Wedding Planning: Questions To Ask When Choosing A Wedding Photographer
Booking wedding vendors is really hard. You are putting your trust in (in most cases) a total stranger, on one of the biggest and most important days of your life. Talk about scary!
One of the best things you can do while shopping wedding vendors is ask questions. There is no such thing as a dumb question, and no such thing as too many questions, when it comes to wedding planning. Your vendors should be more than happy to answer anything your mind comes up with, and a good vendor will be open and honest from the get-go.
Unfortunately, as is the reality of the world, bad vendors exist. Part of weeding out the good from the bad is knowing what questions to ask, and what answers should be given.
I am no wedding expert, and I won’t pretend to be – my boyfriend of five years has yet to pop the question (don’t rub it in), and I haven’t yet had to attempt to tackle my own wedding planning. I am, however, an expert when it comes to what should and shouldn’t be expected from a wedding photographer.
It is important to remember that no two photographers are the same, and that there will be a wide variety of packages, services, and of course, pricing. Remember that a price tag is, in general, a decent predictor of the product you will receive – but there are always exceptions to the rules, too! Here is my list of the general questions that any photographer should be able to answer – and the answers you want to hear – to help you make the right decision when booking.
The Best Questions To Ask Your Wedding Photographer
1. How long have you been doing this, and how many weddings have you photographed?
This seems like a no-brainer, right? Regardless – ask it. No matter what. Even if they have a gigantic portfolio, or a fantastic website, or a mile-long-list of client reviews. Ask. This is extremely important, as wedding photography can’t be learned in a classroom or a posed setting. The only way to truly master wedding photography is by shooting them and learning on the fly. Remember that many photographers start out as second-shooters (assisting lead photographers), so if you find someone who has second-shot a ton, but is just starting out on their own, don’t let that be your deal-breaker; they have plenty of experience! Also always ask for references. Even if you don’t contact them (which you should!), make sure your potential photographer can provide at least 3-4 past clients that you can chat with.
2. How many weddings do you shoot in a weekend?
The answers might shock you. Some wedding photographers shoot three weddings a weekend – some shoot multiple weddings a day! This isn’t a guaranteed negative, but it is something to consider. If your photographer is working a lot of weddings every weekend, it means that many things could come into play: they could be exhausted, stressed, or over-worked by the time your turn comes around, it may take longer to get your photos back, and you may not get the personal attention you desire. Remember – many professional photographers hire second shooters and assistants to help combat some of these side-effects, so use your judgement when reviewing this answer.
3. Are you a registered business? Are you insured?
You’ll be shocked how often you hear “no” to this question, and it is EXTREMELY important! Hiring a photographer who is (or is working for) a registered business is a must. More often than not, your venue will require your vendors (including your photographer) to provide proof of their insurance and registration in order to work on-site. Furthermore, photographers that are licensed and insured take their work (and their business) seriously. In this day and age, you essentially HAVE to be insured in order to work as a professional photographer. Strongly question the validity of anyone who doesn’t meet these requirements.
4. What sets you apart from other photographers in this area?
Of course, there is no right answer to this question – but you should be listening for the answer you want. Some photographers are known for their techniques, some for their equipment, some for their “add-on” services. Some have very unique looks to their work, or different editing styles. Some stand out because of their individual personalities, or their commitment to their clients (hint – that’s me!). This question is important to ask because however your potential vendor answers, you’re likely to hear the thing that is most important to them.
5. What is (and isn’t) included in your contract?
There are a few things that, in my opinion, should be in the contract of every single wedding photographer. My clients always get a sample contract to read over, so they know ahead of time what to expect. Make sure you solidify the key points, and have them in writing before booking:
-turnaround time for wedding photos
-print release & copyright policies
-refund policies for deposit and contract balance
-backup plan for lead photographer in case of emergency or cancellation
-photographer requests or requirements (breaks, meals provided, etc)
6. What types of hidden or unspoken fees might we encounter when working with you?
Most vendors have additional fees for given scenarios, and often, they aren’t explicitly stated in the contract. Make sure you know exactly what to expect from your photographer if things change. What if your day runs longer than expected? What if the venue or location has to change? What if you have to reschedule for a different date? All of these things typically come with some sort of vendor cost, and having a fee schedule ahead of time can help you prepare for the unexpected.
7. What questions do you have for us?
Every potential photographer should have questions for you! I probably drive my clients crazy with how much I bombard them in our first meeting. When booking a vendor, treat the meet and greet like an interview – remember, they have to decide if they want to work with you, too! I don’t mean that you should be fake or suck up, but pay attention to how interested they seem in working for you. Do they ask specific questions about your venue, vendors, and wedding plans? Do they take interest in the two of you as a couple? If your potential “new hire” isn’t interested, take that as a red flag.
I hope you find this article helpful when booking any of your wedding vendors! What other questions do you (or did you) ask your potential vendors? Maybe something you didn’t ask, but wish you would’ve? Share your thoughts below!