11 Questions to Ask Your Future Wedding Photographer:
We all know that finding the perfect wedding photographer is one of the most important things for your wedding planning journey. Maybe you are searching for a perfect documentary-style photographer or maybe a family friend has offered to shoot your wedding. If you prefer a moodier photo style, you don't want someone light and airy to capture your day- and vice versa. If your ceremony is outside, you don't want a photographer who only shoots indoor weddings. That midday sun can be tricky to work with for those who are not familiar with it. If your wedding will be in a church with large windows, you want to look for a photographer who can capture that beautifully. Although most of us are familiar with a variety of lighting scenarios, you want to make sure your photographer is a pro at your capturing your desired wedding location.
Now onto the questions...
1) "What do your packages include?"
Things like how "many photos will I receive?", "how many hours of coverage do you offer?", and "is travel included?" are some of the most frequently asked questions. You want to make sure that you receive enough photos to tell your day properly, with as many hours of coverage/events as you want to be photographed. If you are looking for everything from getting ready to the first dances, 8 to 10 hours of coverage is usually enough. If you are looking for more of an elopement-style wedding, 4 - 6 hours is usually adequate.
2) "Do your packages come with a second shooter? If not, is there the capability to add one?"
Whenever I work with, or as a second photographer, I always see the huge benefit of having one. They are there to help capture moments where the main photographers' focus may have been pulled somewhere else. They can also focus on capturing the groom's reaction, while you focus on the bride walking down the aisle to ensure no moments of this are missing. Sometimes they may also allow us to photograph two places at once. As an example, we may be capturing the bride getting ready portion of the day, while our second photographer captures the groom getting ready.
3) "Have you shot in a venue like this before?"
Just as the intro mentioned, you want to make sure your photographer is fairly familiar with your venue/style of venue. If not, your photographer will need to adapt as the day go on. Although many of us can do this, for some it may take a little longer to adjust to the venue's lighting, or atmosphere, which may take away from photographing your big day.
4)"What style of photography do you usually shoot?"
Similar to the question above, you want to make sure that your location is accustomed to your photographer's style. If your photographer is one with a lot of shadows in their work, putting them in a situation where shadows are sparse will usually create a different result than their portfolio suggests.
5) "Are you only a wedding photographer, or are there other aspects of photography you shoot too?"
Similar to above, if wedding photography is not their main forte, make sure you can look at examples of their wedding photography so you know exactly what your gallery will look like. Many photographers dabble in multiple niches and are fully capable of shooting weddings alongside their 'normal' niche, but make sure they show you wedding examples in their style.
6) "Can you run me through your editing process?"
Some wedding photographers use presets, or editing styles that may alter the colors of some or all of your decorations. Some photographers will edit in warmer tones versus cooler tones. None of these are better than others, they are just up to preference. Some photographers will take extra care to remove any blemish they see, others will only remove the most obvious, and some won't remove any. Again, none of these are wrong, it's really up to what you prefer as the client/ married-to-be. Knowing this will also give you a better idea of how your gallery will turn out after being edited.
7) "What is your turnaround rate?"
Many photographers have differing turn-around rates. Some range from a month to three months, to even longer. It's always nice to have an estimate of when you will have your full gallery to share with your loved ones.
8) "How long have you been shooting weddings for?" (or "How Many Weddings Have You Shot?")
Do they have the experience you are looking for? Are they comfortable working as your primary photographer? Do they have enough years under their belt where they are familiar with timelines, and the legalities of a wedding contract?
9) "What is the booking process like?"
IE: Does your photographer require the signing of a contract and retainer? And how much is the retainer?
Most professional photographers will require both of these. A contract will keep both parties safe while making sure the deliverables are crystal clear so there is no confusion. The retainer is usually there to save your date so no other couples can book your wedding photographer for that day.
10) "What is Your Cancellation Policy?"
Neither parties never ever plan on canceling but emergencies can happen. It is great to know what happens in the case of a photographer being sick, or if the wedding is canceled due to unpreventable circumstances. Will the photographer hire an associate shooter to cover their position? What if the wedding gets postponed and your chosen photographer is unable to be there for your new day? Is there a refund of any amount that can go towards hiring a new photographer? Similar to point 9, a contract with the cancellation policy in place will help if anything comes up.
11) "Do you have any examples of wedding galleries I can see?"
This is probably one of the most important questions to ask. Usually, you will be able to see their examples on their website directly. However, sometimes they aren't immediately visible or have not been posted to their website. If there aren't online examples, you may want to ask why.
Although 11 questions may seem like a lot, it is better to be overprepared, especially when it comes to your wedding. You want to make sure that your photographer is well-prepared, and exceeds your expectations. You may also want to assess why you want wedding photos. Perhaps it is to have a beautiful gallery, or maybe just to have photos to make your family happy. In the case of a family friend offering to shoot your wedding, you may want to check in to see if they have shot any weddings before. If not, ask yourself 'are they the right fit to capture my wedding?' If you just want photos of the day and don't care how they turn out, then maybe they could work. If you wanted detailed photos of a certain style by someone super experienced, then maybe not so much.
Wedding photography takes a lot of experience for a reason and making sure you like your photographers' style before hiring them will allow you to love your gallery even more.