There are so many questions that you could ask a potential wedding photographer, and it may seem extremely overwhelming when you begin, so this is just a list of some highly suggested, and very important, questions to ask when you are searching for your perfect photographer! I’m not going to apologize for the length of this blog because I think all of it is important for you and your decision to choose the best photographer.
These are not in any particular order, but I think the first question is key and is often not asked! I’ve been surprised at how little couples bring this question up! So let’s begin!
DO YOU HAVE ANY BACKUPS?
The most important thing for a photographer when preparing for a wedding day are backups, backups, beackups. You should have an understanding of their aesthetic and personality by looking at their site and their bio, but what you may not know is if they have back ups, back up equipment and back up photographers. This is one thing you want to be sure of before you book a photographer. I’ve met many wedding photographers who do not have backups in place. I love my photography community and I believe in community over competition; however, I have been shocked and scared to see that some people have no plan in place for backups, whether it be files or photographers.
In no particular order, all backups are important, but first, let’s discuss backup photographers. If I were to get in a car accident the morning of your wedding and end up in the hospital, I can promise you that someone will be there that I trust with a similar style, aesthetic, personality, and passion. I work with an amazing community and I have a multitude of photographers that I trust and I know that if I needed them, they would be there. Additionally, this is another reason to get a second photographer because you will already have a great back up in place and they are someone I would trust fully to document your day.
Another important backup aspect is backup equipment! Ask the photographer what equipment they photograph with. You do not need to understand the technicalities and brands, but it is good to know that they have backups in their bag. I have three cameras with me, multiple lenses, four flashes, and back up batteries galore. I have 10 camera batteries with me on every wedding day, just in case! It’s probably paranoia, but I want to be fully prepared to document your wedding in case of any emergency.
I think this is the last thing that a lot of couples do not think to ask about. How are your images being backed up after the wedding? I shoot with cameras that have two card slots, which means that I have two memory cards that are recording your photographs throughout the day so that if heaven forbid one card corrupts, your images are already backed up. Also, the night I get home from a wedding I instantly take one card out and back it up on my computer, once it is on my computer, I have a cloud backup system that backs up my entire computer to a cloud, so if my house burns down that night (again, crazy scenario) your images will be safe. As I am editing, I also backup the images to a hard drive. Once your final gallery is edited, I also back it up on a hard drive, so there is one point when I have your wedding images backed up on 4 platforms. Why? Because those images might be the most important images of your life. There might be images of people who may not be with you any longer, they are images that you will possibly pass down to your children, and they will be cherished for generations. I have an original print of my grandparents wedding day hanging on my wall and I love that photograph immensely.
Again, none of the above emergency scenarios have happened to me, but you just never know. I would rather be over prepared and over backup everything then lose a precious image or miss a memorable moment. Simply asking about backups is one of the most important things to ask because it encompases a lot of different aspects.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF AND YOUR SHOOTING STYLE?
Another question to ask is what the photographer is like on a wedding day. You want their personality to mesh with yours. Why? Because they are not just a vendor; you hang out with them all day long. You want to make sure you get along with them and that they don’t annoy you because you will be with them for 8-10 hours of your day. It’s important to ask them what their flow is like and what they'll be doing throughout the day as they photograph.
If I were asked this, I would let you know how I start your day. When I come in during the morning, I want to help you. If you are stressed, I will help you get little details in order, or talk to someone for you, or if there are people asking you a million questions, I can defer them to other people. When I start the wedding day, I start with your details. I think those details are a significant part of your wedding day. I’ve photographed strictly documentary couples who say that they literally do not care if I photograph their earrings, bracelets, or rings and that is not what matters to them. I respect them completely for that. However, there are couples who do want those things captured. That is what I start with before the hussle of the day begins. I like to go slow and arrange all the things that are significant to you. This is also an opportunity to incorporate other mementos that are important to you; your mother's veil, your grandparents’ blue handkerchief, a photograph that means the world to you, or anything else that is significant in your home if that happens to be where you are getting ready. I like to start the flow of my creativity by creating artistic compositions of your belongings and wedding mementos.
As the day unfolds, I am there for you. I am there to serve you and document your day as you’d like it to be captured. I will help you get leaves out of your veil and I will help you button your dress if needed. I am going to be there to guide you in what is most flattering and help your personalities truly shine. And at the end of the night you’ll find me out on the dance floor with you dancing around you and your guests to capture candids of all the fun. I will leave with a big hug, because after I’ve witnessed the most important day of your life and documented every moment, I feel connected.
As an addition to asking how the photographer interacts with you on your wedding day, another important thing to ask is how they pose their couples? What does unposed, documentary, or lifestyle photography mean to that photographer? Sometimes those are terms that are thrown out without any significant meaning behind them and they are now seen as 'trendy'.
Simply ask, what is your definition of unposed photography?
You should have an idea of the style of my photographs from looking at my work, but do you know how those timeless images came about? If you were to ask me that question, I would let you know what your day would look like. Does my use of the term 'unposed' mean that I will give you absolutely no direction? Heck, no! I've documented very few people who can feel comfortable and confident in front of a camera without any direction or guidance. A lot of couples can be nervous in front of the camera and they feel that they need some sort of direction to feel confident. I totally understand that.
My definition of unposed does not mean that I am 100% hands off. It means that I am not just going to tell you to stand there and smile at the camera. I am not going to put you in the most awkward prom pose. I am not going to make you feel stiff and uncomfortable. It essentially means that I am going to be asking you questions and giving you prompts to get you moving, to show your emotions, to have you two interacting with each other authentically. Your wedding day is about you two. I do have couples who say "hey, I just want you to do your thing and capture us how we are with little direction and blend into the background", which I totally have the ability to do. But for the majority of my couples, I need to be there to guide and direct. If you have a family of 50 loud people and you want them all together cohesive in one photograph, I have a loud voice. I can arrange them within minutes so we save time for other moments to be captured. If you don’t know my other profession, I am a high school teacher, so I can project my voice clearly! My career as a teacher also means that I can handle any personality, challenging situation, and changing schedule with ease!
ALL THINGS PHOTOGRAPHS. HOW MANY? EDITING? DELIVERY?
"How many photographs will you deliver?" This is a usual question from couples who want to ensure that their entire day is covered adequately. It’s important to get a sense of how many photographs the photographer will deliver, what their editing style is like, how they will deliver your photographs, and the timeline for editing and gallery delivery. Some photographers deliver all of the photographs, while others have a limit on how many files they will deliver per client. Note, all does not mean all. Photographers will not deliver photographs that are out of focus, blurry, poorly exposed, or unflattering, at least, I hope they wouldn’t. Now, some photographs are artistically blurred and aspects out of focus, but that’s another story.
When I deliver photographs, I give you all of the best images, hand-selected, and artfully edited. So, what is hand-selected anyways? Well, I spend a lot of time culling your photographs, which means I look at each one, analyze all the elements in the photograph, and only delete it if I deem necessary. I want you to see your full day. I take over 2,000 photographs at most weddings and deliver around 850 per wedding. It all depends on the day, but it usually amounts to 100 photographs per hour.
And what about this “artfully” edited thing? Well, I truly take my time as an artist to edit each image with skill. My editing style is natural with emphasis on warm tones, deep shadows, and a love of black and white. If you are looking for your photographs to be significantly altered and touched up (ie: you want to look completely different) then find another photographer. There are wedding photographers who will do that, just not me! I focus on authenticity and real moments filled with lots of love.
And, finally, when it's time to deliver your images, I provide a digital gallery and a gifted USB drive. The online gallery allows you to view and download all of your photographs in the highest quality. You also have the option of purchasing prints online and sharing the gallery with friends and family! The gifted USB comes in an archival wood box with professional artist quality prints just for you!
DO YOU HAVE A FULL WEDDING GALLERY TO VIEW?
This is a great question because you can see snippets of a photographer's work on their website or social media, but let’s be honest, it’s the best work and likely their favorite work! You want to get a sense of the whole day and see all of their work, not just the highlights! What will a wedding look like from beginning to end? What aspects of the day does the photographer focus on most? Is the photographer able to nail those important shots that you are looking for? Did they capture moments that you would also love to be captured? Is the style what you are looking for? Did they capture guests, candids, and portraits as you would like? Do they have good reception lighting, often not considered, but very important! This is also a great opportunity to ask if and how the photographer uses flash!
Keep in mind, every wedding and couple are different but looking at a full gallery will give you a sense of how your day will be captured.
If you have a consultation with me for a wedding, we will sit down, have a cup of coffee (or whatever drink you prefer) and look over an entire wedding gallery. I want my potential couples to see me, all of me, all of my work, to be able to feel fully confident booking me as their wedding photographer.
COMMUNICATION : WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE BETWEEN THE PHOTOGRAPHER AND THE COUPLE?
There are numerous aspects of communication, from the very beginning when you first meet your potential wedding photographer to after the wedding when the final gallery is delivered. Communication should be open and prompt, especially when you first reach out to a photographer! When you meet with your potential photographer before booking, which you should, or at least have a video chat, you should get a sense of how well they communicate.
Ask your potential wedding photographer what that process will look like throughout the planning stages, during the wedding, and following your big day!
When you first reach out to me with your initial inquiry and wedding date, I will respond as soon as possible, within 12 hours usually, to let you know if I am available and I’ll send you back some questions to get to know you, your fiancé, and your wedding day before we jump in. Then, as you plan your wedding we will stay in touch to plan out your timeline. As a part of the services I provide, I will also help you curate a perfect timeline for your wedding so that the day runs smoothly and you are able to get every aspect that you want documented. Then, the week prior to your wedding I will reach out to confirm all the details and give you a few tips for your morning of! I want you and your (almost) spouse to be as comfortable and confident as possible heading into your wedding.
I am always available to talk if you have questions or concerns leading up to your wedding. I’ve had brides call me the night before for some last minute advice, and that’s totally okay! I am here for you, to help you, to serve you, and to capture the most special day of your life thus far. With that, the day of your wedding, I will help you navigate through the day. I will try to ask you as little questions as possible, because let’s be real, you may be a bit stressed! Remember, everyone and every couple is different. For some couples, I will direct the entire day, quietly documenting in the tender moments and loudly curating family members for photographs, if necessary. For others, I will blend into the background, capturing each moment as it unfolds.
Then, after your wedding I will keep you updated with all the things post-wedding! I will happily tell you when your sneak peeks are posted. I will let you know when your blog has been published. And, when your final photographs are edited, I will excitedly email you to tell you and be giddy with joy waiting for your reply! This is one of my favorite parts of the entire wedding process, finally being able to share your photographs with you and hear your reply as you relive your special day.
After all that is done, I’ll still be around. You may get communication from me occasionally about upcoming deals or events. I want to stay in contact. I love being connected with my couples on social media and seeing them as the years pass by. My heart is filled with joy when you buy your first house, have your first child, heck, even when you get a puppy or a job promotion! You are more than a client, you are a person, one of whom I’ve interacted with for one of the most significant days of your life!
OTHER GENERAL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER INFORMATION!
If these items are not mentioned in the photographer's website or through introductory communication, make sure you ask!
Many photographers book a year out, so do not delay! But also, don’t let that deter you if you are getting married in a few months and are still looking for your perfect match! Some photographers have a few dates open, so never be afraid to ask.
You’ll want to be sure you understand exactly what is included in their wedding collection, engagements, add ons, second shooters, albums and the contract language, including the payment schedule and travel fees! It can be technical at times, but know that it is meant for the photographer to promise their services just as much as it is meant for the couple to promise to stay committed to the photographer.
Keep in mind as you are searching, some couples find themselves comparing the prices of photographers, which is completely understandable! Be sure if you find a great “deal” that you ask how many years the photographer has been shooting weddings, if they are a registered business, and if they have liability insurance! All very important things! Some venues will not allow vendors to work on the premises without liability insurance, so check that out!
Okay.. so there may be more than 5 questions… but this is enough information to cover all the basics, and more! I want to help you in finding your ideal photographer, and it may not be me and that’s totally okay! I’m not everyone’s someone, but this can be helpful to everyone reading! These are questions you can ask any professional wedding photographer and they should be able to answer with confidence!
If after reading this, you feel like we are meant to be, feel free to reach out! I'd love to chat!