5 important questions to ask your wedding photographer
September 8, 2016
Whether you're booking me for your wedding photography or another wedding photographer, I've put together a list of 5 important questions you should ask.
When contacting any wedding photographer, you probably already know at least a little about them, their shooting style, and what may be included in their prices as you'll have seen their website and/or social media. But it's worth going over the details a little more by email or, as I prefer, over the phone or in person.
1. How much experience in photographing weddings do you have?
You'll have seen plenty of their work on their website and social media channels but it's good to find out how much experience they have overall, in wedding photography and other subjects too.
A photographer may have a dozen really nice shots from a couple of sunny outdoor weddings posted on their Facebook page, but have they shot many other weddings in different scenarios; indoors, in bad weather etc. Getting that perfect shot takes far more skill inside a dimly lit church in winter than in a garden in summer.
2. Have you shot at my wedding location before?
A wedding photographer will be at a huge advantage if they know the surroundings they'll be shooting in. So having previously shot a wedding where you are to be married will mean they're already one step ahead; they'll be aware of how the light can change throughout the building, what features of the venue will look good in your wedding photographs, and where they need to be to get the best angles for the shots.
If they haven't shot there before, ask if they will be visiting the venue to have a look around. This is something I'm a stickler for myself. As a wedding photographer, there's nothing worse than walking into a situation unprepared - you're already having to think on your feet and concentrate on several different things at once and walking into the situation blindly will only add to the stress and workload on what is invariably a long day. Where I can, I always try to visit the venue at least once with the couple to talk through the plans for the day and get a feel for the venue.
Be wary of a photographer who doesn't feel the need to visit the wedding venue.
3. What exactly do I get for my money?
Always have a clear understanding of what you're paying for. Most wedding photographers will include the digital versions of your photographs on a USB stick or CD for free or included as part of the wedding shoot itself, but make sure you're not going to have to pay extra later for this. And these should be full high resolution images (large files) in jpeg format, that you'll be able to print at any size with great results. And your images should not have the photographers watermark or logo on them.
And sticking with the images for a moment; some couples worry about copyright. Don't. In 99% of cases the photographer will retain copyright of the images but this does not affect you in any way. Provided you're not going to try and make money from the shots by selling them to anyone, the venue for example, then you can show them off and post them wherever you like. A credit and/or link to your photographer's website is a nice gesture though and will make them very happy! Copyright just comes down to common sense. Both you and your photographer will want to show the photos off, so just enjoy them and everybody wins.
If you're expecting an album or photobook or prints, then make sure you discuss specifics as early as you can and how much you'll be paying for those items.
And don't forget that your photographer's price includes a lot of behind the scenes work and isn't just limited to being there on the day. There is hours and hours of time that goes into processing your shots afterwards, getting them to pop and making the most of each one. Not to mention fuel costs, insurance, wear and tear to expensive camera gear and a host of other little things that are all taken in to account.
4. When will I be able to see my photographs?
Your photos will need to be processed on the computer. There is no way around this. Any decent photographer needs to and will WANT to spend some time tweaking the images to get them just right and to make them pop and this can be an arduous task.
Photography isn't an exact science; not every click of the shutter results in a great shot, which is something that a lot of photographers won't admit to or simply don't talk about. Your photographer will have shot hundreds of frames on your big day and each one needs to be examined to determine if it's a "keeper". A good photographer only wants people to see their best work.
Even the keepers then need to be processed further, levels altered, colours boosted, so that each shot looks the absolute best it can.
The whole process can take a long time - particularly if your photographer has faced a challenging location or scenario.
Bear all this in mind when your photographer tells you it will be a couple of weeks before you have your images to look through. But in the mean time, they may like me, post sneak peeks on their social media while they're working on them. Make sure you Like or Follow your photographer to get the most out of it!
5. How much deposit do you need and when is the rest of the balance payable?
This is a straight forward one, but an import question. Your deposit will secure your photographer for that day. They'll make sure they don't take on any other jobs that clash with your wedding date. Therefore your deposit is your photographer's insurance incase, for whatever reason, you decide you don't need their services that day. Obviously this will vary enourmously depending on the initial fee and how in-demand the photographer is.
As for the remainder of the balance your photographer will appreciate it sooner rather than later. Personally, I've had clients pay their full balance up to 12 months before the wedding, and some who have paid it on the day itself (although for your own sanity it's probably best to not have another thing to worry about on your wedding day!).
Everybody will vary, but be clear about when your photographer expects you to pay.
And a final piece of advice - you need to feel comfortable with your photographer just as much as they need to feel comfortable with you: I'd always recommend having at least one meeting in person before the date, preferably at the venue itself. It'll also give you a chance to ask these questions in person.