Are you a wedding photographer? Do you use a checklist to let your clients tell you what images they want?
Stop handing them out and let your creativity soar. While checklists may seem like a great way to communicate with your client, they actually turn you into a subpar photographer. Here’s why.
It Is Unprofessional
You are a professional photographer. Do you really need a client to check a box telling you she wants a photograph of her and her new husband? As a professional, if you don’t understand the basic images that are needed to fulfill a wedding package, you shouldn’t be shooting weddings.
It Sets The Stage For Failure
Imagine you have a checklist with 200 photographs on it. The bride goes through and starts checking them – check, check, check – before she knows it every boxed is checked. It’s her wedding, she wants it all. Now you have the task of having to fulfill every check. Did you get this image? Yes. Oops, I forgot one, now what? Pretty soon you’re missing a lot of the wedding because you’re so worried about getting all the check marks. And if you miss one, the bride will pull out her checklist and ask you about it. Then she won’t be happy with the images you took; instead she’ll be disappointed in the one’s you missed.
It Limits Creativity
Every wedding is different. Every bride and groom is different. If you’re working from a list that says “close up of the bride”, “profile of the bride”, and on and on, you’re not paying attention to what is happening around you. You move from checklist, to pose, to shot, to check, and to the next image on the list. You’re not watching the groom sneak in to make the bride laugh. You don’t notice the bridesmaids off on the side dancing and twirling. You miss everything that will cause this wedding to be unique.
Instead of working with a checklist, use what we call a wedding worksheet instead.
If at all possible, have your wedding clients visit with you one to two weeks before the event. If they are long distance, you can do it all via email and possibly a quick phone call.
Use the worksheet to ask for the important information that will make you more professional. Include things like:
The names of all bridesmaids and groomsmen – this will give you a chance to learn their names ahead of time, call them by name throughout the day, and be able to ask people directly when you need assistance (such as finding the mom of the bride)
What vendors will be there. If you know the videographer or the wedding coordinator ahead of time, you can connect with them about scheduling and planning things from a behind the scenes viewpoint.
Special request photographs. As a professional, you should know to take images of the bride with her mom, the groom with his groomsmen and the first dance. But you don’t know that her nanny is flying in from 2,000 miles away and she hasn’t seen her in ten years. Those are the special requests you are looking for. You want her to list special guests, special traditions, anything unique that you wouldn’t know under normal circumstances.
Remember, your goal as a wedding photographer is to give 110 percent service from beginning to end, cover the event in a way an “Uncle Bob” couldn’t, and anticipate what will happen long before it begins.
If a guest can tell you your work is phenomenal before they’ve seen even one image, mission accomplished.