December 14, 2018
Before we dive in, let me start off by saying this is NOT your typical Pinterest list of 1283784758 questions you must ask before hiring a wedding photographer and I’m going to skip right past the questions like “are you available on my wedding date” and “what is included in my package” because if you’ve made it to the consultation part of the process, you already know that information and reading over questions that have already been answered for you is not a great use of your time and writing them is not a good use of mine. So here are the REAL questions you need to ask once you’ve made it to the consultation part of the wedding planning process.
This one is super important because social media, blog posts, sample albums, and website portfolios are SUPER curated. Creatives work really hard to create a brand with consistency so curating our work is important, but you’re basically seeing our highlight reel. Asking to see full galleries will allow you to see the parts of the day that aren’t featured online.
This is an important but frustrating question for us — while you want to know that your photographer has experience and is fully capable of handling anything your wedding can potentially throw at them, clients often fail to realize that photographers who book 60 weddings each year aren’t necessarily BETTER than photographers who only book 10 each year. Personally, I’ve had wedding seasons where I’ve shot less than 20 weddings and I’ve had wedding seasons where I’ve shot over 50 weddings and do you know what I found? My client experience suffers when I take on 50+ weddings. I’m able to serve my couples and the vendors that I work with MUCH better when I limit myself to 30 events or less each year, at least for now because my team is basically me and a super supportive husband who serves as my therapist and luggage/gear loader. One day, I may be able to take on 50+ weddings comfortably if my team grows to accommodate that many but for now it’s just not feasible. So all of that rambling was meant to say – you need to know your photographer is experienced and capable but not overextended.
This is a question that caught me off guard the first time a client asked but it makes total sense! It’s equally important that you mesh with your photographer as a person as it is that you love their work. I mean, you spend your entire day with us so you need to know that you’d get along. Some couples prefer a photographer that waits for things to happen and shoots them as they organically unfold. Some couples prefer photographers who direct and pose the entire day. Some couples want something in between. Some couples want a photographer that works around whatever happens and some couples want a photographer who can take charge of a situation to get the results they want. All of these personality and work style things are super important and so often, they aren’t even addressed before the wedding day.
There is such a huge range of what “editing” can mean so you want to be sure you and your photographer are on the same page. What I would say is “normal” is a basic color correction and tone matching. Basically, your photog will make sure your photo isn’t too warm or too cool and it’s not too bright or too dark based on their style but things like whitening teeth, skin smoothing, and body modification are considered extensive retouching. Your photographer may offer retouching services at an additional fee or they may not offer it at all. Either way, you should make sure that “edited” means the same to you and your photographer.
This is another doozie of a question and I honestly hate answering it because I’m afraid of how it comes off to a potential couple — but I believe in being 100% transparent from the beginning. I don’t allow shot lists. I find that it hinders my ability to capture the emotion of the day because I’m so focused on setting up the shots that are listed out for me. That being said, I DO get with my couples during the wedding planning process to get a family formal list and find out if there are any special things I need to be aware of (choreographed dance during the reception, memorial tables, bride is wearing grandmother’s veil, etc.) because I don’t want to miss those important parts of your day. I would say to keep an open mind if your photographer says no shot list but I would consider it a red flag if they say no shot list and no input at all on what you’d like photographed.
As much as I’d like to promise you that your wedding day will be clear, sunny, and perfect, we can’t control the weather. It’s important that whoever you hire is experienced enough to shoot in all circumstances, even if they aren’t ideal. Some of my favorite photos were taken in the rain but I never could’ve taken those beautiful rain photos without a little prep work and planning first.
This may or may not be relevant, some photographers will send this over before the consultation and some won’t but you need to know what you’re expected to sign. Most photography contracts are standard and protect both the couple and the photographer, but it’s never a good idea to blindly sign anything. At my client consultations, I like to go over the main points of the contract and explain a few things, because even though it’s pretty standard I understand that my clients are not in the wedding industry and what just makes sense to me might be a totally new concept to them and I never want anyone to feel unsure about anything at the end of a meeting.
Some photographers have associate photographers that will shoot certain weddings under your photographer’s brand. While I wouldn’t say this is the “norm”, it is common enough that it’s worth asking.
This is literally one of my biggest fears as a wedding photographer but we are human and anything can happen. We can be in an accident on the way to the venue, we can get super sick, we can have a death in the family, just like everyone else. So what happens if one of these nightmare situations just so happens to happen on or around your wedding day? Your photographer should have a backup plan in case of an emergency.
This goes along with the last question but it’s important enough to get its own mention. Weddings are a once-in-a-lifetime event and you can’t just do it over if a camera body breaks or a lens starts malfunctioning. I have a full range of lenses, two camera bodies, a full set of flashes, and lots of backup memory on me at every single wedding. It might actually be overkill, but I have a phobia of being unprepared and after having to reschedule a family session in my first year because of a camera performance issue, I vowed never to let that happen again. Luckily, it was a session that could be redone and not something like a wedding but it definitely scared me enough to always have a backup — and another backup for that backup.