Bridal Planning Tips: 28 questions every couple should ask their wedding photographer
You already have the venue and date set, now it is time to look into different wedding photographers in your area. With so many great wedding photographers in Vancouver (and around the country), it is easy to get overwhelmed. Where do you start? What questions should you ask?
I have put together a list of the most common and informative questions to ask your potential wedding photographer. This list is by no means exhaustive, but rather a starting place. Some of these questions will be answered directly on the photographer’s website, while other’s can only be answered by an in-person meeting with your potential wedding photographer. Start by doing some homework and collecting information on potential photographers you would like to photograph your wedding.
Availability and Background:
1. Are you available on my wedding date? (this is an obvious one, and is usually answered in the initial inquiry email).
If they are not available on your wedding date, then ask if they can recommend any other wedding photographers. A lot of wedding vendors and photographers work closely together, you would be amazed at how many referrals or recommendations for wedding photographers you will get if you simply ask.
2. how many weddings have you been the lead weddin PHOTOGRAPHER?
Can you described to me what the majority of them are like? This is an easy, but often overlooked question. Its important for your potential photographer to be transparent and honest about how many weddings they have done. I have seen some new photographers produce amazing wedding photos, and I have seen some experienced professional photographers fall flat. The point here is that you are comfortable with the photographer you have chosen, but don’t discredit someone because they might be in their first year of photographing weddings.
3. Are you a full-time wedding photographer?
This can surprise you, just because someone is a full-time wedding photographer, doesn’t mean they are better than someone else. I know several great photographers that have a part time job in another industry which helps them pay the bills which can help keep their costs of wedding photographer services lower. Once again it is all up to what you are comfortable with.
4. How would you describe your photographic style?
Many wedding photographers will describe their style in a form that only die-hard photography amateurs or professionals might understand. You will hear words such as “lifestyle”, “documentary”, “traditional”. It’s important that when you are researching wedding photographers that you see if they describe and break down their style for you to understand, and that they have examples of photos that are in line with how you see your wedding day captured.
5. What distinguishes you from other wedding photographers?
There are many wedding photographers who are great at what they do, make sure their answer to this question is in line with what you are looking for. If you are in doubt you can ask to see an online gallery of a wedding or some examples of the photographer’s work. See my blog post about the different wedding photography styles, all with common wedding photographer lingo.
6. How do you decide which couples you work with?
This will give you an insider’s look on how the photographer chooses what couples to work with.
Logistics and General Information
7. What type of photography equipment do you use?
I know this seems counterintuitive, but make sure any potential wedding photographers have their own camera and lenses. You don’t need to know the brand names of popular camera equipment, the idea behind this question is to gather if they have reliable equipment. Which leads me to my next question…
8. Do you have backup equipment? And what do you do in the event of an equipment malfunction?
This is the life of a wedding photographer, most photographers have a backup camera and lens, just in case the worst should happen. A backup is a must. If the answer to this is a ‘no’, you should walk away.
9. Do you have commercial/business insurance?
Some venues require you to have a third-party liability insurance. Most photographers that have commercial insurance can provide you with a certificate or details pertaining to the insurance.
10. How do I secure my booking so you will photograph my wedding?
This is important to know upfront as many photographers have different requirements to hold/book a wedding. Ask upfront and get it in writing if need be.
11. What will you wear on our wedding day?
Dressing for a wedding is an important factor that most photographers are accustomed too. Make sure your expectations as to how formal your wedding is, when considering your photographer. If I showed up in yoga pants and a tank top to a black tie wedding, I would definitely feel out of place and under dressed.
12. Do you provide a second photographer (shooter) to help photograph my wedding?
This is not a must, some people like having a second photographer as this means having two sets of eyes (and cameras) on your wedding day. I like to offer second shooters in almost all of my packages, as it gives me flexibility and support.
13. What do you do if you are sick or unable to photography my wedding?
This is an important question to ask. In the event of hospitalization or major illness, your photographer might not be able to attend and photograph your wedding. Do they have a backup plan and how do they handle these types of events?
14. Have you worked at my wedding venue before?
If your photographer hasn’t shot at your wedding venue before, it is important that they make plans to visit to look at the different lighting scenarios and to familiarize themselves with the layout of the venue.
15. Do you include engagement photography sessions in your packages?
If not, how much are they? Many photographers include engagement sessions in some of their packages as it is a good way to develop a working relationship. If the photographer doesn’t include engagement sessions in the wedding packages, ask if there is a cost and services provided?
16. How long after my wedding or engagement do I get my photos?
Again every photographer has a different answer for this questions. I have seen photographers have delivery times of: 7 days up to 1 month for engagement photographs and 14 days to 3 months for wedding photographs.
17. Do you do “sneak peaks”?
A “sneak peak” is a term used when you get a few teaser photos from your session delivered sooner than the rest. These photos are normally an assortment of hand-picked selections throughout your day.
18. Do you provide a written contract for photographing my wedding and if so can I get a copy?
Stay clear of any vendors that do not offer a written contract for their services. This is a must, to protect yourself and the photographer. A wedding contract will help set expectations and provide a clear outline as to the services rendered. Most photographers will go through their contract with you and answer any questions you have Request a copy for your records once signed.
19. What is your refund/cancellation policy?
Again, every photographer will have a different cancellation policy. Most will require a non-refundable retainer and a signed contract to hold your wedding day. This effectively takes them “off the market” for other potential couples. Most contracts will include the details, so make sure you read before you sign.
20. Will you be posting our wedding photos on your website and social media?
If you require privacy, then request if your photographer is agreeable to keeping the photos from your wedding to himself/herself.
21. Can we give you a “shot” list?
Many popular bridal blogs and magazines have published articles that have detailed shot lists. As a wedding photographer, I like going over a list of photos with the couple at our timeline meeting, so I can get a sense of what photos are more important to them. A list of names for family formals is super helpful, especially if there is complex family dynamics.
22. If my wedding site is out of your area, do you charge a travel fee and what does that cover?
This fees are normally covered in the contract, but there should be a clear indication if a travel fee is required to and from the wedding.
23. Are you photographing any other events on the same day as mine?
Another important question, I get asked all the time. I try to only photograph one event per day, but that’s more for myself so I do not get stressed or if I am running late.
Packages, Prints and Payments
24. Do you have a list of photography packages/services?
Another simple point, but you want to make sure that the wedding photographer you pick offers the services you are looking for. Most photographers have a website page, or a pdf list dedicated to this.
25. Can I customize my own wedding package based on my needs?
This is important as some couples only need a few hours of wedding photography coverage. Most photographers are open to working with couples and communicating what they offer.
26. Will I get the high resolution, edited digital images?
Important distinction, edited images and photo retouching are two different things. A common practice with many wedding photographers is that the images they edit are cropped, corrected for exposure and color temperature. Some include basic retouching, such as removing blemishes, smoothing skin or removing the telephone pole in the background. Extensive photo retouch takes a long time as there are many technical elements in play. This could include removing a person from an image, compositing multiple images together, or changing the background of an image. Clarify what the photographer does and what will cost extra, to avoid any miscommunication and extra fees.
27. Do you offer print services?
Check with the photographer if print services are offered and if they work with a specific photography print lab. Some photographers deliver only digital copies of your images via online wedding gallery or USB stick. Double check if you need to print the photos yourself or if your photographer has printing services available.
There are many more ways to share your wedding photos than just prints, ShootDotEdit has recently put together a great article outlining 22 ways a bride (and groom) can share wedding day photos. I tend to do same day edits for my couples, upload them to an online gallery and immediately send them a link, they can then share their wedding day photos.
28. How do we pay you?
It might be surprising but not all photographers are equipped to accept credit card payments. Most wedding photographers start out accepting cash, cheque or bank transfer, and then transition to credit card payments. Make sure the photographer you choose accepts the form of payment you provide for your wedding.
Keep in mind there is no right or wrong to these answers, this is simply an insider’s look from a wedding photographer. This list is by no means a final list of questions to ask your potential wedding photographer.
You can take the questions that are important to you and this gives you a starting off place to get the answers to make sure your wedding photographer is a great fit, since they are capturing your wedding moments.