Brides, I get it! There are so many talented photographers out there, sorting through everyone and picking someone perfect for your day isn’t an easy job. There’s a lot that goes into wedding photography and while planning your own wedding, all of these details can really get lost. So, I’ve made a list that might help you narrow down your top choices! It is VERY important that you know the answers to these questions before you book a wedding photographer. That way, you can choose the one who best fits your vision for your day.
Professional photographers will easily be able to answer these, so check out this list (that’s in no particular oder) to help you on your search for the perfect fit! For B&P’s answers, check out this post!
Do you have availability on my date?
Okay, okay. I DID say that these questions were in no particular order, but availability must be #1. If the photographer for your date isn’t available, the rest of the questions aren’t really relevant unless you plan to refer them to someone else.
What’s your style?
SO IMPORTANT! Don’t let a tog (photographer, but short) get away with an answer like, “creative,” or “natural” because these words are up to interpretation and might wind up leaving you in a contract with an artist you don’t blend with. What is style? It’s how a photographer approaches light. How they coordinate poses. What they capture for candids. Ask the togs how they approach posing. Is it natural and go with the flow? Is it direct and traditional? What kind of emotion do they capture? Are their images bright and colorful? Muted? Dark and moody with pops of color?
What’s your favorite type of wedding to shoot?
Wedding togs all have dream weddings or locations and lightings they prefer. A darker/moodier photographer might prefer somewhere with closer surroundings and denser trees. A light and airy tog might love shooting in open fields and churches with lots of windows. Find out what they prefer to see if your plans will allow them to produce their best work. Plus, if your vision lines up with their work, it’s an obvious win!
What is included in your packages/collections?
Some photographers include second shooters and assistants. Some don’t. Some give you access to your images and some focus on hard sales and force you to purchase individual images or prints BEYOND what you’ve already paid for a collection. Find out exactly what you have the option of purchasing and how you’ll access your images before signing on the dotted line.
Do you offer a print release waiver?
In the age of social media, you are 100% going to want a print release wavier. Without one, you’re breaking the law whenever you share or print an image. Yikes! Make sure that you get a print release waiver that includes the rights to post the photos online. At least one of them has gotta be profile worthy, right? I cannot stress this one enough!
Are you insured?
Professional photographers are insured. The best type of insurance includes gear insurance and liability insurance. This protects BOTH of you and is absolutely necessary for anyone who considers themself a pro. Liability insurance protects them if a guest is injured because of the photography equipment or process. Gear insurance protects the tog if their files or gear are stolen. This, in turn, protects you and your day. PLUS, reputable venues will require photographers to work with their insurance to coordinate coverage for the day. If your tog doesn’t have insurance, the venue might refuse to give them access, which is obviously not ideal.
What’s your process?
Find out how they plan for the wedding day and what they offer their brides and grooms. How do they operate at the wedding? What happens afterward? How do you figure all that out anyway? We schedule coffee consults to chat about this in person!
How do you work with videographers?
If you are having video, this is SUPER important. It can difficult for photographers and videographers to work well together if they aren’t familiar or don’t have a plan. It’s so easy for someone to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Make sure you know how this will be tackled! Bonus points if they have a positive attitude about video teams. 🙂
What’s your backup plan?
How will the tog back up their files? What happens if their camera breaks in the middle of the ceremony? What if they are sick and can’t show up? Don’t stress out about and find out before anything has the chance to go wrong (not that it will, but you gotta know). At B&P, we use dual card slot cameras (two of them) and two external hard drives once we’re home.
How much do you require for a deposit/retainer?
Legitimate photographers will require a deposit anywhere from 20%-50% of the wedding collection. This deposit (or sometimes date retainer) may be nonrefundable. This ensures that people don’t constantly back out of wedding contracts and that a reliable schedule is in place to provide brides and grooms with the best service possible. We require 30% and set up personalized payment plans for the rest!
Do you offer payment plans?
You might not be able to get away with a payment plan on the date retainer, but most photographers are happy to set up a payment plan to help make the financial process smoother. If it’s important to you that you are able to pay in smaller chunks, definitely ask about this one.
What’s your cancellation policy like?
Like I said earlier, the date retainer is almost never refundable. This is because wedding photographers only book one wedding on a day. If you cancel, chances are they have already turned away other brides for that date, meaning they lose a chance to work and income they might have been depending on to live, and you lose your retainer. If photographers don’t have this policy in place, it’s a red flag. Watch out!
Have you shot any events at my venue?
This isn’t a make or break issue. It’s just handy to check out galleries they might have from other weddings in a similar place as yours to give you a little inspiration! If they are a preferred vendor of a venue, it will be even easier for them to work with your other vendors the day of.
Can I see a full wedding album?
If you haven’t already stalked your prospective photographer’s website, take a peek and see what you think. Usually social media is a more current indicator, but most pros will keep everything up to date. If you’re curious about more than highlights, ask for a full gallery from the day to peek at!
Do you have a checklist of poses?
This isn’t a make or break question, but it is good to know how your photographer approaches the formals of the day. You’ll probably want some guidance on what family poses to include and which relatives you might want to leave out (sorry Uncle Joe’s third wife’s son-in-law). When it comes to poses of the couple, while shot lists are good and all, photographers need to be able to branch out and work with different combinations. If you see a photographer that posts the same four poses over and over and over again, they probably aren’t that adaptable under pressure and operate from a set list vs. getting to know you as a couple. In the photos of this blog post, you’ll see two similar poses right next to each other that have been modified to best suit the couple. This is important!
Will you be the one taking photos?
I am 100% in support of small businesses. I am one! I love the opportunity to connect personally with all of my couples and be a part of planning their day. I love coming away from the wedding feeling like I’ve gained a new friend or two or three or ten. BUT in an effort to make more money, some small business owners and some larger photography businesses will send an “associate” to photograph your day. In other words—they are hiring a different photographer to take photos of your day and then taking those photos and editing them later. Make sure the person you are talking to will be the one behind the camera at your wedding. Otherwise planning and dreaming doesn’t really go anywhere but on a piece of paper. B&P doesn’t use associates and Kay will personally (pending an act of God) be at each wedding.
What happens if the wedding is longer than planned?
Most photographers will have an hourly rate after the contracted time has ended. Find out what this is before the first dances start two hours later than planned. (Pro tip: weddings usually run behind schedule.) We are flexible. The day is about you guys, after all, and tbh, we LOVE weddings. If the schedule starts to get really out of hand, we’ll set up a plan for additional coverage.
What do you use for equipment?
I’m not going to throw a bunch of terms at you because that wouldn’t mean much. What wedding photographers should have at a minimum is this: two full-frame DSLR cameras (or professional crop-sensor) that has slots for TWO cards (for back ups), a lighting source, editing software, and a handful of lenses. Other than that, it’s up to the artist.
What is your editing process like?
Do they touch the photos at all? Do they do heavy photoshopping? Natural retouching? Do they crop and straighten the photos? Do they add fake skies? Are the photos able to be blown up when they’re done with them? Do they head-swap? Some togs will offer these services for additional a la carte prices, so it’s important to know what’s included in your price. We don’t add fake skies or give anyone new teeth. We believe photography captures natural elements and should be people-centered. We make sure you are the focal point of the image and you are looking your best!
How long does it usually take for wedding photos to be delivered?
Anywhere between 4-8 weeks is pretty standard. Four weeks is a very quick turnaround time. If your photographer is shooting film as well, this can take even longer. Some photographers will add an option to see a highlight reel a week or two after the wedding for an additional cost. If a tog is telling you that it will take 4 months, they might be too busy to give you the time you deserve. We post sneak peeks in 48 hours, a blog post in three weeks, and have the gallery to you in six weeks!
Do you offer prints and products?
Wedding photographers should offer prints and products through professional labs. I use a couple of different ones depending on the finish or product. These are fairly priced in terms of quality, but you might get sticker shock if you are used to lower-end options. Remember, make sure you have a print release waiver! You don’t want to be stuck buying images after you’ve already paid for services.
I hope this helps you as you search for the perfect person!! I know how daunting this whole process can be. Let me know if you need help or want to inquire about a date! Much love!