Welcome to #WeddingWednesday
Hello! #WeddingWednesday is a space created for education and exchange of ideas on topics related to Puerto Rico, wedding photography, and weddings in Puerto Rico. Here you'll find a very broad range of information on stuff I think will help you plan a better wedding in Puerto Rico, and have proper expectations for it.
Versión en español aquí.
There's a LOT of online questionnaires and checklists talking about things you should ask your wedding photographer. To be honest, most of them are irrelevant, unpractical, and some talk about too many technical details that most clients wouldn't care or know about!
Before going through the questions, this post assumes you've already seen the photographer's portfolio, and you identify with the style and aesthetic of his/her images. For example, my style is based on minimal, laid-back posing, with a photojournalistic and editorial approach.
Once you've found the photographer whose work you love, what should you ask? Here I'm sharing the questions which answers will be really useful while making the booking decision. Also, I'm sharing my own responses to each one, so you can know me a little bit better. 🙂
1. Do you run a business legally?
We can't expect a person without a driving permit, to behave and follow the traffic rules. That same way, no matter the experience of a wedding vendor, there's no excuse to make business with an entity or person who doesn't have their governmental diligences up-to-date. In Puerto Rico, the minimum requirement for a business to operate is that the vendor is registered in the Treasury Department as a merchant. Every entrepreneur & vendor should be able to show their certificate and collect taxes -if applicable to their business-.
Camille Fontánez Photo operates legally in Puerto Rico. 🙂
2. When should we book you?
As soon as possible!! Most wedding contracts in Puerto Rico are made with a year to nine months in advance to the wedding date. Since we don't have a marked winter season, we have a relatively steady wedding flow, with really busy seasons in summer and near the Christmas holidays. If you're having your wedding near these dates, you should book your Puerto Rico wedding vendors even more diligently.
A professional wedding photographer in Puerto Rico should be able to book the date for you with this anticipation with no problems, because he/she works at this and knows the business will still be working by that time. If the photographer hesitates on booking with a year of anticipation, it probably is a person who doesn't work full time at wedding photography and you should take caution while considering this vendor. Never give a retainer payment, or book a vendor, without the signing of a contract by both parties. This document will be the only thing to protect and guarantee an agreement between you and the professional.
I only request you have the wedding venues reserved for before booking my services, so I can be 99.9% sure your date won't change. Once you've seen my Wedding Catalog, and you've chosen your wedding photography package, we're ready to go on to the booking process!
3. How many years of experience shooting weddings? How many weddings you've done?
This is essential! There's nothing wrong with booking a newbie photographer, after you've seen his/her portfolio and signed a contract that guarantees their services for your wedding. But is necessary to know the exact experience your wedding photographer has, you won't want any surprises!
I've been documenting wedding memories for the last 10 years, and the last time I counted, I've had 250 happy couples in front of my lens!
4. Can you show me a full wedding?
By now, you've stalked all the photographer's social accounts, and you know their website over and over. Still, it is important to see at least one full wedding, and a Pro wouldn't have a problem with sharing. Why?
- Quality: Most photographers only show a selection of their favorites, or the best that tell the wedding story. But you need to see consistence and quality of their work through a whole wedding day, how they manage different light conditions as well as other obstacles a normal wedding day may bring.
- Quantity: Viewing a full wedding will also help set proper expectations on the type of coverage and the amount of final images. It will also help you fine-tune special requests you may have.
On the initial orientation, after clients have told me specific details about their weddings, I usually send them a link to a full gallery that looks like, or is in the same venue as they will be, if possible.
5. Can I get some Reviews?
There is a boatload of online review collecting systems, and all professional photographers in Puerto Rico use them. This way, newlyweds can give their feedback and rate the overall photographer's performance. This way you'll know what to expect, and whether the photographer is truly who he/she says.
Here you can read all my past clients have to say about my work at Wedding Wire: Reviews
6. Do you do more than one event per day? Will *you* be shooting my wedding?
As many wedding vendors in Puerto Rico, there are photographers that cover multiple events in one day. If that would be the case, it's important that you know the photographer's schedule and be aware that wedding itineraries are *highly* prone to last-minute changes. Even in perfectly coordinated weddings, it is possible there might be delays or last-minute tweaks. These delays might cause conflict with other commitments of the photographer.
Some photographic companies also hire other photographers for their multiple events. You should know who's coming to shoot your wedding, as I said before: we don't want any surprises!
After 7 years, I've learned that wedding days are very sensitive. I only book one wedding per day (no matter the duration), and I handle all the shooting myself.
7. How do you light your images?
It's important to let your photographer have broad knowledge about your event. While discussing your wedding details, let the photographer know about the lightning you'll be using for your event. Light does most of the work in a good photo. You have to know the photographer will be able to work your event, and that he/she will bring the appropriate equipment for it. It is important to consider their lightning style. There are photographers who only use available light (this may bring problems if you're planning on a candle-lit wedding), others only use flash photography, others use a mixture of both.
I use available light for the most part of the event, given that is of good quality. However, while indoors, on the reception part, and in nightly portraits, available light is dim and need a bit of help. I only use the necessary amount of flash to bring out the details, without blacking out the ambient you've designed for your wedding. I'm always ready for performing in all light conditions, even when there isn't any! #truestory 😛
8. Should we feed you?
PLEASE! I don't say it for me, but for the whole Puerto Rico wedding industry. You should take into consideration in your food count those persons of the staff who will work through all the wedding (6 hours or more). Especially, planners, photographers, and assistants.
I don't specifically ask for a full meal, if not possible, but for weddings of more than 6 hours, I will take a food break while the couple is eating. I wouldn't like to miss anything, which is why I politely recommend that you include me in the reception meal (some venues include vendor meals, which are simpler and cheaper). That way I eat quickly, and on the premises.
9. What if you can't come or your equipment fails?
They are uncommon, but still: accidents happen. So, it's really important to know your photographer has a backup plan in case things don't go as they should. A professional photographer should have a network of other professionals on-call in case of an emergency. Also, professionals have backups of all their essential gear, in case of technical failure.
Exactly that. After years of many weddings, I've connected with fellow professionals of the Puerto Rico wedding industry who are available to aid in the case of an emergency. Also, I have a backup of all my equipment, and I give them the proper maintenance and care to avoid and quickly solve in case of a hiccup.
10. Do you have insurance?
Many venues require that your vendors have their liability insurance coverage. A professional photographer should be insured in case that an accident happens, let's say, a guest or staff member stumbles upon the lighting equipment, or an umbrella hits someone in the head. We can be as careful and cautious as possible, but a professional will always be insured in case of an emergency.
Yes, I'm insured.
11. When and how will I see my photos?
We all know the horror stories: A couple hires a photographer and after the wedding's done, the photographer's MIA, the photos nowhere to be seen until years later. This is why it is so important to communicate and be on the same page *before* the wedding, so you should know what to expect after the wedding. Some photographers deliver their proof photos weeks or months after the wedding. Some deliver them physically, others through cloud storage, or a proofing website.
Personally, my proof photos are available usually within a week of the wedding, at an online gallery where you'll also find the first draft of the wedding album if your package includes one. The final versions of the products will be available depending on the client's response time, but usually, if they approve the album quickly, the USB drive & the wedding album are home two months after the wedding.
12. Photoshop: What kind of retouching should we expect?
It's really important to know what to expect from your photographer when it comes to retouching! There are photographers who enjoy extensively retouching their images, taking pounds off, and eliminating distractions. Others have a more natural approach to their photography.
Personally, I see my portfolio like an authentic & genuine documentation, so I don't really like to add -or remove- to the story. Because of this, I keep the retouching and photo-manipulation to a minimum, only enhancing the tones, colors, and illumination. Obviously, for album purposes, in case a little zit decided to come out just on the wedding day, I'll try to eliminate it to my best capability.
Which other things do you consider important? Comment below! Hope this helped a lot!
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