Wedding photographers, read these 8 essential things you should definitely communicate with your couples

Wedding photographers are in a unique and privileged position: you get to photograph one of the most important days in people’s lives. But with all the trust and responsibility there entails, the relationship between wedding photographers and their couples requires careful nurturing.

It’s important to make sure that your couples are crystal clear on exactly what to expect from you as a vendor. Nasty surprises can be extremely stressful and upsetting for you and the couple alike. So, to help set you up for the best possible experience, here’s a list of the 8 main things you should definitely make sure to communicate with your clients upfront. 

Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer to any of these points. What’s important is just that you set clear expectations (and then stick to them!)

Photographer: Rodrigo Moraes

1. How many images you will deliver and what your delivery timeline will be

Put simply: you need to be clear on exactly what is included in your service. 

One of the most important things to outline is the number of images the couple will receive. You’d be surprised how many clients assume they’ll receive thousands of digital files after the wedding, only to be disappointed to find out their package only includes a handful. 

It doesn’t matter if you deliver 5 or 500 images, the couple just needs to know and agree upfront. It also helps to let them know whether they should expect to receive just the final edited images, or if they can work with you to select which images they’d like as their final shots. 

Similarly, be sure to specify when the couple will receive their images after the day. Many people are surprised at how long it takes, simply because they weren’t aware of post-production timescales. 

2. What to expect from the edits

It’s important to be specific about what the couple should expect with the image retouching. If they expect that you’ll retouch every aspect of every photo, they’re almost certainly going to be disappointed with the final results. 

You should therefore be clear on what level of retouching your package includes. For most photographers this is basic image retouching, with more in-depth requests incurring an additional charge. Whatever your process, just make sure it’s super clear to the couple before you begin working together.

Photographer: Christina Jeremiah

3. What rights you’ll retain to the images

Another important thing to clarify is how the couple can use the images after delivery. For many photographers, sharing wedding photographs is a great way of getting organic exposure. The risk, of course, is that the images might be edited prior to sharing, which could make them an inaccurate representation of your work. To cover your back, we suggest clearly communicating that couples cannot edit the final images, and that they must credit you whenever they share them.

Most photographers retain the usage right to their work, which means you are then able to use them for commercial purposes. You should make this very clear to your couple to avoid any issues later down the line.

4. How long you will shoot for on the day

Most couples assume that you will be present for an indefinite number of hours during the wedding, and are surprised (and annoyed) when this turns out not to be the case.

Make sure that all your packages explicitly state the number of hours you’ll shoot for on the day. This gives your couple a chance to figure out which part of the day they’d like to allocate that time to if it’s limited, or see if they can stretch their budget to have you there for a longer period.

Photographer: Carey Nash

5. Whether any additional sessions are included in the price

Is your package a standalone wedding shoot, or does it include any sessions before or after the day? Your couples might not have thought about what other type of shoots they might like to remember this time in their lives. Having a conversation around this point will therefore help them to think about any add-ons they’d like to tag onto (or remove from) their package.

6. Any additional fees you expect to charge

You will inevitably incur costs from shooting a wedding. These can vary depending on how far you have to travel, but for most shoots will include hotels, meals and transport. You should clearly state if the couple are responsible for covering these costs (which they ordinarily would be). 

You should also communicate your expectations regarding meals and breaks for the day. Usually if the wedding shoot is longer than 5 hours then you should reasonably expect to receive the same meal as the guests. If you prefer not to do this, or if the couple aren’t comfortable with this, then negotiate time with your couple so that you can go and purchase/eat food elsewhere.

Photographer: Hayley Bodin

7. Anything you need your clients to clarify or organize prior to the day

If your couple are having a wedding in a venue that may pose restrictions, be sure to let them know upfront of anything they should organize to help you on the day. 

If, for example, your couple want to shoot a sparkler exit, then you are quite likely to need someone from the bridal party to help you organize the guests. Similarly, you may need to arrange special lighting requests with the venue, or have anything that might obstruct you removed prior to the day. This will vary from couple to couple and venue to venue, so  just be sure to have lots of talks with your couple about their plans for the day so that you can spot potential issues before they arise. 

8. Any limitations to your service

If your couple are having a wedding in a venue that may pose restrictions, be sure to let them know upfront of anything they should organize to help you on the day. 

If, for example, your couple want to shoot a sparkler exit, then you are quite likely to need someone from the bridal party to help you organize the guests. Similarly, you may need to arrange special lighting requests with the venue, or have anything that might obstruct you removed prior to the day. This will vary from couple to couple and venue to venue, so  just be sure to have lots of talks with your couple about their plans for the day so that you can spot potential issues before they arise. 

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