So you have your wedding date set and start the mammoth task of actually planning everything for your perfect day. Typically after you lock in your wedding ceremony and reception venue, the very next big ticket item on most couple’s list is choosing their perfect wedding photographer.
This can be a daunting task for most, as often the stars have to perfectly align for your preferred photographer to be available for your wedding date. But once you have shortlisted your top 3 photographers and confirmed that they actually are available on your date, the next step is to meet with them.
I highly recommend meeting with your potential photographer to ensure you are exactly on the same page in regards to style and expectations of how the day will flow. Meeting in person is also a great way to ensure that you gel with their personality. There would be nothing worse than having someone with you for 10+ hours on the most anticipated day of your life that you dislike or don’t get along with.
Below is a list of some questions that I feel your photographer should be able to easily answer and elaborate on. They help get the conversation going and will really help you gauge whether they are the right fit for you and your wedding.
How long have you been shooting weddings?
I firmly believe that wedding photography is one of the most important photography genres, where experience counts. Your wedding day is not for someone to practice or learn new things. Your photographer needs to have a lot of experience under their belt in order to deal with the curve balls that many weddings can throw at them. An experienced photographer will have plans, backup plans and even backup backup plans! They should be able to deal with situations such as: wet weather, timeline emergencies, unruly bridal parties, broken down limos and even groomsmen with mysterious blackeyes!
You will find a more experienced photographer will also be more consistent in the quality of images that they deliver in a gallery or album. Many newer photographers may ‘get lucky’ with enough impressive images for their instagram account, but their full final gallery of the wedding is lacking.
Have you photographed at our wedding venue before?
Having a good knowledge of your planned venues is also an important thing for your photographer. Ideally they have photographed at your venue before, so know the best photo spots. However, there are so many new venues opening up all the time, and even older venues that get updated. An acceptable response from your photographer is to make a plan to go to the venue in the months leading up to your wedding. For most good photographers, this is a common occurrence, to scout new venues and photo locations.
Can we see a full wedding day album and gallery
To get the best gauge of a photographer’s ability and style is to see a whole wedding day from beginning to end. Your potential photographer should be able to show you recent wedding albums and galleries that detail the whole day, from getting ready all the way through to the reception. It is important to look through these galleries to ensure that the images are all of high quality and consistent in their style.
What is your photography style?
Like most artforms, different styles of wedding photography appeal to different people. The fact that you are meeting with them, usually means that you do like their general photography style. But it is important to discuss with them how they approach the wedding day to get that style that you initially found appealing. Some photographers are very posed and scripted in their approach, that may look good in their photos, but may not be how you want to experience your own wedding day. Other photographers may be completely ‘hands off’ with a ‘fly on the wall’ reportage style. But if they can’t coordinate family photos it can be a nitemare.
The truth is most brides want something in between. A relatively relaxed style and an approach that is not too pushy or posed.
Can we request a list of specific shots we would like?
Over the course of many couple’s wedding planning adventures they come across images that really appeal to them. It is only natural to want similar shots in your own wedding gallery. A common question to ask your photographer is whether they take requests for specific shots? This is often a bit of a personality test of the photographer. Some will hate the idea and refuse the very thought. Others will be more open to the idea and willing to collaborate with the client to ensure they get the images they love. For me, it is not recreating the same image, but using that to get an idea of the style they like and using that style as creative inspiration and make it a personal memory for the couple.
Will you be the photographer on the day?
It may seem a crazy question to ask, but it is still an important one. Many larger wedding photography studios have a pool of photographers working under their brand. While this may not necessarily be a bad thing, it is important that you are meeting with the actual photographer for your day and also that you are only reviewing their own actual work and not work from other photographers who will not be capturing your day.
What is included in your packages?
Most wedding photographers have a range of wedding packages suited to a range of budgets and coverage requirements. Your photographer should go through all of their packages and work with you to guide you to a package that best suits your requirements. You do not want to be upsold to a package that you do not need or can not afford. Equally, if your budget is tight, make sure there are no hidden extra costs in the packages. Hidden costs could be things like paying extra for the digital files, or having to pay exorbitant travel costs..
Do you edit all of the images?
A typical wedding can result in well over 500 images. A question you should be asking your wedding photographer is whether all of those images are being professionally edited to similar levels as the images on display and in the albums you are viewing. If you are only getting a small proportion of them edited, that may leave you feeling disappointed when you do get your images. Most professional photographers do edit all images to ensure they are all of consistent quality and ready to put in albums and share with friends.
What is your turnaround time?
Editing all those important wedding images does take time. And you shouldn’t be in too much of a rush to get them all back. For many brides this can be the hardest part of the whole process.. The agonizing wait to see all the great pics!
As a general rule of thumb, 3-4 weeks after the wedding day is a fairly common timeframe to expect the full complete gallery. Many wedding photographers though will usually post some sneak peek images to their social media accounts a few days after the wedding which most couples really appreciate. So ask if that is something your photographer does.
Do you keep backups of our images?
This should be an easy question for most photographers to answer. Most professionals take their image backups very seriously, as they know these are unrepeatable and precious memories for their clients.
Typically, backups start even during the wedding at the shooting stage, using multiple cameras with backup memory cards installed. Then once files are downloaded the first RAW backups start and most professionals continue the backups throughout the whole editing process, so that the final delivered images are safely backed up and ready to be retrieved at a moments notice.
You will find that 7 years of backups is the average amount of time most wedding photographers’ files are kept, but most (like me) will keep them for much longer than that.
What is your Payment and Deposit process?
Like most businesses in the wedding industry, photographers take a deposit upon booking that secures their services for that date. Deposit amounts vary for each business, but generally it is a fixed amount or a percentage of the chosen package.
The next step is to ask about payments and when they are due. A general industry standard is full payment prior to the wedding day.
I hope the above questions help you when it comes time to sit down with your prospective photographer and decide who to choose. While I suggest the use of many of these questions on this list, it is important to keep your conversation with your photographer as organic and natural as possible. Only then, when chatting openly about everything will you get a true idea of whether they are the best wedding photographer for you.
By the way, if you would like our answers to all these questions and more, feel free to visit our FAQ Page.
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