Planning your wedding is one of the most exciting parts of your life, but it can also be one of the most stressful. So make it just a little bit easier here's a list of 10 questions to ask your photographer before booking and 10 questions to ask before your wedding day.
The amount of wedding photographers continue to grow every year so choosing the right one can be quite difficult so here's some questions that may help you choosing the right one for you:
What packages do you have available and how much do they cost?
Every wedding photographer should have a list of packages available, the majority of these will relate to how many hours they will have to be there on the day. Some people want every part of the day captured, where-as others will only want just the ceremony and some photos with family after. If you want a better idea of how long to book your photographer for check out this article that goes into greater depth.
Other things to take into consideration when looking at packages is how many photos you'll receive, how they'll be delivered and if there's any add ons available.
2. What's your approach to photography?
Every photographer has a different approach to photography, when it comes to wedding photography I break down photographers into two categories; Candid or Posed. Personally, when it comes to wedding photography I prefer to take a candid approach so that couples can just focus on enjoying their while I capture natural images. This is the most popular approach but there is still a lot of photographers out there that have a posed approach, this approach takes more planning and has the couple do specific poses.
It's important to know that even taking a candid approach will take some direction form the photographer to get the best photos.
3. Who will be shooting my wedding?
This question is mostly focused when booking through an agency or a company. Out of all the vendors, your photographer is the one you'll be spending the most time with on the day of your wedding, so it's important to book someone who you don't just like their work but also like being around. Another thing to ask here is if they'll have a second shooter or assistant on the day, some photographers will bring a second photographer with them on the day to help and others will offer a second for an extra fee. If you're having a larger wedding (over 100 guests) then I'd recommend having a second photographer to help capture all the moments and reactions from your guests.
4. How many weddings have you done?
Experience is such an important thing when it comes to wedding photography, there's so many important moments that happen during your wedding that you can't redo so having someone who knows not just how to take photos but what happens during weddings will give you that extra assurance that every moment will be captured. Another thing to ask is if they have experience shooting weddings of your culture/religion. There's so many different types of weddings and certain churches have strict rules about where photographers can go so it's ideal having someone who has experience shooting weddings similar to yours so they know what's happening.
5. Have you done a wedding at my venue before?
It's not the most important thing to have a photographer that has worked at your desired venue before but it can be the deciding factor between two photographers you can't decide between. If a photographer has worked at a venue before they'll know the places that made the best photos for them last time as well as having worked with the venue staff before.
6. Do you offer engagement/pre wedding shoots?
I'd recommend doing an engagement shoot to anyone getting married, it's the perfect icebreaker for meeting your photographer but also lets you get an idea of how they approach taking photos and how you'll look in their photos. A lot of photographers will offer engagement shoots in their packages as a sales technique but if you're unsure I suggest just booking a stand alone engagement shoot before committing.
7. What's your cancellation policy?
Covid really flipped the wedding industry on its head, luckily we have moved pass the days of lockdowns but it's a great reminder on how quickly things can change. The majority of photographers will take a deposit when you book them (20-50%), this is usually non-refundable but be sure to check their contract for specific information about cancellations/refunds. I'd also ask them about their back up plan in case they can't make it to your wedding, getting covid the night before a wedding is my worst fear so I have a long list of photographers I could ask to cover a wedding in case of an emergency.
8. Do you have preferred vendors you can recommend?
Having vendors that work well together makes your wedding run so much smoother. There's so many amazing vendors I've worked with that I couldn't recommend more, your photographer is one of the first vendors you book after choosing your venue so be sure to ask if they have any vendors they can recommend of offer combined packages with.
9. What level of editing can we expect?
Taking photos is not even half the work of a photographer, hours upon hours are spent at the computer editing photos and everyone has a different approach. Ask your photographer what their approach to editing is, most will just edit the lighting and colour but some will also offer photoshop retouching. I personally only use lightroom to adjust light/colours and but there is photographers that will use photoshop to manipulate photos to change your appearance.
I recommend scrolling through a photographers instagram feed and see if there's a consistent style, as well as checking their tagged photos from previous clients.
10. Why do you shoot weddings?
This question is to get a better understanding of who the photographer is as a person, asking this question will let you know what values they have for their work and whether they're in it to create meaningful work for their client or just in it to make money. There really is no right or wrong answer to this but it'll help you get a better idea of the vibe of the photographer.
It's so important to have a meeting with your photographer before your wedding, but what questions should you ask?
Can we request a list of specific photos we want?
I recommend every couple to create a shot list before their wedding, most photographers will already know the majority of photos you want but a shot list makes sure both of you understand what photos you want. If you don't know what photos you want here's a template I use:
2. How long will it take for us to receive our photos?
Every photographer has a different process when it comes to editing and supplying photos, but the majority of wedding photographers will have a turn around of 3-6 weeks. During summer some photographers may even take up to 3 months to deliver your gallery, when signing your contract there should usually be a section that mentions how long editing will take but I recommend also asking before the wedding if you'll get a sneak peak a week or two after.
A side note to this is try not to message your photographer asking for photos right after your wedding, when the photos are the ready you'll receive them only ask if it's approaching the end of the agreed upon time otherwise the photographer may rush and not edit the photos to the best ability.
3. Do you require a meal?
Yes please! Most photographers will have in their contract that they are to be supplied a meal, if for whatever reason you can't supply a vendor meal then make sure to let them know before hand so they can organise something as they won't have time to duck down to maccas on the day. Personally I recommend giving the vendors a meal before the guest, I take the least amount of photos will guests are eating and the majority of the time speeches will begin when everyone is finishing their meals so if your photographer gets their meal last they'll have the least amount of time to eat and a lot of the time have to leave their meal to take photos.
4. How long will you need for photos on the day?
The majority of weddings will have a photo session either before or after the ceremony, traditionally the photo session is done after the ceremony so the grooms first time seeing the bride is as she walks down the aisle. Before organising your timeline ask your photographer how long they'll need during the photo session, things that'll make the session go longer are group photos, bridal party photos and any travel between locations. Personally I recommend at least 45 minutes for the photo session this is usually broken up into 15 minutes of bridal party photos and 30 minutes for just the bridge and groom. When it comes to group photos it all depends how many people/groups you want photos with, I'd recommend 10 minutes for a group shot with everyone and 15/20 minutes for smaller individual groups.
Pro tip: Schedule some time for sunset photos, even if it's just 10 minutes these are usually the best photos.
5. Do you have any recommendations on where to take photos?
If you haven't booked an all inclusive location then you may want to go somewhere special during your photo session. Most photographers will have a list of locations they use frequently but have a talk with them to find a location that you'll love just keep in mind that a lot of popular locations will require permits so check local councils or businesses for photography permits as there may be extra costs.
6. What happens if it rains on my wedding?
The majority of photographers will be happy to go out in light rain for photos but there is some who don't want to risk getting their cameras wet (most modern cameras are weather sealed so a sprinkle won't break them). If the forecast has any chance of rain then I recommend setting up a back up plan, this means having a spot you can move your ceremony indoors to and somewhere undercover you can take photos. This is best to discuss with your venue but discuss with your photographer to get their input.
7. Can other people take photos on the day?
There is some photographers who will place in their contract that no one else can take photos on the day. Personally I don't mind if guests are taking photos with their cameras or phones as long as they don't get in the way but in saying that you're paying a lot of money for a professional to take photos and you want people to be present during your wedding. If you're having an unplugged ceremony I recommend letting your celebrant know so they can ask everyone to put their phones away.
8. What time will you arrive and when should we get dressed?
This is going to be different for every wedding, personally I like to arrive at the brides as she's getting her make up done. This way I can take photos of the make up being done and take some photos of the details before make up is finished followed by some candid photos of the bride and bridesmaids having some drinks before they get dressed. The grooms prep is a little less eventful, I usually recommend the groom and groomsmen to get their pants and shirts on before I arrive so I can photograph some details before they starting putting jackets and ties on.
9. What are some tips and tricks for getting the most out of our wedding photos?
Every photographer has their own little tricks to get the most out of their photos, if you're unsure about getting your photo taken or you want to get the best photos possible be sure to talk to your photographer about how you can take better photos on the day. My biggest tip is to just enjoy the experience, it may sound simple but if you're having fun it's going to show in the photos and make for some memories you'll have photos of that'll last a life time.
If you're after some tips and tricks on what you can do to get better photos check out this link for some ideas.
How to Get your guests involved in your wedding photos.
10. When is final payment due?
Most photographers will require full payment to be made before the day of the wedding, this should be stated in your contract but its best to communicate with your photographer so there's no issues, this includes when you make payments so they can confirm.