Hiring Wedding Photographers: The Must-Ask Questions
When it comes to booking your wedding vendors, the entire process can be stressful. Chances are, this wedding is the first one you’ve ever planned, and of course you want things to run smoothly! By booking great vendors and hiring a wedding planner or day-of coordinator, you can relax by knowing you’re in good hands. When hiring wedding photographers many people base who they want off of the look of their photos. And that is a big part of it! But you’ll also want to know a few other things about the photographer before you put in your deposit.
As with any vendor in any category, wedding photographers can be very different from one another. Their personalities, their shooting styles and even their equipment plays a big part in how the day unfolds.
To make sure you will jive well with the photographer at your wedding, here are the must ask questions you need to ask before booking them!
Have you shot a wedding at our venue? If not, are you okay with visiting before the wedding?
Knowing the lay of the land at a venue is so important, especially if it is an outdoor estate. Your photographer most likely will want to visit the venue beforehand if they haven’t been there before, but just make sure. We’ve heard stories from venue representatives where photographers show up and have no idea where they should shoot on the day of the wedding! Having your photographer flustered right off the bat is NOT a good idea. Also ask them about their rain plan at the venue after they have seen it.
Where can I find a list of your reviews?
If you are using a photographer that a friend used for their wedding, you have a pretty good idea of how that photographer operates and what their finished product is like. Word of mouth referrals are fantastic because you’ll get a direct impression of what the vendor is like. Many couples branch out, though, and do an immense amount of online research to find a photographer.
Before hiring your wedding photographers, ask if there is any specific review collector they use and ask where you can find their reviews on the internet. You can also ask if there is a recent couple who used their services that may be willing to chat with you. Keep in mind: with reviews, chances are any vendor may have a few not-so-stellar reviews if they have a bunch of great reviews. Sometimes clients misunderstand the contract or they expected something beyond that vendor’s control. If you feel like the photographer (or any vendor in general) has a high number of less-than-stellar reviews but you like their work, ask them about it. See what they have to say!
Will YOU be the one photographing my wedding that day, or do you sub-contract out? What is your backup plan if you are sick?
The flu… it’s a wedding vendor’s worst nightmare! While we will do everything in our power to be there, a flu-infested wedding photographer is not going to want to sneeze all over you (and you’ll probably thank them for that!).
You’ll want to know what their contingency plan is in case they cannot be there due to a family emergency or illness.
The other thing you’ll want to cover is whether or not the person you are meeting with and viewing their portfolio will be your ACTUAL photographer. Sometimes, photographers subcontract out. Make sure you read your contract carefully!
Do you have a second photographer?
Most photographers do have a second photographer with them on the wedding day which is nice for several reasons. The main photographer can be with the bride and bridesmaids while the 2nd photographer can be with the groom and groomsmen. The main photographer can be taking family photos while the 2nd is getting detail shots of the reception. Plus they will capture images from different angels so you'll have a variety of photos.
What is your turnaround time like for wedding photography?
Depending on the photographer, they may have your images done in a month. Others may take three to five months. If you have a specific timeframe of when you’d like your images back, keep this question in mind.
What is your style of shooting? How many images do you take that are posed versus candids?
You’ll most likely get a good feel for a photographer’s style in their images, but you’ll definitely want to ask. Some photographs that look like candids are actually posed. Ask them how much direction they give on the wedding day. There are some photographers who strictly document the wedding day as observers, without giving any direction. Make sure you’re good with what the photographer offers.
Can I view a full wedding that you've shot?
Most vendors, photographers included, will post their best photos online. To get a feel for what your entire day in photos might look like ask the photographer if you can see one or two entire weddings that they have shot. That way you can see how they photograph hair and makeup, detail shots such as the dress and shoes, and so on.
Do they include an engagement shoot?
Some couples will want to skip this to save a little money. I cannot stress enough how important I feel an engagement shoot is though! I recommend it to all my clients. Most people are not used to being in front of a professional camera. By having the engagement shoot this will allow you to get used to being in front of the camera. It will give the photographer a chance to see how you are in front of a camera. It will let you get to know your photographer so that come the wedding day you don't feel like total strangers. Also, if for some reason you end up hating your engagement photos or not getting along with the photographer, you can cancel the contract and find a better suited photographer. You will lose some money by doing this but at least you will hopefully be happy with your wedding photos.
How many cards do you shoot on? And what happens if your equipment malfunctions?
Imagine you just got done your wedding day, only to have your photographer email you later that week to say they lost a card from their camera that stored all of your ceremony photographs… yeah… not good! There's even been cases of wedding photographer's gear being stolen and the cards with it!
You’ll want to ask your wedding photographer what type of backup equipment they bring the day of the event in case a lens or camera were to break. You’ll also want to ask if the cameras they shoot with store more than one card for saving images. Most photographers will have cameras that will save images to two cards at the same time, so if they lose a card or it becomes corrupt, it’s not the end of the world.
Be sure to meet with potential photographers in person!
The photographer will be following you around all day so you want to make sure that you get along and that you like your photographer. When at all possible meet them in person. We work with quite a few couples that live out of state so if you can't make it in to meet in person at least have a Skype meeting.
These questions are just a few of the ones we recommend couples ask before hiring wedding photographers. Better yet, hire a professional wedding planner to do all of this research for you! At Stylish Occasions, we believe in providing our couples with all necessary information to make a great decision regarding your wedding vendors. If you need help, get in touch with us today!