Updated: Mar 26, 2019
When you choose a wedding photographer, you're placing your total trust in one person to capture your special day forever. Choosing right person to freeze this moment it time is so important. Here are some questions I recommend asking all potential wedding photographers you chat with in order to determine the right fit.
Are you available for my date and venue?
You're probably thinking, "duh!" But I can't tell you how many people get further down the road negotiating with photographers who aren't even available! Make sure you're not wasting anybody's time and make sure they're available before chatting further.
What's your photography style?
Hopefully, you've already done some research on this photographer's style. You can usually tell from their portfolio and social media what style they lean toward. However, it can be extremely helpful to hear directly from the photographer's mouth what style they aim for. This way, the expectations are very clear and there's no room for interpretation.
What's included in your packages and what are the prices? How much for add-ons?
Your wedding is expensive enough, I totally get it. It might be tempting to go with whoever's cheapest, but be cautious. An inexpensive photographer usually means an inexperienced photographer OR one that provides far less services. For example, some photographers will charge extra for additional hours, digital galleries, individual photos, retouching, etc. It's important to hear the exact details and pricing before continuing the conversation.
All of my packages include a print release, flash drive and online gallery of upwards of 500 photos (usually more). My clients pay for my time AND the final product, so I'm not charging them extra for each photo they want to download. They can download as many as they'd like! There's nothing worse than getting 100 photos back from your photographer only to find out you have to pay $50-100 for each additional one you want. My philosophy is this: I have all of the photos, so why would I withhold them? You might LOVE a picture I don't think would make the top 100, and vice versa. I want to give my clients as many options as possible and as many photos as possible.
Do you work from a shot list? Can I request certain moments or images are captured?
Most photographers have a standard shot list, but it's nice to see it beforehand to be sure you're getting everything you're expecting! Additionally, most photographers let clients request specific shots (as long as they're not too outrageous!). Some photographers also ask for a list of all of the family/friend combinations listed so that nobody gets left out or forgotten! This is something super important to me. I remember at my sister's wedding, we didn't get a few combinations of people and it was really devastating to realize afterwards. In the craziness of the day, you want a photographer who's organized and thorough.
Can I request a second shooter?
This definitely varies photographer to photographer. Some include a second shooter in their packages and some can include one for an additional fee. Having a second shooter can be really valuable especially if you're having a large wedding, nighttime wedding, or a reception in a different place than the ceremony. This way, the photographer has someone to help with lighting and doesn't miss out on any special moments.
How many images will we receive?
You will get vastly different answers to this question depending on who you ask, what your package looks like, and how long your wedding is. However, if a photographer is trying to give you only 200 or less photos for a full ceremony and reception, that's a red flag.
How long will it take to receive my images after the wedding?
This depends on how involved the photographers post-production process looks like and how heavy their workload is at that time of year. Some photographers will get your photos to you in three weeks, some in three months.
You'll want to know in advance how quickly after the wedding you'll get your photos because if you're anything like me, you'll be impatient as all get-out to post your gorgeous images on social.
Personally, I always give my brides a sneak peek of one to five images the next day. You'll be so excited to share photos from your big day, you won't want to wait!
What format will I receive my images?
This is an frequently overlooked question because it usually doesn't come up until after the wedding. Lots of photographers have very different policies here. While some provide a digital gallery and/or a flash drive with the all of the high-resolution images for printing, some photographers charge extra for these. You want to know this beforehand so you don't find yourself paying a photographer for coverage and then having to pay additional fees for each photo you want to print.
How much is the deposit?
Typically, photographers require a deposit or retainer of some sort to hold your date. Since they can't book any other business during your reserved spot, a retainer protects the photographer in case you cancel. This is totally standard.
What's your cancellation policy?
Let's face it - life happens. Sometimes engagements fall through and sometimes money becomes an issue. Some photographers are more understanding than others regarding cancellations, so it's important to understand the time restrictions and expectations here. I can't think of anything worse than having to pay for something you couldn't even use!
Well, I hope you found this list helpful! I can't stress enough how important pre-wedding consultations are with photographers. Seriously, sit down with them over coffee and ask the tough questions. If you get a bad gut feeling or they don't meet your expectations, don't feel bad saying "no." We're used to hearing that - it's business and it's sales - that's just the way it goes! I'd rather hear you say "no" and get the photographer of your dreams than have you say "yes" and be disappointed. This is one of the most important days in your life - you want to remember it forever!