We've already gone over questions I think couples should ask photographers before booking. Today I wanted to mention a few that I've seen recommended in articles but I think are unhelpful and sometimes confusing to the client.
Can you change your editing style?
There may be some photographers who let their clients dictate their editing style, but for most it's an integral part of their work and can't be separated from the final product. It's as natural to them as the way they shoot.
Is your photography business full time or part time?
There are plenty of amazing photographers who don't run their photography business full time, and they are still 100% dedicated to giving you an amazing experience.
What type of equipment do you use?
If you have a photography background, by all means ask about this if it matters to you. But if you don't know a SB700 from a 50mm 1.4, just trust that other questions you ask will determine if you're dealing with a true professional or not.
What is your style?
The problem with this question is that photographers have to use buzz words to describe their style - traditional, modern, photojournalistic, candid, lifestyle, formal, casual, flash, natural light, romantic, whimsical, bold, moody, etc. Some of these words mean completely different things to different people. And not everyone can look at an outdoor portrait taken with flash and distinguish that flash was used. Instead of asking the photographer to describe their style, I recommend taking time to dig through the photographer's portfolio first. Then you can ask more specific questions about photos you saw.
Have you shot at my venue?
This was a question I saw recommended a lot when I was planning my wedding. But there are dozens of wedding venues in every town, and you don't want to cross out an amazing photographer just because they haven't done a wedding at your venue. Instead, ask to see a wedding similar to yours: an outdoor wedding with an outdoor reception under string lights, for example.
Do I get the RAW files or the copyright for the images?
I've covered these topics in depth before, but the short answer is that's not what you're actually looking for. The RAW files are unedited and can only be opened with special photo editing software. It's part of the photographer's job to edit the images and deliver a finished product to the client. And as the artist and creator of the images, the photographer keeps the copyright to the images but sells the bride and groom printing rights for their personal use.
Are you a member of any photography associations?
25 years ago, photography associations may have been more important than they are now. But honestly, now it's just a certification that can be purchased. It's not really proof of anything.
Do you specialize in weddings?
I can understand that you might not want a photographer who shoots weddings, newborns, dogs, families, commercial, senior portraits, products, fashion, and literally everything else. Different types of photography require different equipment and you can't master 12 different types. But I don't think you should rule out a photographer who shoots families and weddings. There are a lot of similarities between various types of portrait photography and weddings, not to mention brides might want to continue to use their wedding photographer for their family photos every year.
Can I see references?
I understand why this question is recommended, because your wedding day is one of the biggest days of your life. That is why I work really hard to get online reviews and client testimonials from my past brides. I want prospective clients to have complete confidence when they hire me for their wedding day. But I don't have permission to give out my clients' personal contact information.
What is your response time?
There's no point to ask this question because everyone knows the "right" answer to give. Instead, just look at the response you're getting from the photographer during the inquiry process. Are they emailing you back within 24 or 48 hours? Great. (And don't forget, they're probably not available on the weekends, so don't count that in your response time!)
If you enjoyed this post, you might 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