Hiring a wedding photographer has to be one of the most overwhelming and confusing parts of wedding planning! There are so many choices and unless you're a photographer you may not even know the questions you should ask!!! We have seen so many brides and grooms stressing out about this decision we decided to create a guide to help them know where to start.
First and foremost, you need to meet with your photographer and get a feel for how well you mesh. This is someone you'll be spending a lot of time with (hopefully)! You need to know if you can communicate well with them and get the support from them that you'll need to create beautiful images of your wedding.
After you get some feeling for who they are and if you like and understand them, then you need to ask some very pointed questions to understand exactly what they are offering. You need to make sure you're not comparing apples to oranges as you make this decision.
Some of the questions we suggest are...
* Will you be shooting my wedding or will you pass my wedding off to an associate? (You want to make sure you have a good working relationship with the person that shows up to shoot your wedding!)
* Who will be the second shooter at my wedding and what is their training? (Some photographers use interns or beginners as their second shooters. Others use highly skilled photographers as their second shooters. There's a big difference!)
* What if you get sick or have an accident before my wedding? Do you have a plan in place to have my wedding covered in case of emergency? (Make sure their plan is solid and practical.)
* Do you have insurance that will take care of things if something happens to my images? (Ask specifically about Professional Indemnity Insurance and what they offer.)
* How many times will you meet with me before and after the wedding to make sure my images are everything I hope for? (This shows dedication to you and insures you will not be rushed through.)
*Are you certified by any professional organizations? (If they aren't certified by PPA, ask why not?)
* How long have you been shooting weddings? (You may be able to save money with a newbie photographer but do you really want to take that risk?)
* How many weddings have you shot as the primary photographer and how many as the second shooter? (Being a second shooter is a tough job but nothing compared to the primary shooter. That person has to be able to trouble shoot and direct the team. You need to know they have experience in handling problems as they arise.)
* What style of photography do you feel most comfortable shooting? (Make sure they have experience shooting the style of wedding you have planned. If you're planning a beach wedding and they've never shot one, this could be a problem.)
* What kind of equipment will you be using and do you have back up equipment in case something happens? (While many consumer cameras make nice pictures now, you want a photographer that has top of the line professional grade lenses and knows how to use them. If not, your images may come out looking like snapshots. Do they have lighting equipment? What kind of lighting equipment? Do they have a variety of lenses for different situations?)
* Will you be using a flash during the ceremony and how do you plan on being unobtrusive during the wedding? (You need to know if your photographer will be shooting with a long lens or in your face during the ceremony.)
* Are you a natural light photographer? (If they are, make sure they know how to deal with difficult lighting situations. Many Natural Light photographers don't have the equipment to shoot fast paced dancing after the sun goes down!)
* Will my images be edited, retouched or given to me directly from the camera? (There's a difference between editing and retouching. Find out how much editing and retouching they normally do.)
* How much editing and retouching can I expect on my images? What retouching is included in my package and what will I have to pay extra for? (You need to make sure to find someone that is a skilled retoucher to make sure your images look professionally done and not over done.)
* Can you show me any before and after examples of your wedding retouching? (Anybody can make a model look great in a stylized wedding shoot, but can they make average people look amazing every time?)
* Do you outsource any of your wedding post production? (Some photographers send their images out to overseas editing companies for editing while others do the work themselves. In house editing usually insures a consistent look.)
* Have you won any awards with your photography? (Your wedding is important! Why not choose the BEST!Â Make sure the award is a legitimate award too.)
* Do you know how to pose someone with my body type? (We all know that a bad camera angle can add 15 lbs or more. You need a professional that knows how to make subtle changes to make you look your best without looking stiff and formal.)
* Will I receive a printable file of wedding images? Will it be High Resolution or Low Resolution? (Make sure this is clear!)
* How many images can I expect to receive from my wedding? (It's important to understand if you will be receiving all of the images, a culled set, or a limited number of images.)
* Will I receive any proofs or printed images with my package? (Digital files are great but a set of proofs helps you in the printing process if you will be using a consumer lab.)
* How will my guests get to view my images? (Everyone will want to see your images! Will the photographer provide a convenient way for your guests to see the pictures or will you be stuck with that job?)
* What sort of backup plan do you have in place to protect my images? (Everybody that has lost a hard drive understands how critical this is. Is their back up system automatic? Is it a RAID system or cloud system or both?)
* How long after the wedding will it be before I get my photos? (If it's just a few days, you probably will be receiving unedited images. If it's months, do you really want to wait that long?)
* How many wedding will be booked the week and the month of my wedding? (You don't want your photographer arriving late and tired because they are over booked)
* Were the images you are showing me shot in a workshop or an actual wedding? What percentage of the images on your website come from REAL weddings instead of stylized shoots? (Surprisingly some area photographers only show images they've made with an instructor guiding them or models they hire to shoot. Even someone with poor skills can make a model look good in a workshop setting. You need a real photographer showing real weddings!)
* Can you show me a complete wedding? (If a photographer is only showing you select images or highlights from several weddings you aren't seeing the work they consistently do. What you're seeing may be lucky shots.)
* What type of albums do you offer? Do you have samples for me to see? Will I have the ability to customize any part of this album like the cover? (It's very important to see and touch the quality of the album you will be receiving and understand what options you have.)
* How many pages are included in my album? Will I have to pay upcharges on the album for extra pages or anything else? (While it's reasonable for you to pay for extra pages, the rate you can be charged can vary a lot! Understand exactly how much extra you may be paying for an album.)
* How is the album designed? Will I get to choose any of the images or do you do the designing? How many revisions on the album am I allowed? (Album designing can be very complex. Having someone skilled in design that can guide you is very important. You also want to know how much interaction you will be allowed.)
* After the wedding, how will I receive my images? (Is the photographer just going to send you a thumb drive in the mail or give you personal service to make sure you love your images?)
Oh my gosh you're probably overwhelmed and exhausted after reading this list but had you thought of all of these things? A good wedding photographer can answer all of these questions and more. You need to put together a team of wedding professionals that can work for you and make your wedding the most amazing day ever.
We are ALWAYS available to answer your questions. You can give us a call, shoot us an email, or let's set up a time to get together and just chat about your wedding and what you have planned!