Through the years, we’ve heard just about every question imaginable. Many are great thought out questions, but many are pulled right out of the pages of the latest wedding magazine. While the magazines definitely have the bride’s best interest at heart, some of the questions are just not relevant to photography today. Such as, “Do you shoot in color or black and white?” (Every color image can easily be converted to a beautiful black and white image – even if it was shot on film, not to mention- black and white film is really hard to come by these days).
So, based on our experience, here are 10 questions to ask your wedding photographer before hiring them.
- “Who will be the photographer(s) at my wedding?” Many studios have associate shooters, so the person who the studio is named after may not always be the photographer you get. Make sure you understand who your photographer(s) will be ahead of time, you don’t want to be surprised on the wedding day!
- “Can you please share a complete wedding gallery in venues that are similar to mine?” If you are getting married in a dark church, then celebrating your reception in a hotel ballroom, ask to see weddings with those venues. It’s easy for photographers to share a blog post or a few teaser images- but ask to see the entire wedding gallery. Every wedding produces a few really amazing images, but you want to see the entire body of work in a similar atmosphere to completely understand the skill level and creativity of your photographer.
- “Do you bring backup equipment to every wedding? Can you tell me what you bring?” Camera gear will fail. It happens more often that we’d like to think. An established pro should always carry backup equipment to match his normal workflow. That means he needs at least one backup camera body, several backup lenses (a telephoto and a wide angle), backup flashes, and backup memory cards. Any photographer with adequate experience should realize how important this is. If gear breaks, or if it gets stolen- they should be prepared.
- “How do you secure images so that they are safe from corrupt cards or corrupt hard drives?” If your photographer shoots on film, there is no backup plan- if the film gets exposed or is contaminated, the images will be lost. The only hope is that the photographer was shooting on two cameras at the time. If your photographer shoots on a digital camera- make sure they use a camera that records to two cards at the same time. (All professional quality cameras offer this feature). That way- if one card is corrupt, the second card will still capture the images. Whether your photographer shoots film or digital, make sure they are backing up the images to at least two hard drives in their studio, as well as backing them up somewhere off site (online or at another location). This goes for film photographers as well since they should have the images scanned into digital format for backup.
- “What do you wear on wedding day?” Do you want your photographer to dress well, or do you mind if they are a little more casual? Of course, it’s totally up to you as to what you are comfortable with. Many photographers wear casual attire that is easy to move around in. Some wear more formal attire to blend in better with the guests. And some wear jeans and a t-shirt. Establish what you are comfortable with, and make sure that you and your photographers are on the same page well ahead of the wedding day.
- “What is the process like for viewing our wedding images? How long does it take before we can see them?” The answer to this can be seasonal. For instance, it will usually take a few weeks longer for Spring and Fall weddings to be delivered since those are the busiest times of the year. Some photographers take a few weeks, while others take a few months to deliver images. Will they be put in a gallery for you to view online, or will you be going to the photographers studio for a private viewing session?
- “What is the process like for ordering our wedding album?” Will the photographer let you pick out all of the images, or will they design the album themselves. Many photographers offer to design the album ahead of time, and allow the client to make a few revisions before the album is ordered. Others will simply allow the bride and groom to select their favorite images before laying out the design. I can tell you from experience, when we as photographers allow clients to pick images- it can easily take a year or two for us to get the submissions back from the clients. People tend to just get busy and put the image selection on the backburner. If you want your album quickly- ask your photographer if they can lay it out for you.
- “Do we receive digital images? If so, how big of a print can we make with them?” Photographers are great about offering “Hi Res digital images”, but in honesty- that doesn’t really tell you how big the image is. The term “Hi Res” can be taken to mean many different things. Ask your photographer how big of an image you will be able to print using the files they give you. Can you print, 4×6, 8×12, 16×24, or bigger? Many studios prefer that anythings going on a wall (8×12 or bigger) be ordered through the studio to assure quality control. The local drug store isn’t going to give you near the same quality as a studio.
- “Can we talk with one of your previous clients?” This may be uncomfortable to ask, but if the photographer strives to make his or her clients happy, it shouldn’t be an issue. They should have clients who are ready and willing to rave about them. The photographers should be able to provide a few names of clients who don’t mind being contacted through email or a phone call. Of course, seeing the gallery for the client you chat with can be helpful as well!
- “How well do you get along with other vendors, including wedding planners, venue managers, and videographers?” Is your photographer easy to get along with, or will they have conflicts with other vendors? This one area can have big implications on your wedding day. Avoid the stress of conflicting personalities- make sure you photographer is someone who plays well with others. It helps to ask your other vendors how they feel about working with the photographer you have in mind as well.
While the wedding blog articles and magazines will give you many other ideas for questions to ask, such as “Describe your style” or “How long have you been in business”, we feel that these ten questions will really dive deeper into the personality and process of your photographer. These questions should give you some great material to help you make a decision on a photographer that best suits your style and expectations. We hope this article helps you find that perfect photographer! Of course, we’d love to the opportunity to chat if you are interested in our work- please get in touch with us! Cheers!