As you plan your wedding there's very few things that come before deciding who your photographer will be. You typically choose your venue first. Once that is ironed out, your caterer tends to be quick to follow, because they're generally tied in with the venue. From there, most people turn to securing a photographer.
Here's the thing though: YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER CHOICE IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT! In fact, I've said it before, and I'll say it again, your wedding photos are likely the only thing you'll have after your wedding to remember all of the incredible events that happened on what is likely one of your life's most momentous occasions!
As we make our way through what we call "booking season" (because so many people get engaged during the holidays) we meet with a lot of couples who come armed with a list of questions that they found on some random website, and who's answers may or may not actually shed light on the quality and experience of your potential wedding photographer. So! I decided to write our own list of questions that our brides and grooms might benefit from asking not only us, but also our competition. Here's the list:
- Do you have my date available? Make sure to be specific here - for instance, while Jenn & I might not be available for that date, we have other photographers on our team that might be available for your date.
- How long have you been in business?
- How many weddings have you shot? Have you done many that were similar to mine in size and style?
- How far in advance do I need to book with you?
- How would you describe your photography style (e.g. traditional, photojournalistic, creative)? Typically you're probably aware of this answer and that's why contact that particular photographer. However, if you're not, this is a great questions to ask because styles can vary drastically between photographers.
- How would you describe your working style? The answer should help you determine whether this is a photographer who blends into the background and shoots what unfolds naturally, or creates a more visible presence by taking charge and choreographing shots. Hint: We love candid, natural photos.
- What do you think distinguishes your work from that of other photographers?
- Do you have a portfolio I can review? Are all of the images yours, and is the work recent?
- Can I give you a list of specific shots we would like?
- What information do you need from me before the wedding day?
- Are you able to suggest specific vendors that you've worked with in the past? Dj, Florist, etc. Jenn & I keep a list of vendors that we've worked with and been impressed by. We love to be a source of good info for our couples, especially because we've worked with them in the past.
- May I have a list of references? NOTE: The photographer should not hesitate to provide this.
The Legal Stuff
- When will I receive a written contract? TIP: Don't book a photographer—or any vendor—who won't provide a written contract.
- How much of a retainer do you require and when is it due? Do you offer a payment plan?
- What is your refund/cancellation policy?
- Do you have liability insurance?
The Big Day
- 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? Jenn and I always require 2 photographers to cover your wedding. Period. If you're working with us, it'll always be Jenn & I. If you're working with one of our photographers, they will have a second shooter as well.
- 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?
- If my wedding site is out of your area, do you charge a travel fee and what does that cover?
- How will you (and your assistants) be dressed? We always dress up. Even if your wedding is slightly more casual.
- Is it okay if other people take photos while you're taking photos?
- Have you ever worked at my wedding site before?
- If not, do you plan to check it out in advance?
- What time will you arrive at the site and for how long will you shoot?
- Will you help us build a timeline/ or work with our wedding planner to do so?
- If my event lasts longer than expected, will you stay? Is there an additional charge?
- Do you include engagement photos in your packages?
- What type of album designs do you offer? Do you provide any assistance in creating an album? Perhaps online proofing?
- Do you provide retouching, color adjustment or other corrective services?
- How long after the wedding will I get the proofs? Will I receive an online gallery?
- What is the ordering process?
- How long after I order my photos/album will I get them?
- Will you give me the negatives or the digital images, and is there a fee for that?
After the meeting, think about:
- Do I feel a connection with this photographer as well as his/her photos?
- Are our personalities a good fit?
- Am I comfortable with this person's work?
- Has the Photographer listened well and addressed all my concerns?