Choosing a wedding photographer depends on several important factors such as budget, photography style, and experience. Since you will be spending a majority of your wedding day with your photographer, you’re going to want to make sure your personalites mesh well. What better way to get to know your photographer, than with an interview!?
To take the guess work out of which questions you should ask in an interview, we’ve compiled a list of the most important questions to ask a wedding photographer before signing a contract.
Is my wedding date available?
One of the first questions you should ask is the availability of your photographer. Some large studios hire on several photographers and have the ability to schedule multiple weddings during the same day.
What is your photography style?
Most photographers specialize in a particular style of wedding photography. If you like one style over another, choose a wedding photographer who has the most experience in that particular style for the best results. You wouldn’t hire a photojournalist if you’re expecting fine art.
How long have you been a wedding photographer and how many weddings do you shoot per year?
Hiring a wedding photographer is a big expense but an important one. Make sure that you’re hiring a professional, and not a hobbyist who can handle getting the shots under pressure. There is a big difference between someone who shoots 20 weddings per year and someone who has only shot one wedding in 20 years!
What is included in your package?
Not all packages are created equally, and some have more features than others. Generally, you get what you pay for, but when comparing packages to other photographers, you want to compare similar features as well as pricing. Here are some additional questions to ask:
- Are albums or prints included?
- What about an engagement session?
- How many hours are included in your coverage?
- What about overtime hours? How much will that cost?
- How many photographers will there be? Any assistants?
- Is there a travel fee? If so, how much?
- Do you offer a photo booth?
- Do you offer color correction or any other retouching services? Is there an additional charge for that?
Do you shoot both digital and film?
While digital may be the popular medium, film is making a comeback and many photographers are offering film photography in addition to digital. If your end goal is to have your wedding captured on film, be sure your photographer has the professional experience and skills to do so.
What percentage of photos will be in color? Black and white?
This is especially important if you’re hiring a film photographer who can purchase entire rolls of film in black and white. Ask your photographer what percentage of photos will be in color and how many will be black and white. Most photographers will provide a mixture of both, but it is good to know ahead of time, just in case you need to make a special request.
Will I have rights to the images you take?
Just because you’re purchasing the services of a wedding photographer, doesn’t mean you will own the photos. A general rule of photography, is that the person taking the photo, holds the copyright. If you are receiving digital images, ask your photographer if you will have printing rights to the images.
Is a second shooter or assistant included in the package?
Most photographers bring at least an assistant along and some even have a second shooter, offering multiple perspectives on important shots. If you have a large wedding with 100 or more guests, hiring additional photographers may be necessary.
Will you be my photographer or someone else you work with?
Many large studios have several photographers and have the ability to double book wedding dates. Make sure that you meet with the actual photographer who will be taking your photos, and not just a representative for the studio.
How much is the deposit and what is your payment schedule?
Many photographers have a payment schedule that allow payments to be throughout the year leading up to the wedding, to avoid paying a large lump sum at the last minute. You will also want to ask how much the deposit is and when it is due.
Do you charge a travel fee?
If you’re hiring a photographer that is outside the normal traveling radius, you may be required to pay for lodging accommodations and traveling fees. Be sure to know how much those fees will be in advance.
What happens if you’re sick or there is an emergency and you have to cancel?
While it’s rare that a photographer has to cancel, it does happen, and it’s always best to have a backup plan in case of the inevitable. If you’re working with a studio, chances are there are several photographers able to fill in during an emergency. But, if you’re working with a solo photographer, make sure they have a backup plan or a colleague willing to help them out in case of an emergency.
Will there be a contract, and could I get a copy of that?
A professional contract protects both you and your photographer, and includes important details such as event coverage, payment terms, and a cancellation policy. Be wary of photographers who don’t use contracts with their wedding clients, and make sure to ask for one if it isn’t automatically provided.
Do you carry (liability) insurance?
Most small businesses have liability insurance, including wedding photographers. A valid insurance policy sets the hobbyists apart from the pros, and offers protection in case of theft and/or accidents that may occur at your wedding (read: uncle bob drank too much and tripped over the tripod, spraining his ankle.)
Do you follow a list of shots and can I give you some of my own?
Most photographers follow a shot list but are open to specific ideas that you may have. While you don’t want to overwhelm them or devalue their experience by providing a lengthy list of your own shots, it doesn’t hurt to ask if your photographer is willing to get a little extra creative.
Will the photos be color corrected or retouched in any way?
Color correction is a basic feature that should be applied to all images, not just the ones you will be hanging on your wall. Most photographers offer color-correcting services, but some will completely skip this step, which means you may end up with unflattering skin tones or under-exposed photos. Additional retouching services such as teeth whitening or blemish removal may incur an additional charge.
How will I receive my photos and when will they be delivered?
Before you receive your wedding photos, the photographer will have to go through several thousand photos before choosing the best ones to edit. This alone is a daunting task and can take several days. Receiving your wedding photos can take an additional 4-6 weeks or several months to be delivered.
Many photographers will provide a gallery of photos either online, via thumb drive, or CD. If you’re receiving prints, you may or may not received digitals, and vice versa.
What kind of equipment do you use? Do you have a backup camera?
Most professional wedding photographers use top of the line lenses and bodies. If you’re hiring a solo photographer, make sure they have a backup camera to shoot with in case of equipment malfunction. Does your photographer have a plan for protecting the images once they’re taken? Many professional camera bodies come with double card slots to automatically backup images. Other photographers prefer to write their images to a cloud-based web server.
Do you bring your own lighting?
Many natural light photographers will rely on the sun and other forms of lighting within the venue to capture the event. If you need additional lighting you may need to supply your own if your photographer doesn’t.
Will you stay longer if I need additional coverage and what is your hourly rate?
Many photographers charge a higher hourly rate when working overtime, so be sure to ask your photographer what their rates are ahead of time. You don’t want to be surprised with a large bill when you’re expecting your wedding photos instead.
What will you be wearing to my wedding?
Most wedding photographers will dress appropriately for the occasion and blend in as much as possible so that they’re not a distraction. If you have a dress code or require that certain colors not be worn, make sure you let your photographer know about that in advance. It is considered taboo in some cultures to wear red or black at a wedding ceremony, and your photographer may not know about it unless you let them know.
Can I see a full wedding album?
Ask to see the photographer’s most recent work and to see a full album, not just the highlight reel. This will give you a pretty good idea of their style and their attention to detail.
What is your refund or cancellation policy?
If for any reason you have to cancel your contract, and no longer need the services of your wedding photographer, you may or may not receive a refund for any payments made, including the down payment back. Be sure to ask your photographer what their policy is and that it is stated in their contract as well.