time so we had lots of time to have fun on their wedding day. I was excited because they brought in a fire truck and I made sure we got lots of use out of it.