12 Questions you MUST ask before booking a Wedding Photographer!
Table of Contents
This may be one of, if not THE biggest decision you make for your wedding day! Get it wrong, and it could ruin your day (I’ve seen it happen as a guest before)! Get it right, and it could make your day the best day of your life! These 12 questions you MUST ask before booking a wedding photographer are basically your guide to ensuring you pick the right one, and don’t get stuck with a dud! So let’s do this…
1. What’s your shooting style?
What do I mean by ‘shooting style’? Simple, (check out this post for an in-depth guide to shooting styles), every photographer has a style of their own. They can usually be categorised as one of the following; Fine art, traditional, film emulation, photojournalistic or adventure.
Why would you want to know this? Well, let’s say you want to have a very traditional wedding, kind of like our parents had back in the day. If you book a photographer who goes for that adventure style, you will be extremely disappointed. It is crucial to line up the style you like, with the style of your photographer!
TLDR – When booking a wedding photographer know the style you want and make sure it matches theirs!
2. What’s your editing style?
This one probably makes a bit more sense. You see images every day, and you probably have a good idea of what kind of images you like, even if you might not be able to articulate exactly what it is that you like/dislike.
You’ll find most people tend to be traditional, light and airy or dark and moody. They are pretty distinct differences, so you most likely know which one you want. But what you might not know, is that in order to for example, edit an image dark and moody, you need to shoot in a specific way. If you are shooting for dark and moody and then you try to edit light and airy, it’s going to look strange. So it’s worth asking your photographer what editing style they aim for to ensure you will love the outcome.
TLDR – When booking a wedding photographer know the style you like and make sure that matches theirs.
3. So tell us about you?
So less of a question, more of a fact finding mission. This is all about finding out this photographers beliefs and values around life and weddings, as well as their personality.
Why should you care about their beliefs? Well, it will directly impact your photos. For example, if I believe a wedding should flow as it does, without any interference, I won’t help you with poses, or gather groups of people for photos, because it doesn’t fit my values and beliefs about weddings. Also, some people have beliefs in life you may disagree with, for example there are still many vendors who disagree with LGBTQI+ weddings. If that’s a big thing for you, you’ll want to find out about that asap!
As for their personality, well that’s a lot simpler. They’ll be there for the entire day, in your personal space for a lot of it. If you couldn’t be friends with them, maybe it’s best you don’t spend 10 hours with them on the biggest day of your life!
TLDR – When booking a wedding photographer make sure their belief, values and personality are a match for yours!
4. How experienced are you?
Simple really…do you want to trust the most important (and probably most expensive) day of your life with an amateur? I doubt it!
Now, you don’t need to know how many weddings they’ve done so you can compare them all, but you want to know that they know what they’re doing. You want to know that should things go wrong (they will, trust me), that this photographer has the experience to solve the problem without causing any stress for you.
Best way to find out how experienced they are is to ask for full galleries. Anyone can post a bunch of single images that look amazing, yet they may never have actually shot a full wedding (maybe these are styled shoots or shot as an assistant shooter).
TLDR – When booking a wedding photographer make sure they know what they are doing and not practicing on you!
5. Ask for full galleries.
So when a lot of photographers are starting out they do loads of styled shoots. This is to build up a portfolio and get stuff to post to IG, but a styled shoot is in no way similar to a real wedding with real timelines and real stress.
There is nothing wrong with this either, I do styled shoots quite a bit as a way of trying new things or pushing my boundaries, but by asking for full galleries you are ensuring that your photographer actually has experience shooting real full day weddings. You also get a chance to see the ‘non-hero images’, the prep, the cake, the rings, the family photos etc. These never make it onto the IG Feed, but they will make up about 85% of your wedding photos, so you will want to see them!
TLDR – When booking a wedding photographer make sure you ask to see full client galleries!
6. What do you charge?
I don’t love this question, but it is essential. If you have a budget of $4000 and you’re talking to a $15,000 photographer, it’s best you know this before you invest anymore time.
What is more important is value which is will discuss next, but the point remains, you will want to know your budget, and make sure the photographers you are talking with fall within, or nearby that budget.
Some photographers may be flexible on packages, or have a ‘build your own’ style pricing guide, which is also really handy to know before you commit to choosing a photographer.
TLDR – When booking a wedding photographer make sure they fit inside your budget, or are close enough for you to stretch!
7. What do you include?
This is the better question. Let me explain why. 2 photographers, both charge $4,000. Photographer 1 gives you 8 hours coverage, and that’s all. Photographer 2 gives you 8 hours coverage, an album, and also helps you plan your wedding timeline to help you with your anxiety.
Which photographer do you choose? Probably photographer 2, because they provide more value. Hell, even if they charged $4500, you would still likely choose them because of what they include.
So it is worthwhile knowing what they include, not just in their packages, but also what else they do for their clients. For example, I help my clients design a timeline, a shot list, find the right vendors. I even deal with issues and problems in planning to help my clients avoid that stress. This is not in my ‘packages’ but it is included in my service. You will want to know these things so you know how to get the most out of your photographer.
TLDR – When booking a wedding photographer ask what they include beyond the package inclusions!
8. Do you shoot film or digital?
With film photography experiencing a bit of a resurgence, a lot of people are seeking this right now. Conversely, a lot of people do not want this and prefer digital photography. Either way, it is probably a good idea to speak to your photographer to see what they shoot on.
Under normal circumstances, most photographers, unless they are exceptionally well known for it, will shoot on digital format unless asked by a client.
The answer to this question usually comes up in the ‘what style of photography’ do you do question. The photographers who are intending to shoot on film, will refer to themselves as film photographers, at which point you can ask about the choice of having them shoot digital, hybrid (film and digital), or getting exciting about having a film wedding!
TLDR – When booking a wedding photographer make sure they shoot on the format you want for your day!
9. How do you backup images?
This simple question is overlooked in almost all meetings I have done (I bring it up myself), but it is so important!
There are loads of photographers out there shooting weddings with no backup system, just hoping things go right. This is dancing with the devil, playing with fire, whatever you want to call it, it’s reckless.
For me personally, I back up to dual cards during the wedding, then to 2 seperate external SSD’s, then into a 5 bay RAID system (google it if you want to know how important that is), and then into the cloud. So you can rest assured your images are safe. It might only take a minute, but it’s well worth asking before you hand over a lot of money.
TLDR – When booking a wedding photographer ask how they keep your images safe!
10. Do you offer albums/prints?
Seems weird to ask, but a lot of photographers do not offer this. Why? Well it is a lot of work to design an album and print it, so many don’t want to do it.
But that should tell you why you want one who does…album design is difficult! You do not want to try design your own. I do a 3 hours in person design consultation with my clients to get the perfect album!
It is also worthwhile asking if they provide print & web files. Some only release web files, meaning any printing you want to do must be done with them. They often won’t mention this until it is too late. I always give both files to all my clients who have full rights to print themselves, as well as print through me if they want a professional product and service.
TLDR – When booking a wedding photographer check if they do albums, and if they give you print quality files!
11. What other services do you offer?
It’s always easier to deal with one vendor than 2. So if you’re planning on having a wedding video, or a Photo Booth (you should be, they are so worth it), it’s worth knowing if they offer those services.
By bundling products, you will not only make your life easier (1 invoice, 1 email, 1 company), but you will also open yourself up to some discounts potentially!
So if you are after these services, check that they offer them. If not, it’s not a dealbreaker necessarily, but it may be a means you use to decide between 2 photographers you like.
TLDR – When booking a wedding photographer check what other services they offer to see if you can get a bundle discount!
12. What do you need from us?
Some photographers need nothing, they just approach each wedding the same. Other photographers want to get to know you, understand your story, in order to provide a really individualised experience and product for you.
For example, with me, you will need to be prepared to do a few face to face meetings. It helps build relationships and reduce anxiety for you! I don’t just show up on a day and do my best, I make sure that myself and my couples put in the work before the wedding day to get the best results.
So depending on how much effort you want to put in, you will want to know what kind of photographer you’re dealing with before you sign on with them.
TLDR – When booking a wedding photographer ask what they will need from you between now and the wedding so you can plan accordingly!