What are the best wedding photographer questions that will help you narrow down who to hire?
It’s no easy task when you realize there are a ton of wedding photographers with different styles and experience levels.
Social media and affordable high performing cameras have opened the floodgate to more and more creatives taking a crack at running a wedding photography studio. It’s easier these days to build a wedding photo portfolio, start a social media campaign and attract online clients. The barrier to entry is quite low and it’s a great side income for many people.
Just because someone has a professional camera, a large social media following and decent photos does not mean you will have the best experience with them. Running a wedding photography business vs. have a passion for photography are two very different things and a professional photographer needs to be great at BOTH.
For this reason, vetting your wedding photographer becomes more crucial and overwhelming.
Before I go into what questions to ask your wedding photographer, I do want to preface this article by advising you to hire a professional wedding planner.
If you hire a trustworthy, proactive, dedicated wedding planner, he or she will already be able to suggest the best wedding photographer for your big day. So much time and stress will be saved! I am more than happy to send you a list of amazing wedding planners that can travel to you and create your dream wedding.
If you do not have the budget or prefer to plan everything on your own, ask these questions while interviewing wedding photographers.
I know this may not seem like a typical question but you need to ask this question. As I mentioned in the introduction of this article, it’s really easy to buy a great quality camera, set up free social media pages and call yourself a wedding photographer for side income. A legitimate business will have their business entity set up at the state and federal level. It’s a sign that this business has some skin in the game and is taking their studio seriously. If your wedding photographer hasn’t formalized their business, it is a red flag in my book.
Every wedding photographer should have business and liability insurance. If an unfortunate situation happens such as injury, equipment failure or property damage, there has to be insurance on file to cover that liability. Again, this is a basic part of running any business and it’s questionable if a studio doesn’t have photography insurance.
The best way to truly determine if a photographer’s style meets your wedding aesthetic and vision is to request full galleries. If the studio is sending an associate photographer, you must request the gallery of the photographer coming to your event. Pay attention to how the photographer captures outdoor portraits and dark indoor reception spaces. Is the photography consistent? All the galleries edited consistently in the style you are looking for?
Once you have confirmed you like the photography style, make sure the name of the individual photographing your wedding is mentioned in the photo contract. I have heard horror stories of studios showing their best galleries but not sending the photographer who shot those galleries. Additionally, request at least one phone call with the photographer so that it’s not awkward on the wedding day. When you speak with the photographer over the phone, you can pick up on their personality and ask spontaneous questions that will help you decide if you want that photographer with you the entire wedding day!
Most studios will give the digital images in a package but is there a minimum number of photos? Are they downloadable? Is there an accompanying USB? Will you receive the high resolution digital images or web size? How long do you have access to the online gallery? Are printed wedding photo albums included or at an extra charge? If you need engagement photos, is a photo session included? Finally, what is the turnaround to receive your gallery? Usually, all these line items will be written in the package details so make sure you read the entire proposal and contract.
I added this question to my list of necessary questions because the texture and look of skin in wedding photos is important. If you are paying thousands of dollars of wedding photography, this clarification needs to be made. In my studio, skin smoothing and retouching are a standard practice on many of the photo packages I offer. However, some wedding photographers do not offer this service or it is an up charge. It’s best to confirm to avoid any future disappointment.
Unfortunate things happen. People get sick or have a family emergency and it can happen to your wedding photographer. Another important question to ask a wedding photographer is to find out the cancellation and backup plan policy. Does the wedding photography studio have a back up plan in case they can’t make it to your wedding? Make sure this back up plan is clearly stated in the contract.
If you are having an evening reception, the way that your wedding photographer handles low light receptions is extremely important. Ask, do you shoot with ambient settings and no flash? Do you shoot with just on-camera flash or do you have off-camera lighting set up around the venue? Every photographer has a different stylistic approach. Therefore, make sure you understand their style inside venues and if that style works for you.
I think this is an important question to ask for two reasons.
1. You may have always dreamed of having your wedding in a magazine or online publication. There is a method to getting your wedding published but it needs to be planned out very carefully by a trusted team of wedding vendors. A wedding photographer and wedding planner can help you curate your wedding in a unique way to help you get into a large publication.
2. You may want to keep your wedding day private. That’s totally fine! However, most wedding photographers and the wedding vendor team want to show their work. It is important to be honest with your vendors and communicate any privacy requests. There may be a privacy fee add-on for such a request.
Do you read online reviews of a restaurant, hotel or service based business?
Online reviews is a just another form of word-of-mouth. I would highly recommend reviewing what past clients and customers have had with the wedding photographer you plan to hire. If they have a negative review, ask them about it and how it was resolved (or not). These are important questions to ask a wedding photographer. Based on the response they give, you can decide how comfortable you are moving forward with their photo services.
If the wedding photography studio doesn’t have online reviews, ask to speak with past clients or see what other wedding vendors have to say about that studio. This is where having a full service wedding planner comes in handy. A experienced wedding planner will have a lot of information about a wedding photographer’s reputation. The great wedding planner will vouch for the ones he/she regularly works with.
Presentation Matters especially when it comes to finding the right wedding photographer. I would also look for the quality of their website because it says a lot about the overall way they approach their business.
If you aren’t hiring a full service wedding planner to help you plan your wedding, then you will have to do the full vetting process of finding the best wedding photographer. Overall, it is like an interview process. In order to keep all the information straight, I suggest keeping a spreadsheet of the responses and notes about each wedding photographer you interview.
With over ten years of experience capturing sacred moments and an artful intuition for what it takes to get the perfect shot, time and time again, it’s our joy to create evocative, timeless photographs that are as one-of-a-kind as your story.
Maha Studios is a destination photography studio that delights in the vibrant traditions and rituals at the heart of South Asian and multicultural weddings.