Chicago photographer Amy Beth HarkessI frequently get sent lists of popular “questions to ask your photographer” which are often featured in wedding magazines and blogs. I thought I’d simplify things by putting them all in one place for easy reference. 🙂

Do you have my date available?
Please fill out the contact form, or give me a call and we can check!

How far in advance do I need to book with you?
I recommend booking as far in advance as possible so engagement sessions can be scheduled and to lock in current pricing.

How long have you been in business?
I have been in business since 2007

How many ceremonies have you shot? Have you done many that were similar to mine in size and style?
I have photographed over 100 ceremonies and events, ranging from small, intimate gatherings to large events spanning several days. Whether your style is hip and indie, creative and do it yourself, soft and romantic or bold and beautiful, it is likely I have photographed a similar event and would be happy to show you examples.

How would you describe your photography and working style (e.g. traditional, photojournalistic, creative)?
I incorporate a variety of styles and techniques into my coverage of your day. I will capture candid moments during the day with a more photojournalist-style approach, but also feel it is important to have more traditional family photographs included, as events are often an opportunity for extended family to reunite after possibly not seeing each other for great lengths of time. I also incorporate a more editorial and fashion flair into portraits of the couple. You can also expect fine art photographs of all the details you’ve worked so hard on planning, selecting and creating.

What do you think distinguishes your work from that of other photographers?
My eye for detail. While covering the expected and traditional moments of the day is always critical to me, I also have a knack for finding hidden moments and details that are often overlooked by others.

Do you have a portfolio I can review? Are all of the images yours, and is the work recent?
The wedding gallery on my website includes images from the 2010 and early 2011 seasons. All of the images were captured by me, as are all the images on my blog and website.

What type of equipment do you use?
I use professional Canon equipment, including professional camera bodies, lenses and supplemental lighting equipment. Back up equipment will always be present at your event.

Are you shooting in digital or film format or both?
Both. By default, all weddings, civil unions and events are photographed on digital equipment. I also love film photography and quotes for film coverage are available by request.

Do you shoot in color and black & white?
I use both color and black & white film. Digital images may be converted to black & white, depending on my artistic vision.

Can I give you a list of specific shots we would like?
I welcome and encourage lists for family portrait time, but do not work off a shot list for the remainder of the event. Please trust that the important moments of your day will be captured. A shot list often causes the more candid, special and emotional moments to be missed.

What information do I need to provide you before the day of our event?
I’ll work with you to create a time line for the day, which will include start and end time of coverage, as well as timing for important moments throughout the day.

Have you ever worked with my florist? DJ? Coordinator, etc.?
It’s very possible! Contact me with your vendor list, and I’ll be happy to let you know.

May I have a list of references?
Of course! You can check out my review page for some more recent comments or contact me and I’ll be happy to connect you with a couple willing to speak with prospective clients.

Are you the photographer who will shoot my wedding? If so, will you have any assistants with you on that day and can I meet them before my wedding?
I will be photographing your wedding. There will be another photographer with me, as well. Depending on your contracted package, this could be an assistant to help with lighting and equipment, or it could be a second photographer. If your contract includes a second photographer, and you have booked far enough in advance, we will do everything we can to let you meet them before your event. I will often have your second photographer come to your engagement session.

Do you have backup equipment? What about a backup plan if you (or my scheduled photographer) are unable to shoot my event for some reason?
Yep! As mentioned above, I always have back up equipment at your event. I can’t imagine any reason I would be unable to photograph your event, aside from horrific circumstances, but even in the very worst case scenario, there is always a second photographer assigned to your event (all my assistants and second photographers are experienced, talented photographers) and I also belong to several local and national photography organizations and have emergency photographers on call, just in case something awful were to occur.

If my wedding site is out of your area, do you charge a travel fee and what does that cover?
It depends on the location. Travel fees may apply for weddings outside the Chicago and suburban Chicago areas. Please contact me for a custom quote.

Are you photographing other events on the same day as mine?
No way! Capturing such an important event requires all my attention for the day and I will be yours and yours alone.

How will you (and your assistants) be dressed?
We will likely be dressed in clean, conservative, dark colored clothing (so that we don’t stick out in any photographs that we may inadvertently sneak into), and our clothing will be in the lines of business casual, or dressier. Expect us to be wearing slacks or a skirt, a nice top and comfy shoes so that we can be our best without being hindered. We like to blend in as much as we can.

Is it okay if other people take photos while you’re taking photos?
Maybe. My contract stipulates that I am the only paid photographer capturing your event. Guests are free to take pictures, unless they interfere with my ability to capture your event. This is a rare occurrence. There are two exceptions: I prefer there to be no guest photography during the family portraits (to ensure all eyes are on your paid photographer) and I do not allow anyone to accompany us for the portraits of the couple.

Have you ever worked at my event site before? If not, do you plan to check it out in advance?
It’s very likely that I’ve worked at your event site. I have photographed many events in the Chicagoland area. If I have not worked at your site, I do try to location scout whenever possible.

What time will you arrive at the site and for how long will you shoot?
This will depend on your specific contract and how you would like to apply your contracted hours.

If my event lasts longer than expected, will you stay? Is there an additional charge?
Overtime is available on the day of your event at a rate of $600 per hour, available in 30 minute increments.

What packages do you offer?
I don’t! Beginning in 2012, we’re going a la carte. Album and prints have been removed from our offered services. When it comes to pricing, I believe simple is best.

Can I customize a package based on my needs?
Every wedding is different, so all our offerings are a la carte. You don’t need to feel pigeon holed into picking a certain package.

Do you include engagement photos in your packages?
We don’t offer packages, so engagement sessions are available a la carte. Engagement sessions are priced as portrait sessions. You will receive a 25% discount on your engagement session if you include it in your event contract.

What type of album designs do you offer? Do you provide any assistance in creating an album?
I don’t. I’ve found this is the first thing my clients want to cut from their coverage. And many want to wait until after the wedding, when funds have been replenished to consider an album. If you are interested in an album after your wedding, I have loads of referrals for you. An album release for preferred vendors is included with your print release.

Do you provide retouching, color adjustment or other corrective services?
All images will be color corrected and corrected for exposure, if necessary. More extensive corrective services are available under a separate contract, at a rate of $500 per hour. Examples of more extensive corrective services which would require a separate contract include (but are not limited to) removing stains from clothing, fixing sunburn/tan lines and removing or adding people to group portraits.

How long after the wedding will I get the proofs? Will they be viewable online?
Your proofs will be available 2-4 weeks after your wedding. Images will be placed in an online gallery for viewing and ordering. You may also select images for your album online from the gallery.

What is the ordering process?
A print release is included with your files, but prints can be ordered through your gallery.

How long after I order my photos will I get them?
You can expect regular prints approximately one week after purchase.

Will you give me the negatives or the digital images, and is there a fee for that?
Digital files are included in photography coverage pricing. Please inquire for pricing on the physical film negatives.

When will I receive a written contract?
After our consultation (via phone, email or in person), a custom contract will be provided to you. Upon your signing of the contract and payment of the retainer to reserve your date, I will sign the contract and send you a copy for your records.

How much of a deposit do you require and when is it due? Do you offer a payment plan?
A $750 retainer is required to reserve your date. This retainer is non-refundable and may be applied to your contract balance. Any remaining balance is due 30 days prior to your event.

What is your refund/cancellation policy?
All cancellations must be made in writing and signed by all parties. The retainer is non-refundable. If your written cancellation is received in writing 180 days or more prior to your event, no fees other than the non-refundable retainer will be due.

Do you have liability insurance?
Yes, I have liability insurance.