what you must ask your wedding photographer
After you’ve had a chance to evaluate several photographers’ styles, availability and pricing I encourage you to set up an in-person meeting (or video call if you’re not local). You will be spending all day with this person (or team) on your wedding day so it’s important to make sure you connect with them.
Over the course of that meeting, photographers will likely discuss their process in more detail, including but not limited to pricing, how and when they deliver the images and potentially what sets them apart. I make it a point to really get to know couples, how I approach the entire process and how you can get your best photos. Yes, I’m responsible for capturing moments on the wedding day but you can also use me as a sounding board for ideas or to help you plan a stress free timeline.
But there’s one question that almost nobody thinks to ask potential photographers but they definitely should…
can we see a full gallery from a real wedding?
Since you’re just beginning your wedding planning process I’ll let you in on a secret. The images on my website represent the top 1% of images I love, and hope you do too. The photos in my portfolio or blog are the best of the best.
How does a photographer handle challenging situations?
As photography education has become readily available and advancements in camera and editing technology improve, when everything goes right the gap between my work and photographers that cost less has shrunk. But reall wedding days aren’t perfectly-controlled sytled shoots. What happens if your reception venue is dark? What if we end up behind schedule? What about if it rains?
When those kinds of things happen (and they do happen) we’ll still make photos you’re proud to hang on the wall and I’m excited to post on this website. Don’t take my word for it though.
I’d be glad to send you several full galleries before you reserve your date. And you ABSOLUTELY should make sure that you see full galleries from any photographer that you’re seriously considering.
Full galleries are the best way to see consistency
You want to see the work that a photographer produces from every aspect of the wedding day. A full gallery will also provide you an idea of how many images you can expect to receive. Most photographers, myself included, don’t show lots of detail photos or family group photos on their website, but they are definitely part of a real wedding day.
Make sure you’re looking at a full gallery (usually 500-1000 images), not just a blog post with 50-60 favorites
Carefully inpect the overall quality. If you notice a big discrepancy in the quality or if the editing looks inconsistent, that’s not a good sign. Is every single photo in focus? Do the images from the indoor reception look just as good as the outdoor portraits with the couple at golden hour?
If a photographer won’t show you a full, start to finish wedding day I suggest you eliminate them from contention.
It’s okay if the galleries aren’t from your specific venue(s)
Most couples feel more comfortable with photographers who have worked at their actual venue. But, the truth is, weddings can be totally different at venues I’ve photographed before. Just because a photographer has worked at a venue doesn’t mean they will make great photos. An experienced pro will will be able to capture your wedding beautifully whether they’ve worked at the venue before or not.
But make sure they’re from similar types of weddings
I would suggest that the full galleries that you look at be from weddings that feature similar qualities. For example, if you’re getting married in the mountains, a gallery of images from a destination beach wedding or indoor church wedding isn’t very relevant. By that same accord, if you are getting married in a church or dark space, make sure you see full galleries that demonstrait that the photographer can produce quality, well-exposed and in-focus images from a similar setting. If you have your heart on having a gorgeous night shot with the stars or skyline in the background, ask for a gallery that shows that.
FIVE MORE GOOD QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR SECOND PHOTOGRAPHER(S)?
Many photographers tout a second photographer or market themselves as a team, but often the second photographer is more of an assistant, or a spouse with a camera. If you’re getting two photographers, ask about BOTH of their backgrounds.
In our case, we shoot every wedding with two photographers. Two PRIMARY photographers. I only hire other photojournalists with similar backgrounds and experience levels. They’re people I completely trust to photograph my own wedding.
HOW DO YOU SAFE-GUARD MY IMAGES?
Make sure your photographer has thought about worst-case scenarios (hardware failure, fire, flood, theft) and has real backup procedures in place to mitigate these risks.
We take your images security very seriously. We shoot every photo to two cards, so there’s an immediate backup. Additionally, we make two more copies plus one off-site immediately after the wedding. Seriously, I can’t even go to bed until I know your photos are backed up safely.
WHAT WILL YOU WEAR TO OUR WEDDING?
This might seem like a silly one, but I’ve heard many stories of photographers dressing less than professionally.
We always try to blend in. Our goal is to look like a wedding guest and still be relatively unnoticed. Practically speaking, that means shirts and ties and (very quiet) dress shoes. You can view a “behind-the-scenes” gallery of us working here.
WHAT’S YOUR EMERGENCY PLAN, IF SOMETHING HAPPENS TO YOU?
This can be an uncomfortable one to talk about, but it’s really important. Make sure you know what happens if your photographer ends up unable to shoot because they’re hospitalized or 8½ months pregnant.
My fianceé and a trusted colleague have copies of my wedding schedule and, in the event something terrible happens, they’re prepared to contact somebody else to take my place. Plus you’ll already have a second photographer reserved. Thankfully, this has never been an issue (knock on wood).
DO YOU HAVE INSURANCE?
Every real professional will have insurance. In fact, they should have two specific types.
1) Equipment insurance – this covers all of the actual photography equipment in case something gets damaged, lost, stolen, etc.
2) Liability insurance – this covers the photographer (and their business) if an accident happens. Venues often request proof in the form of a COI (Certificate of Insurance) to be allowed to work in their space.
We carry both of these with a $2 million liability policy from TCP Insurance.
TWO QUESTIONS YOU SHOULDN’T ASK YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
CAN WE GIVE YOU A SHOT LIST?
It seems every wedding website has a popular list of “must-have” wedding photos with checkboxes for things like “bride walking down the aisle” or “first kiss,” as if photographers had time to be ticking off each item as they capture the day.
With our background and experience as photojournalists, we’re trained to anticipate moments before they happen. The only list we need is for the family group portraits. Additionally, if you have any small details that we might miss (like a special locket on your bouquet or a piece of your grandmother’s veil sewn into your dress) definitely point them out.
CAN WE GET THE “RAW” FILES?
A huge part of our job as professional photographers is editing your images. That means both selecting the best photos and processing (color-correcting) them in the way that we intended while we were shooting. That’s a great thing for couples – most aren’t trained photo editors.
We recommend finding a photographer you love, and trusting them to do the editing. This is why seeing a few full galleries is so important!