When I'm meeting a bride in person and discussing her wedding plans in detail, I always ask "so what kind of questions might you have for me?" Usually they don't have a great idea of the type of questions to ask me, and I try to give them a quick rundown of my background and experience. I realized more brides need to be prepared with questions to ask a potential wedding photographer. And for those who were unprepared, I wanted to make sure I discussed a few things with them. So here's a list of questions I would ask someone if I was interviewing them to shoot MY wedding.
I've already written a guide to picking your wedding photographer, that I think you should read before this. It would be smart to know the answer to these before signing the contract, and that everything you're paying for is IN the contract. These questions are better suited to be asked in person, if possible, and by phone if doing a destination wedding. Questions that I think should be asked by email/phone before meeting in person would be regarding availability and price quotes. There's no point in meeting the photographer in person if they aren't available your date, or are too expensive for your budget. But once you've made contact with your photographer and set up a meeting, make sure these questions are answered before you leave!
How long have you been in business? Make sure the price reflects the experience.
How many weddings have you shot? Remember that experience doing other photography does not translate directly to wedding experience.
Can I see an entire (recent) wedding, as delivered to the clients? What do the images that aren't in the photographer's portfolio look like? Of course the images on display are usually the best of the best.
Do you have any reviews, referrals, or awards? It's important to see experienced, reliable results.
Have you photographed a wedding at my venue before? It's nice if they have, but I wouldn't be worried if not. There's a ton of wedding venues, and we shoot new places often.
I'll just start by saying that equipment truly doesn't matter, as long as the photographer consistently gets the results you want. By results I mean you like their portfolio, and have seen some images in print form.
Do you use digital or film? It doesn't really matter either way, in the right hands you shouldn't be able to tell the difference. And basically no photographers are shooting weddings on film these days. I will say that film is much trickier to work with, and I would expect less images as well as longer turnaround times.
Do you use flash, available light, or both? As long as you like images from all parts of the wedding (prep, ceremony, formals, reception, exit) and see several examples of each, this won't matter. I personally would never come to a wedding without multiple flashes, and the vast majority of professional wedding photographers use flash.
Do you have back up equipment? This is important, because if something goes wrong or equipment gets damaged, you don't want them shooting the rest of the wedding with their smartphone :( Every professional should have at least two complete professional camera setups at the wedding.
Do you have liability insurance? This is important in case of any unforeseen accidents. I've personally never had to use mine, but I've heard of some horror stories.
Are my images backed up while you work on them? It's important your photographer keeps your images safe while they are in his control.
How long do you keep my images? Most photographers that provide the digital files to the customer won't plan on keeping the files forever.
How do you dress for weddings? It's important your photographer is comfortable enough to work and move (it's usually a really long day!), but also be dressed appropriately for your event.
Will you personally be working my wedding? What is the photographer's back up plan if something kept the photographer from attending?
How many hours of coverage are included? Most photographers have different packages with different amounts of hours. I personally cover the entire day, because I don't want my customers to have to choose between which parts of the day are most important.
Will you have an assistant or second shooter? Second shooters are highly recommended, here's my post on why.
How many images can I expect? I would expect the number to be an estimate, as every wedding is different. Something in the several hundreds is normal.
What is the turnaround time to receive my images or products? Every company has it's own policy, but make sure you know in advance.
Will I be receiving the digital files? Will they be branded (with a logo or watermark)? Will they be full-resolution? Also make sure you know what your rights are to use the files.
What type of prints/products are included in my package, or do you offer? Make sure you know what's included with what you're paying, and that it's in the contract.
What are the deposit and payment options? The deposit can be as much as 30%-50%, and know when the remainder is due, as well as what payment types are accepted.
I think if you ask these questions you'll have a much better idea of what to expect. And the questions in the Packaging section will make it easier to compare different photographer's prices. I hope you enjoyed the post, please share with your friends who might be looking for a wedding photographer!
Thanks for reading! I'm Trevor Mercer, a wedding photographer from Columbia, SC. I've been photographing weddings for over 10 years, and as a second-generation wedding photographer, I literally grew up in the business. I'm now providing wedding photography and videography for weddings in my state and well beyond, and I'm a 2016 winner in the Knot's Best of Weddings. I decided to start a blog and share everything I've learned about weddings through the years, and I hope it helps make your wedding planning a little easier. Please subscribe, share, and comment with your input or questions!