You know those super fun lists on Pinterest, “A Thousand and One Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer?” Here’s the thing… we hate those. Really do. I can even tell when a couple asks the question cuz they think they’re supposed to, and not cuz they actually care about the answer. While a few of those questions are good questions, most of them are a little cray… meanwhile, some very important questions have been overlooked completely. After doing a couple in-depth consultations and chatting with my favourite fellow photogs, I’ve come up with a short-and-sweet list of my own.
1. Who are they reeeeally? (Scams, Fauxtographers, and Jerk-Faces)
First and foremost, make sure your photographer is a real photographer. Follow them online for a while. Have they done anything recently? Do you recognize the locations they shoot at? Do you know anyone in their pictures? Once you’ve confirmed their validity, you have to find out if you “click” with this person. After all, you’re about to spend the majority of your wedding day with them! So ask around. Get referrals. Maybe the “best” photographer around is a bit of a butt-head, wears a Speedo to weddings, or worst of all, is claiming someone else’s photos as their own. You never know. And don’t shrug off your complimentary engagement session; it will give you a chance to get to know each other, and to learn how they do their job from start to finish.
2. Who does what?
Who will actually be photographing the wedding? Do they have employees who shoot for them? Do they have a second shooter? Who is it? What about a backup shooter in case (God forbid!) they have an emergency that day? Who does the editing? Every photographer has their own style of shooting and editing, so if you’re a big fan of John Doe’s work, but you get Jane Doe shooting your wedding and Jebidiah Doe editing the images, they might not turn out the way you’d hoped.
3. How do they choose poses?
Some photographers will want to come up with their own poses, either in advance or on the spot, while others prefer to find inspiration online or refer to a list of your favourite poses. It’s important to find this out before you book. Have you seen their work? Do you like their go-to poses? Are you willing to give them free-reign, or would you like to give a little input too?
4. Do they use lighting equipment?
If I’m being honest… asking what kind of equipment they use is almost rude. Unless your question is “Will you be shooting my wedding with an iPhone?” these kind of questions are unnecessary. As if the brand or model of camera will make you change your mind! But! Big but! If any of your wedding is indoors, their lighting equipment actually is important. Some cameras can light up a room without flash, but it could make your photos blurry, grainy, or yellow. Will this bother you? Have they shot at your venue before? How dark are the walls and ceiling? Ask to see some of their work from other indoor weddings, and how they plan on lighting your wedding.
5. What is their editing style?
Some photographers try to keep their photos looking as natural as possible, while others use nothing but filters and trendy effects, and some photographers will do a combination of the two. Some photographers will spend hours editing out all the glitter you got on your groom’s tux (yes, I’ve done that), while others will give each photo a quick once-over and call it a day. And some photographers don’t edit at all. Yes, you’ll get your photos much faster, but they could be dark, grainy, off-coloured, off-centered… Oh, and that nasty pimple you got the morning of your wedding – it’s gonna be in every shot. Then again, maybe you’re one of those jerks with flawless skin (I hate you a little bit). Just make sure you understand what your final images will look like.
6. When will you get the images?
Most photographers will try to give you an accurate time, or at least under-promise & over-deliver. The average processing time is approximately 1-3 months, or more depending on how busy they are and how many hours you hire them for. The point is, make sure your photographer isn’t promising a three-day turn-around – I mean, yeah, it’s possible, but pretty unlikely. And if they say six months, are you able to wait that long? Cuz hounding your photographer after your wedding is so not cool, yo.
7. How will you get the images?
There was a time where a photo album was the only method of delivery, but nowadays there are a variety of ways to receive your photos. Yes, it comes down to one simple question, “Digitals or Prints?” But there has to be a few follow up questions. For example, will the images be watermarked? Will you get all the images, or just the top 200? Or 300? Or 400? Are half of those images just black-and-white duplicates? If you’re getting digitals, will you get a USB stick or will you download the images from an online server? Will you get full-resolution images that can be printed, or just low-resolution images for social media? What if you want canvas prints or a photo book? Can they show you a sample of their products? And most importantly, clarify what is included in the quoted price. There is nothing worse than seeing all of your beautiful images, and then finding out you have to pay extra to keep them.
Now I’m not going to jam my personal methods down your throat, because maybe my idea of good wedding photography doesn’t work for everybody. I know, that’s not super helpful. There are a lot of great photographers out there at all sorts of price-points and experience-levels, but know this: there is no right or wrong way to shoot a wedding. All that matters is that you, the client, knows what to expect, and that your photographer meets those expectations. And that nobody shows up to your wedding in a Speedo.