1. Do you have my date available? How far in advance do I need to book?
a. No sense wasting time if they don’t have your date. Generally speaking for prime season Saturdays try to plan a year in advance if you want your choice of photographer. Each company will be different.
2. How many weddings have you photographed and for how many years?
a. If you ask, ‘how long have you been shooting?’ more inexperienced photographers sometimes count ‘when they first picked up a camera’ or scattered some weddings over the years, but not many. You want to know how long they’ve been shooting weddings professionally, as well as how consistently they shoot.
3. What do you enjoy about photographing weddings?
a. Of course every photographer will be passionate about their style or art. You want to know is if they have a passion for relationships, weddings and being part of your day. If the focus is packages and a lengthy contract, it’s hard to believe their priority is you.
4. Are you a full-time photographer or do you have another job as well?
a. Having a full-time job isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. But it means there are other priorities that may impact professionalism, delivery time etc.
5. Have you shot at our venue? What challenges did you face?
a. It’s good to know if there are any challenges photographing your venue so you can adjust your plans. For example, everyone wants to put their head table in front of the big windows. It’s pretty but a challenge for some photographers lighting especially if they rely on on-camera flash or natural light. Having shot at your venue is not as critical as you may think. If a photographer understands lighting, exposure, composition and have a creative eye, they can shoot anywhere.
6. Do you have insurance?
a. Some venues will require an insurance certificate. This also generally means you are talking to a legitimate professional photographer.
7. May I have a list of references or a link to reviews?
a. If you’re reading this, you are likely familiar with google reviews, the knot, wedding wire, etc. Look for how many reviews, how many years they go back and overall rating. Then look for a bad one and see how they responded. Were they defensive or helpful? Did they only respond to negative ones? Did they take the time to respond to all or most of them?
8. Have you ever worked with my videographer? Coordinator? Venue manager? Church etc.
a. Some churches even have lists of photographers that are not allowed because they are a distraction to the ceremony. Make sure your photographer is familiar and comfortable with your church rules and lighting. If a photographer and videographer are not familiar with each other’s working style, they may compete for the same spots and throw off their rhythm making your product suffer and sometimes creating tension.
1. What makes your photography/company unique?
a. If a photographer can’t set themselves apart, why not just get the cheapest? FYI, you don’t want the cheapest! They should cover style, passion, personal values and what drives them to be such a big part of your day.
2. Describe your photography style.
a. Is it more of a portrait style? If so will I still get a lot of candid photos? If it’s more candid, do you organize the portrait photos also?
3. Describe your editing style? What editing is included?
a. This one is tricky because it’s easy to fall in love with effects. However, effects are often used to hide exposure/lighting/quality issues. Editing techniques often go out of style very quickly dating all your photos. Prioritize the quality of the natural photo for lasting images.
4. Can I see a range of full wedding galleries?
a. It’s worthwhile to look at several complete weddings instead of just a few highlights from each. Even if you can see 75-100 photos from each wedding it’ll give you a good idea what to expect.
5. Have you ever had an unhappy client? What happened and how did you resolve it?
a. If they have never had an unhappy client, they are brand new or lying. Nobody can be perfect. What you want to know is if they went above and beyond to take care of them. You want to know if they are driven to see you happy or just to fulfill their contract. Also, look at reviews. Did they get defensive or did they want to help?
1. Do you help couples create their wedding day timeline?
a. Your photographer will run the flow of your day up until your reception. If they don’t write your timeline, it won't match what they need to run your day. That leads to rushed photos and stress.
2. What planning help do you provide? What are some tips and tricks for getting the most out of our wedding experience?
a. This is key to a successful, stress-free wedding day. Your photographer does a lot more than take photos. They should be helping guide you through this experience.
3. Do you include a second shooter? How do we know if we need one?
a. It’s important to know if a second shooter is included. It's even more important to know what they add to your day. If they just split off from the main photographer to get different groups to save time, aren’t you paying more for the extra photographer than you would for the extra time? And if they are there for candids, who’s taking candid photos while they are gone?
4. Is there a planning meeting and what if we have questions before then?
a. There must be a planning meeting ahead of time and the photographer should guide you through that meeting so the pressure isn’t on you. Any true professional should be available and willing to answer any questions as you prepare for your wedding.
5. What specific shot list is it helpful for us to provide, if any?
Some photographers provide a shot list for you to choose. I’m not a fan of that because if I were you I’d check everything to make sure nothing was missed. The photographer should photograph everything they see and guide you through the probable family combinations based on your family’s dynamics.
1. What if I’m not photogenic?
a. Everyone is photogenic when they are photographed from the right angles, composition, poses and lighting. You want to know your photographer will adjust make these adjustments. This is one of the reasons an engagement session can be a valuable test run.
2. When do I meet my photographer?
a. You want to meet your photographer well before your wedding (at least several months) to be sure the chemistry is good. After all, you’ll be spending all day with them!
3. Is my photographer photographing other events that day?
a. This is a deal breaker. Their focus on your day needs to be you. They can't have other priorities that day.
4. What happens if my photographer is not available last minute?
b. Photographers will typically book as many weddings as possible. If a photographer has an emergency it’s important that the person who takes over has the same approach and quality. You want that emergency photographer to be in place prior to the emergency happening.
5. What equipment and back-ups do you bring?
a. You don’t have to know much about cameras, but you can look up the camera they use online to see its price and how old it is. You don’t want them using a camera less than $1,000 before lenses or 7+ years old. You would be surprised how many photographers only bring 1 or two cameras and lenses. I’ve shot weddings where two cameras broke in the same day. You don’t want to have to worry about that.
6. How do you work on the wedding day and interact with our guests?
a. Photographers are a big part of your day. Make sure you are comfortable with how they are going interact with your family and friends. You want to know if their working style matches what you are looking for. If you want them behind the scenes at the reception, you don't want all the reception to be posed! But you also want someone who will get all the posed photos you need as well.
7. How do you take good photos when there isn’t a lot of light? Is that a problem?
a. Many photographers rely on natural light and on-camera flash. This is more of a hobby level approach. A knowledgeable, experienced photographer will use off camera lights with stands when needed to overcome lighting issues. Ask them to show you some examples and describe how they used them.
8. Is it OK if other people take photos while you are?
a. You don’t want your guests to interfere with the photographer. But people like taking their own photos and there should be some flexibility.
9. How will you be dressed?
a. Your photographer will need to be able to move in working clothes, but they should look nice and blend in with your guests.
1. What do we receive in our package? What other options to most couples add?
a. There’s nothing more disappointing than finding the perfect photographer but realizing that once you add in all the extras, they’re out of your budget. It also feels dishonest. You are likely to upgrade hours, second photographer, extra editing, print release, or additional products. If you’re not careful you can double your cost.
2. Can we get a quote and a sample contract to view?
a. It should be clear what the total contracted price is and the contract should be easy to understand. If it’s not, it’s NOT because they are looking out for you!
3. Is there sales tax?
a. Many people don’t know this but it is illegal to include sales tax in the price without a special permit. Vendors without a tax attorney often don’t realize this as the tax laws for photography are a bit unique since the government considers it a product not a service. You may think this is not your concern till your photographer gets audited 6 months before your wedding.
4. What is the payment schedule?
a. Most photographers require at least a 25% reservation fee. Make sure you’re aware of when payments are due and what methods they accept.
5. What rate do you charge for overtime?
a. A typically full size wedding will require 8-10 hours of time. Make sure you adjust for your wedding and are prepared if it goes over. You don’t want to miss out on special moments at the reception or have your entertainment rush the events to accommodate your photographer.
6. Is the deposit refundable? What happens if we cancel our wedding after we book with you?
a. Generally speaking they are not refundable but they may offer you a credit or partial refund.
1. How long does it take you to deliver the finished photos?
a. This is one of the biggest complaints I hear about other photographers. Proofs are not your finished photos. They are a tool to order additional products. If it takes 2 months to get those back, how long will the finished photos take?! Make sure you are prepared for that timeframe.
2. Do you provide a ‘sneak peek’ of a few images for social media?
a. It’s not critical but good to know what you are getting.
3. How many images would you expect to deliver for our wedding? What factors influence that number?
a. Not only do you want to know what to expect, but you want to know if that includes duplicate photos. Many photographers will take 10+ photos of a single pose or moment. I don’t believe that is the proper way to take photos, but more importantly you want to know how many unique photos you’ll have.
4. Do we order printed items from you? How much are they? Do we get a print release? How big can we print from our files? Are our files edited and high resolution?
a. This can be a tricky part of the packaging as the mark up on printed items is typically 300% or more. Copyright is often misunderstood. Generally the photographer does not release the copyright to you without a costly copyright buyout or print release. So find out what personal usage and printing rights are included. If your files are all fully edited, high resolution and you have a full print release, you should be able to print them 24x36 if you want and you shouldn’t have to order from the photographer. If you do, it’s a sign they aren’t including something.
5. Will I receive the negatives or raw files?
There are no negatives unless your photographer uses film which is a bit dated though some use it for special artistic preferences. Photographers don’t use digital negatives. They edit and print regular photo files. What you want to know is how they are prepared/edited for you. Are they fully edited and ready for printing or just ready for proofing. There is no need to have raw files unless you are familiar with photo editing software such as Photoshop. Most software cannot even open raw files.