Hiring a wedding photographer can be such a daunting task! It’s a huge investment and how do you even know if you’re investing in the right person for such a major event!?
No pressure, right!?
So you’ve found a few photographers with gorgeous portfolios, you’ve read the “About” section on their websites, and you think you’ll click… now what?
Well now is the time to schedule a consultation and talk to them! And I can’t stress it enough… TALK to them! This is not a situation where email will suffice – you need to have a real-time conversation with them because this is more than just asking about their techniques and turnaround time! This is where you can get a feel for their personality and determine whether or not this is someone you can see yourself spending an entire with… and enjoying it!
In an effort to make this part a bit more painless, I’ve put together a list of common questions I receive from clients that I feel allows them to get a good idea of whether or not I have the skills and personality to work with them on their wedding day!
This is an important question to ask because you want to know not only what it will be like if you hire this person, but their answer to this question gives you an idea of just how experienced they are with wedding photography in general. Additionally, this is a chance for you to learn whether they will be taking a posed approach, a photojournalistic approach, or a mix of both. Ideally, you are having this conversation because you have already viewed their work and decided that you like it enough to learn more so this just gives you a chance to understand how they get the images that you like and whether or not you’re wanting to take the same approach they do for your wedding day!
This is just a helpful thing to know and it allows you to determine how new they are to this industry. One thing to keep in mind is that just because someone is new to the industry does not mean that their work will be respectively bad or great – it simply gives you an idea of their experience level. Additionally, while a photographer might be new in business, they may have been shooting weddings professionally for other photography companies for years before opening their own! This would be helpful to know because it means that, while the business is relatively new, their experience is certainly not lacking and this is a professionally who has likely seen and dealt with it all so they’ll be able to handle anything that comes their way during your wedding day!
This question is a great way to get to see a full example of their work from the beginning of the day to the end! Something that’s important to understand is that not every single image is going to be magazine worthy but you want to see how they handle things like details, reception lighting, bad lighting in getting ready rooms, and whatever else may pertain to your wedding day. Does it tell the story of a wedding day? (Is storytelling even that important to you?) How do they perform in low light situations or fast paced situations? Viewing a full gallery can help you answer all of these questions!
I know you may be tempted to ask whether they have shot at your specific venue or not and you totally can but don’t assume that because a photographer hasn’t shot at your venue yet that they can’t produce beautiful images there! Even if they have shot there before, at some point, it was their first time! If your venue has unique elements that are important to you and you want to make sure they’re captured, then you can ask instead about whether or not they have photographed venues or situations similar to yours! And again, don’t be afraid to ask for examples! Your photographer should be happy to show you examples of their work in specific situations because 1) they want to show you that they can work in your space and 2) they should be proud to show off good work!
Every photographer handles post processing differently and so it is helpful to know what to expect from any photographer you talk to! Some will retouch the bride and groom only while other will retouch the bride, groom, and the wedding party so if this is something that you’re concerned with, ask! It may also be helpful to get a clear understanding of what retouching includes and what is considered basic retouching/edits and what extensive edits may be. Some photographers will charge extra for extensive edits such as composites and impermanent blemish removal so if this is something you’re curious about, be sure to ask before booking them!
You’ll definitely want to know when you can expect your images to be delivered so don’t forget to ask about this! You can also ask about whether or not they offer sneak peeks and how you will receive those if they do!
Most photographers will happily follow any shot list you provide but if you have a very specific shot list and are concerned about getting all of the shots that you need, it is a good idea to bring it up in your conversation to see how strict they will be about following your shot list and wedding day timeline!
This list is nowhere near complete and the best advice I can offer, in addition to asking any of the questions you want answers to here, is to reach out to friends and family that are recently married and ask them if they have any suggestions as well! Someone with all of this experience fresh in their minds may think of some great questions that will help you plan your wedding day even further!
Above all, just be sure that you get a good idea of the experience and general personality of your photographer so that you can be sure this is someone you’re ready to spend an entire BIG day with! This is an exciting time so don’t worry about making it rigid and strict – have some fin, crack some jokes, and enjoy yourself when you meet up with your vendors! We are in this business because we LOVE weddings and we want to make sure you are happy so ultimately, we all want to help you curate the perfect team of vendors for your perfect wedding day!
Bonus: Questions to Avoid (and why!)
This is a question that is difficult to answer and by forcing your photographer to answer it, you are setting yourself up for potential disappointment. Something that we cannot stress enough is that there is nothing that could motivate us to withhold images from you (aside from not paying your balance!). We, as professionals, want you to have all of these amazing photos from your wedding day because we know how special they are! Trust that if you did not receive a photo in your gallery, it is because it did not turn out. Asking us how many images you will receive is not a question that will help you in the grand scheme of things because there are just so many variables that go in to determining this from how much time we will be spending shooting to how many family formals we are expected to take, how long we shoot the reception, and so on.
A better question, if image count is important to you, could be What determines how many images we will receive in our final gallery? This is a question that is totally worthy of an answer and can help you develop an expectation!
Tip: If you’re wondering how many photos you can expect, you can take a look at a full gallery from your photographer and then see how many images are in the gallery while taking into consideration how many hours of coverage they were hired for the event. It’s even more helpful if you get to see multiple galleries because then you can have a general idea of how many images, on average, they produce per event based on hours!
Unless you too are a photographer, knowing the equipment we use is not as important as knowing what types of work you can expect them to produce! And, since you’re already at the point of talking to them in person, you have ideally already seen their work and you already know that you like it and would like their same style for your wedding day photos!
A more productive question may be Do you shoot with a full frame camera? If you’re concerned about the quality of the final files, knowing whether or not they shoot full frame will help with that! And you want that to be a yes!
I hope this is helpful but let me know: what’s another good question to ask your wedding photographer before you make the commitment to book?