12 Questions to Ask Wedding Photographer
You have made such a fabulous effort planning your wedding. It’s important to capture all that in beautiful photos. It can be a daunting experience making that decision with a gazillion great photographers out there. Choosing one that is the right fit for you is essential.
First of all you are facing some fundamental questions that you need to ask yourself.
How important are the wedding photos to you? What are your expectations towards photography in general? Do you get hyped browsing through all these Instagram feeds and websites? Maybe you’ve seen that amazing gallery from your friend’s wedding and you like that certain look.
Or maybe you don’t really care that much. Maybe you just want nice looking bright images because you don’t see that much difference between photographers’ portfolios. Maybe the budget is priority? Whatever the answers are, make a list with the most important factors at the top of it.
Questions to ask wedding photographer in first message
Whether it’s a friend’s recommendation or you’ve done your own research you have finally narrowed it down to the few photographers you are going to contact. It would be handy if you could check the content of the photographers’ websites before your first email. Lots of things you are about to ask might be found there. You will be saving yourself a lot of time. But let’s get to the point. It is maybe obvious but not always the case what you should include in the first inquiry.
- Ask the photographer’s availability on the specific date.
- Include The Venue you booked for your big day in the enquiry.
- Request info on what options are available and what is the cost
- Write down what time coverage you are interested in : full day, ceremony only etc.
What Questions To Ask a Wedding Photographer During the Meeting ?
Ok next stage is an interview. All your initial requirements are met, you’ve set up a meeting. Could be face to face could be a video chat. You want to connect with your photographer on a personal level. It’s going to be someone following you all day documenting your wedding.
1. Is there a contract?
If the answer is anything but Yes, walk away. Run if you can. I am going to underline the importance of the contract in almost every paragraph. It is a very important legal document for both sides. It underlines all the details and terms of the services.
Imagine you booking your photographer 18 months before your big day. You talk through all the details and everything is beautiful and everybody is happy. Now two weeks to your big day do you really think you remember all the details, timings what’s included etc. Same goes for the photographer. There is absolutely no explanation for not having a contract in place.
I strongly encourage you to read my other article on What should it be in a wedding photographer contract? It goes in comprehensive details of what essentials such a contract should include.
2. How does your usual wedding day workflow look like ?
This is where you can hear about how your future photographer works. How he/she/they approach a wedding day as it progresses. You can find out how he handles certain parts of the day. What’s happening during morning preparations followed by a ceremony and so on and so forth. You can ask if there’s stuff that a certain photographer is not willing to do.
And particularly you can ask out about the most fundamental issue that nearly every bride to be is stressed out with. I am hearing the following statement from brires during most of my initial meetings ‘ I don’t really like how I look in photos and I generally do not like my pictures taken’ Can you help us with posing during the photoshoot? The way your photographer answers that one may help you make your final decision.
3. Are you going to be the photographer shooting our wedding?
Sounds like the weirdest ones from all the questions to ask wedding photographer. But it is not that obvious actually. If you are about to book Jane Smith Photography to cover your event you automatically assume that Jane will be the person photographing your wedding. But what if Jane Smith is a studio owner that employs several different photographers and assistants doing different genres.
This is when your own research comes in handy. Check out photographer’s websites, not just Instagram’s grid and number of followers. If you look in the ABOUT page of any website there should be info there on that subject. And why do you want to know this? If you are looking for a specific style you want to see a portfolio of the photographer that will actually be shooting your wedding.
4. Can we view a set from a full wedding day?
One of the huge questions to ask wedding photographers. If you are looking to secure someone to cover your entire day 100% yes. You should get a password to a minimum of two galleries. Preferably most recent. If for some reason you are not getting access to that it’s maybe because the photographer does not use any on-line sharing scheme. In that case you should be able to physically see those during the meeting ( this can turn into a quite long meeting).
Similarly let’s say that you are not interested in full day coverage. You only need someone to shoot an intimate elopement or ceremony. Same rule applies here. Make sure you get to see an example of service you are interested in? If you are not getting access to that you should get suspicious. As you do that, ask for references from other couples and/or link to reviews.
5. What about the copyrights?
One of the misinterpreted subjects of them all. Every professional photographer no matter the genre commercial, fashion, advertising or wedding will retain full copyrights of the work it’s been commissioned to do. What you are getting are usage copyrights. Those vary depending on what genre of photography we are dealing with. Most professional wedding photographers provide you with Royalty Free License – a form of non commercial copyrights to the images from your wedding. What does that mean exactly? It means that you can print those images for your own private purpose. You can also use them on the internet through your private social media.
6. What is the delivery time?
Turnaround of digital files needs to be clearly specified in your contract. Same goes to your album if you have one included. Be aware that if you are dealing with a professional photographer it takes some time to deliver those to you. During a full day wedding on average we take anything between 2000 to 10000 images. It depends on the photographer’s work-flow. Before applying any kind of adjustments, a selection has to be made on which images are the best.
It’s a process but don’t let the photographers play with this one. Even if you are booking someone last minute, the estimate of delivery time should be clearly specified. Some guys give you a sneak peek within a few days of your day. It’s usually around 15 to 25 images for sharing on social media before the full set is delivered. It’s not a rule so ask if it’s available and if it is, make sure it’s in your contract.
7. How will the images be edited?
Editing is another area that is approached in different ways by different photographers. It makes absolutely no difference to yourselves who does actually do the editing on images. Why would you care if it’s the photographer himself or does he outsource that service? Often there’s a lot of confusion going on with terminology. I see a lot of descriptions like all pictures will be edited or all images will be fully retouched/photoshopped. Make no mistake – retouching is a term used in commercial photography.
Retouching a single image can take from 15min to several hours depending on desired outcome. In wedding photography we tell stories with images and we want them to look as true as possible but certain adjustments need to be made. Most likely the certain “signature look” visible on photographers’ portfolios is what you are going for. Just make sure that this is the way that the images will be delivered.
8. What is your cancellation policy?
Good photographers get booked around 12 months in advance to the wedding day. So if someone wants to cancel two months into the wedding date there is a very slim chance to get an alternative contract. All the couples for that date have their photographer booked as you did. In that scenario a photographer loses a huge fraction of annual income. We work seasonally and have to take care of our financial existence for a full year within five months’ peak wedding season.
Your wedding deposit/retainer in most cases is the cancellation fee. For example you can cancel up to 90 days to the event date you will lose your deposit. But in most cases it has a time bracket on it. In case you cancel within three months before the wedding will result in the payment in full becoming due. Postponing your wedding is a completely different thing but it is subject to photographers availability.
9. Do you have insurance?
Majority of professional photographers have a public liability insurance covering them for any unpredictable occurrences that may happen during the day. Bear in mind that some high end photographers might require you to have your own wedding insurance before they sign a contract with you.
10. What happens if you are sick?
In case of an emergency either medical or personal it might happen that the photographer won’t be able to photograph your big day. Most contracts will assure you that all efforts will be made to secure a replacement photographer with similar terms. And it is absolutely true any photographer will move heaven and earth to provide you with sufficient backup photographer.
In real life what are the chances to secure a solid photographer at the last minute to cover your day? If it was easy, nobody would book us a year in advance. If your wedding happens on Saturday in peak wedding season all the good guys are long booked. If you get married midweek your chances for a good alternative photographer grows immensely.
However it really has to be a severe emergency to take a photographer out of the wedding game. We know how important to you is that your wedding went smooth. And we are aware how crucial our role is. Trust me to say that we do not take cancelling lightly.
11. Do you have backup camera equipment?
Most professional photographers no matter what kind of genre they represent will have a backup camera and more than one lens. We use professional grade equipment and 99.99% of times nothing goes wrong with the gear we use. But they are just tools they can malfunction at any time. Make sure your photographer has a spare just in case. Wedding day is hardly a movie set. There are no do overs.
12. How soon do we need to book you?
Sooner the better. Most couples book around a year in advance but you can land a photographer even at the last minute. There are plenty of us out there. Yet again the real question is how important wedding photos are to yourself. There are brides that move their wedding date to accommodate that particular photographer’s schedule. It is a little bit too extreme for my taste but it does happen.
The real pro wedding photographers get booked quickly. There is a simple reason for that – they are just very good at what they do. In the majority of cases you will get what you paid for.