So you’ve just got engaged and are on the hunt for a wedding photographer (and getting started early so all the best ones don’t get booked up). But perhaps you’re not sure how to determine which one is right for you.
To help you out, we’ve drawn on our years of experience to collate the top 20 questions you should ask a prospective wedding photographer before you hire them.
1. WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE OF WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY AS A SOLO PHOTOGRAPHER?
It might be a no-brainer to ask about their experience as a wedding photographer. But what you really want to know is their experience as a lead shooter and ability to take charge on the day itself. Second shooting is a great way to get experience as a photographer but if you’re trusting someone to capture images that will last a lifetime, you want to know that they have the people and organisational skills to get the job done.
2. HAVE YOU PHOTOGRAPHED AT MY VENUE BEFORE?
It might not be a deal breaker but it’s always nice to know that a photographer is familiar with your venue and knows all those secret little spots for couple portraits. They’ll have an understanding of logistical issues, such as getting there and parking, and have probably built up a rapport with the staff and the venue’s wedding coordinator.
3. HAVE YOU PHOTOGRAPHED A SIMILAR CULTURE/FAITH WEDDING AS MINE?
If you’re having a cultural or religious wedding, finding a photographer with experience is a good idea. It will give you peace of mind that they’ll understand what’s going on and be in the right place at the right time to capture all the moments. They’ll already be familiar with the traditions and customs and won’t step on any toes throughout the day.
4. COULD YOU SHOW US FULL WEDDING GALLERY SIMILAR TO OUR TYPE OF WEDDING?
To get an idea of the images you might come away with, ask to see an entire album from a couple’s wedding day in a similar style to your own. A photographer will always share their best work online but you also want to see the types (and amount of) images that don’t make the website cut.
5. HOW DO YOU APPROACH A WEDDING…WHAT’S YOUR VISION?
This isn’t always the easiest question for a photographer to answer but if they’re confident in their approach, they’ll have one ready. You might want to be more specific by asking them how they handle certain situations or what their overall philosophy is as a wedding photographer.
6. DO YOU HAVE LIABILITY INSURANCE, A BUSINESS LICENSE AND BACKUP EQUIPMENT?
While it’s easy to fall in love with a photographer’s work, you want to know that if things do go wrong, they’re covered and/or have a backup plan. You want the peace of mind that their business operations are legal and that they’ve thought far enough ahead that they can respond to even the worst case scenarios.
7. CAN YOU GIVE US AN OVERALL IDEA OF WHAT YOUR CLIENT EXPERIENCE IS LIKE?
When you hire a wedding photographer, their job isn’t just to show up on your special day, turn on the camera and snap away. Quality photography means planning and preparation…weeks (if not months) before the wedding day. So ask what you can expect from them after you sign the contract and pay the deposit, all the way through to receiving your images and beyond.
8. HOW BIG IS YOUR TEAM AND WHO WILL YOU USE AS YOUR ASSISTANT?
You might find this kind of information on the photographer’s website but it’s a good idea to clarify it during your meeting…and make sure you’re actually talking to the photographer who will shoot your wedding. If you’re paying for a second shooter, make sure it’s someone with relevant experience and not just a friend of a friend who’s trying to get their foot in the door.
9. IS YOUR PRICING SET IN STONE?
It’s always worth asking if there’s any “wiggle room”, particularly if you’re having a wedding during the off-season or on a weekday. But it’s important to respect the photographer’s pricing and don’t change your budget or requested inclusions during the meeting. Most photographers are willing to be flexible to work out a price that’s reasonable for both parties but it’s important to establish that you can afford the photographer before having a meeting.
10. HOW CAN WE BOOK?
If you’re ready to commit, check how much of a deposit is required to secure the booking and when the remaining balance is due. There should always be a contract with the essential info, terms and conditions included so there are no surprises and both parties are comfortable with the agreement.
11. WHAT INFO DO YOU NEED FROM US TO ENSURE YOU CAPTURE EVERYTHING THAT IS IMPORTANT?
A photographer should have a game plan for shooting your wedding, whether that be a questionnaire they ask you to fill out or a final meeting where you’ll go over all the important details. Always check what information they need from you to do their job and establish how they will utilise that to capture all the images you want.
12. WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU’RE SICK ON OUR WEDDING DAY?
Unfortunately, sometimes situations arise that are out of our hands. So does your photographer have a back-up plan if they can’t capture your wedding and how will you be compensated. It’s a worst-case scenario but something your photographer should have considered. Do they have a network of trusted colleagues that could step in and how will they minimise any inconveniences and emotional hardship on your end.
13. WHAT DO YOU AND YOUR TEAM WEAR ON THE WEDDING DAY?
If you’re having a black tie event or a themed dress code, you don’t want your photography team turning up in something really inappropriate. So just check what their usual attire is and make any suggestions if you’d like them to blend in with your chosen theme.
14. HOW DO WE KNOW YOU’RE GOING TO SHOW UP TO OUR WEDDING AND BE PROFESSIONAL?
These are questions you might not feel comfortable asking outright and will probably be addressed by reading online reviews from past couples. But if at any time during your meetings you’re having doubts about their trustworthiness, don’t be afraid to ask if they’ve ever turned up late or missed a wedding for any myriad of reasons.
15. HOW STRICT ARE YOU ON YOUR HOUR AND WHAT’S YOUR POLICY/RATE FOR OVERTIME?
Once you’ve established how many hours of photography you want, check with your photographer what will happen if things are running a bit late and you still have moments you want captured. Will they be packing up their camera until you pay them the additional hour or are they flexible enough that 30 minutes overtime is reasonable? It’s always a good idea to establish this beforehand to avoid any awkward situations or the risk of receiving a bill for the additional coverage when you should be enjoying your honeymoon.
16. WHEN WILL OUR PHOTOS BE READY AND HOW MANY WILL WE RECEIVE?
Hopefully, the time frame for the delivery of photos will be outlined in your contract so there are no surprises or misunderstandings. But if you’re not sure (or your photographer is giving you a vague deadline), clarify this and get it in writing. Also, check what will happen if the deadline is not met and any compensation that they will offer, such as free prints or an upgraded album.
You also want to ask roughly how many photos you will receive, which will usually depend on your photography coverage and the overall wedding day schedule. If you’re ordering an album, double check on the delivery time of this as well and the process of picking out your preferred shots!
17. HOW WILL WE BE ABLE TO VIEW, SHARE AND DOWNLOAD THE IMAGES?
In this digital age, it’s important to understand exactly what you’ll be getting from your photographer and how you can access your photos. Will they be released via an online gallery that’s password protected where you can view, share and download them? Or perhaps they’ll be on a USB drive. Make sure it’s outlined in the contract so there are no surprises.
18. DO WE OWN THE COPYRIGHT OF OUR WEDDING PHOTOS
In most cases, both you and your photographer will share the copyright to your photos so you can print them and use them as you wish. But it’s important to check that this is outlined in the contract…and understand that your photographer will also be able to use them to better their business by sharing them on their website and social media posts.
19. WHAT KIND OF RETOUCHING WILL YOU DO TO OUR WEDDING PHOTOS?
Always check if the photographer will retouch the images before sharing them with you and what level of retouching they will do. This can range from colour correcting, cropping and fixing the white balance to removing wrinkles and taking out distracting items in the background. Editing is a time-consuming process and while some photographers will do it themselves, others will outsource the job to editing professionals. While most photographers will include some level of retouching in their quoted prices, additional retouching may be extra.
20. WILL YOU BACK UP OUR WEDDING IMAGES?
This is an important one because all that money you spend on a wedding photographer is going to be completely wasted if there’s a technical failure and your images are lost. So check if they will back-up your wedding images and for how long this back-up will be available (which should be outlined in the contract). This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t back-up the photos yourself as soon as you download them, either to your own computer or external hard drives.
“An amazing experience – thank you Kraig, Chris and the team!
You definitely created the experience we wanted and made everything so easy from set up, picking the layout to tunes. Nothing was too difficult. On the day the dance floor was always packed – we (and all of the wedding party) had an amazing time – I think the pictures prove!
Thank you for being part of our special day!”