Choosing a wedding photographer is a pretty big decision; you have to trust them not only to successfully capture all the moments from your day but to deal well with your family and friends; to put you at ease oh and also take amazing photos that will last a lifetime.
It’s essential you meet with your photographer to see just how well they will fit that bill. And it’s wise to meet with more than one, perhaps three would be a good amount as you don’t want to be overwhelmed.
When you meet, trust your gut and listen to it. Does this person make you feel comfortable or ill at ease? Remember they’ll likely be with you from your preparation in the morning right through to the evening reception.
It’s good to ask them some questions too.
Here are what I think should be the top 10 questions to ask your photographer. They should give you an idea of how professional they are and how competently they will handle your wedding.
Oh and watch out for pushy sales tactics this should be an instant red flag.
How long have you been shooting weddings? It’s important to see just how much experience your photographer has in shooting weddings. They may well have been a product or sports photographer and have only now just moved to weddings. They can legitimately say they’ve “been a photographer for years” so it’s vital to find out how long they’ve been a Wedding Photographer. Weddings are so different to other forms of photography, needing very quick reactions, excellent people skills, composure under pressure etc that most other branches don’t require. If they are new it doesn’t mean you should necessarily rule them out but make sure you have a very good look at their work and that they answer the following questions very well.
Do you carry back up equipment? There are a lot of new startups out there. They get a camera and a lens or two and it all looks fine, but if a camera completely breaks down, or if they drop it for instance ( it’s happened to me ) are they ready with a full backup kit to cover all bases. and as a supplementory question. Do their cameras write to two cards? If they don’t and a card becomes corrupted all the photos from the day could be lost. I choose only cameras that have two memory card slots this means that as soon as the first photo is taken there is already a backup of that photo.
Is it you who will shoot my wedding? It may seem like a daft question but I personally have been called in to cover another photographer when he’d double booked because he couldn’t face turning down the work and needed to get another photographer to cover his day. So pin your photographer down on this else you might be looking through beautiful pictures taken by a person who won’t actually be at your wedding.
What happens if your sick or can’t make it? This is vital! What happens if the worst happens? Now a photographer can’t usually have a person on permanent stand-by and things do go wrong. Photographers are booked often years in advance and things change. They can get pregnant, they can get ill so in those circumstances what’s the protocol? If there’s enough notice, say your photographer has gotten pregnant and thier due date is your wedding day chances are all parties will want to swap things around so they should be giving you the option of a full refund and for you to book with someone else. If it’s a last minute thing however, a car crash on the day for instance their priority should be to find you cover for that day. Ideally from someone they trust and who has a similar style of shooting. Sorting out compensation should come later. Photos first.
May we see some full wedding? I can’t stress this enough, make sure you see full weddings from your photographer. Photographers will often have best of albums to show you, their instagram and Facebook feed will likely be full of fantastic shots but is it consistent? The truth is, that if you give most people that have an interest in photography a camera, and a day to get a nice photo from a wedding then they’ll get it. But can they consistently get 2-300 brilliant photos? Because at the end of a day this is a full day’s shoot and you want terrific coverage from the bridal prep through til the first dance.
What coverage do you offer? Some photographers give you an eight or ten hour window for your wedding. Personally I’ve never liked this and have never had time limits on full day packages as I’m there to capture the day, my day is devoted to it and it shouldn’t be viewed as a 9-5. Also if you are booking a package with a time specified are you going to get a bill if you run over by 30 minutes or an hour? You might find that the bargain you’re considering isn’t that great after all.
How long does it take to get the photos? I hear horror stories about couples waiting for months and on two occasions, years for their photos! There will likely be a wait if your photographer is editing your photos but you should be aware of how long you are expected to wait. I aim for six weeks with my edits, in peak season this can run on a bit to around eight weeks although I let my clients know and also send them the edits I’ve done so far which is usually the lion’s share so that they have something to show friends and family. It’s important to find out though and your photographer should have an answer ready.
What’s the price plan? Wedding photographers tend to have a number of different packages for clients to choose from. Some have straight up packages, you pay this… you get that… whereas other have prices “starting from…” a certain amount. The sky’s the limit here so find out early what you will be expected to pay and don’t feel pressured into booking if it’s over your budget. Also they should have information for you and it should be written into the contract as to when certain amount need to be paid. For instance I have two options for my couples. They can pay monthly and split the cost evenly or they can pay a 25% deposit, 50% six weeks before the wedding and the last 25% six weeks after.
Are there hidden costs? This should be a straight up “No.” so if there’s any “umming” and “ahing” find out why. Please note hidden costs are different to extra costs. If you’re asking your photographer to travel 300 miles for your wedding they’ll likely be a travel fee added on although this should be discussed before any contracts are written up and put into the contracts too. But you should ensure that your photographer won’t add on another couple of hundred pounds because your wedding is two years away. Or if they go VAT registered that they’re not going to land you with a bill for another 20%!
How do we book? Wedding Photographers aren’t cheap ( good ones aren’t anyway ) so when you book it should be more official than a handshake and a wad of cash. For my clients I don’t take a deposit until contracts have been signed by all parties. The contracts are pretty straight forward with no small print but it does tie in both the photographer and the client. Which gives you peace of mind and something to refer back to.
There are of course lots of other questions you may wish to ask, How will you dress on the day? Do you have a second shooter? etc but these top 10 should give you a very good starting point, and good feel for your photographer. You’re not being impertinent when you ask these you’re being prudent. Have fun it’s a wedding!
If you like to see answers to these questions and more on my website see the FAQs section on my site shotdifferently.co.uk