Before we jump right into that question, it’s better to demonstrate WHY it’s so important through an example of what can happen if you don’t ask…
Imagine this scenario for a moment… It’s your wedding day, and you’re on your way to the church or hotel to get ready, you’re with your closest friends and family, and you’re experiencing “all the feels” you’ve been anticipating for months (or even years) on one of the biggest and happiest days of your life. You’ve got all your girls (or guys) with you, your dress (or suit) is a perfect fit, you’re right on schedule, spirits are high, everything is going perfectly… so far.
You’re having so much fun with your crew that you almost forget what time your photographer is supposed to show up. But eventually it enters your mind that something is off, or maybe your personal attendant or maid of honor or event planner are the ones that mention it to you… “Isn’t the photographer supposed to be here by now?”
It’s only a few minutes past the agreed upon arrival time, so you try not to stress too much and assume they are just running a bit late. A few minutes go by, they still haven’t arrived. Feeling a little anxiety about the situation now, you decide to call the photographer… no answer. So you text, and wait a few minutes… no response. Now, you’ve still got “all the feels”, but not the right ones. Worry turns to anxiety, anxiety turns to stress, stress turns to panic, and now you’re so completely overwhelmed with furiously calling and texting and emailing your photographer, and getting no response, that the situation has completely consumed this part of your wedding day. With the photographer completely unresponsive and ridiculously late, you’re all out of sorts… your hair isn’t right, the dress doesn’t feel right, you’re feeling nauseous… but you can’t delay the wedding. And there’s no time to find a replacement photographer. It’s an icky feeling.
Well, the wedding goes on, but it’s not like you expected. All the happy feelings you thought you’d have are drowned out by the awful feelings of stress and anxiety. You’re day isn’t ruined, but at the time it feels that way. The person you trusted to capture the images and memories of your biggest day, has unfortunately ruined your day… and there are no do-overs.
So what happened? It might have been a number of things, perhaps your photographers fault, or perhaps not. Maybe they got so sick they couldn’t even communicate, maybe their child-care fell through, maybe they got in a car accident, or maybe they just plain forgot… Regardless of the cause, it doesn’t change the fact that they never showed up, and you didn’t have a professional photographer to capture your wedding. And even if the situation didn’t put you in a funky mood all day, you’ll never have those precious memories captured in imagery, so you can relive the day through the professional images you expected and paid for.
The point of this story is not to scare you with the “doomsday scenario”, but rather to illuminate that this scenario, while rare, is possible. And it unfortunately does happen to couples from time to time (you can google it and find many real life actual stories of this happening). And when it does happen, it’s devastating. So while it’s extremely unlikely, the question you have to ask yourself is, how comfortable are you with some level of risk that if an emergency happens, the photographer that you’ve hired may not be able to show up and shoot your wedding? Assuming that your answer is that you’re “not very comfortable with the risk”, that leads us to the point of the entire email, and it may surprise not surprise you at this point, given the rather long lead-in… What is the #1 Question Couples Forget to Ask Their Wedding Photographer?
What happens in the case of an emergency and you aren’t able to shoot our wedding (or you don’t show up to the wedding and we can’t reach you)?
If you’re still looking for a photographer, and you haven’t asked this question, you might want to consider asking all of the photographers that you’re talking to. And while I can’t tell you what answer should make you sufficiently comfortable, and give you confidence that your photographer has you covered with a great emergency back-up plan… I can offer a perspective on some of what you may encounter as you search for that answer, and tell you what Studio 220 has in place for our clients.
The challenge that most couples face in getting a sufficiently comforting answer to this question, is that the vast majority of wedding photographers are single operators, meaning they are the only photographer in their business, and they work with an assistant or a couple of assistants that don’t have their level of skill or experience. That in itself is not a bad thing. But the issue is risk. The risk of that photographer you hired to shoot your wedding getting sick, or getting in an accident on the way to the wedding, or having one of their kids get sick, or having their childcare fall through last minute. There’s dozens of things that could potentially go wrong on your wedding day that could result in your photographer not being able to shoot your wedding. And while we’ve heard that some photographers claim to have a network of equally talented backups, it’s really not feasible when you consider how that would actually work in a real life scenario. Would they commit that someone of equal talent is going to be available in an emergency? Would they give you access to the contact information of the person or people they have secured to be on-call? What happens if something happens to your hired photographer, like an accident on the way to the wedding, and they aren’t actually able to notify their back-up that there is even a problem? There’s just no realistic way that a sole proprietor can commit to having a guaranteed back up, of equal talent, with access to all of the information and details of your wedding, who can seamlessly step-in and shoot your wedding in any potential worst case scenario. So in our opinion, there really is no suitable answer to this question that a sole proprietor can give you.
That said, you do have an option to work with a photographer that does have a great answer… At Studio 220, we have always been committed to having one of our Lead photographers (not assistant photographer) scheduled to be on-call whenever we have a wedding event booked, and that back-up photographer is paid to be on-call. This gives our clients total peace-of-mind that even if disaster strikes, they will have a Lead photographer from our studio that will be available to shoot their wedding, and that the photographer will have the skills and experience the clients paid for and expect. Additionally, because of all the systems and process investments we have made, all the relevant client information such as schedule, shot lists, notes and other information, is stored online and is easily accessible to the on-call photographer so they have everything they need to shoot the wedding event. This means that with Studio 220 our wedding clients can rest assured that even in an emergency, we have a Lead photographer on call and available to step in and seamlessly deliver the service they expect, and that peace-of-mind is priceless… because you don’t get to reschedule your wedding if your photographer doesn’t show up.
PS – Are you wondering about other questions to ask a wedding photographer? Check out our FAQ for a list of some of the most common questions to discuss with your wedding photographer –