Questions to ask a wedding photographer
Welcome and congratulations on your engagement! If you’ve found your way to this wedding resource, I’ll assume you’re new to the world of wedding planning. I hope you’re enjoying it as you envision what your wedding day will look like, as you’re working to make it truly your own and creating an experience your family and friends will remember for years to come. But of course more than a little stress comes along with all of that. It’s expensive and there are dozens of dozens of articles on every subject you can imagine.
As of my writing this, 4/22/21, I Googled ‘Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer’ and the results look like ‘36 important questions to ask’, ‘39 questions to ask’, ‘the essential questions to ask’, ‘15 questions you must ask’, ‘the 8 top questions to ask’, ‘the essential questions you REALLY need to ask’ and the list goes on and on. The majority of the list aren’t even remotely written by photographers!
I hope that my experience in this industry can help alleviate a little bit of uncertainty and stress for you. I’ve been a wedding photographer for 12 years and have helped 250+ couples navigate the world of wedding photography and provided them with not only memorable images but beautiful heirloom products and amazing service.
What I’m offering is simply the best questions I’ve been asked over the 12 years. Some will fall into the more general and standard questions to help you ensure you’ll hire someone that is in fact a professional. If you trip someone up with these questions, or they seem to stumble or obfuscate, that could be a red flag to move on. More interesting might be the small handful of questions that have made me pause and think over the years. And frankly those are the better ones to ask. It promotes more of a real conversation and you’ll dig a little deeper into the mind of the photographer you’re talking with.
Whoever you decide to hire as your wedding photographer, this list of questions will help you navigate a lot of the general concerns so you can get to the more important stuff. You know, like the details of your own wedding! Enjoy and please reach out if I can help with anything else.
Common questions I’ve been asked over the years:
1. How would you describe your style?
If you Google wedding photography styles (which I’m sure will be another article I’ll write soon), you’ll have more opinions to navigate. Some like to think in terms of editing style: light, airy, muted tones; dark, moody, colorful; high contrast or low contrast; natural light; fine art; emotive; editorial or photojournalist; classic & romantic; timeless; natural; candid. All these descriptors help photographers try to differentiate themselves. Personally I believe to capture a wedding day completely you have to be extremely well rounded in your skill set, as versed in the creative talents as well as the technical skills. It’s a very significant fast-paced day that takes a bit more than fitting into one specific keyword. All that being said I strive to document each wedding in a way that is authentic, vibrant and joyful.
2. What happens if you’re sick / in an accident and can’t make it to my wedding?
New England actually has an amazing community of professional photographers and I’ve built connections with great people over the past 12 years. For the record, I have never missed a wedding assignment. So batting 1000, which I’m very proud of. This isn’t a ‘usual’ occupation where we get to call in if we’re not feeling it that day. I take this responsibility very seriously and truly want to be there with my clients to capture their da and do the job I'm hired to do. So if something unforeseen did happen I would be able to reach out to the local community and find a suitable emergency replacement.
3. Do you have business insurance?
This should always be an easy ‘yes’. Many venues need proof of insurance to even work at the wedding venue property so it’s essential for a professional.
4. Can I see full galleries of weddings you’ve done in the past?
This is a great way to get a better sense of how an entire wedding day can look from the photographer you’re talking to. I see a lot of websites with a simple ‘best of’ type of portfolio which can give you insight into a photographer’s style. However, what do the other 99% of the wedding day photos look like? It’s a good idea to do a bit of a deeper dive to ensure the photographer has the consistency and quality throughout the entire day and isn’t showing only a few of the best photos from each wedding.
5. How do you tend to work on the wedding day?
This is a great question because you’ll get a bit more insight into the personality of your photographer as one of the people you’ll be around most on the wedding day. Do you think you’ll like someone more outgoing that’s going to talk with you all day, insert themselves into the action or a photographer that’s a bit more introverted, laid back and will blend into the background when necessary. Reading plenty of reviews also gives you more information on this from past clients.
6. What's your favorite part of the wedding day?
Not sure that this question really affects the quality of what each photographer offers, but can shed a little more insight into their passion for weddings. For me I have two. First is the moment right after the ceremony kiss, being announced as married and looking out towards your family and friends. Realizing you're officially married and walking down the aisle together. There is always such simple and unadulterated joy and excitement in those moments. The second favorite, and I know this is cheating a bit, but truly any outward expression of vulnerability. Weddings can be a moment to be real with the people you love and any expression of truth or feelings should be celebrated. Oh, and parent dances too. Love those moments.
7. How long before we see the wedding photos?
A successful and consistent business will have proper systems in place so they can deliver and deliver on time for each and every client. Sure, some times of year are busier than others but a professional will be able to give you at least a timeline range to set the proper expectations.
8. What do you wear to your weddings?
More than anything this is about professionalism. I know some photographers say because they are running around all day they wear something comfortable but professional and I know a lot of photographers who blend in and work perfectly fine with a suit. If you have a preference as to how your vendors look at your wedding this might be important to you. See some BTS (behind the scenes) of me working weddings at the bottom of my about me page.
9. What kind of equipment do you use?
If technical photography knowledge isn’t your thing then a different version of this could be ‘Do you come to each wedding with back-up equipment?’ The obvious answer should be yes, but you would want to know the photographer has at least two camera bodies, at least three to four lenses and multiple flashes to handle challenging lighting situations and for additional lighting of your reception space when needed. For those more technically inclined or if you’re simply curious what I bring to each wedding take a look at the bottom of my Style & Experience page.
10. Do you recommend a 2nd photographer for our wedding?
A lot of photographers prefer to work solo unless your guest count starts to get to 125 / 150 people. At that point the 2nd photographer is a great asset to capture more candids of your guests, more detail photos, to cover cocktail hour and also capture more of the small fun moments that can happen throughout the day while the primary photographer is focused on the wedding couple, wedding party and family.
11. I’m ready to book, how can I secure my date?
Again this goes back to the level of professionalism and experience of the photographer you’re meeting with. Do they have a system in place to make reviewing and signing the contract easy? How about paying the retainer to hold the date, is that something you can do simply with a credit card? I don’t know about you but I want all the credit card rewards points with any large purchase.
Less common questions, that have kept me on my toes:
12. Will you be vaccinated by my wedding day?
Had to include this question as it's gaining popularity among wedding couples and being heavily debated online. I suppose a less controversial variation would be to simply ask what are your Covid safety protocols? This seems to boil down to simply wanting everyone at your wedding to be safe and responsible. We all want that. We've heard the horror stories from last year when everyone was 'safe' and were even tested and then the event became a super spreader event. No one wants that. No one wants to end up on the news for those reasons. And this is tough, for all parties involved. Is it a privacy violation to ask someone their vaccine status? Are you going to end up getting into a debate with a potential vendor about how they should act or what they should do since it's your wedding? And the photographer is a very different role than a lot of the other wedding vendors because we're around you all day, and sometimes closer than 10 feet if we're in hotel rooms with your closest family and friends. Absolutely a must ask question as to what that individual / business is doing to be as safe as possible especially when attending larger events. That's the world we live in now and going forward for who knows how long. I'm happy to talk about this subject and how I plan to keep myself and my clients as safe as possible.
13. What's the most challenging part of a wedding and why?
I like how this question forces the photographer to consider what they struggle with, but hopefully in a way that spins it in a positive light. That’s where you might trip someone up a little because I would imagine you don’t want a complainer hanging around with you all day long and then you’ll also know what they are struggling with. For me, I think the biggest challenge is walking the fine line of making sure I have enough time to create all the images my clients want, while ensuring they are having the best possible experience on the wedding day. When the light is pretty and it’s time to create those beautiful portraits of the wedding couple, I’m like a kid in a candy shop. It’s so fun! But I always remember to do a time check so we can stay on schedule. That is one reason I’ve taught myself to get great at night portraits, so no matter what happens during the day we’ll always have more time during the reception to sneak out for 10 minutes and create something special.
14. Why should I hire you?
This question is so good because it’s simple and truly no nonsense. It’s like ‘hey, we’re interviewing a handful of people, so why you?’ Really forces the photographer to have a good sense of their personal ‘why’ and what makes them stand out in the crowd. And it’s not an easy question. You can go years creating wonderful work and booking clients and never forcing yourself to answer this (yes, I know from experience). It’s taken me years to boil down the most important things, in life and work I suppose.
** Serving my clients
** Helping to create an amazing experience
** Crafting long-lasting heirloom products
15. Why don't I see any / a lot of people of color or same sex or couples that represent me in your portfolio?
It wouldn’t take you a lot of searching in my portfolio to know this has come up in prospective client consultations. And frankly I appreciate the candor and opportunity to address what I’ve known for a long time is a real issue for some people. There isn’t a ton of diversity in my portfolio so of course people from different backgrounds, races, sexual orientations or religions may have concerns. Truly it comes down to a simple concept, people want to see people like them in your portfolio. When I first started my business I had a ton of weddings referred from some friends and it happened to be mostly white hetero couples. As I was building my business any booking was a blessing and as time rolled on my portfolio developed a very static look to it. It certainly wasn’t intentional. I’d love to work with anyone that appreciates my wedding photography style and thinks we would be a good fit. I’d love to talk more about this to answer any questions or concerns.