So you’ve trawled through 100’s of wedding photography websites, you’ve made a spreadsheet and a rating system and you’ve finally narrowed it down to three wedding photographers that you think tick all the boxes. Next you decide to meet all of them in person over coffee to decide who to choose. But what questions should really you be asking?
There are several resources out there on bridal websites that give you a list of questions. Some of the lists are better than others, but here are 20 questions I wish I would be asked by couples more often, because they really get down to the heart of the matter and can really show you how they will approach your wedding and your wedding day.
The exact answer will depend on which photographer you ask. Everyone runs their business slightly different, but what you’re looking for is a well thought out answer that you can agree with and get on board with. You’re looking to see “do I like this person?” and “do I agree with their approach on this”. Your satisfaction as a client can
So this list below is a list of questions that I would love to have couples as me more frequently and I definitely think you should be asking when you sit down with your potential wedding photographer:
1: What happens if you’re sick on my wedding day?
99.9% of all wedding are self employed and are either working for just themselves or working with their spouse/partner. The reason for this is you’re essentially hiring an artistic service. Everyone has their own eye and their own approach. You can hand two photographers the same exact camera on the same exact wedding day and have two completely different sets of images.
So how does someone who is self employed have a back up plan when they are sick? Sick photographers are thankfully very rare but your potential wedding photographer should already have an emergency plan just incase they wake up with appendicitis the morning of your wedding.
2: Do you have insurance?
Insurance that every professional wedding photographer should have includes liability, equipment and indemnity insurance. Bonus points for rental coverage incase their gear is stolen. Wedding photographers are running a business and it’s important that they’ve have insurance for “just in case”.
If the photographer answers that they don’t have insurance coverage what-so-ever, then don’t hire that person. Plain and simple.
3: Can I see a full wedding gallery that is similar to the wedding that I’m planning?
Naturally the photos in a photographers portfolio are the ones that they think are their best. But the thing that you want to see is what a full gallery from a wedding looks like. After all, it doesn’t matter what the single best image from your wedding it, it matters what the 500-th best image from the set is.
The biggest element that affects wedding photography is the lighting situations, so find out about weddings that may have similar lighting situations to yours. Getting married in a barn venue in the middle of winter? See about seeing a wedding that takes place in at least a dark venue. Getting married in the middle of summer in garden? See about seeing a summer wedding with bright lighting conditions. Full wedding galleries will be the best example of what your final set of images will look like and the overall quality that you can expect.
4: Who is your second shooter?
Some wedding photography brands always work with their significant other, some brands work with a good friend that always shoots that weddings with them and some photographers just use student or trainee photographers to fill that role. However most photographers work with a small group of other photographers that they call on frequently to help them at weddings.
It’s not uncommon for the main photographer to not know exactly who will be second shooting your wedding a year in advance of your day, but you should be looking at the type of person that photographer likes to hire. Consider asking to see a wedding that was shot as just a one photographer package and a wedding that was shot with their regular second shooter.
5: What happens if my wedding runs late?
Even the most perfectly planned weddings can have delays. All of your guests on a coach that gets lost? Wedding breakfast takes longer to serve than expected? That speech that was suppose to only be 10 minutes long is now 40? Power cut at the wedding venue? None of these things will “ruin” your wedding, but it can make your wedding run a little over schedule. I would say it’s more common to see a wedding running a little late than to see one that’s right on schedule. Ask your potential photographer how they handle the overtime. Some wedding photographers are booked on an hourly rate, so find out what they do when the wedding is running late outside of your control.
6: How do you approach family pictures?
The exact answer will vary between photographers but what you’re looking for here is an answer with confidence and an approach you can get on board with. Family pictures can be one of the most difficult portions of a wedding photographers work day and you want to see if they have an approach that streamlines it and makes it more enjoyable for all. Have a good idea of what photos are important to you, and talk about how they would work them into your wedding schedule. An experienced photographer will have an approach that they’ve found works best and should be able to talk to you about it.
7: How do you backup your images after you shoot?
Don’t feel awkward about asking this question at all. I’ve seen a few articles online about “cowboy wedding photographers” just putting the memory card in their wallet and leaving it there for weeks without backing it up and then losing their wallet (see the story here). Or another instance where a new wedding photographer just left her images on the laptop in her car and then the laptop was stolen.
A well established and experienced photographer will have thought out the process of backing up your images and be able to walk you through what they do to ensure your photos are kept safe until they are delivered to you.
8: What do you do when family members are very keen on getting in your way for photos?
Overly edger wedding guests can be a thing, so how does your potential wedding photographer approach this? You might not be worried about your own guests being too difficult, but their answer here could be an interesting insight on how they work on the day, how they will interact with guests and how they handle difficult situations.
9: How long will you take my partner and I for photos during the wedding day?
The photo above is one that I shot during Melody and Fergus’s wedding. For this wedding, Melody and Fergus had scheduled the wedding day so they could go out and do photos in the morning before the ceremony. So we had loads of extra time to head out to a few different locations, including driving out to these arches specifically for this photo. However most wedding days aren’t structured like this. Ask about your favourite images on that photographers site and get a good idea of how much time those images take to shoot and what it takes to make that photo happen. You may love the photos of the couples with the mountains, but how long do you need out of the day to get up to that location? Think about this information and how you want your wedding day to feel and your wedding schedule to flow.
10: How do you prepare for my wedding?
There’s multiple sides to running a wedding photography business and taking the photos is the most fun aspect of it all. On the flip side there’s bucket loads of organisation and admin to keep it all running smoothly. A organised wedding photographer can make the whole process easier for you in the run up to your wedding.
I’ve heard a few stories of wedding photographers that take beautiful images but just dropped the ball when it came to all of the other details. Do they do a site visit? Do they do any other research?
Find out how your potential wedding photographer prepares for your wedding and what they do to make sure they have all of the important details before your wedding day. That will give you an insight into their organisational process and how they stay on top of their admin.
11: What do you do if it rains?
No matter what time of year you decide to get married, poor weather is a very real possibility. When choosing a venue, you’ll want to look for somewhere that has more than enough space to accommodate your guests indoors comfortably all day, and when you’re looking at a potential photographer, you’ll want to find someone that has lots of tricks up their sleeve to photographing in the rain.
12: Will you be using my wedding images on your website?
If your not sure you want your photos appearing online or on the photographers website, have that conversation with them in advance. Some photographers charge extra for a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and some photographers want to display as many weddings and images on their website as possible to expand their portfolio, so that may be something you need to look out for if you’re not sure you want your wedding photos on the internet.
13: What do you do if our wedding officiant restricts photography during the ceremony?
The rules of the ceremony are set by the officiant, and in some cases not all the restrictions are known about until just before the wedding ceremony. Does your potential photographer play by the officiants rules? How do they approach the ceremony and where do they stand? In some cases the photographer can only stand in one place during the ceremony that’s dictated by the officiant. So how does this photographer get around those restrictions to still provide you photos of your ceremony?
14: What if I’m not happy with the final result?
Happy clients don’t happen by magic. It takes communication, experience, and a bucket load of hard work. It’s about knowing what your clients want and meeting those expectations. When you’re speaking to someone about photographing your wedding, ask them about their process and how they ensure their clients are happy.
They might be initially surprised by the question, as it’s not one that’s really ever asked a client meeting, but they should have already really thought about the process to ensure their clients walk away happy with their images.
15: How noticeable will you be on the wedding day?
Whenever I tell someone what I do, I almost always hear stories about someone’s wedding. I’ve heard some amazing stories about how great the wedding photographer was a someone’s wedding and I’ve also heard stories of the photographers running around in circles and making the guests feel uncomfortable.
In short, the conversation your guests are having at the wedding should be about anything than how annoying they find the wedding photographer. You want your guests to feel comfortable while having their photo taken and to not be feel like they are being “papped”.
Photos like the one below, happen when the guests aren’t aware of the photographers presence. You also of course want loads of photos of your guests having a great time, so how does the photographer approach this and make sure that you and your guests are comfortable?
16: What’s your policy regarding providing RAW files?
Virtually all wedding photographers only provide a final set of edited JPEG images after the wedding. However if you have any expectation of seeing every single image taken at the wedding, it’s best to discuss that before signing the contract with the photographer.
17: Is there any hidden or extra charges?
While most wedding photographer packages are fairly similar, but find out if there’s any extra charges that might be important. Are there any travel costs? What about if there are parking chargers near your venue? What about VAT?
18: Are the photos on your website yours?
As insane as this sounds, there has been cases found of “photographers” stealing images from the internet to pass off as their own. You can see examples of this happening on the Stop Stealing Photos Blog. The photography industry has turned to self-policing itself to help insure that unsuspecting clients are duped by someone stealing another photographers portfolio.
Why someone would steal wedding images? I don’t completely understand. I guess they were dismayed to realise that it actually takes years of hard work to build up a wedding photography portfolio and they thought they would take a short cut and nobody would notice?
Go with your gut, if the photos on a photographers website are outstanding but they are only charging a fraction of the price of a comparable photographer something may be wrong. Do a reverse google image search and see where else on the internet that photo appears. A little big of leg work here can save a lot of heartache.
The best way to not be caught up on this is to ask to see a full wedding gallery. From there you can see all of the photos delivered as the final set to the client, which is considerably harder to fake.
19: How will you help ensure that my wedding day run smoothly?
If you’re not having an wedding coordinator or if your venue doesn’t offer this service, your wedding photographer might be the most hands on professional available at your wedding. How “hands on” are are they in their approach to your wedding? Do they do anything to help ensure that your wedding runs smoothly and on time? Little things like this can dramatically help your experience of your wedding day.
Some wedding photographers are comfortable being hands on while others are more comfortable taking a back seat and not affecting the wedding at all. While wedding photographers of course aren’t the same as a wedding planner a good wedding photographer could be worth their weight in gold, even in the run up to the day.
20: Do you have any tips for our wedding?
Wedding photographers are in the unique situation of seeing a lot of weddings with a huge variation of wedding schedules and locations. They’ve seen it all, and often they can have a lot of insight and tips in ways you can make your wedding run smoothly or unique ideas to help your guests have a great time. They might know of some great vendors for other areas of your wedding. Pick their brain!
After all, we like weddings and we want you to have a great time at yours!