Wedding Photographer Questions
During consultations, many clients come with a list of wedding photographer questions to answer. Most of which are taken from wedding blogs that usually just miss the mark. They have the right idea, but information like what model of camera I use doesn’t make me a better photographer, nor will it help the bride in her decision to hire me. The first consultation is the most important interaction between the couple and wedding photographer. For the photographer, this is when they get all the needed information about your wedding day. This is necessary to help you prioritize and achieve the results you desire on your big day. For you, this meeting is all about making sure the photographer is professional, skilled and prepared to take on the task. In this post I will try to take the position of the bride and create questions that I know will put some photographers in the hot seat.
Do you have a contract?
This is an absolute must no matter what. If the photographer you’re meeting answers “No” to this question you should really be scratching your head. Why wouldn’t they have one? It is an agreement put in place to protect both parties. Contracts cover subjects like tardiness, copy and print rights, safety, booking requirements and payment schedules. This is information that you should have for your reference and records. Maybe you are looking to hire your friend who has an interest in photography but isn’t necessarily a professional to cut on costs. What happens if they run off with your money never to be seen again? Do you even have proof that they were hired, how much you paid or anything else that was possibly agreed upon?
Do you have insurance?
Do you want to hire a professional or do you want to hire a weekend warrior with a nice camera? If the photographer you are meeting with has insurance, it is a sure sign that they are a professional. If not, it’s safe to say that the less expensive photographer you may be chatting up, is cheaper in more ways than one. Won’t you sleep better at night knowing that if your maid of honour takes a nasty fall because your beloved wedding photographer, they’re covered? Don’t want them to have to take an early retirement from the photography industry now do we?
How long have you worked with your second shooter? Are they on par with your quality of work? Are your styles cohesive?
As well as hiring the photographer you are meeting with, you may also be contemplating hiring a second photographer. Hiring a second photographer means there will be getting ready photos of the bride as well as the groom and a variety of different viewpoints throughout the day. If you opt for this service, ask about the second shooter that they have in mind for your wedding. Have they worked with this photographer before? If so, for how long? When photographers have worked together multiple times they have refined their teamwork and work well opposite each other. They also have a good working relationship and can rely on each other. In the odd chance that your photographer has hired someone off the internet they’ve never met, it could mean a no show and a more stressful day for the both of you. Ask if your photographer has done their due diligence in hiring someone they know will be reliable, on time, and professional. It’s also important that the two photographers are of the same quality of work and have cohesive shooting styles. Do you want your wedding photographs to look like they’re photographed by two different people? You will hire your wedding photographer because of their quality and style, and you expect the same of their second shooter.
What backup systems will you use to protect my photos?
Corrupted memory cards and computer crashes are a very real problem. It is a possibility that your wedding photographs could be at risk if your wedding photographer doesn’t take every precaution. Ask your photographer what they do to ensure that your images aren’t lost. There’s no going back once your wedding day is over. Here are a few of the ways photographers protect images:
- Shoot to two cards (Double Copies)
- External Hard Drive Backup
- Cloud Storage Service Backup
Do I have printing rights? Do you offer albums / products?
This is an important question to ask. If you don’t know, it can lead to you potentially scorning your photographer and breach of contract.
Let me explain…
Some photographers are okay with you taking the digital images and printing where ever you please. However, most photographers like to have a follow up meeting after your wedding or session to discuss ordering prints. This is to your advantage, professional photographers offer stunning custom designed albums and prints. Try not to do both parties a disservice by going to just any printing place. You paid good money to hire a talented photographer, why fall short on the last step and destroy the quality by getting bad prints?
On the flip side, a photographer could grant you full printing rights. Hand over the digitals and that’s that. I believe that this is an incomplete service on the photographer’s end. However, if you’re on a tight budget, having the freedom to print wherever you want could be your best option. Ask your photographer where they recommend getting prints done and about any great new products they’ve seen on the market.
What lighting will you be using at the reception?
If you’re having your wedding reception at a hall with the lights dimmed, your photographer won’t be able to get well exposed images without a little help. The photographer will need lighting in the form of on camera flash (flash attached to camera) or off camera flash (flash on a stands around the room). Make sure that your photographer has the gear or method to deal with all sorts of lighting situations, by asking this. Even though you might not fully understand the technicalities, this is why we have the consult. The photographer is there to make sense of your day and help you understand the process.
How do you take control of a timeline that is running behind? What steps do you take to ensure the schedule is followed to the best of everyone’s ability?
Do you want to be late for your own wedding? Some people may not care so much and just want to go with the flow on their wedding day. Others want to stay to the planned timeline so that everything they have scheduled can happen. Because when you run overtime, you have to take that time from somewhere else. Is your make up taking longer then expected? It may not be worrying you too much at the moment, but it could cascade into you missing out on bride and groom portrait time. Does your photographer understand the importance of a well thought out timeline? Will they be in your corner keeping you informed on timing? Rightfully so, it is outlined in contracts that the photographer is not responsible for the lateness of a bride, groom or any occurrences out of their control. At the same time, you want a photographer you know won’t take a back seat on your big day. Ask “How do you take control of a timeline that is running behind?” or “What steps do you take to ensure the schedule is followed to the best of everyones ability?”
How do you ensure family photos run smoothly and on time?
What is their strategy? Many photographers ask the bride and groom to designate a member of the wedding party who knows the guests, to help navigate family photos. Note that most weddings only have 30 minutes set aside to capture all these images, so having that person to help gather the right people, at the right time, is a big deal. Your photographer will struggle if they have to call over a group, wait for them to get together, shoot them quickly, and than have the next group ready to go. This allocated time will pass quickly. Ensure that a plan of action is in place, so that you don’t miss out on shots with the people who mean the most to you.
Do you outline yourself as exclusive photographer in your contract?
This answer will almost always be a yes, with good reason. You should be going over the contract with your photographer so that everyone understands the rules. For example, many photographers will write an exclusivity clause into their contracts. This means that your photographer should be the only hired photographer and no one should be taking photographs over their shoulder or interfering in any way to take their own photographs. This is not just to the benefit of the photographer, it is actually more beneficial to you. Do you think your photographer can do their best work while uncle Bob gets in the shot, or distracts your gaze away from the camera? If you have an uncle Bob with a new camera and a hobby in photography, beware! Tell him about the agreement you have with your professional wedding photographer and how it could breach your contract. I’m sure he doesn’t want to negatively effect one of the most important days of your life! It is important that you stop this behaviour before your photographer has to, because that means less time spent taking photos, and potentially big moments lost.
Have you ever had to deal with an uncooperative family member / wedding party member? How did you handle the situation? Was it a positive outcome?
Do you know that there is someone in your wedding party that is on the wild side? There’s nothing wrong with having super outgoing groomsmen who’s incredibly pumped on your big day, but could their behaviour impact wedding party photos in a negative way? You want to know that your photographer can rein them in if the time comes. Time is of the essence and no one can afford a photographer that can’t take control of a situation. If your photographer is too much of a pushover, they might not have the guts to insist a groomsman gets his act together and smile for the camera.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article about wedding photographer questions! I hope that I helped you in the preparation of a future consult. You deserve no one but the best on your wedding day! If you have any questions or concerns about an upcoming consultation with your potential wedding photographer, feel free to contact me! 🙂