10 OTHER Questions to ask your wedding photographer (it’s more than just the price)
Let’s face it, your wedding day is likely the first time you are hiring a photographer, and even if its not there are usually a lot of new questions that might come up. There are tons of great lists online, but hopefully these questions based on couples I’ve worked with will help you decide on the right photographer for your big day.
1) Can you show me a FULL wedding day?
A lot of times websites are a collection of highlights, which is great but your big day is also about the moments between the big moments. Additionally, some photographers rely on styled shoots to produce photos that may not be possible for every wedding day, so if there is a specific photo you see maybe ask to see more from that day to see how everything came together. All of this helps you know exactly how that photographer works and level their of experience.
2) What’s your favorite “save the day” moment?
It’s common for us photographers to carry a few extra tools in our manic bag of tricks. A sewing kit or safety pins for that wardrobe emergency, mints before that walk down the aisle, screwdriver to help get someone into a dress (true story), even a small makeup kit are all great to bring along. We all have stories, like the time we drove the bride to the ceremony because the limbo was going to be late, and we love to share them.
3) Will you be the one photographing my wedding?
As silly as it sounds, sometime you meet a photographer that hires other photographers to photograph weddings for them. Nothing against the practice, but the name and personality of the photographer might be something to know before signing the dotted line. I personally live by the motto that a wedding photographer is like a guest at your wedding, so you should make sure you would actually invite them.
4) How long will I wait for my photos?
This is a big one that I didn’t realize until a couple years into my career as a photographer. I would always get asked by new friends “hey, when you photograph a wedding, how soon do you deliver the photos?” To which I would always reply “within 2 weeks, but usually sooner if I can…. I’m actually working on a way to….” and then tangent off into some new technique or something. Point is, they are asking because they’ve been waiting 6-8 months and with no ETA in sight. If you are hoping to get those photos back in time for thank you cards, holiday gifts for your family, or to hang in your new house it’s a good thing to know when you can expect them.
5) Is this your full time job?
For some of us this is a part time gig driven by passion, and for others (myself included) we live, eat, and breath photography. While I dance in a few different genres, photography is a full time love affair. What I love about weddings in particular is that it’s the chaos of a corporate event or conference coupled with the creativity of an editorial or advertising shoot.
6) Do you have insurance?
Every vendor you work with for your wedding should be able to provide some form of a COI (Certificate Of Insurance) or proof of insurance. Some venues actually require them for a photographer to be allowed to photograph there. Besides the fact that we are bringing expensive equipment, you should be protected if something were to happen like a light stand falling down on the dance floor (never happened to me, but knock on wood). I personally carry a policy that covers any precarious situation I put myself in, because if I climb the big rock and fall into the lake that’s 100% on me.
7) Have you photographed at our venue?
With practice comes experience. Asking your potential photographer if they have photographed at your venue is a great way to feel assured they are prepared for anything. A local staple like Milwaukee Public Museum, a historic church like St Mary’s in Port Washington, or an intimate affair at Cuvee in the 3rd Ward all present different complexities. Ask your potential photographer if they are familiar with your venue. If they’ve photographed there ask to see the photos, if not perhaps someplace similar.
8) What happens if you get sick or can’t photograph my wedding?
Think about it, you are hiring someone for an event that is taking place anywhere from 8 to 18 months away. It is entirely possible that your photographer could become ill or incapacitated. What do you do? For me, I have a great group of photographer friends that in an emergency we will make it happen without a hitch. Bonus “save the day moment” - a couple years a friend broke his leg in a way that he couldn’t walk for 2 months. On the Sunday it happened, he texted a few of us and we all took care of his couples, I even drove 2 hours to photograph a wedding for him the Friday after his accident.
9) Prints vs digitals?
In today’s social media world the digital photograph reigns supreme. I think that someone making a photograph I took of them their facebook profile is the highest form of flattery, so for that reason I include digital files with every wedding. That said, I love printing photographs and think that is the single best way to preserve the day and relive it. Weather you decide to print with the lab I use or on your own, I want to be there to help make sure you get the best possible result.
10) What happens if we go overtime?
I always tell folks that event the most perfectly crafted timelines will goes off course. Some weddings days will be exactly 7 hours from prep to dancing, but some will be an ebb and flow that might be 9 or maybe 11. For this reason we offer a “don’t watch the clock” package that is designed for that easy going couple that wants us there to capture every important piece of their day without the worry of a strict end time.
Bonus, probably the most important question: How much does this cost?
This is the first, and shockingly often the only, question people ask when hiring a photographer. Rightly so, it’s an important one. But it’s not always 100% clear, even if it looks like it is, so still ask it. That advertised price might come with a bunch of add-ons you want but might not realize cost extra until you’re looking at the contract. Ask for a price sheet or list of packages, what are the payment terms (retainer, downpayment, final due?), find out if prints or digital files included and if something is not outlined ask for specifics about anything else you might want in order to remember your wedding day the right way.
I hope this list will help you with finding the right photographer. Like I said before, I firmly believe “a wedding photographer is a guest at your wedding.” To that end, it’s more than just about price. Finding one that fits your style and personality can be a make or break decision that plays a role not only on the big day but in how you remember it. There is a saying among wedding vendors “the cake gets eaten, the flowers will die, but the wedding pictures will last forever”