How do you know which photographer is right for you? Photography is a major part of catching the feeling, and details of your wedding day. Whoever you choose – you need to do your homework!
Don’t become overwhelmed. Create a short-list of your top 3 or 4 photographers based on friends referrals, websites you like or tips you’ve received from other sources – but don’t stop there.
Questions to ask the photographer:
1. Do you have my date available?
2. How far in advance do I need to book with you?
3. How long have you been in business? Are you a full-time professional or is this a side job/hobby?
4. Are you a member of any professional photography associations? (This can help determine if they are active in new styles and continually improving their skills)
5. How many weddings have you shot? Have you done many that were similar to mine in size and style? Do you have the experience and equipment to shoot in any lighting situation? Note: Not all wedding photographers can shoot in ALL lighting situations. On a wedding day – things can change in an instant. Find a professional that has experience and can provide samples of different lighting situations so that you can feel confident that your wedding day will look amazing regardless of the weather or light available.
6. How would you describe your photography style (e.g. traditional, photojournalistic, creative)? NOTE: The answer should help you determine whether this is a photographer who blends into the background and shoots what happens naturally, or creates a more visible presence by taking charge and guiding shots. Remember that while you may like the fly on the wall shots… things can get out of hand and most people need a photographer that can get those candid moments while still having the ability to rally groups together in somewhat “crazy” situations. It’s not as easy as one may think.
7. Do you have a portfolio I can review? Can I view FULL weddings instead of just highlight images?
8. Do you shoot in color and black & white? Both?
9. Can I give you a list of specific shots we would like?
10. What information do I need to provide you before the wedding day?
11. May I have references? NOTE: A professional photographer will NOT hesitate to provide this.
12. Are you the photographer who will shoot my wedding? If so, will you have any assistants with you on that day? If not, who will be taking the pictures and can I meet them before my wedding?
13. Do you have backup equipment? What about a backup plan if you (or my scheduled photographer) are unable to shoot my wedding for some reason?
14. If my wedding site is out of your area, do you charge a travel fee and what does that cover?
15. Are you photographing other events on the same day as mine? Note: This is VERY important. Regardless of experience, photographing weddings is exhausting work and you want a photographer that is concentrating on YOU and YOUR wedding – not worried about rushing off to another event or exhausted from photographing one prior to yours. This is an area that I would say demand that you are THE main event of their day.
16. How will you (and your assistants) be dressed? NOTE: The photographer and his/her staff should look professional and fit in with the style of your event – but also dressed to “hustle, climb hills & stairs…. etc.”
17. Is it okay if other people take photos while you’re taking photos?
18. Have you ever worked at my wedding site before? If not, will you check it out in advance? NOTE: Photographers who familiarize themselves with a location ahead of time will be prepared for any lighting issues and know possible restrictions, and will know how best to incorporate the site’s elements into the images.
19. What time will you arrive at the site and for how long will you shoot?
20. If my event lasts longer than expected, will you stay? Is there an additional charge? Do you give us notice before it is time for you to leave or do you just exit at the end time?
PRODUCTS AND “PACKAGE/COLLECTION” DETAILS
21. What packages do you offer?
22. Can I customize a package based on my needs?
23. Do you include engagement photos in your packages?
24. Do you provide retouching, color adjustment or other corrective services?
25. How long after the wedding will I be able to view images? Will they be viewable online or in proof format?
26. How long after I order my photos/album will I get them?
27. Will digital files be included in our package, is that an additional charge, and what printing rights would we have if we received the digital files as part of our package? NOTE: Personal printing rights for digital files are limited and vary from photographer to photographer. Just know what you are comparing when asking the same questions to different photographers.
CONTRACTS & POLICIES
28. When and how do we sign a contract? NOTE: Don’t book a photographer—or any vendor—who won’t provide a contract.
29. How much of a deposit do you require and when is it due? Do you offer a payment plans?
30. What is your refund/cancellation policy?
31. Do you have liability insurance?
THE PERSONALITY FACTOR
Although this is the last factor to consider when you hire your wedding photographer – it is also THE thing that should be used when it comes to your final choice. Once you have compared apples to apples and you know that you have narrowed it down to 2 of the top people after all these questions have been answered. Which photographer are you the most comfortable with? Which do you feel will be the best with your family and friends? Always remember proven technical excellence first, and then pick the photographer that will give you an amazing experience.
THE IMAGES YOU LIKE
So important, yet so many couples pass over this very important thing in planning. You’ve poured over thousands of images and know what you would like your wedding photography to look like. Plan your wedding start time with your photographer based on the images you like the best. While a true professional can photograph in any lighting situation – NO photographer can make a natural light image in a dark church, they can’t do a sunset image if the sun sets during your ceremony and it is pitch dark before photos start… and I could go on and on. Know pros and cons to having your images done before or after your wedding. While no photographer should make you do your images prior to your wedding ceremony (although many of us may like to) – if it is important for you not to see each other prior to the ceremony THAT IS THE WAY IT SHOULD BE! It is your wedding day – so be happy in choosing what is important to you. A professional photographer;however, can take what is important to you and work with you on a timeline that will accommodate what you find important and what you want your images to look like.
ON THE WEDDING DAY.
Relax. You’ve asked the tough questions, you have a great photographer – and now enjoy your day and get excited that you will get some great images!
Enjoy galleries of wedding images at Fototails Photography (photography by Jeanine Thurston)