Are you still looking for a Wedding Photographer? Want to make sure you choose the person who is the best fit for you and your fiancé? Well, I’ve got a list of 10 key questions to ask when choosing your Wedding Photographer that should help you decide who is the best option for you!
After all, hiring a wedding photographer is one of the biggest investments you’ll be making while planning your wedding. You want to book knowing that you are making the best decision possible, right? I’ve heard too many horror stories about brides who went with the cheaper photographer and it just makes me ache for them!
Once you’ve confirmed that the photographer has your wedding date available, this list may help you narrow down your top choices. These questions address the wedding photographer’s style, what they provide to their couples, and how they operate their business.
*Something to really pay attention to is how well the photographer communicates with you. Do they respond in a timely manner (1 to 2 days) during normal business hours (Mon-Fri)? Do they communicate in a way that is clear and easy to understand? Or do you feel like you are reading broken messages with poor grammar that makes their emails hard to decipher?
There are tons of photography styles out there– from light & airy, bright & vibrant, dark & moody, and everything in between. You should be able to tell what the photographer’s editing style is by their consistent portfolio. Choosing a photographer that specializes in the specific style you are drawn to is key. That style is what fires them up!
Asking them to edit in a different style is asking them to produce work that just isn’t what they love. I guarantee there is a photographer out there that photographs in the style that you love! Remember: editing is different than retouching. Editing is fixing things like the color temperature of the image, making sure it’s straight, adjust the exposure, etc.
Retouching is work like removing blemishes, smoothing skin, fixing a strap that has fallen, whitening teeth, removing objects in the background, etc. Most clients will refer to this as “photo-shopping.” This type of work is significantly more labor intensive and not usually done with massive galleries like weddings. If you do expect retouching to be done, just keep in mind that this may come at an additional cost when requested.
On average, most weddings can receive complete coverage of their wedding day with 8 hours of photography. If you are having a large reception, a longer ceremony (over 30 minutes), or have multiple locations for Getting Ready, the Ceremony, and the Reception, you may need additional coverage. Your photographer should be able to take your plans into account and create a timeline that will, in turn, show you how much coverage you really need.
If you pay for 8 hours and then decide you want the photographer to stay longer, be sure to know how much this will cost you per additional hour so that you don’t request more coverage than you have budgeted.
Are you having a wedding that is several hours away from your photographer’s city of work? Are you having a destination wedding? Make sure you know what your photographer will require for travel. Typically they will ask for mileage/airfare (depending on the distance), one night in a hotel, and an allowance for food, and possibly childcare.
This is HUGE! Photographer’s business models can differ significantly. Some will provide you all of your images, some may only provide up to a certain number, and others may not provide any and require them to be purchased separately.
I ensure that my clients will have LIFETIME ACCESS to their images online. However, technology is never 100% reliable. I always recommend that they save their images onto an external drive/disk like a USB drive.
High resolution images are ideal for printing, artwork (like canvases, etc.). Social media files are lower quality created specifically to work well with Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to know if you only receive the social media-sized images from your photographer to avoid any surprises or additional charges later on.
Some photographers require 50% of the total invoice paid upfront to reserve your date at a minimum. Other photographers may allow you to pay 1/3 down and the rest over time. Make sure you know your payment plan requirements/options. This should be outlined in your contract to see prior to signing.
P.S.- Don’t forget Sales Tax! It sucks, I know, but most states REQUIRE that Sales Tax be charged on the full package price regardless if tangible/physical items are purchased.
Does your photographer allow you to sign and pay online? Or do you have to mail in a check and copy of the contract signed? This may seem like a small thing at first, but it can become inconvenient over the course of a year if you have multiple payments to make.
Some wedding photographers have decided to expand their businesses in order to serve more clients. They are able to do this by adding associate photographers to their team. Well, a photographer can only be at one wedding at a time!
If the photographer you are considering mentions having a team of associate photographers, be sure to ask who specifically will be photographing your wedding (in case it isn’t them) so that you aren’t surprised in a bad way later on.
I know it’s scary to think about, but sometimes things happen. Maybe your photographer becomes extremely ill or has a death in the family. What happens then?
This is one of the BIG reasons I now REQUIRE a second photographer to be with me on your wedding day. If I were to become ill, have an accident (I’ve seen it!), or something crazy, I want to know that I have a photographer already there with me that I can trust to serve you.
If something happens immediately BEFORE your wedding day (not on the day of), I have a fantastic network of other photographers that I can reach out to to, then, replace my original “second photographer” so that there are still two photographers present to capture your day. I’ve never had this happen, but I like to be prepared!
This is where I revert to my answer for Question #6. I want to be as prepared as possible for anything so I always have a second photographer with me now. Plus, I love having two perspectives available throughout your wedding day to ensure a full and well-rounded gallery.
Not every photographer has a secondary one with them throughout the day, however. I started off photographing weddings totally solo! It CAN be done! But if you are wanting two photographers at your wedding to provide a larger scope of coverage, be sure to ask if this is included in the package you’ve selected or if there is an additional fee to make it happen.
Like many expectations, this should be outlined in your photographer’s contract. Depending on how busy your photographer is with other weddings and photo sessions, the timeline for image delivery can range from 3-4 weeks to upwards of 2-3 months. Don’t be afraid to ask! You don’t want to be left wondering when you’ll get to see your gallery.
So, what’s a Shot List? Personally, I consider a Shot List to be comprised of two types of Wish Lists: photos of moments throughout the day that you want me to look out for, wedding day details you want captured, as well as a list of family combinations to be photographed during Family Formals time. I find these to be SUPER helpful and I specifically ask for them. However…
I do not ask for a Shot List in terms of “I want this specific image I saw on Pinterest to be recreated.” There are countless factors that go into creating a photo and a photographer cannot guarantee that they can reproduce something perfectly 100%. Now, I will always TRY to get shots like this that you express interest in, but wedding days can be very unpredictable so most photographers will use this type of Shot List as a guide not a rule book.
Similar to whether or not a photographer will provide you with digital files in your wedding package, providing a print release isn’t a requirement either. It’s up to the photographer on how they set their business model.
I ALWAYS encourage clients to purchase prints through their gallery. This is because the images are printed from a professional printing company to ensure the highest quality. However, I do also provide my clients with a print release. This means that if they would like to also print images on their own they can (I just can’t guarantee the quality of them).
Some photographers ONLY allow you to purchase prints through them and do not provide the print release to you. Others will but only with an additional fee since they won’t be receiving print sales from you. Again, this should be in your contract but it’s always good to ask if you don’t see it mentioned!
Another super important factor when considering who to hire as your wedding photographer can’t actually be answered by the photographer! It’s a question you actually have to answer yourself—and that is: do you like their personality? Would you get along with them throughout your whole wedding day?
A wedding photographer can provide you with answers to the technical stuff that sets your mind at ease and lines up with your budget, but if you don’t mesh with who they are as a person then you simply won’t have a great photography experience. Your photographer is the one vendor that you’ll be interacting with the most throughout your wedding day. You want to be relaxed as if you’re just hanging out with a good friend, not feel stressed and uncomfortable.
Want to see if you and I mesh? You can learn more about me through my blog or by following me on Facebook and Instagram!
Stay tuned for more Engagement & Wedding Tips soon!
Christy Hunter is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Tucson, Arizona.
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