Hiring a wedding photographer is no simple task. Most people have no real idea on what to ask or look for in a photographer. If they’re portfolio looks good and they are within the budget, most people would think– OK, let’s book!…… Right?!
Well, not really.
There are a few things you might want to think about and ask before you book your wedding photographer. It’s a big investment, and the one thing that you will have to look back on years after you say ‘I Do.’ I know I am biased, but I always tell people: “Thirty years from now will you remember the flavor of your cake? NO. Will you remember the type of flowers? NO. But you will look at your photos. And you will either appreciate, or regret the quality of photos that documented your most special day.”
Here is my list of TOP 10 MOST CRUCIAL QUESTIONS to ask your photographer….before you book!
1.Are the digital files included?
- How can I use these files?
- Do I own the copyrights?
- Are they high resolution?
- Is there a logo on the files?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions I get as a wedding photographer — and understandably so! Most people want the digital files. But what they often forget to specify when they ask is the details about how the digital files can be used. Some photographers offer ‘low resolution social media photos’ with their logo/branding printed on the file, some offer high resolution without any logo. It’s a good idea to specifically ask about what is included, and if it costs extra to add this on. If you want to print your photos from the digital files at a later date, you want to ask for “THE HIGH RESOLUTION JPEGS WITH COPYRIGHT RELEASE”.
2. Are you insured?
- Liability insurance?
- A business license?
Basically, you want to be sure your photographer’s business is legit incase something bad happens. If the photographer damages something during your wedding, the last thing you need is a legal battle falling in your lap. They should have a business license, and a business insurance policy including liability insurance. Everything wedding related costs a fortune so be sure your photog (and all your vendors for that matter) have their bases covered!
3. What does ‘editing’ entail?
- Is retouching included?
- How much retouching do you do?
The word ‘EDITING’ can encompass a wide variety of services.This should be something to be aware of when you are shopping around for a photographer– before you make your final decision. Be sure to ask your photographer what all they normally retouch. You can easily judge by their portfolio if they retouch too much, too little, or just the right amount for your preference. Most photographers have a set ‘look’ and ‘style’ of editing. This can include color tones, sharpness, lighting, and wether the skin looks more natural or smooth and finished. Some people prefer au naturel while others may want that snap chat filter smoothness! It really is personal preference, and no certain way is right or wrong. Just be sure that what you’re envisioning is in sync with your photographer’s style.
4. Do you offer second shooters?
Most photographers either have a second shooter included in their packages, or they offer it as an add-on. Second shooters are a great thing to have on your wedding day and can really make the day flow a lot smoother. They come in handy especially during ‘getting ready’ photos, as the main shooter can be with the bride while the second shooter can capture the guys getting ready at the same time. It is also great to have double coverage for the ceremony. The main shooter focuses on the ‘must have’ photos (where the action is happening), while the second shooter documents all those little moments that might be missed, extra detail shots, and unique angles. If your photographer does not offer a second shooter, and/or you really don’t want one, you should ask about their back up. What if they get sick? What if they get a flat tire on the way there? They should at least have a shooter who is available that day incase of emergency.
5. Have you ever worked at this venue?
It is a good idea to hire a photographer who is familiar with the venue where your wedding will be held. If they have photographed a wedding at the venue previously, they will be familiar with the best spots for lighting, hidden areas that might make great photo ops, and will be more prepared on what equipment/lighting to bring. If they haven’t photographed a wedding there before, they should be able to get a day pass to visit the location before the wedding day and scout out good photo spots. Most photographers will prefer to know what they are walking into, so they may even arrive a bit early to check it out that day.
6. Can you recommend a timeline for the best lighting?
TRUST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER! When it comes to the timeline and lighting, let your photographer guide you. Trust me on this one, lighting can make or break a photo. You will want to schedule your bride/groom photos during the ‘Golden Hour’ (one hour before sunset). You can Google the date of your wedding and find out sunset times for that day. But really, above all else, just ask your photographer to help you with your timeline to ensure you get the best lighting and you are working within their recommendations.
7. Can I see a wedding you’ve photographed from beginning to end?
Some less experienced photographers may just have a few ‘highlights’ showcased on their website. What you want to be sure of, is that your photographer is well experienced and well equipped to capture top notch photos in every lighting condition, through fast paced timelines, and high pressure moments ……like the first kiss! Are they a ‘natural light photographer’? GREAT! But what lighting will they be bringing for the dark night time reception photos? Are they really skilled at capturing candid moments and quietly noticing the details in the background? AWESOME! But how well do they wrangle up a large bridal party that has had a few too many beers? Catch my drift?
8. Can we meet/ book a session before the wedding day?
What they never tell you……is that your wedding photographer will be spending more time with you on your wedding day than most of your family and friends. They will be there documenting the quiet intimate moments, and celebrating with you as they capture your fun party photos. They will be gently guiding your grandmother to stand in formation during family photos, and introducing themselves as they ask your closest friends to gather for a group snapshot at the reception. Don’t you want to be sure your photographer is a pleasure to be around?!?! Booking an engagement session before the wedding day can help the three of you to build a level of comfortability and trust before the big day. It can help you and your fiance to get loosened up and feel more natural in front of the camera, as well as help your photographer to understand the energy between the two of you. Are you romantic and touchy feely? Are you more like best friends? Every couple has a different vibe, and you want your photographer to capture you both as your are naturally!
9. How long is your turnaround time on editing the photos?
Because, DUH we want our photos ASAP!!!!
10 .How many weddings do you photograph per year?
This is a tricky one. What I mainly want to stress here is to make sure that your photographer is not over-booking, spreading themselves too thin, and falling short on quality/customer service. I see this a lot for new business owners especially and it is one thing I have made a point to never do in my own business! Most photographers I know, who shoot weddings ONLY, do between 20-30/year. If they shoot other genres besides weddings, it is usually no more than 15/year. Some photographers (usually with a studio) have multiple photographers that they work with and can book many more than that. You should always check reviews on sites like WeddingWire.com, TheKnot.com, and even Yelp.com. Try communicating back and forth a few times before booking to make sure they are quick to respond and professional in their communication.