Saying ‘yes’ to my fiancé was the easiest decision I ever made. Saying ‘yes’ to a wedding photographer, well, that was a little trickier. The more I researched and planned my special day, the more I felt like I was being pulled in different directions.
I came up with some of the most important questions to ask wedding photographers when looking to hire them. The feedback I received has guided me on which path I should take when choosing who will capture my special day.
How soon should I book for my wedding?
Let’s not sugar coat it. You will need to book as soon as possible. With a professional wedding photographer, you’re looking at busy schedules that can book out months ahead, especially around peak wedding season. Just like I want to be prepared, so does the photographer that I ended up choosing.
Are you insured?
Be wary of photographers who aren’t insured. A wise businessperson knows what’s good for them and what protects them and others at all costs. They need to cover their equipment or data if something becomes lost, stolen, or broken. I definitely don’t want to risk one of my tipsy friends tripping over devices that are worth thousands of dollars. Also, many venues require wedding photographers to carry liability insurance. Don’t be the one responsible for any damage resulting from the photographer or their equipment – let the insurance company handle that for you.
Do you bring an assistant or second shooter?
Honestly, this depends on what type of wedding you’re planning. If you intend to have 300+ guests in a magnificent venue, you might want to think about how a single shooter would cover the area. For a more intimate setting, this might be easy enough for one person to cover. For me, I want the photographer to snag a few shots of me and the gals in robes prepping our hair and makeup, drinking mimosas, and mingling. At the same time, the guys will need shots of them getting ready as well. This is where having a second photographer comes in handy. They might capture those exquisite details on tables, double-check I have no fly-away hairs, or even notice a bulky phone sticking out in someone’s front pocket during pictures.
Do I need to order you a meal for the reception?
After speaking to several photographers, I found there is no correct answer. This all lies in my own hands. A wedding is no small task, no matter the size. They all come prepared with snacks, and that’s probably a good idea. Knowing they will be on their feet for numerous hours and hardly having a chance for a break, I feel as though it’s my part to supply a warm meal. I want them feeling their best and well energized during the day – and night!
What happens if you fall ill or have an emergency on the day of my wedding?
The chances of a professional photographer quitting at a last moment’s notice is highly unlikely. Sure common colds, sore throats, and other minor pitfalls may occur, but this won’t stop them from shooting my incredible life-changing moment. Most photographers prefer to be part of organizations that supply replacement photographers that match their quality work and services if a real crisis were to occur.
Are you comfortable to shoot in low-light settings?
I’ve heard of photographers who avoid low-light ceremonies and receptions. After my reception, I plan on having sparklers for our guests to send us off! Of course, I want this perfectly shot. An expert photographer will know how to handle these conditions, what settings to use, what equipment to shoot it with, and how to edit the final images appropriately.
Will you attend the rehearsal dinner?
The evening before my wedding, I plan on gathering close family and some friends to relax, break the ice, and rehearse for the following day. We plan on enjoying delicious foods from a local caterer and really having an intimate time together. It seems as though some photographers include coverage at rehearsals in their wedding packages, while others have this as an add-on option. Regardless, the prices may vary depending upon travel, expenses, and overall time spent at the rehearsal dinner. This is something I would suggest that you discuss with your potential photographers.
How do you take payments?
I am elbow-deep into prepping for the big day. Money becomes tight, and paying in one massive lump sum is challenging. I’ve been searching for different options for payments. Thankfully, photographers nowadays have ways of setting up incremental or half now-half later payments. Now some may request a non-refundable deposit. They are setting aside a specific date for you and no one else and want to make sure they won’t be taken advantage of. That’s totally fair in my book.
Will you be there while we are prepping our hair and makeup?
I plan on primping with the ladies on the morning of my big day! Makeup artists and hairstylists will be on-site. We bought matching robes and want to make a toast to new beginnings – I really want this time with friends and family documented! The right photographer won’t miss a beat capturing these precious moments before the hustle and bustle begins. If they have a second shooter, they can head over to the guy’s suite and snag a few pics there too!
What is your photography style?
Here is a classic question that I always ask! One thing I always keep an eye on – diversity. Whoever photographs my wedding, I expect all of the images to be crisp and high-quality. By no means do I expect all the photos to be one style throughout the entire day, whether it be moody, artistic, natural, documentary, etc. A knowledgeable photographer will make the right judgment calls on how to portray certain scenes. What makes a photographer stand out is how they add their personal and unique touch to each session. That’s what I am looking for!
What will you wear to my wedding?
I remember attending a friend’s wedding a few years back. The biggest eyesore I noticed was the photographer’s outfit. No lie – this was one of the most elegant and sophisticated weddings I have ever attended. The guest’s attire was formal, the ceremony and reception were something akin to a fairytale; literally everything was perfect. Then there was this ‘professional’ photographer in an oversized logo t-shirt, jeans, and sandals. Thinking ahead to my wedding, I want the photographer to blend in. Good thing most professional photographers are more than happy to accommodate!
What determines how many final images I will receive?
One thing that throws me off is when I see a person’s uploaded wedding gallery on Facebook, and there’s a total of 3,000 images. I look through them, and most of them are low-quality bursts of the same scene ten different times. I am a firm believer in quality over quantity – the number of images received depends and varies for each wedding!
How long will it take to receive the final images?
I am a very impatient person, but I do understand that good work takes time. Photographers spend a massive amount of time editing and sorting through thousands of images. From what I gathered; it seems the length of time to receive my images back will range from 4-8 weeks. During peak wedding season, it could take longer depending on your photographer’s workload.
How do you determine what price or package best fits my wedding?
I’ve noticed a lot of photographers have three to four packages for weddings. These are based on hours shooting and images delivered. I’ve met up with some photographers who customize packages for you based on multiple variables. With sessions including engagement, rehearsal dinner, bridal portraits, and a full day of wedding shenanigans, I prefer to have something worked out in a detailed way. No one size fits all for this girl.
Can you explain your editing process?
I have been given many answers to this question, so let’s break it down in a broader way. The editing process begins with selecting favorite shots. These shots are then edited and enhanced by the photographer. Minor blemishes or retouching may be done, but sometimes that is out of the scope as it is incredibly time-consuming (there may even be an extra fee!) Voila – then they will then deliver the final images! I suggest that you ask your photographer how they go about their editing process.
Can I have bridal portraits taken?
My wedding is the day I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl. I’ve paid hundreds (if not thousands) for my elegant dress, makeup, hairstyle, jewelry, shoes – you name it. Of course, the person I choose will capture these private moments to myself taking it all in! I haven’t determined where I would like these done yet, and I am still deciding between the venue or offsite somewhere. Understandably, most photographers will charge extra depending if it takes additional time or more travel.
Have you shot at a similar venue as mine before?
The wedding venue I ended up choosing is magnificent. We plan on a cocktail party in a private room, a ceremony in one of the beautiful wings, and then finally the reception in the grand ballroom. I want the photographer to be comfortable moving equipment and shooting in different areas. An amateur might become overwhelmed, which would result in poor quality photos. Check with the photographer to see if they’ve shot in a venue similar (if not the same place) to what you have lined up!
Do you have a gallery or portfolio of your professional wedding photographs?
My favorite pastime is scrolling through Pinterest and imagining how my wedding might be portrayed through images. Start with their website, what do you see on there? If you need to see more, ask! Typically, most photographers I’ve inquired with have permission to use galleries of weddings they’ve previously shot with potential clients. This is a great way to see if their style is what I have in mind.
How do you deliver your final results?
Normally, final edited images are download-ready as JPEG files and ready to print. This will make them accessible for me to share on social media pages and have printed for frames around my house! Many photographers also offer packages that include albums and other goodies!
How do you get to know us before our wedding?
I’ll be honest – I can be shy. I want to be comfortable in front of the camera as well as the person shooting. Honestly, it would be awkward to meet for the first time on the day of the wedding. When searching for the perfect photographer for my wedding, I decided to look into people who pre-consult and would enjoy meeting up for brunch or coffee to see if we connect. Another thing I plan on having is an engagement session. This will break the ice, and we will see if we work well together – I’ll consider it a trial run!
As a bride, I’ve talked to various photographers, and it all drizzled down to one. After speaking to J&J Studios, I’ve decided they are the best fit for what I am looking for. They customize their services based on each unique wedding and client, and that was exactly what I was searching for!