7 questions to ask your potential wedding photographer
12 May 2016
You’ve set the date, chosen the venue, maybe picked the dress too – and now it’s time to choose a wedding photographer, but how do you know whether the owner of that beautiful gallery of perfect moments is the one for you? How do you know what to ask them to help judge their suitability for your particular needs?
My belief is that it’s extremely important to ensure the photographer you choose is the right fit, and there’s no harm in discovering they aren’t. In my case, if I feel that way based on the initial consultation with a couple, then I will happily recommend another photographer who could be a better match for them.
What happens at the consultation?
Normally I get prospective clients to tell me about their plans for the big day, and about their history as a couple. This helps me get to know them a little, and build our relationship so I can give them more tailored and personal results if they book me. Then I ask if they have any questions for me. By this point they’ll have seen my brochure as well as the public website, so they have an idea of my skill level and packages on offer.
Recently when I asked a particular couple if they had any questions for me, they weren’t sure where to begin. And I realised how normal this reaction was; after all, one doesn’t have to pick a wedding photographer very often.
So I walked them through the answers I would have given to the questions below. If you’re yet to speak to a photographer, these are great ways to find out more about what to expect. You can also use these to compare your options if you have more than one person on your shortlist.
1. Do you use a second shooter / assistant?
Some photographers will always use one and include it in all their quotes. Some will have it as an option, and some will only ever shoot alone. A second shooter may be an extra cost (depending on fee structures) but they will capture different angles, allow for better coverage of large venues/numbers of guests, and help your main photographer with specialist gear if you have advanced lighting requirements.
2. Will you pose us and the various family/friend groups for formal pictures?
This can vary a lot. There are photographers who outright say no to any sort of group formals, aiming for more natural interactions. Many will go for the full package, with every possible combination and heavy posing guidance. Others will get some key groups quickly with relatively little direction, but not make too big a deal of it… and there are various mixtures of these options, too.
Think about what’s important to you and what you want. It’s your day, so don’t let the photographer dictate this part. If you hate posing, don’t. If you want all the family combinations, make sure you get a photographer who is OK with spending time on that. If you have a specific style/theme in mind for your couple’s portraits, make sure the photographer you choose has a similar style or is willing to show they can adapt it to what you want. Show them examples you have seen online, if that helps.
3. Is X/Y/Z included in your package(s)?
It’s important to ensure you understand what you are getting. This should be clear ideally before the consult, so you already have some thoughts on which one to go for, but if you need anything extra or something done differently, this is the time to ask.
4. Are you OK with [insert special request/consideration here]?
Do you want to be photographed only from the left side of your face, a la Ariana Grande? Do we need to ensure that Aunt Josie and Aunt Bella never appear together in a picture due to a long-standing family feud? Is your ring-bearer the family dog?
If you have any kind of special request like this, it’s best to make sure the photographer is on board, because they will need to prepare for it, and may not take your booking if there is something they feel they can’t do for you. As I said before, it’s always best to find someone who is fully willing to do what you need, so that you get the best results possible! Make sure the photographer is not simply agreeing to everything you ask without consideration; a professional’s job is to let you know when they think something may need extra planning or consideration to get right, rather than winging it on the day.
5. Are you fully insured?
Your photographer should have professional indemnity and public liability insurance. This is often something that distinguishes those who take this work seriously, from those who don’t. If you book someone who isn’t insured, make sure you’re aware of the risks.
6. Do you have backup equipment?
Your photographer’s arsenal should include at least one backup camera, backup lenses, batteries, flashes and memory cards. Ideally a backup of the backup, even. You never know. Again, make sure you’re aware of and accept the risks of someone without backup gear.
7. What happens if you are ill on the day?
This eventuality, although I hope it never happens to anyone, should be covered in your contract with your photographer so you know what to expect. In my case, if I can see, walk and lift a camera, I’ll still be there! If there is a serious problem or an act of God outside my control preventing me from being there, I will reach out to my network to aim to find a suitable replacement as soon as possible, at no extra cost to yourself.
After the questions
Consider the conversation you had with the photographer. Did you feel at ease throughout, reassured that they listened to your needs? Did you like them as a person? If not, then even if they check out otherwise, they are probably not who you are looking for.
Many photographers (myself included) will encourage a pre-wedding shoot (also often referred to as an engagement shoot) to take place so you can get to know each other. Some may include it in their packages when you book them, but you should be able to book it with most photographers separately as well. It’s a good option if you’re really nervous because it means you’ll still have a set of photos as keepsakes regardless of your final decision!
Asking the above 7 questions should give you a pretty good insight into how the photographer works and what you can expect from them, in addition to the promise of high quality work and good customer service, which should be a given, no matter what your other requirements are.
If you’re in doubt about anything, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. It’s better to spend the time covering all bases before booking, rather than any surprises occurring afterwards. I like my clients to walk away with a positive, happy memory of my services, and a thorough initial consultation is a key part of that.