Alright friends! So you've done your homework from How to Choose a Wedding Photographer and now have your short list of photographers you would love to work with. Now it's time to ask some questions and gain some knowledge!
Some helpful tips before we dive in:
TIP #1 | When you submit an inquiry don't be afraid to be yourself and show your personality! An inquiry is not only about do you want to work with this photographer but do they want to work with you! I love when I get info about you the couple, your dreams, wedding day plans, hobbies, favorite food all of that right up front. It helps me to know who you are and if we'd be a good fit. So don't be afraid to share YOU!
TIP #2 | Be prepared to put money down. Most professional photographers will ask you to pay a down payment along with the contract to reserve your date. The amount varies with each photographer but be sure you know this amount up front and are willing to pay it if you want to secure your date.
TIP #3 | THIS IS A BIG ONE! If your photographer is a professional and this is what they love, they are going to give you a full service experience. What does this mean? It means that they should be asking you questions and giving you answers to the questions below before you even ask them. The answers should be in their pricing guides, emails, contract, etc. They won't hesitate to let you know that they've got you and happily answer any and all questions to give you piece of mind. I want to you to have the BEST experience from the very beginning!
1. First things first, "Are you available?"| While not super personal this is a vital first questions since no matter how much you love this photographer, they may not be available for your date. So make sure you know that first before either of you get too invested.
2. How would you describe your wedding and work style? You should have a feel from this on their website if you did your homework. You should be able to tell if they do a mix of black and white, color, etc. But this is a good question to ask to hear the photographer explain their own style and why they do what they do. Do they like to blend in the background and let the day unfold while they capture it? Or do they prefer to take charge and help choreograph posed shots and the day? Or both?
3. Have you ever photographed a destination wedding? | Obviously vital if you are planning and elopement or destination wedding. Destination weddings include a lot of logistics, planning, and spontaneity on the photographers part. Even if you aren't planning a destination wedding I believe this question can give you an idea of your photographers personality and organizational skills as well.
4. What makes you stand out as a wedding photographer? | It's always good to see if this goes along with the images you see on their website and the testimonials they have received.
5. What are your packages? | This question is going to answer a lot of other questions for you. If your photographer is a legit professional, they will have well put together packages that explain cost, how many hours, travel fees, al la carte items, extra hours, assistants and second shooters. All of this should be laid out in a pricing guide that is beautiful and curated. Why does that matter? Because it shows they want to give you a full experience and they take their business seriously.
6. What's your favorite part of a wedding day? | This is a great question because it gives you a chance to see if your photographer lines up with the part of your wedding day that is most important to you. Do they love doing romantic couples portraits? Do they geek out about styling and posing stellar group shots? Are they all about dancing it up with you at the reception? All good answers!
7. What is the back up plan if your photographer can't make it? | Nobody likes this question because it's every photographers worst fear. But it's an important one to ask. Your photographer should have a back up plan if an emergency comes up. If it is a worst case scenario and they are truly unable to make it or have a replacement (think they got in a horrible accident on the way there), it should state in their contract what happens monetarily in that circumstance.
8. Will you be my photographer or will it be an associate? | It should state on their website if they are a team of photographers or just an individual, however it doesn't hurt to ask. If it is a team you will want to know who you are getting on your big day!
9. How long after the wedding do we get to see the photos? | I love this question because you want to know the expectation up front. Sometimes receiving your photos can take awhile but its always good to know what to expect. Every photographer is different in this regard and due to high demand sometimes it can take a very long time. It's important for you to know when to expect your photos (yay!)
10. How many weddings do you do a weekend? | Some photographers shoot multiple weddings in a weekend. It's good to know this for a couple reasons. First, if they shoot more than one wedding in a day you need to know if they run late what happens? Second, how fatigued are they going to be? I personally shoot one wedding a weekend. I find that I can give my full focus to my clients and the truth is weddings are exhausting! I would possibly shoot two on different days (think a Friday and Sunday) under very special circumstances. So ask your photographer and see how they feel.
11. Will you follow a shot list? Or do you prefer free reign? | I know I know, this sounds like a dumb question but its a good one. I like this question because it give you an idea of your photographers personality. If you are hiring a seasoned professional they do not need a 100 item shot list. They will already know what details to get and have an eye for what's important. They will also want to know what is important to you! I have my couples form a small must have list so that I know if there is a loved one they need to get a photo with, if they are dying for some epic sunset photos, or if they slaved on a particular detail and want it documented. I love when a client communicates these details to me but also lets me work my magic on the day itself. After all, that's why you're hiring a pro!
12. Will you help me with a wedding day timeline? | They should say YES! Any photographer is going to want to be in on that timeline because it make their day go smoothly as well. If you have a wedding coordinator, the photographer may not shape the timeline for you, but they should have input. Most people don't know the best time of day for photos, or how long photos may take, or to include travel time. Your photographer should help guide you through that process so you have the perfect combination of being on time and unrushed beautiful photos.
13. Do you have insurance? | This questions is designed to help you determine the professionals from the amateur. A professional is going to have insurance.
14. What do you typically wear to a wedding? | Again, this shouldn't be a hard question but the sad truth is I have seen amateur photographers wear some pretty unprofessional outfits to weddings. Its good to know up front if they take this aspect seriously.
15. How do you handle change or the unexpected? | I like this question because weddings are stressful and occasionally have circumstances out of anyone's control. This can be weather, people running late, or the human factor. Meaning sometimes vendors, bridal party, or family can create drama. Your photographer is a pivotal point in all of this and their answer in how they can navigate change and the unexpected is crucial. They should both expect it and be on top of it.
16. What's the next step? | You're ready to sign! Woohoo! Your photographer should be happy to guide you on what's going to happen after you sign on the dotted line. No guessing. No ghosting. You should feel filled in and confident with the decision you just made. Check out next week's blog post for more on what to expect after you sig Congrats! You've got yourself a kick-ass photographer! Watch out though, you may end up besties.
BONUS TIP | How well is your photographer communicating when you ask these questions and do they seemed pumped? Do you find the way they email, text, talk annoying? Do they seem invested? Use your skills of perception to see how much you enjoy your photographer because you will be communicating with them a ton and potentially spending a lot of time together. If somethings bugging you now it may bug you more later. Trust your gut!
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Beth Bowman is an intimate wedding, destination, and elopement photographer with a heart for adventure based in Lexington, Virginia. She thrives on awkward, intimate, and authentic moments. Her mission is to document moments of love and light that they may encourage and inspire others during hard times--that love is the only true adventure. Her style is romantic, creative, and genuine. She believes in getting out in the rain, head back laughs, taking risks, and brave love stories.