The Questions You Shouldn't Ask Your Wedding Photographer

Yesterday I went over questions I think brides should ask photographers when meeting with them. 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.

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 that doesn't mean that you're any less important to them.

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. So instead of asking the photographer to describe their style, take time to dig through the photographer's portfolio before the meeting. 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 choose your wedding photographer based solely on if they've shot at your location. Someone who has shot at your wedding venue before might be familiar with any rules or restrictions, but these can change. And the lighting changes so much throughout the year and whether it's cloudy or sunny, so it's best for the photographer to make decisions about portrait locations on the day of the wedding when she's looking at the lighting you'll actually be working with.

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 membership. Just because one photographer pays to be part of an association doesn't mean they're better than one who doesn't. Maybe instead, you could ask if they've been featured on any wedding blogs.

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.

Have you done a wedding similar to my size or style? 

Unless you're having 500 people at your wedding, you're having a very unique cultural wedding, or you're doing something really outside of the box, you probably don't need to ask this question. A rustic summer wedding with 50 guests isn't much different photographically speaking from a formal winter wedding with 200 guests, as long as the wedding photographer is skilled in both indoor and outdoor lighting.

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!)