10 must ask questions to find the right wedding photographer for you!
So you’ve done some research and narrowed it down to the top 3 or 4 wedding photographers that you think might be right for you. Now it’s time to meet them in person and get some more information – but where do you start? What are the must-know pieces of information you need to get from them? Here’s 10 things to ask your photographer to make sure they are the one for you!
1) HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PHOTOGRAPHING WEDDINGS? CAN I GET A LIST OF REFERENCES?
This question will help you gauge how experienced a photographer is. Some photographers have been doing this for awhile so they are seasoned and have had time to work on their skill set, while others may just do wedding photography part time or their main focus is portraits. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t do a good job capturing your day, but it will give you a sense of what they are capable of doing. Also keep in mind that a seasoned wedding photographer has probably seen their fair share of things go wrong on a wedding day and know how to deal with those less than ideal situations when they come up. This can sometimes be worth its weight in gold!
To go along with this – definitely ask for a list of references! These past couples can share their experience with you which can give you valuable insight to the photographer you are interviewing.
2) HAVE YOU PHOTOGRAPHED AT OUR VENUE BEFORE?
Each venue has their unique advantages or limitations and it can be comforting to know that your photographer has worked there before. But if they haven’t shot there before, don’t let that be a deal breaker! Some photographers will go visit a venue before the wedding day to check it out and get a feel for any problem areas they see. Me, personally? I will email the venue ahead of time to find out about any rules and regulations that I should be aware of. I always pack any gear that I think I might need, such as extra lighting for a dark reception hall, so I am prepared for anything. Then the day of the wedding, I will show up early to scout it out and find the best areas for your images. So ask your potential photographer what their game plan is for working at a new venue.
3) WILL YOU BE THE PHOTOGRAPHER ON MY WEDDING DAY? WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMETHING COMES UP SUCH AS ILLNESS OR UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES?
If you are dealing with a larger studio, often times you will meet with a sales rep instead of the actual photographer you are looking to hire. If this is the case, see if you can set up a follow-up meeting with the photographer to make sure your personalities click before signing on the dotted line. Being comfortable with and around your photographer is key to getting beautiful, natural looking wedding day images. Not to mention typically you spend a large chunk of your wedding day with your photographer – make sure it’s someone you’d like to spend time with!
It’s also important to ask a potential photographer what happens in the case of an emergency. What’s their backup plan if they get rushed to the hospital or have a death in the family? Do they have a network of photographers they can call on if this happens, or are you left scrambling to deal with the issue on your own?
4) HOW MANY WEDDINGS DO YOU PHOTOGRAPH ON ONE WEEKEND?
This may seem like a silly question, because what does it matter as long as they are there at your wedding, right? But believe it or not, photographing a wedding can be quite taxing on a person and their body. After all, most times we are standing for the entire day, barely get bathroom breaks and are just on the go the whole time we are there. So if your photographer books multiple weddings on one weekend, will they be fresh, energetic and ready to give it their all on your day?
5) HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
Are they a photojournalistic style photographer that likes to capture the moments as they unfold? Is their style traditional where the main focus is on the posed group shots? Or do they have more of a contemporary, modern flair where they capture the details and the candid moments, but then also create beautifully posed images you want to hang on your wall? Finding a photographer that has a style in line with what you are looking for is key!
6) CAN WE SEE A FULL COMPLETED WEDDING THAT YOU RECENTLY DID?
Seeing samples of a photographer’s work online is fine, but it’s equally important to see a full wedding from start to finish to really get a feel for their style and skill level. Look through albums or a full wedding gallery and take note of how the photographer captured the entire day. Do you like their style? Did they get the important events as well as the candid moments? Are the images crisp, in focus, and high quality? A photographer puts their best images on their website, make sure the rest of their work is on the same level. Photos can look great online, but the true test is to see them in print!
7) ARE YOU WILLING TO FOLLOW A SHOT LIST?
This can be a little bit of a touchy subject to bring up, but by asking it you can get a lot of information. Some wedding photographers will accept a shot list with open arms, some will be willing to look at it but may not follow it to a t, and some will not accept shots lists at all and say “just trust me”. It’s kind of a fine line to walk – you want your photographer to be creative and not feel stifled by a precise shot list, but you also want to make sure that the details and people that are most important to you are captured. For me, I love to collaborate with my couples to make a list of all the important family groups and any special details or moments are listed, but I like to let the rest of the day unfold naturally and let my creativity run wild! That’s when the best images are created.
8) WHEN CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE OUR IMAGES AFTER THE WEDDING DAY?
Each photographer and their workflow is different, and so the turn around time frame can be anywhere from weeks to months. Some photographers will release images in stages – a slideshow or a sneak peek blog post right away, a few Facebook teasers along the way, an online gallery, then your album and image files – while some will present everything to you all at once. It’s important to know when you can expect to see your photos before you book your photographer to save you from being disappointed or frustrated later! No matter what the process, the photographer you chose should be able to tell you the estimated turn around time they need and it should be spelled out in their contract as well.
9) WHAT IS ALL INCLUDED IN YOUR PACKAGES? ARE THERE EXTRA THINGS I MAY NEED TO PAY FOR DOWN THE ROAD?
Photography packages can vary drastically from one wedding photographer to another. Some packages may include everything at one price (for example – full day coverage, engagement session and files) while others may be an ala-carte style where there are different levels to choose from and things you can add on to make it your own. Sometimes travel, engagement sessions, the high resolution digital files or even retouching of the files is extra so make sure you ask about anything that is important to you before you sign a contract.
10) HOW DO I GO ABOUT BOOKING YOU? HOW MUCH IS THE RETAINER AND WHEN IS THE BALANCE DUE?
Now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty details – how to get your date reserved on their calendar! Most times photographers will not hold a date without a signed contract or a retainer so if you have found THE photographer it’s important to know how to get them booked before another couple comes along. Find out how much the retainer is, when the remaining balance is due, what forms of payment they take, and how to sign the contract. ALWAYS sign a contract, get everything in writing, and make sure you read over the contract in it’s entirety. The contract is there to protect you just as much as it is to protect the photographer. And if you have questions, always ask for clarification before signing on that dotted line.
Want to know my answers to all this tough questions? I’d love to set up a time to chat! Drop me a note below – I look forward to hearing from you!