I love wedding planning websites and blogs as much as the average wedding-obsessed woman, but sometimes they give brides terrible information. You know the ones I'm talking about... the really big sites with forums and blog articles out the wazoo. The ones who try to tell brides across the country what they should be looking for as if every area and every bride was the same.
So I wanted to go over the questions you should ask when meeting with a prospective wedding photographer. Today I'll go over the questions that I think are important and tomorrow I'll share questions that I think are a waste of time. Just my opinion of course, but I think a photographer's perspective on this is a little more helpful sometimes. We are talking about interviewing photographers after all.
Do you have a sample album?
For one thing, this allows you to see and touch the album they offer. And it also shows you how they tell the story of a complete wedding day.
Can I look through an entire wedding?
It might be a good idea to ask to see another wedding in addition to the sample album. Now by entire, I mean approximately 200 photos. You don't literally need to see every family photo that was taken, but it is worth checking to make sure the photographer can deliver a high quality product for the entire wedding day since many different lighting scenarios and types of photography are used throughout the wedding day. You could also look through the wedding photographer's blog to quickly get a feel for their work over several weddings. Regardless, you want to make sure that you're not only being shown a highlight reel.
Do you have a 2nd shooter?
Some brides and grooms might not care if a photographer works with a 2nd shooter, but this is an important point for most couples.
What is in your packages? What add-ons do you have? Are digital files included? Do you offer albums?
These are all things the photographer should be planning to talk through during your meeting, but ask if they're not mentioned.
What is the process like after the wedding?
You'll naturally want to know how long it will take for you to get your images, how they will be delivered, and what the process is for any album or product orders.
How does a typical wedding day go for you?
Hearing the wedding photographer talk through a typical timeline and how hands on they are throughout the wedding day will help you decide if they're the right fit for you.
Can I see a wedding like mine?
Now you can't be too picky with this one. But if you're having an inside wedding, you need to see how the photographer shoots indoors. If you want portraits outside after dark, you want to find a photographer who does that well.
Will you shoot another wedding that day or that weekend?
It's pretty rare for photographers to shoot more than one wedding a day unless they are part of a photography studio. But it's not uncommon for photographers to take two weddings a weekend during peak wedding season. There's no right or wrong way, but you probably want to discuss it with them if you have concerns.
How do you use lighting? Is it intrusive?
Now this is another tricky one. No photographer thinks they're being intrusive. Even the crazy ones who are right up there next to the pastor during the whole ceremony. But having the photographer describe how she uses flash is important if you are getting married indoors, especially if your ceremony location has restrictions about it.
What's your backup plan if you get sick? Do you have backup equipment? Do you have insurance? Do you have a contract? What's the deposit and payment policy? Are there additional fees for travel, cancellation, rescheduling, etc?
A lot of these questions will be explained throughout the contract, so you might want to wait until the end of the meeting and bring these up if they're not addressed. And if the photographer doesn't have a contract, walk away.
How many weddings do you shoot a year?
This question isn't too helpful, because some photographers shoot 25 weddings a year and love it and deliver client images quickly. Some shoot 25 and take forever to finish a wedding. And some shoot 8-12 because that's all they want to shoot. So really this question doesn't tell you much about how your experience with that wedding photographer will be.
How long have you been in business?
This isn't a bad question. I just think that some people put too much stock into this. Keep in mind that a photographer who has shot for 10 years doesn't necessarily have better work than someone who has shot for 3-5. Some photographers grow and improve quickly and others don't. And brides with lower budgets probably won't be able to afford a photographer who has been shooting for more than 4 years, so they'll be looking for newer photographers.
Do you use the same 2nd shooter all the time?
There's no right or wrong answer to this one, because there are pros to both sides. Using the same 2nd shooter provides consistency and the photographers can work together as a seamless team because they've done it so often. Using a different 2nd shooter allows a photographer to hire experienced 2nd shooters who have their own businesses (and therefore aren't available every weekend). These 2nd shooters can also be tailored to fit the personality and style of each wedding.
How many photos will I receive?
The answer to this question isn't super important. Although many photographers give 400-1000 photos, 200 photos is actually quite a lot when you consider how many images will fit into a wedding album. Obviously couples with large wedding parties, lots of details, and many guests will need more photos than couples with smaller weddings. And I personally think that more than 600 is just too overwhelming for the couple. But knowing the answer to this question is good so you're not disappointed if you receive fewer than you were expecting.
What editing is included? What does basic retouching and color correction look like?
If your wedding photographer doesn't include editing on all the images you receive, you probably want to ask about additional fees. Also, it's good to know if the editing on the images you see in the sample album and in their portfolio is included as part of their basic retouching and color correction or if they go beyond that for their portfolio pieces. Again, you just want to know what to expect.
So there's the list of questions I think you should ask during your meeting. Come back tomorrow for the unnecessary questions!