17 Great Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer

The wedding date is set! Already, the excitement is building for your big day. You want awesome wedding pictures. But the challenge feels daunting. You know your family shutterbug Uncle Ned is not who you had in mind. Chances are you have never hired a photographer before. So where do you start? You know you want to interview the candidates, but what do you ask them? Here are 17 great questions to ask photographers before booking.

1. Are you full-time? When did you start shooting full-time?

The truth is most wedding photography operations are very fly by night. The photographers are doing their photography on a part-time basis with negligible photography experience. Do you believe your once-in-a-lifetime event should be on-the-job training for your photographer? I didn’t think so. A full-time photographer has already made the considerable life-long investment of their energy, time and money to create a valued and trusted service. Your wedding memories deserve your photographer’s 100 percent commitment not a 20 percent commitment.

2. Why do you like to photograph weddings?

This question helps you to gauge who your photographer is as a person and artist. Take stock of the person’s passion and energy. Does he/she seem enthusiastic or kind of flat? People who love what they do have a tendency to be very good at what they do and working with them is always more enjoyable and fun.

Also, knowing a little about what makes the person tick is a good way to feel out what kind of a personality “fit” you may share with the photographer. After all, you will be spending an entire day with your photographer, so do what you can to be sure the person you pick will be genuinely excited to be there and pleasant throughout that day.

3. Will you be the actual photographer to shoot our wedding? If not, who?

It’s not uncommon for photographers and larger studios to have a network of shooters. If you learn the person you are talking to will not be the shooter then insist you talk to the person who will and also insist you see their personal portfolio.

4. What kind of input can we have on the shots? i.e. subject matter, shotlists and ideas from other wedding shots we liked?

A formals/posed groupings worksheet is sometimes necessary when planning when and how to get that part of your wedding completed and done in time. Lots of communication is key here. When working with a good wedding photographer, it is important when capturing the unique qualities and moments of your wedding to keep it open-ended for your photographer. A good photographer cannot produce every photo you can think of, but he/she can produce photos you never dreamed of.

5. (For self-described photojournalists) How much of your candid-looking work is posing and setting-up of shots or do you get shots as they happen without posing or reenactment?

“Wedding photojournalist” has become a buzzword which has lost its specific meaning with its surge in popularity among photographers. Often, the term “photojournalist” means candid-looking when used by photographers and studios to describe their own work. Often these photographers will set up and reenact a few things during your wedding day but rely heavily upon traditional portraiture for a lot of your photos… there is nothing wrong with this approach if you are comfortable with that. However a true wedding photojournalist has the talent and ability to anticipate, observe and “see” moments as they happen without the need to interfere with the natural flow of your wedding day.

6. Are the digital files available on CD/DVD? If so, are they high resolution?

This is a popular request by couples. The discs can vary widely in price. Also ask if there are any discounts applied to the CD/DVD after a certain time has passed from the wedding. For example, the photographer may offer the discs at half-price two years after the wedding.

7. What kind of improvements do you make to the files on the CD/DVD?

It is nice to have your pictures in hand to keep safe and make whatever prints you like. Keep in mind all digital images on the disc should be toned, adjusted and worked a little to make an adequate print. You should have some guarantee of the quality of pictures on the disc.

8. Do you have a list of references with contact info?

This is a rarely asked but very effective question. A real live person who has worked with a photographer will give you valuable, objective information.

9. Who do you carry liability insurance with?

Businesses that adhere to professional practices will deliver professional service and results to you. Chances are slim you will ever have to worry about insurance coverage. But accidents can and do happen. Would you let a roofing company put a new roof on your home that did not have liability insurance? How about a mechanic working on your car? I hope not.

10. What is the delivery time for the various products you offer?

It really shouldn’t take half a year to receive an album, your proofs or any other products. Try to be timely with any input your photographer requires as far as albums, edits to help this process along.

11. With the albums, how does the design and picture selection process work? Are there any fees for changes we would like prior to the album’s production?

You should have some input into important keepsakes of your wedding like an album. Some photographers charge extra for a certain number of changes to the albums they design for you prior to the printing and binding of any album. Make sure such fees are all clearly stated. Beware of time deadlines too, they are necessary to preventing production bottlenecks.

12. When will the proofs be ready? Is there a time limit for the online proofing galleries?

If working with a digital photographer, online proofing (when you first get to see your photos online) should be completed within a couple of weeks of your event. The time period of online availability for those galleries varies among photographers. Some post them for three months, others post for a full year. Check with your photographer.

13. What happens if the photographer is ill? What about back-up equipment?

Any successful, established professional studio should have a network of shooters available for emergency help. You should have a written assurance the substitute photographer will be a competent professional.

14. Should our event last longer than scheduled? Will the photographer stay, are there extra charges?

Most weddings will not exceed a six to eight hour time commitment from your photographer. If you think you will need more time, find out how your photographer handles extra hours.

15. What associations do you belong to?

Another useful way to gauge a photographer’s qualifications and professional commitment.

16. Why should we hire you?

Again, this question is similar in spirit to Question 3. Your photographer’s answer should communicate some excitement about the privilege to shoot your wedding.

17. May we see your second photographer’s entire shoot from a wedding?

Wedding photography studios often promote themselves as two shooter “teams.” They are often a husband and wife duo. They are usually not the 2-for-1 benefit they advertise. For the most part they are maybe one decent photographer and a person who is nothing more than a camera holder with with very little qualifications or experience. Have you seen an entire take of both photographers? Insist on seeing the second photographers entire shoot.

10 Things to Look for in a Wedding Photograph

Do you find yourself asking these kinds of questions?

How can I tell which photographic style I like? The images from all wedding photographers look the same to me, how can I tell the good from the bad? I noticed I liked images if the wedding dress is beautiful, but what else should I look for?

Wedding photography may seem overwhelming at first especially if you have no experience in visual art. There is good news though, the more you look at the wedding pictures the easier it is to tell a good wedding image from a bad one. By browsing a lot of wedding photography sites you will soon become an expert at selecting a photographic style that you like.

Here are 10 very simple suggestions that will help you know what to look for when you start looking for the perfect wedding photographer for you:

Story – Can you make-up a story in your head when looking at the image? Even in a portrait your imagination should starts working. You should be trying to guess what the person is thinking by the look in their eyes. The greatest example is the famous painting of the mysterious Mona Lisa.

Emotion – Does the image make you feel something? Do you connect yourself with the characters in the picture? Do you believe that the people in the image are happy? Do they look in love or they look like they were asked to create that strange pose? Great Pictures should evoke emotions in you even though you do not know the people in them.

Dynamics – Is there movement, motion, momentum in the images or the photographer’s entire portfolio consists of static posed shots? Is there any beautiful wedding moments captured? People tend to look their best when they are in action, not thinking about posing or looking in the camera. Capturing action also makes much more interesting wedding images.

Exposure – Are there details in the wedding dress or is it just a bizarre white shape? Does everything look dark and dreary? If images do not have the correct exposure no amount of Photoshop and post processing will make the image look right. This is an easy way to separate the Pros from the beginners.

Use of Lighting – Does the photographer use lighting creatively or just blasts every image with the direct on camera flash? It is great to have interesting lighting effects in wedding images like shooting into the light, flare from the sun, shadows, dramatic cinematic lighting, etc.

People’s Expressions – Is the photographer trying to capture emotion, expression, reaction or just presses the button at the awkward moment. For example when exchanging wedding vows there is so much emotion on the faces of the couple that if nicely captured, a viewer gets involved into that image just by looking at that tear running down a the bride’s face.

Does the Bride Look Beautiful? – Was the photographer able to capture her at her best angles, with her most flattering expression? Photographing bridal portrait requires a good amount of skill and a great eye. No matter what shape or size you are it is the photographer’s duty to find ways to photograph you well.

Variety – A good combination of wedding images close-ups, half-body, full body, details and establishing ambiance shoots should be present. It should be interesting to go from one picture to the next, if you get bored looking though their gallery this would be indication that their style isn’t for you. There should be an element of surprise in every wedding image.

Artistic Elements – Look for graphical elements, creative use of light, composition, reflections, and silhouettes. The photographer should be full of creative ideas on what and how to shoot. Every wedding image should be a small piece of art.

Post Processing – Wedding images shouldn’t be overly photoshoped but rather natural looking. The photographer also shouldn’t have to spend hours and hours retouching a single image. If a picture is taken right in the first place little retouching should be needed if at all.

Tips on How to Pick Your Wedding Photographer

Time to make that big decision!

Oh boy! So confusing! You just got engaged and so many things are running through your head. What date to get married on? Where to get married? Do we want to have the ceremony at one place and the reception at another? What wedding colors? The guest list? Oh my gosh, the guest list! Sounds like a lot of important decisions need to be made before the big day arrives.

You will probably start searching the internet, join a wedding web site, and buy a few wedding magazines. If you are lucky enough, you will live in a city that has a bridal show or two for you to check out. All of these things are an important part of the process and will help with choosing all of your wedding vendors and putting all the pieces together. One of the biggest of those decisions is going to be choosing the right wedding photographer. With that in mind, let’s look at a few things you should consider before making your choice.

One of the first things you are going to notice when looking for your wedding photographer is his or her’s photographic style or technique. Assuming that the photographer is technically proficient and capable, (which they should be, otherwise they shouldn’t be telling people they are a wedding photographer) the style of photography that you choose is a very personal decision. There are traditional or portraiture styles which tend to lean towards very posed, formal shots. These are very popular with Moms, Dads and grandparents. Very nice. Very traditional. There is the natural light and soft focus styles. These are very popular for weddings. Natural light style photography is pretty self explanatory. Your photographer will use the natural light at a particular location or setting to capture your photographs. This could be on the beach at sunset or next to a lake with the fog rolling over it. Soft focus style tends to be very dream like and romantic. Most of these techniques are done after the initial photographs are taken in the post production part of your wedding photography. Last but not least is the photojournalism style. This is very popular nowadays. Your photographer will capture you in the most natural settings throughout the wedding day. This style tends to look more like snapshots and less like the shots were posed for. It is nice to mix traditional portraiture and photojournalism to get the best of both of those worlds.

Your photographer’s personality is another big thing to consider. As you interview different photographers, you will be able to see if this is someone you are going to enjoy having around on the big day. Are they personable and friendly? Will they be able to work quickly with you and your entire families to get what you want? You want a photographer who is going to do great work and make it an enjoyable experience for the both of you and you families.

Is your photographer prepared for the unexpected? Does he or she have back up equipment in case of an equipment failure? I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. The last thing you want is for your photographer to come to you and try to explain why they missed that all important moment because their camera failed. Do they have a back up photographer in case they are ill or there is an emergency? You never know what life might throw at someone at the last minute but it is nice to know that your photographer has someone to cover for them or will assist you in getting someone if they have to bow out a day or two before the event.

Does the photographer you choose have good follow through and business skills? Do they answer your emails and phone calls promptly? It is important to get back with your clients within 24 hours or the same day if possible. Nowadays, unless you are stuck in the Sahara Desert with no wi-fi, there is no reason for a vendor to not get back to their client in a timely manner. After the wedding is over will you be updated and informed about your photography? How long will it be until my online gallery is up? How long will it take to do the post production on the chosen images? How long will it take to get my wedding album? Make sure your photographer is keeping you in the loop.

How much will it cost? Ahhh, the age old question. A good question considering how tough it is for people financially right now and how much a wedding can cost. You can spend anywhere from $500 to $5000 on your wedding photography so let us not forget the difference between price and value. Yes, you will have a budget for your wedding and only a certain amount you would like spend on your photographer. Keeping that in mind I think it is important to make sure that you try and get the best value for your money. Does the photographer your are thinking of using meet the criteria you have laid out? Do you like his or her’s style of photography? Do you like their personality? Are they going to be fun and enjoyable to have around on your big day? Are they prepared for the unexpected? Are they going to keep you in the loop and perform in a professional manner? If they are all of those things but just a little more expensive then the next photographer, then you might consider what you are getting for your money. Most wedding photographers are able to put together a package that will suit your needs. If you like one photographer but they are a little more expensive than another that you spoke with, you might try and adjust your photography package a bit so it falls within what you consider to be a good value. That might mean not getting the DVD of the images and only buying the prints you want online. It might mean having the photographer you really want for a shorter period of time on the wedding day. Most good photographer are more than willing to help you find a photography package that will work for you.

Well, there you go. Just a little food for thought for when it comes to making the big decision. It is a privilege as a photographer to be a part of such a wonderful event. Remember, your wedding day is one of the most joyous days of your life. Enjoy every moment leading up to it!