Booking a wedding photographer can be a daunting task. There is a seemingly endless menu of photographers and packages to pick from. It can be difficult to even start the search let alone pick someone. Here are some questions to ask your photographer that will help you through the decision making process.
Are you available on my wedding date?
If they say no, then there is a good chance none of the following questions apply.
Have you photographed a wedding at my venue?
If your photographer has photographed a wedding at your venue before, then they have the advantage of being familiar with the layout already. Things might run a little smoother if they already have a list of locations in mind and have it mapped out in their head. If they haven’t, it’s probably not a problem. Most photographers will arrive early to scout out the location. On the other hand, there is also an advantage to being unfamiliar with a venue. It keeps the photographer on their toes and looking for creative solutions. If they have shot at a venue before they may already be in a routine.
What happens if you’re sick on my wedding day?
This is a really important question for obvious reasons. The last thing you want on your wedding day is to frantically try to find another photographer. Most professionals have a whole network of other locals they can rely on to fill in. Which is all the more reason to book a professional over an amateur. It’s their responsibility to keep you in the loop and find a replacement for your wedding.
Do you have insurance?
A lot of wedding venues require that all vendors on site have liability insurance. If your photographer doesn’t, they may not be allowed to work on the premises. Aside from the venues protection, you want your photographer to be insured as well. If one of your guests happens to trip over a light stand, the photographers insurance will pay for any medical bills or legal fees associated with the accident.
Do you have back up equipment?
Most pros will have more than one of everything, even their cameras. Cameras and equipment can be dropped and it’s important that the photographer is able to continue capturing your day.
Do you offer a photo booth?
If your photographer doesn’t offer a photo booth, there is a good chance that your DJ does. Out of all the vendors, it’s most common for photographers and DJ’s to offer this service.
Can I see sample products?
Most photographers are more than willing to show you the products that you are buying. It’d be fishy if they weren’t. Each photographer will likely have a different set of products in their packages, so you want to see what they have to offer. Some photographers charge less for higher quality products, you won’t know until you see them.
How soon after the wedding will I see my photos?
Every photographed has their own timeline after the wedding. Some are busier than others. Some have other people retouching photos for them. Some do more retouching than the next. There are a lot of factors that go into the turn around speed.
How long until I get the prints back?
This is largely dependent on the print lab your photographer uses. Most photographers outsource their printing, as doing it in house is more expensive and time consuming. Some labs have faster turn around time than others. Your photographer may send your prints directly to you from the lab, or have them shipped to their studio.
How will the photos be delivered?
Photos are typically delivered on a flash drive or via apps like Dropbox. Albums and prints will either be shipped directly to you or to the studio itself.
Can we alter the wedding packages to fit our needs?
Most photographers have a strict policy of keeping their packages intact. You can likely add as many products or extra time as you’d like though.
Are you booked for any other events the same day as mine?
If they work by themselves and they say yes they do have another event, run. Most wedding photographers offer between six to ten hours of coverage. There is no way they can fit two weddings into the same day. However, some photographers have more than one photographer working for them. If that’s the case, then they may be able to do more than one wedding a day.
Do you have an assistant?
Depending on your photographer’s style, they may or may not bring help along. If they work with a lot of gear, it’s probably beneficial if they have an assistant. The assistant can worry about moving gear around and making adjustments while the photographer continues shooting.
Do you work with a second shooter?
A second shooter may or may not be included in your package. If it’s not included, you may be able to add a second photographer. Every photographer’s price for adding a second shooter differs. A lot of couples only want a second photographer for a specific part of the wedding, usually the ceremony. It may be financially beneficial if you can add one for only an hour or two instead of the whole day.
How long have you been photographing weddings and how many have you done?
Experience is extremely important in this industry. An experienced photographer will know how to deal with situations that an amateur hasn’t even thought of.
How would you describe your photography style?
Photographers all shoot within their style and are usually based off of what they enjoy looking at. If your photographer describes a style that is contradictory to what you’re looking for, then you probably want to look elsewhere. Most photographers will have a hard time changing their style to fit your vision. They are good at making photos with the aesthetic they are used to.
How do you describe your working style?
Every photographer has his or her own approach to photographing a wedding. You may want someone that is a fly on the wall and end up getting someone who likes to be up close and personal. It’s important that you are both on the same page.
Do we get the files from our engagement session?
Some wedding packages include an engagement session. Most of the time you can expect to be given the files from the engagement shoot and your wedding.
How long is the engagement session that’s included in the package?
If your wedding package includes an engagement session, it’s important to know what you’re getting. Engagement sessions usually last between forty-five minutes and an hour and a half. Another questions to ask is when you’ll be getting the photos from your engagement session.
Will the photos be retouched?
Most photographers will retouch photos to an extent. However, they probably aren’t retouched in the sense that you are thinking of. Your photographer will probably take between five hundred to a thousand photos at your wedding. If they were to retouch skin blemishes or remove flyaway hairs in all of those photos, it would take months to edit all of them. The photos will likely be batch processed to fix the color, sharpen them, remove noise, do lens correction, and a myriad of other things. If you want a specific photo retouched for a canvas or album they will probably be more than willing to do so.
Do you shoot digital or film or both?
Believe it or not, some people still seek the look that film gives. As much as it’s diminished in popularity, it definitely is not dead. What you want of course depends on your own preferences.
How many hours of coverage do we get? Can we add more?
The average amount of coverage for a wedding is between six to ten hours. Most photographers will allow for extra time to be added onto their packages, but not the other way around. They probably will not be willing to remove time.
How much is the retainer?
Each photographer requires a different amount paid as the retainer to reserve your wedding day. It could be a percentage of the package or a set amount regardless of the package cost.
When do we pay the remainder?
Your photographer may offer payment plans leading up to the wedding. Some require the total to be paid a month before the wedding. Others only require that the remainder be paid before the wedding day. If you don’t pay the photographer on or before your wedding day, it may be in the contract that they are not obligated to photograph it. Be sure you’re familiar with the contract and that they are paid on time!
Is it okay if there is a videographer there?
Most photographers I know are more than willing to work with a videographer. As long as they know what each other’s plans are, it should go smoothly. If they aren’t willing to work with a videographer, you should find another photographer or not book the videographer. It completely depends on what is more important to you.
Is it okay if another photographer is there?
This is probably something that will come up in the photographers contract. Your photographer will probably not allow another professional to work the same time they are. It’s likely that they offer a second shooter and don’t want another professional interfering with their work.
Is it okay if my family members take photos when you are?
As long as your family members don’t interfere with the photographer, they probably won’t mind. However, it is becoming more and more common for family members to get in the way of the photographer. For as much as you paid to have a professional at your wedding, you definitely don’t want someone’s iPad obstructing the first kiss (I’ve seen this happen).
Do you prefer a shot list or do you prefer to wing it?
This goes hand in hand with the photographer’s shooting style. While most photographers will gladly fulfill your shot list, others may prefer to work freely.
Can I share my photos online?
If you’re like most, you’ll want to share your wedding pictures on social media. Depending on the contract, this may or may not be allowed. Getting the files doesn’t necessarily mean that you own them. The photographer retains the copyright and will license you specific rights to them, which may or may not include web usage. Copyright law is another post in and of itself, so I won’t elaborate more here.
Can I print my photos?
Again this all depends on the contract. Some photographers will give you files for social media but they will be low resolution and won’t work for printing.
Do you use any lighting equipment?
This depends on the photographer’s style and also your venue. Some venues call for lighting, others don’t.
What will you wear?
Your photographer will probably want to know what to wear as well. Most will wear what is appropriate for your wedding, instead of showing up in a tux to every event.
How far in advance do we need to book?
Most photographers will book weddings a year to a year and a half in advance. Some won’t go beyond a year because of possible scheduling conflicts. The further in advance you can book, the more likely it is the photographer you want will be available.
What is your cancellation policy?
The cancellation policy will likely be stated in your contract. The retainer you paid to book your wedding probably won’t be refundable. The photographer reserved that day for your wedding and may not be able to book another for that day in order to regain the lost income.
How much time do you need for the family photos and posed pictures?
Your photographer will either request a certain amount of time or go with what it given in your days schedule. Most of the time the posed photos are done during cocktail hour.
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