You’ve scoured the ‘gram and google and low and behold, you’ve found a photographer you love. Their style, their personality, their candid images- perfection! But wait! Before you go singing that dotted line, how do you actually know they are the photographer for you? More importantly? How are you supposed to know what questions to ask a wedding photographer?
Your wedding day comes with many different emotions, personalities, and…lighting! Ensuring your photographer can handle all of that (and more), is crucial. Here are 14 questions to ask your wedding photographer. These questions will solidify if this is your wedding photographer! Walk through this article with your photographer, and there will be no doubt in your mind if you’ve found the right photographer for you!
1. Is my wedding date available?
Before you dive into the nitty gritty questions, you’ll want to make sure the photographer has your wedding date available. We’ve had inquiries that were ready to sign on the dotted line but when it came down to it, we weren’t even available for their wedding date.
But what if you can’t bear to have anyone else photograph your day? You might just be that epic person that is willing to be flexible on the wedding date. Give the photographer a few dates that you’re considering and see which ones might be a match!
TIP- if you’ve found a photographer you love before you’ve booked your venue, reach out to the photographer ahead of time to compare their available dates with the venues available dates.
2. What is your professional wedding experience?
If you ask a photographer how long they’ve been photographing, it will probably start with “I picked a camera up at 8 years old and it hasn’t left my hands since.” That’s not a bad thing, but that’s not giving you an answer as to who this person is that you’re considering entrusting your wedding memories with.
By asking what their professional wedding experience is, you’ll likely get a much more concise answer. Your photographer should be able to handle any wedding situation. And make you feel confident in their ability, every step of the way!
If someone has another full-time job alongside photographing weddings, this is not a bad thing*** (see note) . It just means you might need to be a bit more flexible with their shooting availability for your engagement sessions. The main point here is that you want someone who has dedicated time specifically to the wedding industry.
Note- someone who shoots weddings for a living, not your old college roommate who takes pictures as a hobby.
3. What does working with you as a wedding photographer look like?
This isn’t just to talk about the style of photography, like – dark and moody, light and airy, or “true- to- color”. It’s also to get a feel for how the photographer actually approaches the wedding day and everything leading up to it (and even after it)!
We have a bold, rich style that focuses entirely on the fleeting moments, and forgoes all the stiff, awkward posing. The photos that matter the most are the ones that capture how it felt. We will only deliver photos that feel like you. Our super power is reading the room and giving guidance where guidance is needed, then standing back to let the rest unfold. We are extremely relationship based because the better we know you the better we can guide you and your wedding day in a way that is tailored to you. This means there are many communications touch-points before your big day, along with in-depth timeline planning.
TIP: The answer should give you an understanding of how the photographer communicates. Nope, not just on the wedding day, but also what sort of guidance they give leading up to it. Ideally you’ll also get an idea if this is a photographer who prefers to blend in and shoot things as they unfold, or takes charge in a visible way.
4. How do you handle photos when there isn’t a lot of light?
Dark churches, windowless getting ready rooms, and receptions lit by only candles…they all have one thing in common- low or non existent light. So how does that affect your wedding photos? This is one of the THEE most important questions you can ask a wedding photographer! It will tell you a lot about the style of the photographer as well as their experience level!
As photographers who have seen many outdoor ceremonies brought inside at the last minute due to inclement weather and even wedding portraits done entirely inside with NO *gasp* windows…we bring the light – something we would seriously consider having tattooed on us. At every single event, we bring multiple lighting setups so that no matter the scenario, we won’t miss the moment.
TIP: You should get a clear cut answer on if the photographer relies entirely on ambient/natural light or if they bring lighting along. Whichever option the photographer uses, your final images should draw your focus in to the subject (you and your new spouse looking hot).
5. Can we see a full wedding gallery from a recent wedding?
Social media will always be where the “wow-factor” photographs are. When you’re scrolling through Instagram, you’re probably looking at each image for a split second before moving on. A photographer’s strategy is to only post the images that will stop you in your tracks. But what about all the other moments of the day?
When you ask to see a full gallery, you’re seeing the small, impactful images. You’re be able to visualize what your wedding might look like. It’s also a sure fire way to ensure that you love the photographers style!
Tip- Ask to see a gallery that features a similar venue style or setup. You can even ask to see a gallery that features the same something special you’re planning at your wedding – like your dog as a ring-bearer
6. How will you coordinate with my videographer?
What this question should NOT be: is it a problem to have a videographer? If a photographer is not capable of working alongside a videographer, we’d suggest you cut the convo right there and find a different photographer.
What this question SHOULD be about: Does the photographer take any action steps ahead of the wedding day to coordinate shooting plans with the videographer? Do they prefer to chat with the videographer the day of? However the photographer handles working with a fellow creative, your best interest should clearly be at the top of their mind.
While we can’t speak for all photographers, we can speak for how we are passionate about making a couple’s experience stress free. Leading up to your wedding day, we will have worked up a very extensive timeline. Around a month before your wedding, we’ll reach out to your videographer to introduce ourselves and share the timeline with them! That way everyone is on the same page and we’ve established a working relationship. On the day of, we’ll already be familiar with each other and will discuss where we’ll each be standing as to avoid being in each other’s shots.
7. How many images can we expect in our final gallery? And when can we expect to receive the gallery?
Every photographer you ask will have a different answer for this- and that’s just fine- but that’s also why you want to make sure you ask and don’t assume! What you want to understand is if they are including every click of the shutter or if they remove faulty images like test shots, blinking/blurry, and unflattering photos.
Most professionals are a full service company, meaning that they cull down (remove) any unnecessary photos for you. This doesn’t mean removing photos where something precious is happening, rather it falls under that list in the above paragraph. We average 50-100 final images per active hour of photographing!
Turnaround time is also one of those things that varies dramatically for each photographer, depending on their process. Truly, there is no right or wrong answer – it’s just information you should be aware of.
8. Do we need to provide a meal?
Most photographers are actually going to have it in their contract that you do need to feed them. Here’s why:
If your photographer isn’t given a meal, they have to go off campus for a break. That means that if speeches, first dance, cake cutting or anything is happening, they won’t be there to capture it. Talk about a bummer.
Not to mention…do you function well after working 8-10 hours at your job without a sit and a pick-me-up? From the perspective of a photographer: photographing a wedding means that you are mentally “on” for every. single. moment .of those 8-10 hours. We can’t afford to miss a moment for you – I mean, that’s why you hired us, right? That hot food break refreshes us so we can knock it out of the park for you until the very last moment!
TIP: Feed your photographer at the same time as you and the wedding party and seat them close to the head table. When the newlyweds are chowing down, nothing else is happening. The moment you are done, you’ll likely be up and mingling, which means candid photo opps. If the photographer is still eating during this time, they might not be able to get all of those authentic moments!
And as for being seated close to you and your newly married boo – that means your photographer can nail those shots of you batting eye lashes at each other without running around tables and blocking guests views.
9. What planning help do you provide?
The answer should assure you exactly how much you’ll be in contact with your photographer leading up to your wedding day, as well as what sort of assistance they provide. Is the photographer mostly hands off with minimal communication? Or are they someone who is passionate about providing things like vendor recommendations, engagement session outfit advice, and a timeline?
Most photographers will work with you to fashion a general timeline. This is where we’re different and you need to know why. We don’t do general timelines. We do complete AF timelines. A thorough timeline means that every important aspect of our wedding day – like polka-ing with grandma, that locket with mom’s face wrapped around your bouquet, and a first look with your dad – is accounted for. Those moments are precious to you and you desrve to not rush through them.
TIP: Whether the timeline your photographer provides is detailed or not, there should always be flex room for when things run late (because things always run a little behind and that’s just a part of the wedding experience;) )
10. Do you charge a travel fee? What distance does the travel fee cover?
The odds are your photographer is happy to travel to where ever you are. However, there will likely be a travel fee. While this fee is standard for any vendor (or really any job for that matter), you’ll want to be sure you understand these fees so that there are no surprises!
11. If things run longer than expected, can we ask you to extend our coverage time?
Sometimes things get delayed for various reasons. To ensure certain moments are still captured even with the day running behind, you may consider asking your photographer if they can stay longer. This is rarely an issue. Your photographer will either have you submit payment for the extended coverage that evening or will send over an updated invoice in the days after.
While adding on 4 extra hours on the day of on a whim might not be possible (especially if your photographer is traveling to you and back home ), adding 30 to 60 minutes is typically not out of the question!
12. Do you carry backup equipment?
This is one of those incredibly important questions to ask your wedding photographer!
As much as we all love our technology (I mean, i’m literally typing this thanks to my iphone’s hotspot while we travel from Chicago back to Wisconsin – thank you technology!) it does fail us at times. In the case of a gear mishap, your photographer should be able to turn to their backup equipment and hop right back into capturing photos, no problem!
TIP: This should be a nonnegotiable. Being prepared is part of being in the world of weddings. And something as precious as your wedding day deserves to be captured right.
13. Can we order prints or albums directly through you? Do you include a print release?
Some photographers only allow prints to be purchased directly through them . This is to ensure that the photos on your screen match the physical prints. No one wants discolored photos. Cheap printing solutions (*ahem* like the two stores that have the word “wal” in their names) can produce prints that are dramatically different from what you’re seeing in your online gallery. Photographers want to prevent that headache for you.
Other wedding photographers have online shops for you to purchase from, but also give you a print release to print your images for personal use from anywhere you want.
TIP: As Spiderman says: with great photos comes great responsibility to print them well. Or something like that 😉 More seriously, cheap printing does not always equal good results.
14. What is something you’ve seen make things run smoothly during the wedding planning process or on the day of?
Let’s be honest. Your photographer has likely seen it all and more. Whether it’s photo related or not, they’ll likely have some kicka** tips that you never would have thought of yourself – take it from someone who has seen more weddings than the average person sees in their lifetime.
Here’s our two things:
- Wedding planner. Not just a day of coordinator but rather someone who take the planning off your shoulders every step of the way.)- worth their weight in gold
A few or our FAV wedding planners that will knock it out of the park for you!!!!
Olive Branch Events – Heartfelt weddings for down-to-earth couples.
Wood Violet Events & Styling– Weaves together the sights, sounds + spaces most important to you, creating an immersive experience through its earthen lens.
Dream Weddings – Their goal is is to allow you to relax while she do the dirty work.
Event Shop Chi – Bold weddings for even bolder couplesJ
- Detailed timelines. They are a win-win x 1000 for you, your family, and your wedding party. And for every vendor who is trying to make your day as magical as possible.
Questions to ask yourself!
- Does meeting with the photographer feel natural? Could you see yourself feeling comfortable enough to grab drinks with the photographer?
- Do their photos make you feel something? Do you feel connected to the moments they capture?
- Communication is HUGE. Do you feel that the photographers communications style fits well with yours?
- Do you feel heard and seen by the photographer – were your questions/concerns addressed?
- Would your dog like them? Kidding, but not. Dogs have the best judgement 😉
These questions are meant to help you get out there and snag your dream wedding photographer! And feel confident doing it!
Our final tip: Never think there are silly questions when talking to a wedding photographer. You don’t plan a wedding every day of your life. However, your photographer does spend every day planning other people’s dream weddings. They are there to give you guidance and inspiration!
Ready to ask us some burnin’ questions? Let’s do it!