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 are a LOT of online questionnaires and checklists talking about things you should ask your wedding photographer. Most of them are irrelevant, unpractical, and some talk about too many technical details that most clients wouldn't care or know anyway!
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 relies on minimal, laid-back posing with a photojournalistic and editorial approach.
Questions to ask wedding photographer
Once you've found the photographer whose work you love, what should you ask? Here I'm sharing the questions which answers will be useful while making the booking decision. Also, I'm sharing my responses to each one, so you can know me a little bit better. 🙂
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 do business with an entity or person who doesn't have their governmental diligence up-to-date.
In Puerto Rico, the minimum requirement for a business to operate is that the vendor registers 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. 🙂
When should we book you for our wedding photography?
A professional wedding photographer in Puerto Rico should book the date for you with this anticipation with no problems because they work at this and know 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. It would be best if you take caution while considering these part-time vendors.
Never give a retainer payment or book a vendor without signing a contract by both parties. This document will be the only thing to protect and guarantee an agreement between you and the professional.
Booking wedding vendors in Puerto Rico
You should book your essential vendors as soon as possible!! Most wedding contracts in Puerto Rico are made a year to nine months before the wedding date. Since we don't have a marked winter season, we have a relatively steady wedding flow, with busy seasons in spring break, summer, and year-end holidays. If you're having your wedding near these dates, you should book your Puerto Rico wedding vendors even more diligently.
After the pandemic, there has been a boom of weddings and events, so availability is even more limited. Plan accordingly!
I only request you have the wedding venues reserved before booking my services, so I can be 99.9% sure your date won't change. Once you've seen my Wedding Catalog and chosen your wedding photography package, we're ready to go on to the booking process!
How many years of experience shooting weddings? How many weddings you've done?
There's nothing wrong with booking a newbie photographer after you've seen their portfolio and signed a contract that guarantees their services for your wedding. But it is necessary to know your wedding photographer's experience; you won't want any surprises!
Not all times, but most amateur photographers will need more direction, shot lists, and requests from the client, than a seasoned photographer. They will also require you to compile a timeline and let them know your expectations at any given time of the wedding day.
I've been documenting wedding memories for the last 13 years, and the last time I counted, I've had over 400 new families in front of my lens!
Questions to ask wedding photographer: Do you need a shot list?
Dependent on their style, most seasoned professional wedding photographers will know what to do and photograph during a wedding day. Others will work better from a list. Set proper expectations by asking the photographer if any lists are necessary.
I work best when I'm not looking through a checklist but focusing all my attention on the moments happening in front of me. This excludes the family and group formals, where I request a list in advance, so we don't forget anyone important in the moment's rush.
Can you show me a complete wedding?
By now, you've stalked all the photographer's social accounts, and you know their website over and over. Still, it is essential to see at least one entire 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 the consistency and quality of their work through a whole wedding day, how they manage different light conditions, and other obstacles a typical wedding day may bring.
- Quantity: Viewing an entire wedding will also help set proper expectations on the type of coverage and the number of final images. It will also help you fine-tune special requests you may have.
- Edition levels: Like on their portfolios, some photographers offer extensive editing on their final images, but some will offer just a light retouch. The best way to know what you're getting is to see previous complete work.
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.
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 who they say they are.
Here you can read all my past clients have to say about my work at Wedding Wire: Reviews.
Do you do more than one event per day? Will *you* be shooting my wedding?
Like many wedding vendors in Puerto Rico, some photographers cover multiple events in one day. If that would be the case, it's essential 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, 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!
Wedding days are susceptible to chaos. I only book one wedding per day (no matter the duration), and I handle all the shooting myself.
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 use 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 essential to consider their lightning style. Some photographers 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 most of the event, given that it is of good quality. However, while indoors, on the reception part, and in nightly portraits, the available light is dim and needs 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 to perform in all light conditions, even when there isn't any light! #truestory 😛
Should we feed you?
PLEASE! I don't say it for me, but for the whole Puerto Rico wedding industry. It would help if you considered 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 without leaving the premises.
What if you can't come or your equipment fails?
They are uncommon, but still: accidents happen. So, it's vital to know your photographer has a backup plan if 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.
Do you have insurance?
Many venues require that your vendors have their liability insurance coverage. A professional photographer should be insured if 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 as possible, but a professional will always have insurance in an emergency.
Yes, I'm insured.
What happens if my wedding is cancelled or postponed?
Before COVID-19, wedding cancellations or postponements were a thing that would happen once or twice in a wedding vendor's career. Recent challenges have made our agendas a bit more fluid making cancellations and postponements the worst case scenario many more couples have sadly experimented.
It's important to have this talk before booking, because it will be a tough conversation to have when feelings are involved. The question to this answer will not only give you knowledge on how things will be handled upon cancelling your wedding date, but also, input on the photographer's experience, and how have they managed before.
I analize each situation as it happens, but as a general rule, booking deposits are non-refundable. However, I do offer the option of rescheduling once within my availability, free of charge.
Wedding photography turnaround time: when and how will I see my photos?
We all know the horror stories: A couple hires a photographer, and after the wedding, the photographer's MIA, the photos nowhere to be seen until years later. It is essential 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 provide the images physically, others through cloud storage or a proofing website.
Personally, my full-resolution photos are usually available 2 to 3 weeks after 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 wedding album is home two months after the wedding.
Photoshop: What kind of retouching should we expect?
It's crucial to know what to expect from your photographer when it comes to retouching! Some photographers enjoy extensively retouching their images, taking pounds off, and eliminating distractions. Others have a more natural approach to their photography.
I see my portfolio as authentic & genuine documentation, so I don't 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, if a 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 essential? Comment below! I hope this helped a lot!