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.

How to Choose Your Perfect Wedding Photographer

Your EXCITED, ENGAGED and ON A MISSION to find that special wedding photographer that is going to help you and your spouse remember and relive the day you said, “I do.”. If this sounds a little like a match making idea then you’re right. Of all the vendors that you will choose to help you make your wedding day fantastic, your photographer will spend the entire day with you. Think about it, your baker will bring the cake and leave, your florist will hand everything over and leave, your wedding planner will check up on you from time-to-time while there but your photographer will always be there recording every moment. Once you realize this and search for “wedding photography” or “wedding photographer” in Google and you’ll find yourself staring at a list between 2 – 12 million results. You don’t have the time or the desire to even begin to click and search through all of them so here are ten questions to help you find your perfect wedding photographer.

1. You can’t know what you want until you know what you want.

Because there is uniqueness in your love and passion with each other your wedding portraits should reflect that uniqueness. As a result, you need to understand and be able to articulate the style of photography that will best fit for you. To do so you need to ask yourself two questions:

a. What types of movies do you and your fiancée like to watch and what types movies can you see yourself in? The movie(s) you choose will give you an idea as to the over all feeling of the photographs you most likely want to have. If you like family based movies then you are going to most likely want photographs that have an emphasis on friends and family. On the other hand, if you enjoy romantic, action or high drama movies, then you might be more interested in photographers who are able to produce dramatic photos that focus on you.

b. What magazines would you like to see yourself in? Every magazine has a customer base demographic. And this is not by accident. Do you like the photographs from Vogue, GQ, Modern Bride, or W? Look through magazines and find photographs that you would like to see yourself in and cut out those photographs for future reference.

2. Searching for photographer on the web

Because there are so many websites just using the best keywords to find what you are looking for can be a daunting task so here are some ideas to make it a little easier. Use words that are specific to you concerning the type of wedding photography that you are looking for. In addition you will want to search under the words of where you are getting married and/or where you would like to find your photographer. Here are some ideas:

  • [city] wedding photography
  • [city] wedding photographer(s)
  • wedding photographer(s) in [city] [state]
  • wedding photography in [city] [state]

These will give you a number of results to choose from. Each of these searches will give you a list of different photographers. You can also look at wedding advertising sites such as http://www.atlantanbrides.com and [http://www.modernluxury.com/brides/atlanta]

These sites will give you more than enough results to look through. Once you see a list, start to visit as many sites as you can but ONLY LOOK AT THE PHOTOS. Your goal is to find a photographer with photos that you can see yourself in and that you would be proud and excited to show your friends and family.

3. The Photographers’ Website

The website is the wedding photographers personal gallery of their best work. The purpose of visiting the website is to not only assess if you like the photographer’s style but also to get more aquatinted with the photographer too. Once you click on the website then take some time to visit the “about us” or “bio” section of the website. Get to know the photographer a little bit. Once you do this ask yourself if this were someone you would befriend. You may want to make a list of photographers to compare them. However, no matter how good or bad the photos are, if you do not think that you would befriend the photographer then that photographer should most likely not be considered. While perusing the galleries begin to write down some notes about what you like about the photos, if you can see yourself in those photos, and if you would refer others to the photographer. Don’t be shy about your comments; be honest as if you were looking at your own photos. If you are not impressed with the photos then quickly move on t o the next site. Never stay on a website any longer than you need to. **Remember to resist any temptation to look at prices or any unrelated categories like children portraiture and/or high school senior portraits while on the website. You are on a mission so always remind yourself to stay on task. Once you determined that you like the photos on the website then bookmark that website and move on to the next one. You, Your Best Friend, and Your Nemesis Should I really trust my “gut feeling” on such an important decision? I can only answer a resounding “YES.” Our “gut feeling” is typically comprised of knowledge, past experiences, and perception of future events based on your learned knowledge. Making a great decision is going to be a matter of research and personal experience. So take your time and learn and see as much as you can so that when the time comes to make this important decision you will be excited and extremely confident that you made this decision.

4 – LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Believe it or not, not every photographer can produce artistic portraits in any given venue. As a Bride, you need to be honest with yourself and with your photographer about your photographic expectations for that day. You must always remember that you are hiring a photographer for a specific reason, to capture individual moments from that day so that those memories will never be forgotten. A big component of your day will be the location and venue you choose for your celebration. You need to know the venue’s photographic expectations and restrictions. Here are some questions to ask your venue:

1) Does the venue allow flash photography?

2) Are there any insurance requirements?

2) Are there any time limits in any venue that the photographer should know? (You can ask the vendor this question and let the photographer know about this.)

3) Are there any places at the venue that cannot be photographed? You need to know your venue’s policies on photographs and where they can and cannot be taken.

4) Ask the venue if there is anything that the photographer needs to know that you haven’t asked. (phrase this as a question as you did with the others.)

5) What was the worst infringement of the venue’s photographic policies? (This will give you an idea of how serious they are about their policies and what is important to them.) Be sure to bring up these answers with the photographer during your meeting.

HOW DO YOU GET THE BEST PHOTOGRAPHER FOR YOU AND YOUR LOCATION?

Ask your vendor for personal recommendations and view the photographer’s website. Put those sites that are most in line with your style in the list of your other potential photographers.

When viewing websites ask yourself: –

  • Does this photographer have that ability to adapt to his surroundings? (Are there a variety of photographs from a variety of locations?)
  • Is the photographer creative enough to be able to take high quality portraits anywhere? (Is the photographer creative in posing?)
  • Is the overall personality of the website something that you like? (Would you be confident to recommend a friend to the same website to get their advice and their recommendations on photographers)

Quality professional wedding photographers know how to use their surroundings as a backdrop for your romantic portraits. If you are going to have a candle light wedding then the photographer is going to have the equipment to correctly expose for that extremely low light setting. If you are getting married on the beach then your photographer will need the equipment and knowledge to ensure that the sun does not over power your beautiful dress and smile.

5 – Book Early, BOOK ASAP!!!!!

The key here is to make sure that you are happy and comfortable with your photographer. You never want to choose and settle on a photographer because of time or pressure from the photographer, friends, or family. Give yourself some time and space. This is really up to you. You need to feel comfortable and secure with your decision. Once you are comfortable and sure about the decision then sign the contract and be happy that that decision is out of the way.

6 – Calling or contacting your perspective Professional Photographer

Once you have a list of photographers then start calling! When you speak with your perspective photographer for the first time there are a few things you may want to keep in mind. Let the photographer know that you have seen their website and are impressed with what you have seen and you would like to ask a few questions that were not covered on the website. When you speak to a photographer you need to approach it as an interview. Remember, you are hiring a professional to do a job that cannot be repeated. There are no “do-overs” with wedding photos so try to get to know the photographer as well as possible.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

THE INTERVIEW:

You should approach this call as an interview. It is really to find out what this photographer is about and decide if you would like to meet the photographer in person.

  • When the photographer answers the phone how does he sound? Happy? Sad? Annoyed? Or glad to speak with you? Remember, you are calling the photographer’s business phone number. The photographer knows that you are calling for a business reason. [ There is no excuse for the photographer to answer any other than happy and glad to speak with you.]
  • Ask open-ended questions such as: what do you like about weddings, How long have you photographed weddings, what got you started in photographing weddings.
  • Ask any questions that you can think of about their personality and wedding photography career.
  • Ask about date availability and the location of the wedding and reception.
  • How long has the photographer been in business?
  • What does the photographer like best about photographing weddings?
  • Are you a full-time or part-time photographer? (The purpose of this question is still just to see who this person is.)

THINGS TO CONSIDER: When you make the appointment let the photographer know where you live and times you are able to meet. Also find out what location where the photographer is coming from then ask the photographer where would be a good place to meet in between. You want to listen to see if the photographer is flexible enough to go out of his/her way for you. If the photographer is not able to meet with you on the dates that you have given then the photographer should offer some suggestions that would help the both of you After the interview, if you are happy and your intuition says yes, then set up an appointment.

WORD OF CAUTION: Professional Photographers make their living on providing photographic services and not talking over the phone. The photographer may have a “strong urge” to have you meet them in person. This is not bad! What is bad is how they urge you to make an appointment. The photographer should converse with you and help you make the best photographic decision possible. Beware if the photographer is refusing (tone or verbal) to answer questions and wants to quickly set up an appointment. However, if the photographer is open with you and offers you advice and questions about what you want then the photographer has already decided that you are a good match for them and will want to set up an appointment with you. As always, if you feel comfortable then set up an appointment. Since there are more photographers than you could possibly meet in a year it is important to only set up appointments with 3-4 photographers. You may want to allocate four hours of time for each meeting. This takes into account travel there and back and speaking with the photographer. You can see then that if you are not careful you could end up making searching for a photographer your new full-time job.

7 – PACKAGES, COLLECTIONS, INVESTMENTS

So far we have spoken about the process of getting the best photographer for your wedding but have not even touched the topic of what you are going to actually get at the end of the day. Some photographers call the contents of what you get packages, collections, an investment, or a commission to supply you with your wedding day photographs. Surprisingly most photographers offer the same contents as other photographs. What is important is getting what you would like to have for the future and not what you think you need now. You want an album because of the story that you want to show to your relatives and your future grandchildren. Slide shows are nice because you can have music set to photos that will be heirlooms. Digital Negatives and Reprints: Some photographers will sell reprints directly to you. This means that you will only get prints of your wedding day (this is separate from your album) when you pay the photographer for them. These prices will vary depending on the size of the prints and how many you request. Other photographers will create a combination package in which you receive a CD/DVD composed of an unlimited or limited number of photos. You may be able to reprint these photos on your own or you may be only able to view them on a computer and email them with no option to make your own reprints. Albums: Albums, Albums, and more Albums! As the wedding industry grows, more and more companies are offering albums so it is important to see a model of the album you are choosing. It is important to see the album model because two photographers may use similar names for albums that in the end are not so similar.

Questions about the album you should ask:

1 – How many pages are in the album?

2 – What choices do I have about the album?

3 – On average how many photos will fit in the album? Some photographers will offer other products but the main thing that you want to consider is what you are looking for. Are you looking forward to having a plenty of prints to give away and a large album to show your friends and family or are you looking for something small like a day album? These are questions that you are going to have to consider thoughtfully. Whatever your choice is, make sure that there is clear communication between you and your photographer.

8 – CONTRACTS: Who needs them?!

A friend told me once that, ” contracts keeps friends friends and enemies from killing each other.” Because of the nature of the service you are requesting from the photographer it is incredibly important that you get everything that you agreed to in writing. Be sure that the type of album, numbers of pages, and the amount of time that you are requiring from you photographer is in writing. The reason that this is important is because if something were to go wrong then it can be held up in court. Contracts keep people a little more honest than if you didn’t have one. Personally, I go over everything in the contract before the contract is signed. This way, everyone understands what is going on and communication of what is expected is clear.

9 – PHOTOGRAPHER THE INTERVIEWER

The photographer should interview you just as much as you should be interviewing the photographer. As stated before, “not everyone is for everyone” applies here as well. The photographer should ask questions that identify your personality and the personality of your relationship with your fiancĂ©. I always ask questions such as:

1 — When did the two of you meet?

2 – How long did you date before you were engaged?

3 – What is the most important detail in your wedding that you are most excited about?

4 – Is the venue you have chosen really important to you?

The photographer needs to ask questions that are going to tell a little bit about the couple and what’s important to them. If the photographer doesn’t know what is important to you then the photographer most likely will not photograph what is important to you. This most likely will result in you not being completely happy with your final product. In short, the photographer should have a good idea as to who the couple is and what is important to them.

10 – THE LAST QUESTION YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF.

What’s your gut feeling? Remember decisions that you make cannot be based on what you thought was true or what you hoped will be true. The best answer you can make about the decision is based on the information that you have now. In short, consider your gut feeling, remember what you want out of the photographer and the style that the photographer produces, and have a great time choosing the photographer that will best photograph you.

Your Wedding Photographer – Some Typical Questions Answered

Before deciding upon a Wedding Photographer there are several questions that you should be asking. Included here is a series of questions and the answers given by a Professional Wedding Photographer with over 15 years of experience.

1. What type of coverage are you offering and for how long? Do you charge by the hour or just for the day?

White Wedding Photographers has only one package to alleviate any confusion. It includes photos at your wedding ceremony and at the location/s of your choice. This package cost $3300 and includes 2 Professional Wedding Photographers, a DVD with all of the photos in high resolution on it, a magazine style album with 20-50 pages as well as a Pre-Wedding Photography session.

We separate the package to give maximum flexibility for all budgets. If you want further coverage say at the brides house before the ceremony or at the reception then it is charged at $275 per hour. We have found that offering this is the best way to allow our clients to decide how long they want to be photographed.

So to answer the question more concisely we charge the flat rate of $3300 for the ceremony and locations photos and $275 per hour for any additional coverage you request. If you want us for the reception or any other part not included in the package we will agree on the amount of time before the day. This stops you from looking at your watch knowing that the clock is ticking. We maintain maximum flexibility to ensure we fit every budget. This has been our winning formula for many years.

2. What is included in your coverage? Which photographer/s will attend my wedding day? What will they be wearing?

Included as mentioned above are the wedding ceremony and location/s photos, any extra coverage is at $275 per hour. I (Susan White) will be your photographer; I have over 15 years experience photographing weddings. I wear black pants and a white button up shirt. It is neat casual and fit in well with the guests. I always have an assistant with me who also takes photos and they to also wear black pants and a white shirt.

3. What style of photography are you most comfortable with? What style are you most effective at?

I love to work with children and babies and over the years I have taken some beautiful photos of these magical little people. Wedding Photography is however how I make my living; I am comfortable in a candid journalistic style standing off with my zoom sniping photos of people having the time of their lives. I am also skilled at working with people on location and positioning them for their best angles! Working at weddings for years has given me many skills, most of all the ability to anticipate what is coming next and to recorded it.

4. What type of experience has my photographer had at weddings? Can you provide some recent examples of work?

As mentioned above I have over 15 years experience photographing weddings. Sometimes the subjects are non-cooperative sometimes they are a dream to work with either way I always manage to capture the essence of their day and this is truly a gift that I possess. I would love to meet with you over a coffee and show you some work first hand but in the mean time you can see some recent photos on my web site, the details are listed in the author bio.

5. I am a little self conscious of some of my physical flaws. What can you do to make the most of my physical attributes?

I can do lots for you: If you have some attribute or something that you just dont like about yourself I cannot stress how important it is to tell me, your photographer. I want to present your memories to you in the most flattering way and the last thing I want for you to say is: Gee I really love that pic except for the ____.

You can rest assured that there is nothing to be embarrassed about when consulting me on this issue. What ever it may be we will simply position and pose you for the best angles. The most important thing however is that you speak up because without this knowledge I may take an entire wedding of something you dont like because of something trivial that you never mentioned.

6. What is included in my package?

Included is coverage of your Ceremony and Location/s photos. As mentioned above any more is charged at $275 per hour with the amount of time pre-arranged before the day to stop you worrying about the time. You receive a DVD with the proofs as well as the hi res edited ones, you also receive a magazine style album and a pre-wedding photography session.

7. If I dont like a particular element of a package can I swap it for something that I do like? How will this affect the price of my package?

Of course, however the coverage of your ceremony and location is fixed. All other elements are interchangeable without any type of penalty to you. You can find our price list on our web site, the details are listed in the author bio box.

We have found that letting the client decide what they want to be the best way to put a package together. The average cost is around the $1200 mark; this usually gets some nice framed photos and a canvas or two. We dont have set packages with this album or that; we leave it up to you to decide what you would like. We can guide you on what works well and what is popular but ultimately you have the final say and you sure wont be getting something that you never asked for.

8. I am in the process of planning my wedding day and we are thinking around (state the date). Are you available?

Yes but usually we fill up well in advance so it is a good idea to pay your deposit to ensure that you spot is not taken by another couple. Our policy is a 30% deposit with 100% paid for 6 weeks prior to your day. We have various payment methods. The most important thing to remember is to book early to be sure you get your day and not a photographer you dont want.

9. What is required of me before my wedding day?

If you decide to use White Wedding Photographers I will personally be working very closely with you.

Initially I will email you a set of questions that will help me understand your needs and desires. They are not detailed, just an overview. I usually meet my clients for coffee to put a name to a face so to speak; this gives us a chance to have a chat and talk about the emails.

I will encourage you to send me emails of photos that you like and I will send some to you doing the same. This also helps us get a better idea of what you are seeking.

If you dont know what you are seeking I will work with you to show you the different styles and types of photos you can have as well as suggesting the best location/s for wedding photos. The questionaries, emails and interaction will get us to a point where you will know exactly how you want to record your wedding.

We will have the pre-wedding photography session where we will do a dry run of your location/s and give you a good understanding of what will be required on your day. This will leave you in no doubt as to what will happen and how I personally work. It is fun and always enjoyed by the couple and we will get some stunning photos.

10. I have heard of some photographers doing a pre-wedding photo session at the bride and grooms chosen locations to make sure everything will run smoothly on the day. Do you offer this service? If not, what will you do to ensure that my chosen locations are suitable for wedding photos?

As mentioned above: We will have the pre-wedding photography session where we will do a dry run of your location/s and give you a good understanding of what will be required on your day. This will leave you in no doubt as to what will happen and how I personally work. It is always fun and always enjoyed by the couple and of course we will get some stunning photos.

If you are unavailable for this session or simply do not want it then I always attend your selected location/s before the wedding, I seek out the best positions and will have a good understanding of where we will take the photos. I never ever turn up on the day and say: that looks good there. I am always prepared and have been to your location before the wedding day. Chances are I already know your location and have worked there before. But if not I will do a little recon to be prepared.

Good luck searching for that elusive wedding photographer and may your marriage be a long and lasting one.