So he put a ring on it, the date’s been set, & the planning (oh, so much planning!) has begun. Who knew there were so many choices to be made in so many areas for 2 people to join their lives? There’s the dress, the venue, the flowers, the caterer, the cake, the invitations, the guest list, the entertainment…all such important decisions, & each one will affect how your whole wedding day comes together. Think about all the time, the money, the headaches that are going to go into evaluating all your choices. Now – think about what is going to preserve every tiny detail of all that expense & effort for the rest of your lives. Your photographs, right? So hopefully this is near the top of your list of the most important decisions that have to be made. Maybe you are someone who knows something about photography & you’re pretty comfortable with how to assess the information you gather from the photographers you are considering; maybe you know nothing about photography except what you like. Either one is fine! You can find the perfect wedding photographer for you.
So what’s the most important things you need to know? We’re going to go over the Top 10 Questions You Should Ask A Wedding Photographer, but first, let me state something that trumps all others in where to start – you need to really click with the main photographer. Why is that so crucial? Because your wedding day photographer is not going to be just standing off at a distance all day & night snapping images with no interaction at all with you & your guests. She/He is going to be playing the role of choreographer, therapist, mediator, cheerleader, timeline-keeper, brain-stormer…you need someone who gets you, who understands what it is you want the feel of your images to be. Obviously, then, one of the first steps needs to be a face-to-face consult, or at the very least a Skype or phone consult. And you’ll be able to tell within a few minutes if she/he passes this first test – I mean, you know when you feel a connection with a person; it’s either there or it isn’t. So. If they get a thumbs up on Test One, move on to the questions you should ask. And here they are:
1. May I see your portfolio & at least one complete wedding collection? Are all of these your images? The photographer may show you their portfolio from their iPad or laptop & that’s fine; I also recommend you see at least some prints & gallery wraps. Seeing a complete wedding collection will let you see how this photographer tells the story of a wedding from start to finish. What are you looking for? You want the images to evoke a real response within you, a chord to be struck, a bell to be rung 🙂 Just like it’s important for you to feel a connection with the person who will be taking the photographs, you should feel a connection to their images. From a technical aspect, you don’t have to know all the skills that were employed to get the images, but you can look for things like the subjects being sufficiently lit (but not nuked by flash!), no trees or poles positioned behind subjects (ie,”growing out of their heads”), no strange color casts (orange, blue, green), & if the collection has many images from different moments or is made up of repetitive shots of the same moments over & over & over.
2. How long have you been shooting professionally? Let me state, there are some great photographers who are just getting started! And if your most important criteria for choosing a photographer is price, then you should by all means try to find the best new photographer you can find; because they are starting out, they will more likely offer a much lower price. Just remember – the reason you’ll get such a low price is because you are willing to take the risk that their lack of experience may mean missed shots, flawed images, more stress because they are not familiar with the best work flow for weddings, or it could mean they haven’t yet been able to secure proper insurance to protect you & themselves, or even the proper legal status for a business. I have been shooting professionally for 3 years as of this post, not an old-timer by any means but long enough to have the necessary experience to ensure my clients receive the quality & beauty in their collection they have the right to expect.
3. How many weddings do you typically shoot a year? This is more information that will clue you in to the photographer’s experience level. If a photograper isn’t exclusively a wedding photographer & only shoots 2 weddings a year, it could be a cause for concern. Last year we shot 14 weddings & our goal is 20 for this year!
4. Are you insured? A photographer should carry both equipment & liability insurance to protect both their equipment, & you & your guests. We are fully insured.
5. Do you shoot alone at weddings? I have seen some amazing images from photographers who shoot solo at weddings. Personally, I feel that for myself, there is way too much going on at weddings for me to catch everything by myself. I can’t tell you the number of times I have started editing a collection & found a shot that my assistant photographer got while I was shooting, say, the formals, & I’ll think, “Wow! I had no idea that was happening!” I always will have an assistant photographer when I shoot weddings. I feel like it really give the most diverse, well-rounded out collection; the same moment taken from 2 different vantage points can be astoundingly different.
6. Do you edit each image that goes into a collection? My answer is simply, YES. I am upfront when I meet with couples in telling them that it takes me a little longer to get a collection delivered because of this. You shouldn’t be surprised when you see your gallery if you were expecting each image to be given individual editing & it wasn’t. Each couple should decide for themselves if this is an important issue for them.
7. Do you guarantee a certain number of images? Again, the short answer for me is, No. Typically a wedding for us will yield 350-600 images or more, but I do not guarantee a fixed amount. I feel that shooting to reach a quota diminishes creativity & results in a lot of shots that either aren’t important or are repetitive in an effort to get to that magic number. I focus more on looking for (or creating) unique, memorable moments.
8. Do you shoot from a shot list? Hope you like the short answers, lol! Again, No. And again, the reason is I feel it stifles creativity if I’m just moving from one listed shot to the next. It’s not my style & if you like our portfolio, it maybe isn’t yours, either. Will I be willing to take a short list of must-have shots/ideas from you? Absolutely! I love input from my couples!
9. Do you have backup equipment? The importance of this is obvious.
10. Why are you a wedding photographer? What difference does the answer to this question make? Well, this may not be a perfect analogy, but if you were choosing between 2 doctors & you asked them why they were in their profession, & one said, “To make a butt-load of money!” & the other said, “I’ve always felt a need to help people who are in need,” would their answers influence your choice? (one reason that’s not a perfect example is that, unlike doctors, wedding photographers do not make a butt-load of money, contrary to popular belief!). Is it important to you that your wedding photographer be excited to shoot your wedding? That they be personally & emotionally invested in you & this incredible day in your life? I hope so. I have yet to shoot a wedding where I don’t laugh, cry & dance a little 🙂
I’d love to hear from you on this post! Are there other questions you wonder about? Do you agree/disagree with any of the answers? Want to add a question & answer of your own? Give me a shout here!