what to ask your wedding photographer
After you’ve settled on a style or type of wedding photography that you like best and you’ve narrowed your list based on pricing and availability, you’ll want to set up a meeting (or video chat if you’re not local). This is a great chance to talk through your wedding plans, but more importantly it’s an opportunity to see how you connect on a personal level.
Remember – you’ll be spending the entire day with your photographer and it’s super important to feel comfortable with them. If you’re able to relax and trust them you’ll enjoy the day and they’ll get great photos!
During that meeting, most photographers will address common questions, such as pricing details and turn around time. I also talk about my approach to the wedding day and share some more info on how to get your best photos. But there’s one question that almost nobody thinks to ask but they totally should…
can we see a full gallery from a real wedding?
Pssstt… I’ll let you in on a secret. I post the best one percent of my photos on this site. It’s something all photographers do because we want you to like us and our work. The photos on our blog, and especially our portfolio are the best of the best.
With the advancements in camera and editing technology, the truth is, when everything goes right there might not be a lot of difference between my work and photographers that cost less. But real wedding days aren’t perfectly-controlled styled shoots. What happens when it rains? What if your your venue is really dark. What if we end up behind schedule?
When those kinds of things happen (and they do happen) we’ll still make killer photos. But you don’t have to just take my word for it. I’m always happy to send a full gallery (or several) before you reserve your date. And you should ABSOLUTELY make sure you see full galleries from any photographer you’re seriously considering.
Full galleries are the best way to see consistency
You’ll be able to get a true indication of what a full day of wedding coverage looks like. You can get an idea of how many photos to expect. Most photographers, myself included, don’t show a lot of detail photos or family group photos, but those are always part of a real wedding day. Make sure you’re looking at a full gallery (usually hundreds of images), not just a blog post with 40-50 favorites.
Pay close attention to the overall quality. If there’s a big discrepancy in quality or the editing looks inconsistent, that’s not a good sign. Is every single photo in focus? And, of course, if a photographer won’t show you a full, start-to-finish wedding day I would suggest you keep looking.
It’s okay if the galleries aren’t from your specific venue(s)
A lot of couples feel more comfortable with photographers who have worked at their actual venue. But, the truth is, even at venues I’ve worked at many times wedding days can be totally different. Merely having worked at a venue previously isn’t an indicator that a photographer will create great photos. By the same token, an experienced pro will be able to cover your wedding well whether they’ve worked at your venue once, five times or never.
But make sure they’re from similar types of weddings
It’s more important that the sample galleries be from wedding that share similar qualities. For example, if you’re getting married in a loft space, a gallery of photos from a destination beach wedding isn’t very relevant. If you know you’ll want some rooftop night portraits, ask for a gallery that shows that. You want to seeing real weddings with similar ceremony and reception locations.
FIVE MORE GOOD QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR SECOND PHOTOGRAPHER(S)?
Many photographers tout a second photographer or market themselves as a team, but often the second photographer is more of an assistant, or a spouse with a camera. If you’re getting two photographers, ask about BOTH of their backgrounds.
In our case, we shoot every wedding with two photographers. Two PRIMARY photographers. I only hire other photojournalists with similar backgrounds and experience levels. They’re people I completely trust. Two of them actually shot my own wedding. Another shot my brother’s wedding.
HOW DO YOU SAFE-GUARD MY IMAGES?
Make sure your photographer has thought about worst-case scenarios (hardware failure, fire, flood, theft) and has real backup procedures in place to mitigate these risks.
We take your image security very seriously. We shoot every photo to two cards, so there’s an immediate backup. Additionally, we make two more copies plus one off-site immediately after the wedding. Seriously, I can’t even go to bed until I know your photos are backed up safely.
WHAT WILL YOU WEAR TO OUR WEDDING?
This might seem like a silly one, but I’ve heard many stories of photographers dressing less than professionally.
We always try to blend in. Our goal is to look like a wedding guest and still be relatively unnoticed. Practically speaking, that means shirts and ties and (very quiet) dress shoes. You can view a “behind-the-scenes” gallery of us working here.
WHAT’S YOUR EMERGENCY PLAN, IF SOMETHING HAPPENS TO YOU?
This can be an uncomfortable one to talk about, but it’s really important. Make sure you know what happens if your photographer ends up unable to shoot because they’re hospitalized or 8½ months pregnant.
My wife and a trusted colleague have copies of my wedding schedule and, in the event something terrible happens, they’re prepared to contact somebody else to take my place. Plus you’ll already have a second photographer reserved. Thankfully, this has never been an issue (knock on wood).
DO YOU HAVE INSURANCE?
Every real professional will have insurance. In fact, they should have two specific types.
1) Equipment insurance – this covers all of the actual photography equipment in case something gets damaged, lost, stolen, etc.
2) Liability insurance – this covers the photographer (and their business) if an accident happens. Venues often request proof in the form of a COI (Certificate of Insurance) to be allowed to work in their space.
We carry both of these with a $2 million liability policy from TCP Insurance.
TWO QUESTIONS YOU SHOULDN’T ASK YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
CAN WE GIVE YOU A SHOT LIST?
It seems every wedding website has a popular list of “must-have” wedding photos with checkboxes for things like “bride walking down the aisle” or “first kiss,” as if photographers had time to be ticking off each item as they capture the day.
With our background and experience as photojournalists, we’re trained to anticipate moments before they happen. The only list we need is for the family group portraits. Additionally, if you have any small details that we might miss (like a special locket on your bouquet or a piece of your grandmother’s veil sewn into your dress) definitely point them out.
CAN WE GET THE “RAW” FILES?
A huge part of our job as professional photographers is editing your images. That means both selecting the best photos and processing (color-correcting) them in the way that we intended while we were shooting. That’s a great thing for couples – most aren’t trained photo editors.
We recommend finding a photographer you love, and trusting them to do the editing. This is why seeing a few full galleries is so important!