There are SO many lists out there telling newly engaged couples what to ask vendors, how to research companies, and advising them on important tips and tricks for navigating the wedding planning process. Unfortunately, sometimes these lists are a little off and while the questions may be trying to get the right information, they can leave the client more confused than they were before they asked.
As a wedding photographer, I’ve been asked so many questions and love educating my clients on all sorts of things! Nine times out of 10 it’s the first time they’re working with a professional photographer and usually it’s their first wedding, too! I pride myself on being an open book and I want to help newly engaged folks on their journey to finding the wedding photographer who is right for them!
This list has not only helped me educate my clients, but it’s also helped my friends, whose weddings I’ve attended as a guest, select wedding photographers they have LOVED working with!
1. How do you deliver our images?
In this day and age, thanks to digital technology and the internet, there are so many ways images can be delivered!
Common ways images are delivered:
- a physical wedding album with ~75 images in it
- a USB with every single image captured at your wedding, typically unedited
- an online gallery with the best, edited images where you can download, print, and share high resolution images and web resolution images
- an online gallery with the best, edited images that you can print through the photographers store for an additional fee and download web resolution images
- and more… sometimes a combo of all of those!
Understanding what you want and what fits your needs is very important! At the end of the day you don’t want to be caught off guard that you were delivered 3000 unedited photos or your images have the photographer’s logo (a watermark) on them or something! Make sure the photographer you book fits your desires.
I’ve found a sweet spot by delivering digital files through an online gallery where my clients can download the images! This online gallery is linked to my professional print lab and my clients have the ability to order top quality print products directly through it!
Pro Tip: Many of my brides come to me with advice from their moms/aunts/soon to be mother-in-laws and image delivery has changed dramatically since the days the generations before us were married! Make sure to educate your family on how images are sent, too!
2) How do you describe your working style?
Every professional has a way of conducting themselves in regards to their work. The same is true in the wedding industry. Some photographers will be very hands on and instruct their clients through every part of the day – where to stand, where to get dressed, when to be where, etc, while other photographers consider themselves much more photo journalistic and simply document as the day goes on.
The photographer should be able to discuss how they work with your family groups, wedding party, you as a couple, other vendors, and their own team.
This information will play into the following question.
3) What is your photography style like?
While you should get a pretty good understanding of this by looking at their online portfolio, the photographer should answer in regards to both editing style and shooting style.
I make a point to tell people that my work is vibrant and light-filled and I keep my editing true to real life tones! I am a little more natural and traditional in regards my posing, rather than doing a lot of images where the client is very small in the frame or anything unnatural looking! I focus on genuine moments, especially ones filled with laughter and joy!
4) Can we see an example gallery of images from A wedding at a venue similar to ours?
This doesn’t necessarily need to be a full gallery but should showcase a full wedding day! You should see images of the details, getting ready, first look, ceremony, bride and groom portraits, bridesmaids, groomsmen, full wedding party, family, reception space, and reception shots! It’s typically easier to see (and share) a summarized version of a full gallery!
Some things to look out for are does the work look consistent, do the formal portraits look posed in a flattering manner, and are the reception images what you envision for your reception!
5) When should we expect to receive the images?
This is pretty straightforward and your photographer should give you an answer that is relevant to how they conduct their business and how they deliver images! (For example, if they deliver images online, it might be quicker than if they need to mail something or deal with print lab production times! If they shoot 60 weddings a year, it might take longer than if they shoot 20.) I have friends in the industry who deliver in a week and I have friends in the industry who deliver in 6 months. My editing timeframe is 6-8 weeks with many sneak previews between the wedding day and delivery day!
While you’re talking to a photographer, outside of just their work and their professionalism, you want to get a feel of their personality. This person (and potentially their team) will be with you for many hours on your wedding day! You likely don’t want a random stranger showing up on your wedding day, so why would you want your photographer to be a random stranger. Make sure you LIKE the person and can see yourself enjoying them being by your side on your big day!
A lot of lists will tell clients to ask what type of equipment the photographer uses. I have photographed over 60 couples and while I’ve been asked this question many times, there has only been one time that I have answered and the couple understood what I was saying.
The better question is to ask if they have back up professional equipment (they should).
But unless you understand camera equipment, a photographer telling you their specific camera models or lens types or flash set up will sound like absolute gibberish.
Any professional photographer should require a signed contract outlining terms and policies and a retainer fee to hold your date. Read the contract. It is there to protect you as a client and the photographers business. If you don’t understand something, ask about it. It should discuss things like what happens if the photographer is sick, image use after the wedding, cancellation policy, payment schedule and more.
Any other questions you asked that helped make your decision?!