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 before booking your photographer. Some of these questions might be immediately answered by their website, their initial email responding your inquiry, or the contract. We like to give our couples everything they need to know right up front to help them make the best decision possible, so we answer almost all of these before our clients even ask.
Can I see a wedding like mine?
A photographer might not have done a wedding at your venue, but you can compare their work from a similar venue. For example, if you're having an outdoor wedding and indoor reception, I try to send links to weddings that match. If you're having a church wedding, you will want to see how the photographer shoots indoors. If you want portraits outside after dark, you want to find a photographer who does that well.
Can I look through an entire wedding?
By entire, I mean approximately 200 photos. You don't literally need to see every family photo that was taken, but you should look at more than the 30 images in their 'best of' gallery. It's worth checking to make sure the photographer can deliver a high quality product for the entire 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 people 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 that should be spelled out in an investment guide or an email. If you don't get detailed information about what is in each package, be sure to ask.
Do you have a sample album?
If you're interested in purchasing a wedding album, you probably want to see and touch the album that they offer.
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.
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? 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 you receive that before asking these questions. (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, have a great system, and deliver client images quickly. Some shoot significantly fewer weddings and still take forever to finish a wedding. And some shoot 8-12 because that's all they want to shoot to balance family time and give their clients a fantastic experience. (That's us!) So really this question doesn't tell you much about how your experience with that wedding photographer will be.
Will you take another wedding the same weekend?
Similar to the previous question, there is no 'right' answer. I used to love taking double headers since we could do 4 weddings in a single month and still have 2 weekends completely off. But now that we have a baby, we want to spend at least part of each weekend with him. (And let's be honest, we don't want to burn out our babysitters!)
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 been in business for 10 years doesn't necessarily have better work than someone with 3-5 years of experience. Some photographers grow and improve quickly and others don't. Couples with lower budgets will probably be looking for a newer but still experienced photographer, because many photographers will be out of their price range.
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, only about 100 images will fit into a wedding album., so 400 photos is still a LOT! Obviously couples with large wedding parties, lots of details, and longer wedding days will receive more photos than couples with smaller weddings. But knowing the answer to this question is good so you're not disappointed if you receive fewer than you were expecting.
So there's the list of questions I think you should have answered before booking your photographer. If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:
How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer
Am I The Right Photographer for You?
Comparing Photographers: Budget, Style, & Experience
Why is Wedding Photography More Expensive
Why I Photograph Weddings
What We Wear to Weddings
The Gift of Photography
Whatever It Takes
Things I've Learned Being Photographed