As a photographer I always get that question. What do you do in the case of an emergency? Its a real concern for most couples getting married today. Let's face it with the rise of the internet and generalized auto setting on most DSLR cameras everyone is trying to be a photographer and the horror stories that ensue can be terrifying. Even some that I have read have left me doing the iconic face-palm move.
As a professional photographer with almost ten years experience one of the most important things to consider are the "what if's." For most of those situations we have the Arts Ink Assurance, which covers our customers and us in the event of an extreme emergency. However there are those things that can occur that you aren't prepared for, and in those situations we have our professional network we rely on for coverage and support.
If you're one of my clients "aka really you're my friend" then you've more than likely heard me joke about how the only thing that could truly ever hold me back from showing up to a wedding is if my appendix ruptured. It would take heaven and earth to truly hold me back from showing up to a wedding, and in ten years I haven't missed one yet. I've captured wedding with the flu, and even viral meningitis (no I was not aware I had it I just thought I was really sick- RALLY ON).
Just five weeks ago after doing an overnight wedding at the Girl Scout Camp in Richmond, Rhode Island I awoke on a Monday morning with odd stomach pain. Let's just say the joke was on me when the next day I was rushed into emergency appendectomy surgery. I had just met with one of my awesome couples Cassie and Erwin early that week to review their upcoming wedding itinerary. We had talked in great detail about their wedding vision and I always review that in the event of an extreme emergency "aka my appendix ever going," that my awesome assistant Amanda, from Amanda Jean Photography, who is also a full time photographer and experienced professional in her own right, is my backup for coverage. Luckily for me I had exactly eleven days to rally post-surgery before my next scheduled wedding. Aka Cassie and Erwin's wedding.
Realistically if you've ever had major surgery it takes approximately three to six weeks to fully recover from the trauma. I however am a ninja monkey and a couple days before the wedding I called Cassie and informed her of my predicament. I would still very much be present at the wedding day and still taking photos, but my assistant Amanda would also be on hand to take over in between, because I was still very much recovering. However, being the stubborn mule I really am, I was present with Amanda in every moment. Although on more than one occasion she had to help me up from the ground because I still insisted on getting my nostalgic ground shots, specifically those during sunset on the Cranston Country Club grounds.
So that begs the question was does a hobbyist photographer due in the event of an emergency? For us it's accessing our professional network of coverage and making sure that our couples don't have to stress days before their wedding to find someone to cover the event is a fast solution. Everyone needs an Amanda! Our pro network is one of our biggest assets and so important! We also provide both general and personal liability insurance, which most venues require your vendors to provide almost 99% of the time.
At the end of the day for us our number one priority, outside of providing you with your dream wedding images is making sure our clients are both protected and always satisfied. In ten years we've never missed a wedding and if this isn't a testament to that I don't know what is.
It's important to realize that as photographers we are also people too. Things can and will happen. Let's just face it, it's Murphy's Law. In the event an emergency does come up it's important to know that your photographer has a backup. For us we have a network of professionals that we not only rely on but refer those individuals too, whose weddings we cannot capture. We also have professional liability insurance for those extreme situations caused by weather and accidents. Protecting all parties. Granted like I said we haven't missed a wedding in ten years but if the situation should ever arise our clients are covered because we take our business serious. Make sure when considering a photographer they have all their ducks in a row.
If they respond JPEG. Move along! We only shoot in RAW image formats. Why is that important? RAW files are unprocessed image files. When a photographer chooses JPEG format the images are processed and compressed in camera. Loosing both depth, color and contrast. That leaves little to no room for the photographer to process them manually in a professional program like Lightroom and make simple corrections that the camera does not allow for. Shooting RAW vs. JPEG also affects print quality and size. When you shoot in RAW you record all of the data from the sensor. This gives the highest quality files.
This is an important question to ask. A true professional shoots in manual 100% of the time and understands how light works. Also check them on whether or not they use on camera flash " that pop up flash on their camera" or strobe lights. If your photographer is using an on camera flash then they are 100% a novice and don't understand the theory of light, which is our business.
I can tell from experience equipment fails. I had three flashes in one day fail all simultaneously. On average we carry 5-6 with us at any given time. I've also had batteries fail and cameras stop focusing. That being said we've enough experience that we bring three cameras, six lenses, six light stands, six strobe lights, eight remote flash triggers, one hundred twenty AA batteries, and five camera batteries with us AT ALL TIMES! When it comes to your special day it's not worth taking the risk on someone without a backup plan.
On more than one occasion I've seen the novice shooter post in Facebook Wedding Groups the same key 20 images. All outside, in the perfect lighting condition where auto can work. Ask them to see church wedding photos, or a winter indoor setting. Those are by far the hardest conditions to shoot in and an experienced pro won't cringe when showing you them. They understand the camera settings and appropriate lenses to use in all lighting scenarios and are confident with their equipment. Make sure they can show you a variety of weddings in multiple scenarios and at least ten complete wedding galleries so you can see the differences in each setting. Don't let them only show you the best highlights.
Yes that makes a difference. Not only do I have a bachelors in photography, I also have ten years experience. Experience counts! Although some of the photographers in my network don't have formal educations they've worked in studios for years, some predominately with children (the hardest category to capture) and have years of experience under their belt training with other pros. Buying a camera and not taking classes or training with a pro shows in a photographers work. I've worked with aeronautical photographers, sports photographers, other wedding photographers and even aquarium photographers. I've been exposed to my share of difficult light settings and trained at a formal college for photography and design. Experience matters and nothing kills me more than when I see a novice charging thousands for wedding photos and the only experience they have is playing with the camera setting at friend and family events. It's important to ask if it is their full time job or part time gig. Don't get me wrong we've seen some incredibly talented part time photographers, but the question can shine light on serious pros and not so serious individuals.