Hello, we are Harry and Tanya McSween. After chatting with many couples about photographing their weddings we realized a lot of our clients do not know what to ask before booking. So we wanted to take a few minutes and make a list of Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer before you book your wedding with them. When you inquire about a photographer they will send you back their pricing or a proposal for your wedding. After gathering information from several photographers it can be hard to know which to choose. There are so many good vendors and photographers, especially in the wedding industry today. Knowing what to ask can be helpful in your quest to find the perfect fit. Hence our list of Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer!
Fees, Your Images, and Their Approach
- First, you want to ask about fees and taxes. If you are hiring someone from another state or to go abroad with you to another country. You want to ask about what travel fees they charge. From airfare, hotels, food, etc. you want to make sure you know what fees you will incur. Secondly, you want to ask about sales tax and if is it included in your package. We work in several different states, these taxes can be anywhere from 7% to 9% on the package price. We include these fees in our packages so you won’t ever see “added costs, fees, or taxes.”
- Next on our list…you need to ask about how you will receive your images. Most photographers include high-resolution digital files from your wedding day in an online gallery for you to download from, print from, and share. If this is not included in your package that you have been presented by a photographer, then you need to know how you are going to receive your images after the wedding day.
- How do you approach a wedding day? Asking a photographer how they approach a wedding day will tell you a lot about how they work. Will they arrive to capture details, like your jewelry, shoes, invitations, etc? How long will they stay? Many of these questions can be answered by working with your planner on a timeline as well. The second part of this question is how they photograph the day. Is their approach more photojournalistic where they are just a fly on the wall capturing candid moments only? Will they direct you on what to do, where to take photos, etc? You’ll want to know their photography “personality” if you will, before knowing if you want to work with them or not.
Expertise, 2nd Shooter, and Venue
- You’ll want to know how long they have been shooting weddings. Your photographer may be in their first year or 20th year. You will want to know you have a well-rounded professional photographing your day. The longer they have been in business photographing weddings you know the more they have come across on a wedding day. And in that same vein the more experience they have the more they are able to roll with whatever comes on a wedding day. Also, they will be able to guide you on specific decisions as well.
- Do your packages include two photographers? Then do they always work with the same second photographer? Many photographers will hire a different second shooter for every wedding they shoot, especially if they travel all over photographing weddings. You should ask who they normally hire to second shoot and if they have worked with that person before. If they are traveling to you as a destination photographer, will they hire a second shooter local to you? You want to know that the person they are hiring to help them is someone reputable and reliable.
- You should also ask if they have worked at your venue before. If they have that is amazing and you should ask to see a full gallery from that venue. If not that’s okay too! But you will want to ask them to come to a venue walkthrough before the wedding day to get a feel for the venue.
Number of Weddings, Full Gallery, Phone Call
- In our series on Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer, another great question is how many weddings they photograph a year. You’ll want to know that they only take one wedding a weekend or so many per year. You want your photographer to be fresh and excited for your day, not tired from the event they photographed the night before. Photographers who take on a massive amount of weddings per year generally don’t give as much time and attention to detail to each client, as they should. So if you are looking for someone who is just as concerned about your experience as they are about providing you with great photos, make sure they limit the number of weddings they are taking per year.
- Ask to see a few full wedding galleries from previous clients’ weddings. Many photographers put their best foot forward on photos that are online. Their websites and Instagram feeds are all a highlight reel of their best work. You want to make sure that natural light photographers can shoot flash photography for your wedding. So seeing these different galleries will help you know they are proficient in any lighting situation.
- When you hop on a phone or zoom call, which you should, make sure you like them! If a photographer is willing to book you before talking to you on the phone or a video chat then you should pass, or request a phone call yourself. Your photographer is the person you will spend the most time with on the wedding day and you want to make sure you like them. So on that initial call or zoom, are they friendly, do they let you talk more than they are talking, are they listening to you, are they answering your questions? If you get a great first impression then chances are it’s going to be a great fit.
Film Photography and Backups
- Okay, our last topic is film photography. In this series on Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer, you should know does your photographer shoot film and/or digital? This is not video, it’s the old-school rolls of film your grandma and grandpa took to the drug store to get developed. Many fine art photographers still photograph weddings with film today. It’s an incredible artistic medium that provides a gorgeous range of colors, and incredible skin tones. We personally believe that it is the truest form of our craft. If you like our work, true to life color, not too bright but not too dark and a little dreamy feeling chances are its film and you should ask the photographer you’re inquiring with if they shoot film?
- The second question you should ask about film is how many rolls of film do they shoot per wedding? Some photographers will say they are film photographers and post only film images on their website and Instagram and then show up and only shoot 2-3 rolls of film at your wedding. A true film photographer will shoot upwards of 25-30 rolls of film per wedding. And if you have hired them for an engagement session or bridal session, etc, those are generally between 10-15 rolls of film.
- How do you back up our images? So this is a big question you should ask any photographer. What care they will be taking with your images, and how they store them and keep them from disappearing into the digital abyss? You’ll want to make sure your photographer has cameras that shoot two cards at once. Will they shoot more than one event on the cards in a weekend? What is their post-wedding process for backing your wedding up?
READ YOUR CONTRACT
In wrapping up our post on Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer there is one last thing. Once you have decided to move forward with a photographer, the biggest piece of advice I can give is to actually read the contract. If there is something in it you are not sure about, ask! And if you don’t like something and the photographer won’t compromise, then you know it’s not a good fit. Most importantly reading the contract will let you know what you can expect from your photographer. When you have the correct expectations of your wedding vendors things go so much more smoothly!
Are you looking for a wedding photographer that has your best interest at heart? One who is not only concerned with gorgeous images but that you have an incredible experience as well. We would love to connect with you and see if we are a good fit for your day!