Wedding Photographer Profile: Jessica Roberts
We published a story called 20 Questions to Ask Your Photographer, so you can head to a meeting with your potential wedding photographer armed with everything you need and leave feeling confident you have all the answers to make your decision. Melbourne photographer, Jessica Roberts, answered our call by sitting down to address each of them.
How long have they been in business?
This is a great question to ask your photographer. It can help you to determine how experienced they are. I have been in business 7 years and have shot over 120 weddings. This has given me the know how to deal with so many different types of weddings, lighting conditions and tricky situations.
How would they describe their photography style?
Again, another great question. My style is real, colourful and relaxed. I have a very established and consistent style.
Do you have a portfolio of recent work clients can review?
I absolutely do, most of my couples start their journey by visiting my website and when they get in touch with me I share a collection of slideshows of recent weddings I have shot. Each of these slideshows have around 300 images so they are a great place to see more of my work. If couples want to see some examples of full wedding galleries I am more than happy to share these too. Asking this question to photographers is good. After seeing full weddings it will give you a really good idea of how much you love their work.
Do you belong to a professional body?
I am a member of the Photography Farm in the UK along with various photography communities in Australia. I was until very recently a member of the AIPP the Australian Institute of Photographers but I didn’t feel it was very good value for money and I didn’t feel their direction was the same as mine, I feel they are still very traditional in many ways. Integrity is so important to me and forging real connections with my couples. You will see from my Facebook and Google reviews my couples leave wonderful feedback, exceeding every couple's expectation is what is important to me.
What format do you use to shoot? Digital, film or a combination of both?
I shoot in digital, I love shooting film for personal work but for weddings I am very much a digital girl. I shoot with two cameras that record the images to two cards each so I always have a backup plan. I also always have an extra camera with me.
Do you shoot in colour and black and white?
This is a good question but you can usually gauge the answer to this by looking at a photographer's website. On my website, about 20% of my images are black and white and that is a good representation of what I provide in a final gallery. If a couple wants black and white copies of all their photos I am also very happy to do this at no extra cost.
How far in advance do couples need to book?
I would recommend booking your photographer as early as you can. Some dates always end up being more popular and many couples miss out on their first choice. I only book 20 weddings in a year so once I have booked all 20, I have to turn people away.
Do couples need to leave a deposit?
Another great question and one most people probably don’t know. Within the wedding the wedding industry it is standard practice that to secure a date with your wedding photographer you pay a booking fee of usually around 30% and then the balance of the fee 4-6 weeks before the wedding. My booking fee is $1250. All my terms and conditions are in my contract, which you would also electronically sign when confirming me as your photographer. Once my couples pay their booking fee they can book in their engagement shoot.
What packages do you offer?
Some photographers have all this on their website, others don’t mention a price. There is no right or wrong way, however, I remember when I was planning my wedding it really frustrated me when I couldn’t find prices so you guessed it – I have all my pricing on my website.
Can you customise a package based on your needs and budget?
Yes, you can I have an option where you can book me per hour.
Do you include an engagement shoot in their packages or is that an additional cost?
Once you book me for over 6 hours you get an engagement shoot included. I love doing these as they give me a head start on the wedding day. We know each other better. You both feel much more comfortable with me as well being in front of the camera and you get some great images!
How many assistants do they have who will attend on the day?
It is pretty uncommon for wedding photographers to have lots of assistants. Some photographers always shoot with a “second shooter” and others only do when the wedding is very big. I am in the latter category. I feel with a second shooter I am much more obvious when it is just me I am a little more discreet and can get much more natural shots. However, if I am shooting a wedding with over 100 people it is great having a second shooter who can get different angles. I am very happy with either and if my couples want a second shooter it is $75 an hour with a minimum of 5 hours. I charge exactly what I pay the second shooter. The second shooters I use are all professional wedding photographers who have the same ethos and style as me.
What happens if they are sick or have unforeseen circumstances and cannot attend your wedding?
This is a great question and a great one to ask as well as think about with all of your vendors. To date, this has never happened to me but if it does I am part of some amazing groups and without thinking I would know how to deal with this as I have planned for it.
My plan is: I would find 3 alternative photographers who are similar to me in style and personality, who I would trust to shoot my own wedding. I would then communicate to you what has happened and offer you a refund so you can rebook someone else or one of these photographers, OR for one of these three photographers to shoot your wedding and I would then edit (if this was possible) and deliver the images to you in my style in the agreed time frame.
Over the years I have helped a few photographers who have had things like their appendix burst or their backs go and these photographers had similar plans in place and their couples were overjoyed with the outcomes.
On a side note, I would recommend looking at wedding insurance in case you or your fiancé are sick. It isn’t that expensive and it covers you for this kind of thing. I have also encountered this happening over the years and it is heartbreaking!
Have you worked at the couple's chosen wedding venue before?
I love answering this question as often people see it as a good thing to have a photographer experienced at shooting weddings at your venue. From my experience when I shoot a wedding in a new venue I am much more creative. I follow the light, I document the wedding as it unfolds and I am so excited about the location. As photographers, when we shoot at the same place repeatedly we can become stale. I try not to shoot the same wedding venue twice in one year.
What time will you arrive on site and how long will they shoot?
With me it would depend on what you have agreed with me, most people book me for my “all day” package which doesn’t have a time limit on it. Usually, I would arrive 2-3 hours before the ceremony and sometimes stay until the couple leave, sometimes I even end up at the after party!
What is your contingency plans if it rains?
I will always have a backup plan in my head if it rains for where we would do wedding portraits and family photos but this would depend on the venue and what the couple wants. My biggest tip with rain though is to enjoy it, you only get to live the day once so enjoy every second even if it rains. Some of my favourite wedding photos are when the couple is having fun in the rain.
If your event lasts longer than anticipated, will you stay? Is there an additional fee?
I will always stay. If you are paying me per hour I would check with you that you wanted me to stay. Most of my couples choose my all day package so they don’t need to worry about this!
Do you charge a travel fee? What does that cover?
I charge a flat fee of $500 for interstate of Victoria within Australia. My travel fees are very fair and cover flights, car hire and accommodation. Within Victoria, there is no travel fee.
Do you provide assistance with album designs, retouching, colour adjustments or other corrective services? Are these included in the package price or additional?
My style is very natural and all editing is included. If either one of my couples have a spot or something that is not usually part of them, I will, of course, remove it if they want me to. Albums are an extra or in my top package and I design these with my couples.
Are there any add-on /hidden costs that might present themselves in post-production?
Nope, I don’t think I have ever charged any of my couples anything extra that we haven’t talked about.
How long is the expected wait for the photo album after the wedding?
This is hard to answer as designing a wedding album is done by me and the couple. The couple firstly needs to select their favourite 100 photos and then share them with me. Usually, within a week I design the first draft to their album and we then go back and forth until it is perfect.
From the day I send the album off to be handmade it usually takes 6 weeks to arrive back to me and then I send on to my couple. I would say allow 8 weeks from the day your album is approved.