Choosing your wedding photographer can be an incredibly stressful and difficult process and a lot of times, it can feel like sifting through gallery after gallery, website after website, image after image & just trying to decide which images are your favorite. However, deciding on your wedding photographer involves so much more than just finding which images you like the best! As a wedding photographer myself, I hope this article will help to provide a bit of insight into the decision process and help make it a little bit easier!
Once you've reached out to a few photographers whose work you love, you'll likely begin the process of scheduling consultations with some of them! Whether these consultations are in person or over the phone or just via email, it’s important to have a time set aside where you can really talk to your photographer and ask them some important questions.
Now, generally speaking, these consultations are pretty casual! You'll be scrolling through galleries together, sipping coffee and going over all the details but don't be afraid to ask the hard questions! This is your time to make sure you feel comfortable with your photographer and your purchase. So, without further ado, here are the fifteen most important questions to ask your wedding photographer during the consultation...
1. Are you licensed, insured and do you have a contract?
Without a doubt, this is the most important question to ask your photographer AND all of your vendors for that matter! Having a business license and insurance means that your photographed is operating a legal, tax-paying business and that they have liability insurance and contracts that ensure that both you and them are protected. Liability insurance is incredibly important because there are many venues that will require proof of insurance from your vendors before they are allowed to work at the venue. If your photographer is unable to provide insurance before the wedding day, they would be prohibited from shooting at the venue, which could leave you without a photographer at the last minute.
As far as contracts go, your photographer’s contract should lay out a clear outline of what you can expect from them and what they can expect from you. A few things you’ll be able to find in the contract are…
-When payments will be due and how you'll be able to pay
-How many images you can expect to receive and how you'll receive them
-How long after the wedding you'll receive the images
-What will happen in the event of a cancellation/rescheduling
-What you can expect in terms of communication
If you’d like, most photographers will have no problem going over a copy of their contract with you at the consultation. This isn’t always necessary but if it makes you feel more comfortable, don’t be afraid to ask!
2. Will you yourself be the one photographing our wedding or will it be another photographer?
Some photographers work in a large studio with multiple shooters which sometimes means that the person you are meeting with is not the same person that will be photographing your wedding day. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I have associate shooters that work for me for weddings, but is important that whoever you work with discloses this information to you upfront. If you are not meeting with the photographer that will be shooting your wedding, you’ll want to ask that if you will be able to meet with them before the wedding day. Regardless of the size of the studio, you should definitely be meeting with your specific photographer prior to the wedding day so that you can get to know each other a little and go over the logistics of the schedule for the wedding day. I personally would not recommend working with a company that doesn’t allow you to talk to your wedding photographer before the wedding. This leaves a lot of room for miscommunication and simply not feeling comfortable and trusting around the person photographing your wedding.
3. How long have you been photographing weddings?
There is no “correct” answer to this question but getting a feel for how much experience your photographer has will help you gauge the level of expertise that they can provide you at your wedding day. Generally speaking, full time photographers photograph 25 to 35 weddings per year to give you an idea of how those years of experience translate. Additional questions that can help you gauge your wedding photographer's experience is how many wedding have they shot as the primary photographer? How many as a secondary photographer? Are you full-time or part-time? How long have you been full-time? If you choose to go with a photographer who is less experienced or is still learning the process, don't fret, just know that you may have to be more active in the planning process with them to ensure that both of your are prepared on the day of the wedding.
4. Can we see a full wedding gallery?
I personally think that seeing a full gallery from any photographer you are considering is super important because it will give you an idea of what you can expect to receive from your photographer. As photographers, we love to showcase our very best images on our social media and online portfolio so that often means showing off certain parts of the wedding day that are more glamorous than others, like the couple’s portraits, first look & details. So getting a look at a full gallery will give you a better idea of how the photographer handles all different aspects of the day. Pay close attention when you’re looking at the gallery to see how the photographer handles different lighting situations like the dark reception photos, getting ready images indoors and harsh, direct ceremony lighting. While you may prefer the beautiful, golden sunset photos, make sure that you love the way the photographers handles other lighting situations as well, because your wedding will likely include all of them. Unless it is their first wedding, they should have no problem at all, finding a full gallery to show you.
5. How do you describe your style of photography?
Asking a photographer to describe their style is a great way to see if you are on the same page as far as what you are looking to achieve in your wedding photos. Often this description will encompass the photographer’s shooting style, posing style and editing style and this should line up fairly closely to what you are imagining. Some key words you might hear are …
Documentary - which means they tend to hide in the background and document things candidly, without a lot of posing.
Editorial - or posed, which is sort of the opposite of documentary in that they take a more active approach in setting the scene & arranging posed images.
Traditional - which means that the images are more timeless & use more common, tried & true poses.
Modern - which means the images are more trendy and might have more of an artistic, avant-garde touch.
Light and Airy - this is an editing style that uses a lot of whites & pastels. It is very clean & bright.
Dark & Moody - this is an editing style that uses darker, richer colors and may emphasize contrasting light and shadow.
These are just a few style words you might hear but there is such a huge range of styles out there and most photographers will fall somewhere in between all of these words. And if, as your photographer is describing their style, you have questions about how that shows or what that looks like, feel free to ask and see examples!
6. What exactly do your packages include?
This is just a good logistical question to make sure that you understand what you are purchasing. Things you’ll want to be listening for here are the number of hours of coverage, how many images, engagement or other bonus session, second photographer and products such as prints or albums. If you really were looking for an engagement session or an album, definitely take this as an opportunity to ask them if that can be added to the package and what the cost would be. The biggest thing I discuss with couples about the packages is hours and talking about how many hours they actually *need*. And firstly, the biggest thing to understand is that the the hours needed to fully document a wedding will vary greatly depending on your timeline, if there are multiple locations, if you’ll be doing a first look, how long your ceremony is, etc etc.
So this is purely just an average based on all the weddings I photograph. Most of my couples opt for the 8 hour package, which generally will cover getting ready images through half of the reception (which is usually enough). If you have a smaller wedding and don’t really want getting ready images or reception images, 5-6 hours is usually enough and if you are looking for completely full day coverage from start to finish, you’ll likely want a package with 10+ hours.
7. How do you ensure that our images are safe in the event of equipment/data failure?
I think that this is a really important question to ask because it ensures that the photographer you work with is prepared and ready in the unfortunate situation that equipment or data fails, which happens pretty often. Even though this is a bit of an uncommon question, your photographer shouldn’t have any trouble answering it if they have a solid backup workflow in place. Some things you’ll want to listen for here are whether they have backup cameras and gear during the wedding day, whether their cameras have two memory cards slots, how and when they back up their images to hard drives and if they back up to the cloud as well. Your photographer doesn’t have to have or use all of these forms of backup but you’ll definitely want them to have at least two cameras during the wedding day and two copies of your images saves either on hard drives or online immediately after the wedding day.
8. Have you photographed at my venue before?
While it isn’t necessary to hire a photographer that has already worked at your venue, it is a good thing to know. If they have photographed at your venue before, this is a great time to go through some of the images from that venue and talk about different locations at the venue that you love and where you are planning to have your ceremony, etc. If they haven’t photographed at your venue, they will likely have plans to scout your venue ahead of time. However, it isn’t necessary for them to come out on a separate day before the wedding to look at everything. I personally just come an hour or early on the wedding day to new venues to look at lighting and different locations and I personally think that this is best for me because generally the decor and the ceremony area will be starting to set up and I can really look at what the wedding day itself will look like. However, depending on the proximity of your venue to the photographer, the probably will not have a problem if you want to visit the venue together and show them what you have in mind.
9. Will we have printing rights for the files that you deliver to us?
This question is super important too because different photographer run their businesses differently and if you are looking for something in particular regarding this, you’ll want to know that upfront so you aren’t caught off guard. If your photographer says yes, you’ll likely be given high resolution files and a print release form, so that you can make your own prints wherever you’d like. If your photographer says no, you will likely go over the gallery together and be given the opportunity to purchase high end prints and albums from your photographer directly, which is more of a full service option if that is what you’re interested in!
10. Does the packages include a second photographer? If not, how much does it cost to add one?
Having a second photographer at your wedding is definitely something that is growing in popularity as the years go by and I honestly think that is a really good option for a lot of people to ensure they have full coverage of their wedding day. I personally recommend second photographers at weddings with more than 150 guests, weddings where the couple will be getting ready far apart from one another or for couples that really want an emphasis on photos of their guests. Pretty much all photographers have the option to add a second photographer if it isn’t included already, and while it isn’t necessary for everyone, it is a good thing to keep in mind.
11. Will we meet again before the wedding to go over the timeline?
I personally know that I love to meet with each of my couples a few weeks before the wedding to go over the timeline and their questionnaire and just ask any questions I might have to make sure that we are on the same page for the big day. Not all photographers go this route, but they should be able to tell you how they’ll make sure they are prepared when the day comes around. Some photographers have super detailed questionnaires or schedule phone consultations before the wedding but whatever the case, you should feel that your photographer is going to be prepared when the wedding comes along.
12. What is your backup plan in the unexpected event that you cannot photograph my wedding?
While it isn’t common, emergencies happen and plans change, especially when you are booking for dates that are over a year away so your photographer should have a plan in the event of an emergency or change of plans. Some photographers will send you a list of other available photographers, refund your retainer and help you find someone new. Others will have you work with another photographer but they will handle all of the payments, editing and products. There are a few options but whatever they say, just make sure it is something that you are comfortable with because while it is unlikely, it is possible and you don’t want to be caught off guard if it were to happen.
13. How long after the wedding will we receive our images and how will you deliver them?
This number can vary greatly from photographer to photographer but it is something that is important to know and be prepared for. Some photographers will have your galleries ready in as little as a few weeks and other make take 3-4 months. If they do have a longer turnaround time, it may be because they have a more intensive editing process or they take on more weddings but the turnaround time doesn’t speak to the quality of the photographer, it is just something to be prepared for either way.
14. Can we make you a shot list for the wedding day?
Something to note is that there is no way that your photographer can guarantee any particular images are captured on your wedding day and weddings can change and adapt so much that it’s impossible to make promises like that. However, most photographers will ask for particular shot lists like for family portraits. However, please do not expect to send your photographer a shot list of every single type of image that you would like throughout the wedding day. Just trust your photographer, send some inspo pics if you have them, a family photo list and you will definitely receive everything that you are wanting.
15. Tell me about YOU!
Lastly, ask your photographer about themselves! Open up a conversation, talk about their likes and dislikes, why they do photography and how they got into it. Your photographer is going to be heavily involved in one of the most intimate and precious days of your lives and it is important that you feel comfortable around them. Just as much as you want to enjoy their images, you want to enjoy their presence and feel comfortable opening up and being emotional around them, since that is what will be happening on the wedding day. So make sure you vibe together and get to know each other a bit!
So there they are, 15 questions to ask your wedding photographer before you book them! Choosing your wedding photographer is super important part of your wedding day planning and you want to make sure you make the right choice! So I hope this video will help you navigate that consultation process and feel confident in whoever you decide to hire! Since is the first post in a series of educational blog posts for brides, I'm going to be doing a super cool giveaway for you all! If you are interested in a FREE portrait session, head on over to my Instagram here and tag all of your engaged friends in the comments! Every tag will get you an entry for a free portrait session that will be randomly chosen after episode five!
Happy wedding planning xx