Yucky Money Questions
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 can start the ball rolling by sending your out an agreement. Your date will be permanently held as soon as I get the agreement back with the deposit.
Q: So what is your deposit and how do I get it to you? A: My deposits on the smaller packages are 1/2 the package fee. If you're book 8 or more hours, it's $1,000. I accept checks (those weird things that collect dust in your drawer). For now, credit cards and electronic services charge service fees in the ballpark of 2.5% - 4% and I'm just not willing to eat that cost or pass it on to my clients. This may change in the next few years, but for now, that's the deal.
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. I absolutely can't stand having to pull the bride or groom aside at the end of the night for a final payment. Besides, the bride and groom shouldn't have to be dealing with money on their wedding night.
Q: If we need you for overtime, what will that cost? A: Usually I can pretty much nail your timeline down and give you a pretty accurate sense of how many hours you'll need ahead 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 for $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: 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 flushmount albums or three of my art style albums .
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 (I think to make sure I'm real?) 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 also available for phone consultation at (248) 688-9294 as well as Skype meetings. 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: How far do you travel? A: For local 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 fees, but anything over that and up to 100 miles is $50. I start your clock once I arrive! Occasionally I'll get couples who absolutely know they want me and they're further away, in which case I'll see what I can do. If you're further than two hours away, hotel fees might be involved. If you're pretty far away, say Chicago or Traverse City, you will need to hire me as a destination photographer for a two day rate.
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 shoot the regular type family photos? 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 half an hour 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: 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: 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. Even though phones and cameras are getting better every year, megapixels between devices is not apples to apples. Censor sizes are still way more important. The digital cameras I use 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: I want to make sure I have fun pictures of ALL my guests. Do you have any suggestions? A: Yes, I do! There are about a zillion companies out there who offer a photo booth. Some are pretty straightforward, some offer props and some let you go anywhere with the magic of a green screen. They usually run anywhere from $300-$1,200.
Q: Any recommendations about where to print my images? A: Yes, take it to any place you're familiar to get your 4x6s. Check a small batch first for color shifts and if you like the results, have them print a whole bunch. Have your enlargements done at a custom lab if you're not thrilled with the results from your local processor. Price is not always the best way to select quality! My favorite online printers are MPix and Shutterfly. But the easiest way to print it to use my site with the links I send you. I have all your images hooked up to my favorite professional photography lab for a teeny, tiny mark up. They are something like $5 for an 8x10.
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: I'd like to post my photos online. Which service do you prefer? A: That's great! I give you full printing and download rights. I only ask that if you use them on social media that you give me credit. My Instagram name is @marcicurtisphotography and my business name is Marci Curtis - Michigan Wedding Photojournalist. Just please give me the credit where credit is due. Thank you!
Q: What kind of cameras do you shoot with? A: I'm very well endowed, at least in the Nikon department! I'm shooting with two D750s and use two D700s's for backup. All my lenses are Nikons as well.
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!
Questions You Should Be Asking Photographers
Q: Do you have liability 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 never had a technical glitch EVER! 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: Are you the one who is going to be shooting my wedding? A: Yes, I will be the photographer for any of the 8+ hour packages. If you are booking a package with shorter hours, the photographer will either be myself or my partner, fellow photojournalist, Rodney Curtis. 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: Do you have any other "vendors" (I prefer the word 'Wedding Helpers Extraordinaire') 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: 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.
So What Make You So Freaking Special?
Q: How many weddings have you shot? A: I figure I've shot over 1,300 weddings and I stopped counting a few years ago. 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!
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". Also, working in teams can make it very difficult to capture spontaneous moments as that intimate feeling is harder to achieve the more people you have surrounding you documenting your day.
Q: Why should I pick you? A: You should pick the photographer whose photos make you feel something; smile, laugh, cry and say "aaahhh" out loud about a total stranger's wedding. Check their reputation carefully. Google their name and look at the reviews. You'll see trends in the comments. Do those couples value what you value? I have a 99.8% approval rating. That's unheard of. I also have won "Best of" from the Knot and Wedding Wire 10 years in a row. I don't know any other photographer in Michigan who has achieved this level of endorsement from their clients over such a long period of time, especially as a solo enterprise. Making clients wedding days even better than they imagined is always my goal. Providing a fantastic wedding day experience is part of the Marci Curtis wedding day package. Enough bragging. Book me, already!