Questions You Should Be Asking When Searching For Your Wedding Photographer
Are you stuck on what to ask a person on your search for your wedding photographer? Just like any job, you should interview a good amount of photographers before you select one to be your wedding photographer. One thing to do before you ask anyone anything is determine what is important to you. Is it important the you receive 600+ images in your final gallery? Is it important that your photographer makes you feel relaxed on your wedding day? Is it important that you have a lifestyle/journalistic feel to your wedding images? Talk it over with your fiance and your parents (if they're helping you plan for your wedding) and get some good insight on some of the things that may be important for them too!
Now that you've decided what is an absolute necessity for you on your wedding day, let's go over some questions to ask a wedding photographer before you book with them!
*Are you available on my wedding date? If you're looking at twenty photographers, and you ask them this question first, I guarantee you're going to cross out at five to six of them after you ask this question. This will definitely help dwindle that list down some!
*How many other weddings will you photograph that weekend? If your photographer has another wedding that same weekend, either the day before or the day after, this could mean your gallery will take longer to deliver because they are working on two galleries instead of just yours.
*How far in advance do I need to book with you? This question will vary per person. I've seen some photographers who don't book people if their wedding date is a year out, and I've seen other photographers who don't book people if their wedding date is two months from now because of short notice. Be on the same page with your photographer and just ask!
*How many wedding have you done? This may be important to some people and others not so much. Is it important that your wedding photographer is experienced? Is it important to you to help out a newly started business with their experience? It's hard for new photographers to get their foot in the door and do a first wedding. I remember my first wedding- the couple knew it was my first wedding but they saw the potential in me and let me shoot their wedding nonetheless. Here is an image from my first wedding ever!
*Can I see some full galleries of any recent weddings you've done? Photographers will post their absolutely best work on their social media, so seeing a few full galleries will give you a well-rounded look at what you can expect from them on your wedding day. Also, do not be fooled by styled shoots! These are not weddings! They are a set up, arranged shoot to help have a full, well-balanced portfolio and often are put together by the photographer themselves or another photographer. Request to see a full, real wedding gallery and make sure it is not a styled shoot.
*Have you ever photographed at our venue before? If not, do you plan on taking a look at it? Your photographer should take a visit sometime before your wedding date. Layout and lighting are important when shooting weddings, and you should make sure your photographer has a good basic understanding of your venue.
*How would you describe your photography style? While you should have a basic understanding of the photographer's style, ask this question anyways and hear how they describe it! If someone asked me this, I would say my photography is more on the bright side, but I wouldn't say bright and airy, I'd say more true to color and vibrant.
*Do you shoot digitally or with film? Or Both? Shooting either way doesn't determine how good your photographer is but simply just their preference of shooting. If you're unfamiliar with certain styles, ask your photographer to make a comparison for you to things like magazines, well-known photographers, artists, etc. For my own personal photography style, I shoot digitally, but I edit with a film inspired look!
*How would you describe your working style? This is just asking if they prefer to blend more into the crowd and shoot what unfolds naturally, or if they are more assertive and take charge in organizing posed photos?
* How much of a deposit do you require and when is it due? This will also
vary per person. Some photographers require a 25% deposit to be paid upfront at the time of booking and others require a 50% deposit two weeks after booking. It just depends on your photographer.
*Do you offer payment plans? Chances are you're spending a high cost on your wedding photographer. A great way to help with that is with a payment plan, so ask your photographer about that!
*Do you charge a travel fee? Every wedding photographer I know charges a travel fee, but that travel fee is different for each person. Some photographers charge per mile and other charge per half hour. It is important that you get this established before booking because it will be added on to the base cost!
*What is your refund/cancellation policy? This is especially important because you never know when another event like the coronavirus will have brides postpone or cancel their wedding for another date. Make sure your money is safe and secure and define those boundaries with your wedding photographer.
*Can you walk me through each package you offer? There will probably be more than one package to choose from, so finding the right one for you is essential.
*Can I customize my own package? If you find that the photographer's packages just don't quite fit what you need, ask if you can make your own. Give the photographer a list of things you want included and your budget and see if they can do that for you.
*Do you offer a photo booth? Photo booths are an up and rising trend in the wedding industry. If your photographer doesn't offer a photo booth, ask them if they know someone who does. Of course, this is only if you want a photo booth at your wedding!
*What are some add-ons you have for your wedding packages? Ask if they have a second shooter or if they offer prints, albums and digitals, and if they will be there for your rehearsal. Ask about more hours of coverage, if you think your wedding will be longer than what their base package covers.
*What type of equipment do you use? Do you have a backup if anything fails? While you might not know what specifically is important in shooting a wedding, what you should know is that your photographer should shoot with a full-frame camera. If you're having an indoor wedding ceremony or reception, ask if they will have off camera flash and if they have examples of their work.
*How will you (and your assistants) be dressed on my wedding day? It's obviously not professional if your wedding photographer is showing up in a tank top and leggings. And while you might chuckle and laugh at that, I've most definitely seen that happen! You want your photographer to be as professional as possible and not a stumbling block or distraction to others.
*Is it okay if other people take photos while you're taking photos? or, We're having an unplugged wedding, how would you handle if someone were taking photos while you're taking photos? Discretion is important in having a relaxed wedding day. Will your photographer be able to enforce your policy on having an unplugged wedding with discretion?
*Are you insured? YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER SHOULD HAVE INSURANCE! Liability insurance especially. What will happen if Aunt Susie accidentally trips on the photographer's camera bag? Insurance not only protects the photographer, but it also protects you!
*Can we give you a specific list of shots we absolutely have to have? I know for me personally, I send out a questionnaire to all of my brides to fill out that they can check off which specific shots that absolutely have to have on their wedding day. I'll then take that questionnaire and print it out so I have it for the day of.
*Will you be posting about our wedding on your website and social media? Will you be submitting our photos to magazines or blogs? If you're conscious about privacy, you can always request that your photographer not share your images on social media or their website. Establish this privacy concern early and remind them later on, if need be.
7. Day Of The Wedding
*What happens if you become ill on our wedding day? Make sure you're covered if your photographer falls ill. Their second shooter should be available if something comes up to where they can't shoot.
*Do you have any meal requirements on the wedding day? This should be in your photographer's contract, but it's always good to know in advance just in case you have to let your catering company know they have to make an extra plate. Some photographers require a meal when the guests eat and other photographer's just request time to eat.
*How many images can I expect to receive? This is a very popular question, but let me just say, that there are SO MANY factors to consider when talking about how many images you'll receive. I personally don't promise a set amount of images because what if something comes up and I can't deliver that many images? In a previous blog article I wrote, I talked about having missed the entire cake cutting of the bride and groom. That's a lot of photos that the couple missed out on that was beyond my control. Also, some couples request photos with every guest their wedding while others don't. That will naturally make the size of the gallery bigger or smaller. It is important, however, that your photographer can get the important shots of the day. In my specific incidence, I had requested someone from the bridal party to warn me ten minutes in advance of key events during the reception while I took my time to eat in a separate room away from the guests (I don't take photos of guests while they eat because no one appreciates photos of them shoving food in their mouths). I wasn't warned with enough time before the couple started cutting their cake and when I finally was told, there were just so many people with their phones and they legit wouldn't let me get through.
*If the wedding goes longer than expected, will you stay? Your photographer should have nothing else planned after your wedding to ensure that they can stay if your wedding goes longer than expected. Ask how much extra hours of coverage will cost and when they will be invoiced to you. Most likely, you will not receive your wedding images until all payments have been made.
9. Digitals & Prints
*Do you outsource your galleries? Sometimes wedding photographers outsource their editing instead of editing by hand. Outsourcing wedding galleries could mean a longer wait period for you to receive your gallery.
*How long after the wedding will I get my proofs? Will they be online? This will vary per person. This could also be affected if they do outsource their galleries.
*Will I have unlimited downloads so I can make my own prints? Will I have a print release? While it is strongly encouraged to print with your photographer, some couples would prefer to print themselves. Ask about a print release, if this is something that is important to you!
*How long after ordering prints will I receive them? This will just give you an idea of how long you have to wait for your orders!
*May I have a list of references or a link to your reviews? Your photographer should not hesitate to provide this.
*If I hire you, when will I receive my contract? May I see your contract before I book with you? Go over their contract with your fiance and parents and make sure that you are protected in case any thing unexpected happens.
*What information do you need from me before booking? Answer any question that they may have in order to make the process go smoothly and easily.
11. BONUS: Questions To Ask Yourself!
*Do your personalities vibe? Would you be comfortable grabbing drinks with this photographer?
*Do you feel a connection with his/her photos?
*Are you comfortable with this person's customer service/communication style?
*Did the photographer listen well and address all of your concerns?
Talk with a lot of people and a lot of photographers to get a well-rounded idea of what you want! Don't forget to follow up with the photographers you've talked to and let them know that you decided to go with someone else. Wedding preparation can be so stressful, and you need all the help you can get, so let me help you! Download my FREE Wedding Preparation Guide now! It includes information that I wish I knew when preparing for my own wedding, plus a check list to help you keep track of everything! Click here to download it now!