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PLANNING: Questions To Ask When Booking Your Photographer!

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Questions you should ask the photographers you're reviewing for your wedding day

Looking at their areas of experience, consistency of work, timelines and more – here's everything you should ask before you spend your pretty pennies on a photographer to avoid a world of hurt!

Can your photog shoot in midday sun?


Planning your wedding is STRESSFUL. You need to worry about venues, food, photography and videography, the DJ, the officiant and all within a certain budget. WOOF! I've made some of these mistakes in the past before getting to where I am today. With about 200 weddings under my belt, I've learned the best questions you really need to ask to be sure you're getting the best bang for your buck!

This article mostly refers to those looking to spend a minimum of $2,000 on photography. If you're saving your finances for a different need (the food or the venue, for example) by looking for a newer photographer giving a deal, some of these questions can still help in your search!
 
The Basics

Do you REALLY know who's photographing your wedding? Do they shoot well in bright sun and dark scenes? How do you discern their consistency? What will be delivered to you without paying extra? Let's get into it!


#1 - Why Are These Questions So Important? #2 - Clues To See Before Contacting a Photographer?

#3 - What You Should Ask and the Answers to Look for!

 

Why Are These Questions So Important?

Without knowing what to ask, you may not get everything you're hoping for without big regrets. A nicely made website can make it easy to overlook the truths of a business! It may seem perfect looking at a gorgeous website, but how do you know what is missing? Sometimes you have to ask.

After 12 years in the industry, these are the questions I've found to be the most missed and possibly the most important!
 
Pay Attention To These Clues!
First, take a hard look at their website. The most common word you'll hear me say in this section is consistency.

Do you see a consistency of style throughout their work? Are all of their images in a similar style or do they bounce between bright and airy to darker and moody, from warmer and grainy to cooler and clean? You want to know what you're gonna get, which is best found in their consistency.

Does their site show images at all times of day and night?

Look for images in full sun, during golden hour, and nighttime or in darkness (party and

reception) shots. Making sure there's a mix of them all ensures their ability to capture anything at

any time!


What's Do They Share About Themselves? How long have they been full time in photography? What's the estimated number of weddings they've shot? Unless the person you're looking at is a total diamond in the rough, it takes A LOT of weddings to nail down what's required to be the best Lead Photographer for your day. To be safe, I would put the number at a minimum of 75, at least 30 of those with them as the Lead Photographer of the day. If someone is charging $3,000 and have only shot 10 weddings as the Lead Photographer, RUN AWAY.


 

{ After you like what you see and have scheduled a call with them, try out these questions! }

 
What Questions Should I Ask and What Answers Do I Want?

Get ready to ask everything important! These can help you to be sure you and the photographer you're reviewing are on the same and the perfect fit for each other. Leaving these questions out can hurt you in the short AND long run:


1 - "Will you be the photographer on our wedding day?" Believe it or not, there are a LOT of photographers that make it seem like they would be there on your wedding day, but send off the work to other people. If those people are a part of their team, openly stated and shared on their website, this isn't a bad thing! When that is NOT the case, you may be given a photographer that the company hasn't worked with before or don't provide the same quality of work that is shown on their website. Confirm this in their contract!

2 - "How many weddings have you photographed as the Lead Photographer?"
There's a difference between shooting 100 weddings as a 2nd Shooter than 100 weddings as the Lead! As a lead photographer, you must know and direct the timeline of the day, know all of the workings throughout the day, know how to direct your 2nd Shooter, know posing tips and tricks and how to interact with clients in good and not-so-good situations.

3 - "Where can I look at full albums you've done?"
Quick answer should simply be: "Of course, let me send them your way."
4 - "How long is your turnaround time?"
The most common timeframe for receiving the full online album for wedding photographers is 4-8 weeks. Quicker turnarounds can either mean lower quality editing, the photographers outsources their editing (totally normal), they don't have a lot of other work at the time, or they're just editing geniuses. Longer turnaround times generally means the photographer takes their time editing well (my personal average is 6-12 weeks during the busy season of Sept-Apr). Always look at their contract to confirm timeframes!

5 - "What's your experience in posing clients?"
Those stunning images you see with outstanding poses are usually not naturally done by the Bride and Groom - unless they're models or have memorized all of the Pinterest posts they've saved for inspiration. Prompts and posing is a skill that takes time to learn. You'll find out your photogs comfort level with posing if their answer eludes to them simply 'capturing the genuine moments of the day'.

6 - "Do you provide a Sneak Peek - if so, how many images and how long after the wedding day?" Totally common to provide and a favorite of Brides and Grooms wanting to share a few amazing images within a few days of their wedding! About 10 images is standard in a Sneak Peek. Crazies like myself who are slightly obsessive after an exciting wedding may do up to 50.

7 - "Do you use natural and/or professional lighting?" I was a natural light photographer... until I recognized the true meaning of that was I simply don't know how to use professional lighting. Some artists have a style that really makes this work in imaginative way, especially the film style crew. My personal experience, however, is that knowing how to use flash has upped my abilities tenfold.

8 - "What's included in your packages and what would be an add on?"
Are prints included? An Album? Digital Images? Do you have the rights to download and share images? How about the rights download an print? How many images would I get?

9 - "Tell me about your retainer fee" There's no avoiding it, if you book a wedding date with a photog, they will have a retainer fee to hold the date. If you cancel your wedding, this will NOT be refundable. If you change the date (especially if the date is coming up soon), you will likely have to pay another retainer fee. Why, you ask? I promise, it's not unfair. The photog has set aside that day for you - by changing/cancelling, they are losing out on thousands of dollars unless they can book a wedding on that date in time.

10 - "How would you describe your personality during weddings?" Personally, I'm a bit energetic. ...maybe more than just a bit. I direct you and your guests quite actively, throw out jokes, smile and laugh, and communicate consistently throughout the day. That vibe is NOT for everyone! Your perfect photog may have a chill vibe and prefer to be in the background as much as possible. Try to find someone with the vibe that fits you, because they are going to be there from start to finish!

11 - "If we booked you, would you help with our timeline?" Every good wedding photog knows that the timeline means everything for lighting. This is important so they can be sure you're getting the best images!
 

{Need help with planning your timeline?!

Check out my blog "PLANNING: Wedding Timelines"!}






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