Answers to some of the many questions I've gotten about my wedding photography!
Q: I want to book you ... what do I do now? A: I book on a first come, first served basis and have booked up to 8 weddings in one week, so if you're truly interested, please don't put off this next step. Simply email me that you want to book me and I will upload signed copies of the agreement to the bride/groom's email. Your date will be permanently "book" as soon as I get the agreements back with the $1000 deposit. Cash or checks are accepted. I do not accept credit cards. Smaller packaged require 50% down. The balances are due the day of the wedding.
Q: Who are your "type" of clients? A: Love stories come in every size, race, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation and tradition. If you are a loving couple, I would be honored to capture the joy of your wedding day story.
Q: Do we own the digital images? Are there extra hidden fees? A: Yes, you own them. We share the copyright and you may download the full resolution digital files for your personal use. I have recently switched from burning DVDs since so few of my clients have CD/ DVD drives anymore and thumb drives are very unreliable. Instead, I now upload the edited photos to a site for you to download. I also provide a way for you, your friends and your family to order prints and all things photo related directly from my site from the professional lab that I use for all my printing needs. If you'd prefer to have them printed elsewhere, that's perfectly fine! Both the download and the printing access are password coded to protect your privacy.
Q: If we need you for overtime, what will that cost? A: You have me for 8 hours, and that is almost always plenty of time. In the unlikely event that you'd need me for longer, I don't need any notice, just let me know. I don't charge time and a half, I just tack on another hour which works out to $300/hr.
Q: If we cancel our wedding, do we get our deposit back? A: Only if and when someone else books your date will I refund half your deposit. If I can't book the date, then you lose the deposit. Many couples don't realize that I get dozens of requests for their date after I book them, so I've reserved the whole day for the couple and don't keep others waiting in the wings!
Q: How quickly do we get our photos back? A: I guarantee you will receive the links to view, order and download them within two weeks of the shoot. I always try to post a Facebook "Sneak Peak" within the first week. Often the photos are back by the time you get back from your honeymoon.
Q: Do we need to set up a meeting with you before we can book the date? A: No. Most of my couples do want to meet ahead of time because they want to meet me face-to-face and because they may still have questions that I haven't covered here, but some couples choose to correspond strictly via email and phone. If you would like to set up a meeting, I usually meet with clients M-TH over at Somerset Mall and am available during the days and evenings. I don't meet on the weekends since I'm usually shooting weddings and those days are reserved for the clients I'm shooting! I'm available for phone consultation at (248) 688-9294 or Skype meetings as well. What ever it takes to make you feel comfortable.
Q: How quickly will I hear back from you about your availability for my wedding date? A: I check my email many times a day, and my spam filter as well, and I respond right away to ALL queries, whether I'm available or not. I'm beginning to realize that my responses sometimes end up in your spam folders, so I'm now asking couples to include their phone numbers as well as their wedding date in their initial query so if I don't hear back from them after the initial contact, I can at least verbally confirm that I do have that date open (or not). If you've contacted me and you don't hear back from me, check your spam filters, it's gotta be in there! If you want to call me, my phone number is (248) 688-9294.
Q: I can't wait to show you my Pinterest board so you'll know exactly the kinds of unique photos I want for my wedding and you'll know exactly my style. That's okay with you, isn't it? A: While I love saying, "YES" to all my couples about everything, this is one thing I do not do. It sets you up for disappointment and me up for failure trying to spend precious time trying to recreate someone's work. If you love my work and style, I'm assuming we're a great fit. I love creating unique and interesting photos of my couples that rely on that wonderful chemistry that comes from a combination of the best light, the weather, the timeline constraints, the personalities and all the other one of a kind elements that come together that day to create our own magic. Here's the best article I've read so far explaining why photographers find it almost impossible to work from other photographer's work. It's called "A Photographer's Perspective on Pinterest" from The Grovers, a husband and wife team of wedding photographers.
Q: When is the balance due? A: The remainder of the balance is due your wedding day. I accept cash or checks and am happy to let you know the balance in advance so you can fill out the check ahead of time. It's very awkward having to pull the bride or groom aside at the end of the night looking for the final balance. Besides, the bride and groom shouldn't have to be dealing with money on their wedding night.
Q: Isn't it better to have two photographers? All the other wedding photographers have two. A: One of the many reasons I get such great moments is because I become completely invisible to everyone around me. If there is more than one photographer, you can't be invisible... it's more of a paparazzi feeling. I'm everywhere I need to be, I cover everything... you just won't know it! It also becomes a challenge to shoot around another person so they don't end up in the shots. Ask some of the other photographers how experienced the other photographer is and how many solo wedding they've done. They are usually in training and couldn't shoot alone if their job depended on it. If you have your heart set on having two photographers, I can add another professional who will be working as hard as I am, but it really isn't necessary at all!
Q: Do you offer smaller wedding packages? Why aren't we guaranteed that you'll be my shooter on smaller wedding packages? A: Well, from my 20 years of experience, and well-over 1,300 weddings that I've photographed, weddings always take at least 8 hours to cover properly. There are back stories to tell; there are portraits to be had and the pace of a wedding needs to unfold at a pace that's comfortable for my couples. When weddings are condensed into 4 or 6 hours, the day takes on (in my opinion) a forced, somewhat frantic nature. I didn't pick 8 hours to gouge couples, but arrived at that number since I've had only 3 or 4 weddings out of a thousand that really and truly only needed less time than 8 hours (including timelines for super small weddings - under 20 people; second weddings; weddings where the couple is already married; receptions only; justice of the peace and tea time weddings; etc.), the ability to tell the whole story of your wonderful day gets compressed so much that I feel it loses something in translation. It's not remedied by having two photographers. It's like running a sprint when you were planning on a stroll. Everyone's left panting and gasping for breath. Wedding days take a lot of time, energy and money to plan. Why not luxuriate in the day when it finally arrives? Everybody reports back that they can't believe the day flew by so quickly. Why force the time to pass even quicker?! Keeping in mind that not all my wonderful couples with great, unique wedding day plans have the budget for me, I have now started offering a shorter wedding day package. The shooter will either be myself, or if I get booked for a larger package, the photographer will be my shooting partner and fellow award winning photojournalist, Rodney Curtis. A $50 mileage fee will be attached to any smaller wedding that's 20-50 miles from Troy. If you're further away, it does cost more.
Q: So if we do book you, YOU are the one shooting our wedding, correct? A: Yes! I, Marci Curtis, will be the one shooting your wedding for any of my regular 8 hours (or more) packages. The only time I wouldn't be shooting your wedding is if I were seriously ill (which has happened once in over 1,300 weddings). If you are looking for a smaller package with shorter hours, the photographer would either be myself of my shooting partner, Rodney Curtis.
Q: How far do you travel? A: For weddings I try to stick to a 100 mile radius from the greater Detroit area, or a two hour driving time. The first 50 miles I drive are included in my 8+ hour shooting packages, but anything over that and up to 100 miles is $50. I start your 8 hours once I arrive! Occasionally I'll get couples who absolutely know they want me and they're further away. If that's the case, just ask and I'll be happy to send you a quote. For portraits, I only drive a 20 minute radius from Troy, Michigan.
Q: Do you give any kinds of discounts? A: Nope! I don't ask what you do for a living, what your budget is, or how much you value photography. You are all equally important and you will all receive 100% of my best effort and you are ALL paying the same rate regardless if your wedding is out of season, are planning a Friday or Sunday wedding, only have 10 people at your wedding, are in the military, on a tight budget (aren't we all?), share my birthday (Feb.11th), are a natural redhead or are rich and famous! If it makes you feel any better, you're all getting an incredible bargain.... I haven't changed my rates in 10 years and I keep adding in extra things lots of other photographers don't offer!
Q: Do you shoot the regular type family photos at weddings? I don't see any on your website. A: Yes, I do! Family and wedding parties have put a lot of time, effort and value on coming to your wedding and it's a nice way to honor that by shooting a nice family photo. I usually shoot the two sides separately and the whole formal process takes about 45 minutes if everybody's there and ready to rock and roll. I don't feature these photos on my site since they don't exactly showcase emotion and storytelling. If you're in the photo, they look lovely... if you're not, it looks like a photo of people standing there!
Q: I have a digital camera and am wondering how many megapixels you shoot with? My photos look blurry when I blow them up bigger than a 4x6... will that be a problem? A: I'm pretty sure you're not shooting with a professional camera and probably not even a digtal SLR (single lens reflex) camera because even though the latest digital point and shoots are coming out with 8 or even 10 megapixels, it's not apples to apples. The sensor which collects the data is at least four times smaller than mine is and I shoot for the best quality, highest resolution possible that I can. Lots of people (maybe even yourself), want to get as many photos as possible out of their memory cards, so they set the camera to a lower resolution so the can collect more photos. That degrades the image terribly, a quanity over quality thing. The digital cameras I use surpassed film several years ago and can be blown up perfectly to about poster size before they start losing any quality. So unless you're planning on making life size posters of yourselves or each other, you should be happy as clams with the quality.
Q: Do you have liabilty insurance? (if anything would happen to the camera, pictures, etc?). A: Yes, I do! But that's all tedious owner of the business stuff and I have it now because some venues require it. As far as equipment back ups, I have back ups and back up back ups with me all the time. If there were ever a catastrophic issue with a memory card and a portion of the wedding was unretrievable (which has never happened), you would get that portion of the wedding refunded to you. I shoot on multiple cards and change them so that I'm not relying on all the wedding images being on one card. Again, this has never been an issue. I guess the best part of the policy is that out of over 1,300 weddings I've maintained at 99.8% approval rating! This is coming from a woman who always holds her breath whenever she tells people she shoots weddings for a living because there is ALWAYS a long stream of horror stories that will be following as soon as she says the words "wedding photographer"! I don't know if it's just en vogue to hate wedding photographers or if there are just a massive amount of boobs in the business, but Lordy, oh Lordy... the stories I've heard! My brides and grooms and their parents and their wedding parties and their guests and their caterers LOVE me and that's the policy that's most important to me!
Q: If for some reason you're sick on my wedding day, do you have a back up plan? A: Yes, my husband, Rodney Curtis, is my back up. He was the photo editor at the Detroit Free Press. When I worked at the Associated Press, we job shared for 3 years. Our boss, apparently feeling we were interchangeable, would say, "I need a Curtis today for such and such an assignment." After more than 1,300 weddings, he's only been needed once. That couple was so happy, they started recommending him to all their friends! So if it's me you're smitten with me, he's the closest thing to me you'll find. His site is www.rodneycurtis.com.
Q: Any recommendations about where to print my images? A: Your uploaded digital files are connected to the Professional version of my favorite lab that I use for all our needs. Or feel free to have them printed pretty much anywhere, but I would not recommend taking them to any place that uses ink jet printers... the prints are funny looking and fade quickly. You'll want to use real photo paper for better quality.
Q: We're looking for a mixture of B&W and color. A: No problem, but I'll let you in on a little secret. All of my weddings are shot in color. For couples who a mix, I suggest they have any photos they want in B&W printed on B&W paper. It saves time and money and it's flawless. Many kiosks and printing places online will also convert the images to B&W with great results.
Q: Are you the one who is going to be shooting my wedding? A: Yes, you are hiring me and only me. Some studios have a stable of photographers they use. I don't have an assistant because I'm quite capable of doing the job myself and I'm not interested in teaching someone the ropes while I'm working for YOU!
Q: You're already booked. We're looking for a good photojournalist. Do you have anybody else you can recommend? A:Yes! Please send me an e-mail and I'll be happy to send you a few recommendations.
Q: Do you have any other "vendors" (new, icky buzz word!) you can recommend? A: Yes! I'm always trying to keep tabs on the other wedding helpers and when couples are especially pleased, I like to post their names and contact info. Click here to see my list of preferred wedding helpers and sites.
Q: What kind of cameras do you shoot with? A: I'm very well endowed, at least in the Nikon department! I always have at least three with me. A little bit of paranoia goes a long way!
Q: We have lots of photo geek friends and family members who will want to shoot during the day. Do you allow that? A: Of course! The more, the merrier. They're called free back-up! I'm used to shooting with a whole press corp vying for something unique and better than everybody else. Besides, it's nice to have back up! And don't forget, I'm not making any money on reprints. If, on the other hand, you have friends who are professional shooters and want to "help" please tell them to steer clear of me. I did have one show up at a wedding who decided he needed to take over!
Q: Why do you give couples full image rights with all your high resolution digital files? A: They're worth a fortune to you (in memories and in savings) and for me they're only helpful for building a portfolio and for scrutinizing my work. Sometimes, it's just nice to see how I did! Most studios make at least 2/3rds of their money after they've shot your wedding on prints. They are for your personal use only. Please do not sell or give them to any commercial entities.
Q: We don't want our images posted on social media or your website as we want to maintain our privacy completely. Will you agree to that? A: If you don't want me to blog about your wedding, or put it on Facebook, well, that's an extra couple of hours put back into my life, so I'm okay with that. Since I own the copyright and I use images for showcasing my talents on my website, there is a $500 opt out fee if you want me to agree to not use any of the photos in any way (effectively cutting me out of having access to my own work and guaranteeing your privacy). Just in case I get an image I love and cannot use (and you just know that's going to happen, right?), there is a fee involved to make Miss Marci feel better about never seeing that photo again! With facial recognition software getting better all the time, this may become something we all need to revisit.
Q: I'm not sure I want to deal with handling all the reprints for everybody. A: That's partly why I switched to a digital upload for my clients. If you don't want to share your images, they are password protected galleries, so you can share with the people you want to share.
Q: Do you know anyone who puts together nice albums? A: I recently started offering three different album styles to meet the demands of my clients who simply aren't comfortable handling digital files or who know they simply won't have the time to put together an album on their own. I have samples in a slideshow you can watch to see if any of those styles appeal to you. I charge $1000 for both of my flush mount albums or three of my art style albums .
Q: How many weddings have you shot? A: I figure I've shot over 1,300 weddings since 1992, but it's just easier to stick with "over 1,000". I'd been shooting professionally for five years prior to shooting my first wedding. I shot my first one as a favor to a photojournalist friend who was suddenly called out of town and needed a replacement. I dreaded it! "Won't the couple be a bundle of nerves? Won't I be bossed around by a neurotic bride all day? Isn't it a lot of pressure to get this right?" Well, I had a blast! The couples who like my work are independent people who are taking their day seriously, but not themselves. They've typically read all the latest wedding propaganda and then chucked out 3/4 of what they're supposed to do because it just doesn't seem to apply to them! My weddings are all unique, every story is different, each day takes on a life of its own. In all my weddings, I've never been treated with anything other than respect ... my couples know I take my job seriously and they trust that I'm there to do the very best job for them. I end up being the extra bridesmaid who's friendly, helps out and works her butt off!
Photojournalist VS. a studio
Q: So what's a photojournalist? A: A photojournalist is a photographer who makes a living shooting for newspapers and magazines. We're trained to think on our feet, adapt to new situations, blend into the background and patiently wait for things to happen. We're all about capturing spontaneous moments and documenting your day as it unfolds.
Q: Most studios offer photojournalist packages, so they can shoot all that great candid stuff too, right? A: Simply put, no! To find a real photojournalist, look at five different albums for the photographer. Do they have a shot list? Do all of the albums include the same types of shots? I'm not saying a studio photographer can't shoot spontaneous things, but they aren't trained to anticipate moments, search for behind the scenes stories, blend in or patiently wait for moments to happen. They are trained to set up pretty, well lit, recreated moments. Personally, I think moments look a lot more interesting and real the FIRST time they happen! I also don't think wedding days are about interrupting the flow and standing around posing. It's about having a great time at your party! I've heard of studios that offer a "photojournalist package" and then they proceed to set up "moments". It takes a lot of time and energy to wait for things to happen and most photographers don't have the time or the patience for that!
Q: Aren't all photographers pretty much the same? I'm pretty sure I can fine someone cheaper! A: If you're going for cheapest, I'm probably not for you! If you can't tell the difference in quality, I'm probably not for you! I've worked really hard for decades to become an expert in weddings, lighting, time management and creating unique, interesting and poignant photos for all my couples. No need to undercut myself. If you're looking for the best, photographer in this budget range, I'm it!!!
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© Marci Curtis
If you are looking for answers to all your wedding photographer related questions, you've come to the right place! On this page I tried to answer just about every question that every bride and groom have asked me over the years (except the really weird ones!). The answers to the photography questions deal pretty much specifically with the wedding photography services that I offer my to my wedding clients. I periodically add new ones as they come up, so check back often for updates to my question and answer page.