QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER – THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UUUUUGLY
Ok, so you’ve found a photographer whose work you love and you’re about to meet with them.
You might feel like you should go armed with a few questions to ask, and this is a pretty good idea. But how do you know what to ask?
I trawled magazines and blogs for “questions to ask a wedding photographer” so you don’t have to, and here are the results: the good, the bad and the uuuugly!
1. Can I see some full colections from past weddings?
For me, this is one of the most important questions you could ask as it will tell you nearly everything you need to know. In the next section you’ll see a list of questions I would replace with this very query.
You want to know that a photographer can consistently produce the goods, no matter what the day throws at them. Portfolios, sample albums, social media streams etc are all great, but they only show you the images us photographers are most proud of. I think you need to see at least one example of ALL the photographs a couple received from their wedding day. This is theonly way to get an idea of what you should expect in your collection.
All wedding days are different, so it is worth asking to see some weddings that have taken place at the same time of year as yours and at your venue, or a similar style venue (I wouldn’t get too hung up on whether a photographer has worked at your chosen venue, more on that in a bit).
2. Do you work with a second photographer/assistant?
This is a good question to ask, but I don’t think there’s one “good” answer.
All that matters, whether a photographer works alone or with a second, is that they are consistently producing beautiful collections of wedding photographs that fully tell the story of the day for very happy couples.
Personally, I love to capture a “guest’s eye view” and working on my own I find this easier to achieve. I get to know your quests quicker and they are happier to open up to me.
However, there are some weddings for which having two photographers is incredibly helpful: If you want the morning of the wedding covered and both parties are miles away from each other, two photographers are essential. If your day is action packed and there isn’t much time between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast: a second photographer means that everything is less stressed and there is more time for photography, and for drinking!
That said, I don’t work with assistant or trainee photographers. I think that if a two photographer team is to be successful, each member must be confident, creative and experienced. If I need to check on what the other photographer is doing; can’t trust them to cover aspects of the wedding beautifully on their own; or am constantly answering questions – then the second photographer is doing more harm than good.
So when I recommend a second photographer, I am recruiting from a pool of amazing, experienced, professional photographers who I know are going to compliment the work I am doing and be a lot of fun for everyone to hang out with on the big day too.
3. What Happens if you are sick or can’t attend the wedding for any other reason?
All the wedding photographers I know take their commitment to their couples REALLY seriously. There would need to be an extremely good reason for them not to be able to attend your big day.
Sadly, none of us are invincible however and if, God forbid, the worse happens, you want to know that your photographer is plugged into at least one network of great photographers who can step in at a moment’s notice.
4. How long after the wedding do we get to see the photos?
This is worth asking as delivery times can vary wildly.
Personally, I wouldn’t choose a photographer just because they turned around collections quickly, but then I would say this as it can take me up to ten weeks when I’m at my busiest. Having spent hours on planning and taking your wedding photographs, I don’t want to rush the final element of creating your collection, nor do I want to outsource this, so if you want those pictures speedily, I’m not the girl for you!
Even if you believe all good things come to those who wait, it is still good to have the right expectations and to be able to set your loved ones’ expectations too.
All of this said, I totally understand that you are excited to see and share some photographs almost as soon as the day is over. That’s why I create “sneaky peek” slideshows for you. For me this is a perfect compromise and might be worth asking about also.
5. Do you have public liability and professional indemnity insurance? Do you carry backup equipment?
The answer to both of these should be an unequivocal “yes”!
6. Would you be able to accommodate any ideas we may have in mind?
Not to be confused with “will you work from a shot list?” (shot lists are the death of creativity). I love working with creative couples who come bursting with ideas. The more involved you are in the ideas for your photography, the more “you” they will be! It’s also so much fun working together to come up with something unique.
It is also worth talking about any photographs you would be really disappointed not to have (for instance, some photographers refuse to take formal group photographs or will insist upon a limited number) or any photographs you really don’t want (don’t want any group photographs at all? Check your photographer will be comfortable capturing the important people naturally).
7. How would you describe your working style? Do you prefer to blend into the background to capture candid moments, or do you like to be more visible and take charge to choreograph images?
Whilst a photographer’s photographic style should be evident in their work, it’s a pretty good idea to understand their working style, to check it fits with you, what is most going to put you at ease and the feel of your day.
BONUS: ASK THIS QUESTION AND ANY PHOTOGRAPHER WILL LOVE YOU…
Will you need a hot meal?
We are human and we run on human food. Your photographer may well be on their feet, working a pretty physically demanding job, for around 10 to 12 hours. Refuelling them with a hot meal at some point is a really good idea. We don’t expect the full wedding breakfast but most venues will provide some sort of “vendor meal” and it is so, so welcome. And it truly does help us to be at our best in the latter hours of the day.
OK so I’ve cheated a bit here! I guess these aren’t necessarily bad questions, but I think you can find out sooooo much more by simply asking:
Can you show me a few complete wedding collections?
- How long have you been shooting weddings? How many weddings have you photographed?
I’ve been shooting weddings for 18 years and there isn’t much that can happen at a wedding that I haven’t already dealt with. Yes, there is definitely a benefit to that, I’m certainly much more confident than I was 18 years ago, but I wouldn’t let that be a deciding factor in choosing a photographer. If you like a photographer’s style and like what you see in their full collections, I think this is so much more important.
2. How would you describe your photography style? What would you compare your work to?
Again, checking out a photographer’s full collections should tell you all you need to know about their style and whether they create the sort of photographs you love.
3. Do you offer retouching, colour adjustment, or other corrective services? Are those included or an additional charge?
Again, look at the full collections that past clients received to get a better understanding of how your finished collection will look.
4. Have you ever shot a wedding at our ceremony and reception venues? If not, do you plan to check the venues out in advance?
Again, it is helpful if a photographer knows your venue well and if the venue recommend a photographer and you love their work, this is great! However, some of the best weddings I’ve shot have been at venues I’d never seen before. A good photographer will do a great job of telling the story of your day, reacting to events as they unfold, regardless of whether they have been in that venue before. Besides, the same venue can look completely different at different times of the year and in different light and weather conditions, so the home advantage isn’t always that great. What you lose in familiarity, you gain in fresh perspective.
I think it’s much more important to know that they are the right fit for the kind of wedding you are planning and the time of year you are getting married. So, if you are getting married in a stately home in December, you want to see full collections of similar weddings, if possible, not just tippees in the summer. In fact, if you are having a winter wedding or if there are special events planned for the evening, then you really want to see a photographer’s low light work.
Yet more cheating! These aren’t bad questions, just ones you should know the answers to before arranging to meet a photographer.
- Is my wedding date available?
- Will you be the one shooting my wedding?
- What is included in your standard packages?
- Is there a package that includes an album? Is there a package that just includes the digital files? If I buy an album after the wedding how much will it cost?
- Will you create a bespoke collection with just the coverage and products we want?
- Do you charge overtime fees?
- Will there be a travel fee to our chosen venue?
- In what form will we receive the images and will we be able to print them ourselves?
Obviously, no question is off limits and if you were thinking of asking any of these questions, more power to you. I just want to let you know the questions that might make your photographer cringe and why.
- How will you be dressed?
This kind of implies we might turn up looking like a tramp. Or naked.
Your photographer is not a guest at your wedding and they will be doing a fairy physical job which may require them to get into weird positions or even lie on the floor (although this may be just me!) However, they’re a professional and they should know how to dress like one.
2.Can we request a list of specific shots we would like?
Most wedding photographers hate a shot list!
If there are one or two specific photographs you’d be disappointed not to have, then yes, we want to hear that! Is your something borrowed your Nan’s broach? Tell us! Do you and your friends from school always have a certain photograph taken at all your weddings? Yes, we need to know that.
But whilst it’s great to know what group photographs you would like, micro-managing your photographer is a really bad idea. If we have our nose in a shot list, making sure we’ve got every wedding-blog inspired shot covered, that really doesn’t leave much space to be creative.
If you like a photographer’s past collections, trust that they will create something equally beautiful for you. A good wedding photographer will not want to promise any specific photographs, only that they will capture your unique day in a collection of beautiful images.
3. What type of equipment do you use to shoot and edit?
If a photographer consistently creates the sort of beautiful work you like, why does it matter what they use to create it?
Obviously, if you’re a photographer yourself or have an interest in photography, you might want to talk kit. That’s great, we are all total gearheads and I, for one, could bore on this subject for hours. But this shouldn’t be a deciding factor when choosing the right photographer. Even if they shoot Nikon.
4. Can we see all of the photographs you take on the day?
A good wedding photographer will create for you a beautiful collection of hundreds of images. The final number will depend on a few factors such as the number of formal photographs requested and how many hours they were in attendance for, but most full day collections run to at least 400 images.
Curating and editing these images takes time and is all part of the process of creating a beautiful collection. The RAW files our cameras create are just that, “raw” and giving you the raw material would take away some of the magic of the finished work. Trust us, we won’t be hiding any amazing images from you!
5. Are you able to shoot our wedding like this? [insert photographs from a completely different photographer]
For a good photographer, style is something that comes naturally to them, so if they work in someone else’s style the results will probably be disappointing at best. So, if you want a particular style of photography, book a photographer who works in that style. Also, we all have fairly delicate egos and want to know you’re booking us for the unique flowers that we are!