15 Important Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer Before You Say "I Do"
This is a guide to help ensure that your wedding is the one day in your life you want everything to be perfect.
When I got married I chose a photographer I had known for many years which made the decision easier. Our photographer, Peter Adamson, was a well established photographer from St. Andrews in Scotland. Peter was someone my wife and I both knew and trusted and was the obvious choice for us.
That was during the 2000s and before digital wedding photography when you might expect 30-50 or so printed images to be produced from the wedding day.
Fast forwards to 2018 and technology, taste and client expectations means the range of the images captured has increased. This means more challenges and scope for creativity from your wedding photographer.
Knowing what I do now, I wanted to write a guide to the sort of questions I would be asking if I was looking to hire a wedding photographer.
Plenty of people end up dissatisfied with their wedding photos. Your wedding photographs will are just about the only thing you will have for years to come from your perfect day, so it's vital you get them right. When you're on the considering a wedding photographer, you have some important questions to ask.
This is my list of 15 important questions to ask your wedding photographer before you say "I do".
1. What Experience Have You Got as a Wedding Photographer?
A photographer's history is a pretty good indication of how much experience they have. If they've shot weddings previously, they're also more likely to have positive reviews you can check. Is the work recent and are they active on social media. Some photographers may not be in demand or working regularly and you’d want to know if this was the case.
2. Have You Worked at the Location Before?
Even the most photogenic location will have its weird quirks. The setting, backdrops and lighting all play a huge role in capturing a beautiful photos. It's not a deal-breaker if your photographer hasn't worked the location before. As a wedding photographer myself it is always great to work at new venues. I would always to know the anyone I was going to hire intended to check out the venue beforehand to get some thoughts together on locations for group shots and portraits.
3. Can I See Your Portfolio?
This is an important question and it is worth looking at a photographer’s social media and website portfolio. If a photographer cannot show you a wide range of images in their portfolio then it’s worth being cautious. It's the only way to know you're getting the best wedding photographer for your special day. Your photographer's portfolio will show you their style and eye for composition. You'll want to choose someone whose aesthetic approach matches yours as well as being reassured this is consistent.
4. What Do You Need to Know From Us?
It's not all about the important questions to ask. Answering them can also give you insight into a photographer's methods and how serious they are about what they're doing. A professional should have at least a few questions they want to ask you. Without this kind of two way discussion the approach cannot be personalised to you as a couple. Every wedding is different and sometimes there is more of an emphasis on certain parts of the day. It’s important to get the ‘right fit’ with the photographer so that you get the best result. Personally, I would want to avoid anyone offering a ‘one size fits all’ approach to covering your wedding.
5. What Equipment Do You Use?
You don't need a full technical breakdown as you want find a photographer who you can trust to choose the right equipment for the event. They may say that they shoot on digital or film or they include drone photography as a service. However, an important part of the answer that I would want to hear is that they bring backup equipment - which means at least 2 professional grade cameras with 2 card slots each, spare lenses, lighting and more - just in case something goes wrong. From my own experience, I would not consider hiring any wedding photographer who did not have the above equipment as a minimum. The risk of damaging a single camera or corrupting a memory card would mean that your whole wedding could be lost. It isn’t worth the risk and I think this would be my single ‘deal breaker’ if the photographer could not meet this requirement.
6. How Do You Like to Shoot?
Some photographers prefer to work discretely in the background and shoot candid shots. Others play a much more direct role in the course of the day. In truth, most wedding photographers will need to adopt both styles during your wedding. Organising family group shots with a wholly candid shots is unlikely to get the right result (as people have often wandered off to the bar by then!). Alternately, candid photography captures some wonderful moments during the reception and speeches where a more unobtrusive style is preferable. Ask anyone you are considering hiring what their approach and see if it appeals to you as a couple.
7. Why Should We Pick You?
If you want to find the best photographer for your wedding, then you're looking for a professional (despite the volume of amateur wedding photographers out there the majority of brides eventually decide to choose a full time professional). A professional will have a good idea of what sort of weddings work best for them and the sort of couples that are generally attracted to their work.
8. Can We Suggest Ideas?
Some photographers aren't into collaboration and have a very specific idea of how they cover the day. That's not always a bad thing - you need to be able to know that they have a plan for what they're doing. However they should be able to take account of your ideas and preferences. If you want to ensure the work is tailored to your day, you'll want a photographer who's open to suggestions. It’s a good idea to do this so you can find out what kind of photographer you're working with before you sign the contract.
9. What Packages Do You Offer?
Many photographers will offer a variety of different wedding packages. These will all land at different price points and include various options. If you know you don't want the full works, ask your photographer if they will personalise a quote for you. These packages will often include various options for receiving your photos - through an online gallery or included in an album. It is very hard to compare one package to one provided by another photographer. Typically, you will be wanting to know how many hours of coverage are included and in what format they will be delivered to you. This includes whether the images are watermarked or not and whether the images are standard size or full size high resolution images. Printing and usage rights in relation to Copyright is another thing to check on. I would suggest you read through the details carefully so you know what you're getting back. Anything you want beyond what you sign up for will understandably be at an extra cost which you may, or may not, have budgeted for.
10. What's Your Overtime Policy?
Sometimes the fun just doesn't stop! If your wedding is running over thanks to scheduling problems or festivities, you might want to ensure your photographer is around to capture the action. Some photographers will only stay for their scheduled time. Some will charge for extra coverage. Others might include some small leeway in the cost. Whatever the case, you need to find out in advance so there are no surprises on the day itself. 9-10 hours is fairly standard for a full day wedding including bridal preparations right through to the first dance.
11. Do You Offer Retouching Services?
The vast majority of wedding photographers will edit your images using software like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. This normally involves changing the contrast, tone, exposure and colours of the images as well as cropping or resizing. For the set piece portrait shots they might also do additional post processing to create an impressive ‘hero image’. These photos could end up being a double page spread in your album or maybe printed up as a wall canvas. However, the big day isn't always 100% perfect and from the hundreds of photos taken there may be additional things that could be changed. Perhaps someone photobombed something they shouldn't, the weather took a turn for the worse or you wanted a tattoo covered up for instance. That's not the nightmare it used to be thanks to digital retouching and photo manipulation. These kind of edits are very time consuming and normally are available but at an extra cost from the photographer. If you want that kind of insurance against the unexpected, see how your photographer approaches these kind of services. Professional retouching can turn middling shots into memorable images of the day.
12. Are You Insured?
All wedding photographers should have public liability insurance to cover the costs if something goes wrong. A photographer who causes damages to people or property in the course of their work may be liable for the costs. Without public liability insurance, the damages will come from their own pocket. It's a risk most people can't afford. Many venues these days will insist on knowing all suppliers operating on site have this kind of insurance in place. Personally, I would avoid any wedding photographer who cannot provide an up to date insurance certificate.
13. Can I Get Your Contract in Writing?
If you're looking for a professional, you're looking for someone who can give you the terms of their service in writing. Your wedding isn't the time to get into legal disputes with someone. Get a copy of the written contract so you know you've taken care of the small print. It's easy to get even a generic photography contract online. A reluctance to offer you one may suggest your photographer isn’t working as a professional or isn’t prepared to commit to the service being offered.
14. What's Your Cancellation Policy?
Sometimes things don't go the way you plan for any number of reasons. Even a cancelled wedding can be costly thanks to the deposits paid on a venue and other services. One of those services will be your photographer. Before you book your photographer, ask them what happens if you have to cancel. Many photographers have a booking fee which is not refundable or only within a specified cooling off period. In any case, I think it is a good idea to organise your own wedding insurance which can protect you from situations where you may lose your booking fees and deposit in the event of poor health or other emergency.
15. What Happens If You Can't Make It?
We're all blindsided by life sometimes. Even the most professional photographer might have to cancel. If they do, you need to know where that puts you. Some photographers will offer a guaranteed shoot. If they can't make it, they'll know someone who can take their place. Many will know other local photographers who may be able to step in. There are many networks and Facebook groups which also help photographers in the event this happens. It is good to know that the photographer has a plan. At the very least, you'll want to know their refund policy in the event they cannot attend for whatever reason.
The Smart Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer
I've covered some of the most important questions to ask your wedding photographer - the ones I would be asking if I was looking for someone to hire. Feel free to ask anything and everything you want - you will often get a feel on whether someone is right just from the way they answer your questions. Your wedding is one of the biggest events of your life, so you need to feel as comfortable as possible that everything will go the way you expect.
If you have any questions about wedding photography then get in touch? Make sure to follow my blog too.