Many wedding couples choose their photographer on price/style alone and although important, there are so many more questions that you should ask your photographer to ensure a great fit and the best possible experience on your wedding day.
Here is a list of the top 10 questions that you should ask photographers when meeting with them.
1. Can I see examples of your work (your portfolio)?
You’ve likely already been enticed by the beautiful images on your photographer’s website. Usually these show the absolute best images from a wedding and often a little extra “artful” editing to showcase the photographer in the best light. Asking to see more examples of their work or a complete wedding will help you to see if their typical images are exposed correctly, color is balanced and if they pay attention to the details and have nice composition throughout their work.
You’re loving the soft dreamy photos you saw on Pinterest, but the photographer you’re meeting with has mostly bright, crisp images in their portfolio. You may not yet know what your specific style is, but you know a good image when you see it. It’s important to understand that although most photographers know how to edit photos in many different styles, they showcase their preferred style in their portfolio as a way to define their business. It’s important to make sure your vision is aligned when you are looking to hire someone to capture your images. There are lots of ways to describe primary style and here are a few of the most common:
Photojournalism: This style has changed a bit over the years. It started as a way for journalists to segue into weddings to supplement their income. It is a unique style of photography that captured images from afar – telling the story of how the day unfolded in a true reportage style. Be careful, though, now it is often used for just about any photographer that shoots candid moments unobtrusively. Best For: If you like candid shot, little or no posing or portraits and documentary style – this is for you. Your photographer will likely hang back capturing the day like a fly on the wall. Considerations: Very little emphasis is put on portraits or posed images. If you are looking for arranged details, creative elements or guidance to help you look your best in photos, you may not find it the best fit.
Fine Art: This one is a bit hard to define, because it can also translate into the other categories, but basically Fine Art images are those that push beyond documentary and into art. Often the photographers are classically trained in either photography or art and many will even shoot with film to give the photos a true artistic quality or edit the digital photos to reflect a film look and feel. Best For: Creating a truly unique wedding photography experience – allowing the photographer to add their creative vision to your story. Considerations: The expense of film is much higher than digital photos, the photographer may shoot for a more artistic look choosing abstract images or creative compositions which may or may not be your style.
Modern/Traditional (also called Editorial and sometimes Classic): The traditional photographer of the past concentrated mainly on formal posed portraits and family photos. Very hands on in the direction of the day. The Modern/Traditional photographer is somewhere in the middle between highly creative and classic style. The focus is usually on the details of your wedding day adding in guidance for location choice and posing adjustments to help you look your best. The emphasis is on the creative portraits and the details. The photographer is often shooting with the intent to create an album highlighting all of the best parts of your wedding day. Best For: The best of both worlds for many – classic styled images coupled with just a touch of posing to keep it looking natural, but thoughtful. Considerations: Photos are generally very consistent, modern and timeless which means they may not be as creative or epic as some.
This question is helpful to determine if your photographer specializes in weddings, if they are more of a jack-of-all trades in the photography business (nothing wrong with that – just a distinction!) or if they even like weddings at all :).
4. How do you strive to provide excellent customer service?
I like this question a lot. It will give you insight into the photographer’s personality and their understanding of the flow of the wedding day. Although you want gorgeous images to last a lifetime, you don’t likely want them at the expense of the timing of the day’s events or worse, getting a photographer with an attitude that can upset you or your guests.
Photographers (or any wedding professional, for that matter) should absolutely be willing to share references so you can contact past couples to ask how their experience was overall.
6. What are your credentials?
To help weed out newly minted photographers from those that are more experienced you can certainly ask for their credentials. It goes without saying that great photography requires dedication and investment in the craft. Education, certifications (Certified Professional Photographer, Master of Photography or Craftsman degrees), affiliations with well-respected industry associations such as WPPI and PPA or local professional networking groups all help to give your photographer additional credibility over a weekend-warrior or amateur hobbyist.
7. How would you describe your working style?
A great question to find out if your photographer is detail-oriented and organized to keep the flow of your wedding day moving or if they are more spontaneous and go-with-the-flow type. You can also get a good feel for if they follow the crowd and take pictures from afar or if they are more hands-on preferring to give direction and guidance with posing and locations.
8. Will you edit, retouch, color correct (post-production) my images?
All images that are taken by a professional photographer should be edited to include only the best photos from the day, color-corrected so the skin tones are correct and to balance any lighting issues and finally edited in the photographer’s particular style (their “special sauce”). This is the finished product – the art of imagery and what makes their photos different from anyone else’s.
This isn’t meant to start a discussion about how much equipment or how much money your photographer has spent on gear, but rather to assure you that they will carry high-quality, professional equipment and backups of camera and lighting equipment and spare memory cards/batteries in case of any failures. It is also a great opportunity to discuss if your photographer is comfortable using off-camera lighting equipment which can add a special flair to your wedding images in not-so-perfect light.
10. Do you have insurance?
Most wedding venues will require that any professionals working in their space must have their own insurance. This is a MUST to help protect you and the photographer in case any issues should arise .Some photographers will tell you that their homeowner’s policy covers them, but this is simply not true. Any professional photographer should have liability insurance to cover loss or theft, contractor coverage, medical, errors, etc.
Bonus 5 questions to Questions to ask yourself
Do I feel a connection with this photographer as well as his/her photos? Are our personalities a good match?
Am I comfortable with their work and communication style?
Has this person listened well and addressed all of my concerns?
Would I enjoy spending a full day with this person?
Does this person seem to calm me or add to my stress?
I hope these questions to ask have been helpful information in the search for your perfect wedding photographer. I’d love to hear what other questions you can think of that would make choosing easier for you. Please share your ideas in the comments below.