22 Questions You NEED to Ask
Potential Wedding Photographers
Is looking for your dream photographer feeling
around in the dark?
There are like a million wedding photographers out there, and picking the "right" one can seem overwhelming. I feel your pain. When I was planning my wedding a couple of years ago, I had no idea how I would possibly find my dream photographer when there were so many talented options out there with absolutely beautiful work.
Here's the thing: Not all wedding photographers are created equal.
Okay, that's a bit obvious, but let's say for example you are trying to decide between two wedding photographers. Both of them have a breathtaking portfolio, are approximately the same investment, and don't treat their business like a hobby. How are you going to decide who will capture the most important day of your life?
Answer: You'll ask the questions in this article to get to know them better, learn more about their process, and build a relationship. Then, you'll know in your gut whether a photographer will or will not make your wedding photography dreams come true.
Asking the right questions will help you make a decision that is aligned with your vision for how you want your wedding day to be captured. Fear not! I've put together a list of the top essential questions you need to ask potential wedding photographers that will help you find your perfect match and make sure they're legit.
So, grab a cup of coffee, snuggle up with your partner, and get ready to learn about the essential questions to ask any potential wedding photographer.
How would you describe your photography style?
This question is important because you want to make sure that the photographer you choose is someone whose work speaks to you. Are you into moody, atmospheric shots that feel like they belong in an indie film? Or do you prefer bright, airy images that make you feel like you're walking on clouds? Maybe you're all about the candid shots that capture the raw, unfiltered emotions of the day? Whatever your style, make sure your photographer (and their work) is on the same page.
How many images are in the final gallery?
One of the misconceptions with wedding photography is that the photographer delivers all the photos that they take, but, trust me, you don't want thousands of photos that don't tell a complete story. Make sure you know what to expect in terms of the number of images you'll receive and what the editing process looks like.
For me, I can take as many as 7,000+ photos on a wedding day, and a lot of them are either unusable, awkward, or even just unflattering. One of my jobs as a photographer is to "cull" through all the photos I take and select the best ones and those that fit in with the crafted story of the day. Trust me, you don't want to sift through 5000 photos - you'll relive your day fully and beautifully by enjoying your hand-edited and custom-curated 600-1000+ image digital gallery.
Do you provide RAW files?
RAW does not just mean "un-edited". RAW files are unprocessed and require specialized software to edit and view. Additionally, because wedding photography is an art and refined craft, most photographers will not consider RAW files an accurate reflection of their craft and thus not provide them. Some wedding photographers may be willing to provide RAWs for an additional cost.
Do you charge travel fees?
Travel fees can add up quickly, so it's important to know what to expect. If your photographer is driving to your wedding, make sure you know how far they're willing to go without charging extra.
How do you handle challenging lighting situations?
Lighting can make or break a photo, so it's important to make sure your photographer has the skills and equipment necessary to handle any lighting challenges that may arise. Whether you're getting married during golden hour or in the middle of a dark, candlelit ceremony, make sure your photographer knows how to work their camera to capture the magic.
For my clients, during the planning process, I will strategize based on the unique needs of your venue and the timeline of events. I provide all the necessary equipment to ensure every big and small moment is captured beautifully.
How do you back up RAW files? How can we ensure our wedding photos won't be lost?
Backing up images is critical to ensure that your photos are safe and won't be lost in case of a technical glitch or other unforeseen events. Make sure your photographer has a solid backup system in place, such as saving files to an external hard drive or cloud storage -- or both! This will give you peace of mind knowing that your photos are secure and accessible.
In addition to asking about backup systems, it's also important to ask about the photographer's process for protecting your photos from loss or damage. Make sure they have a plan in case of equipment failure or other emergencies. It's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to something as important as your wedding photos.
The camera bodies I use all have two slots, so there are two memory cards simultaneously saving your images. If my primary card fails for some reason, all the data is safe on a backup card. Memory cards are stored in a waterproof case, and as soon as I can following a session or a wedding, I copy all image files to a hard drive which is also backed up to cloud storage. Long story short, I keep all files on multiple SD cards, a hard drive, and in cloud storage, so there are multiple fail-safes to protect your precious memories before I deliver your gallery.
Do you do any retouching?
Retouching can mean different things to different photographers. Some may only do basic edits like adjusting exposure and color, while others may go all out with skin smoothing and digital makeup. Make sure you understand what the photographer means by retouching and what level of retouching will be done on your photos. You don't want to end up looking like a totally different person!
I make sure any blemishes disappear, that your teeth are pearly white, and that your hair is tamed. What retouching does not mean is adding makeup, adjusting body types, or making you look like an Instagram filter! You are going to look like your own beautiful (or handsome) self in your wedding day photos!
What does it mean to have "personal print rights/license"?
Personal print rights mean that you have the right to print your photos for personal use. This is important because photographers generally retain copyright ownership, which means they technically own the photos and you can't print them without their permission. Make sure you understand what your rights are and what you can and cannot do with your photos after your wedding. This will help you avoid any potential legal issues and ensure that you can display your beautiful photos in your home for years to come.
While I retain copyright ownership of the images in my clients' wedding galleries, they have full personal print rights and license for social media use. They can use your favorite wedding photos to post on social media, for prints as gifts or in their home, or really anything you can think of - as long as it is not commercial. I also do not allow clients to add filters or edits to images.
How do we secure our date with you?
Booking your photographer is one of the most important steps in planning your wedding, so make sure you know how to reserve their services. Some photographers may require a deposit or retainer fee to hold your date, so ask about their specific policies and procedures. It's always a good idea to have a written contract that outlines all the details and protects both you and the photographer. I require at least a 25% retainer to secure my services for your date. This is paid upon signing your contract. The retainer applies toward your final balance and is not a separate fee.
Do you offer a discount if we pay in full?
If you're working with a more limited budget, paying in full upfront can be a great way to save some money, so it's worth asking if your photographer offers any discounts for this. However, make sure you understand the terms and conditions of any discount or special offer. You don't want to end up losing money if something unexpected happens and you need to cancel or reschedule your wedding.
What is your cancellation/refund policy?
Canceling a wedding can be a difficult decision, but it's important to know your options and rights in case it happens. Ask your photographer about their cancellation policy and whether you can receive any refunds for the retainer or payments made. This will help you make an informed decision and avoid any unnecessary financial losses.
If we change our wedding to a different date, will we be able to use our retainer fee towards a future date?
Life happens, and sometimes we need to change our plans. If you need to reschedule your wedding, make sure you know whether your photographer is willing to transfer your retainer fee to a future date. This can be especially important if you've already built a relationship with your photographer and don't want to lose them as a vendor.
For me, it depends on my availability on your date. There is no guarantee that I can transfer my services to your new date since your retainer only blocks off your original date. I address this situation on a case-by-case basis.
How do you approach capturing candid moments during the day?
While posed photos are important, candid moments can capture the true emotion and energy of your wedding day. Ask your potential photographer how they approach capturing candid moments throughout the day.
What if we're not doing a traditional wedding?
Unconventional weddings are so in right now, and I love it! But not all photographers have experience shooting them. You want to make sure your photographer has an open mind and can adapt to whatever style you choose. Whether you're exchanging vows on a mountaintop or in a backyard, make sure your photographer is up for the adventure.
It's your wedding, so make it your own! Your day should represent you and your love, so if you want to go hiking, on a coffee crawl, to a library, skiing, bar-hopping, or end the night with a big greasy pizza - let's do it! I'm with you every step of the way!
What's your experience working with our specific wedding venue?
If you have a particular wedding venue in mind, it's worth asking your photographer if they have worked there before. An experienced photographer may already be familiar with the venue's lighting and layout, making it easier to capture beautiful shots. If they have not shot there before, ask if they are willing to do a venue walk-through prior to the big day.
How long will it take to receive our photos?
It's important to have a realistic timeline for when you'll receive your wedding photos. Ask your photographer how long it typically takes for them to deliver the final images and what their process is for editing and delivering them. Clear expectations prevent miscommunication! Also, make sure this turnaround time is explicitly stated in the contract with the photographer.
How do you handle difficult family dynamics during group photos? What if I have a large family or one with lots of divorces and "steps"?
Family dynamics can be tricky, especially during formal group photos. Ask your photographer how they handle challenging situations like estranged family members or family members who don't get along. Your photographer will be running the show during formal group photos, so you want to make sure they are ready to wrangle family while also being sensitive to tough family dynamics.
Do you have backup equipment on hand?
Equipment failures can happen, but a professional photographer will always have backup equipment on hand. Ask your photographer if they have backup cameras, lenses, and other equipment in case of an emergency. I always have at absolute minimum two or three camera bodies, numerous lenses, dozens of SD cards, and countless batteries.
How do you ensure that we look our best in our photos?
You want to look your best on your wedding day, and a skilled photographer can help make that happen. Ask your potential photographer about their approach to posing and lighting, and how they ensure their subjects look their best in photos. In my opinion, everyone looks their best when they feel comfortable and are having fun, so I like to get to know my couples and have loads of fun!
Can I provide a shot list?
If you have specific photos you'd like to have captured on your wedding day, it's worth asking your photographer if you can provide a shot list. This can help ensure that all of your must-have shots are captured. However, I work with my clients to make sure the photography timeline contemplates all those "must-have" shots.
How many weddings have you lead shot?
Experience is key when it comes to wedding photography. Ask your potential photographer how many weddings they've shot, and if they have experience shooting weddings similar to yours in size and style.
Do you have liability insurance?
Professional photographers should have liability insurance to protect themselves and their clients in case of accidents or mishaps. Ask your photographer if they have liability insurance and what it covers. If they are not insured, it is a major red flag that they are a hobbyist photographer and not a professional.
Remember, your wedding day is a once-in-a-lifetime event, so don't be afraid to ask all the questions you need to feel comfortable and confident in your choice of photographer.
Choosing the right photographer for your wedding is an important decision, and it's important to ask the right questions to find someone who will capture your unique style and personality. Whether you're planning a traditional wedding or something more unconventional, asking about their photography style, backup systems, and policies for cancellations and rescheduling will help you find the perfect fit. So, go ahead and use these questions to find your perfect match and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Need more help? Have more questions? Pop in my inbox through my contact form so we can chat more about your vision for your big day!