There is a very specific process that you might want to use when hiring a wedding photographer. While you probably already know to look at a handful of portfolios and meet up with a few photographers to get an idea of style and personality (after all, if someone is super abrasive or intimidating you won't want them shooting the wedding). However, what's that next step once you've narrowed it down to two or three choices?
The next step is to ask them each the same questions, and here are ten questions to ask your wedding photographer to ensure that they are the right fit.
What, would you say, is your style?
Only you can know the answer that you want to hear. For example, you might want fine art photos, or you might have envisioned a more photo journalistic angle to your images. Maybe you want someone who is a fashion photographer at heart. The key here is to expect the answer to be more than one style. An honest photographer would tell you that they are portrait photographer but should also use terms like:
Also ask them about their camera.
While you don't need them to explain all of the technicalities, but you do want to hear a few specific details. Ask them about assistants or backup equipment, as it is a nightmare to work with a photographer who has no "plan B" in place. Also find out about their methods for lighting. If your setting won't work well with flash units and has lower lighting, find out how they plan to address this. Just a few basics queries yield a lot of detail about a photographer's level of knowledge, professionalism and planning.
Once you have a grasp of how they see themselves as well as what their work is like and what their personality is like, you can then get into the more specific issues.
How many weddings do you shoot per year?
You have a single wedding day in which to get those iconic shots and you want a photographer who is more than just passingly familiar with this turf. In other words, it is always best to work with someone who really does shoot weddings for a living and not as a hobby or as a favor. If they can tell you their favorite portion of a wedding day to shoot, their favorite season to shoot weddings and their favorite moments to capture, then you've found both a seasoned pro and a real gem of a photographer!
Will photos be color balanced and/or retouched prior to our seeing them?
The importance of this issue is also going to depend entirely upon you. Some photographers do not show anyone their work until it has been touched up and polished a bit. Others show you everything and then clean up issues at your request, and only those that you are going to order. Which is the most important to you? Whoever gives the answer you desire is one to consider working with.
What about shooting in both color and black and white?
Most professional wedding photographers know that clients enjoy a blend of both the old-fashioned and iconic black and white shots in addition to the color imagery. Finding out which sorts of shots they would do in black and white and what percentage of the day will be shot in color are key issues. If you are eager for mostly black and white, it should be just fine to accept a higher percentage, but if color matters, make it clear that you want more color imagery. If they don't agree or seem unhappy about it, you may not be a good fit.
How many hours of coverage does their fee include?
Your wedding day could actually be days. You might want your photographer at a rehearsal, a dress fitting, a bachelor or bachelorette event, the post wedding breakfast and so on. On the actual day of the wedding they may need to be in many different places to photograph both parties getting ready as well as any setup or after hours images. How many hours are they billing you for? What happens if you go over? Will it cost a huge amount? For example, let's say your wedding is behind by around 1.5 hours. This could mean that your time is up even before you cut the cake or have a significant dance with a member of the family. What is it going to cost you?
What is in the package?
This is the proverbial "apples to apples" question necessary for choosing the right photographer. Ask about prints, proofs, albums and extra issues such as the hours we just looked at and those "other" events. Some work strictly "a la carte" and others tack on processing fees. Find out all of the details and compare between packages on the most honest terms possible.
Who is on the team?
This is far more important than many realize. This is because some of the more successful wedding photographers may have terms that allow them to send a different photographer to the scene. For example, the person you initially interviewed may have two other photographers, and one of them may be with you for the wedding morning or other shots. Know if this is the case well ahead of time.
Can you draft a "shot list"?
It is heartbreaking to reach the end of your wedding and realize that a key group photo or other important image was never made. If you know you have some special photos you require, and the photographer does not take or work with a photo list, you may be disappointed. Avoid this by choosing someone who lets you draft a "must take" list.
What will they wear?
This may sound petty, but there are plenty of people who talk about their photographers wearing jeans and less formal clothes to a formal venue or wearing garments that did not blend in with the setting. If they won't commit to wearing all black for your night wedding or subdued hues that coordinate with the surroundings, they may also have other issues where they will refuse to meet your needs.
There are many other questions to pose, but these ten questions to ask your wedding photographer will guarantee you choose the best option.