If your photographer has not yet worked at the location of your wedding or event, then part of the planning with your photographer should consist of a site check - ideally, together. There are times when this is not possible, especially for events which require travel, and I will touch on this as well.
Many of the weddings and events I photograph are at private estates, which serves as a perfect example: since I am not yet familiar with the interior or exterior surroundings, I’ll want to learn as much as I can about the space prior to working there. What directions are each room and the yards facing during certain times of the day? If I’m able to do a Site Check, seeing in person how the light and the surroundings reflect off each other is invaluable. Aside from being able to plan for natural light, it’s equally important to plan for artificial light - especially if we need to go to Plan B because of inclement weather - so knowing where to plug in, options for accessibility, space, background, etc. is important. In older or historic homes, I’ll go to the extent of plugging in my phone charger to test an unused outlet that is located in an area we’d like to consider for photos. The more I learn and understand about where I am shooting, the more free I feel to think and plan ahead, both logistically and creatively.
On quite a few occasions in my career, a Site Check was simply not an option. Here are some food for thought regarding Site Reviews with your photographer:
1. A-good-old-fashioned Map: Send a Google Map link to your photographer, this way it can be viewed both Standard and Satellite. On the phone, review the geography and any necessary details. If at a venue, review their web site together as well.
2. Facetime or Google Hangouts: agree on a time of day that coincides with your wedding or event timeline so you can do a virtual walk-through with your photographer. Although we are used to holding our phone vertically, I suggest holding horizontally for this purpose.
3. If they haven’t automatically offered, ask your photographer to arrive early to your wedding or event. In my opinion, this should NOT be considered a part of your “coverage” (if you’ve contracted your photographer for 8 hours, and early arrival requires an additional 1-2 hours, I believe you should not be charged for that additional time, as it’s part of the planning process – and if we happen to snap a few photos, it’s just icing on the cake).
If we as your photographer have already worked at the location, it is likely unnecessary to do a site check, as long as we have solid and consistent communication during your planning process. That said, I recently did a site check at a venue where I’ve shot 4 weddings, but the last wedding was over 10 years ago – so visiting there refreshed my memory and there were some additions to their garden, which was helpful to see in person. Also, it gave me an excuse to meet my client and their parents, which makes them happy and more comfortable with me – so even though I didn’t “need” to do a site check, doing so was a win-win for all of us.
Email me anytime for topic suggestions and feel free to comment, ask questions and share. Thanks for reading!
Peace, Love & Happy Planning,