What the heck should I be asking!?!?
I know the feeling first hand. I got married before I was a wedding photographer and I had NO idea what I should be asking or looking for. I ended up having a bad experience with the photographer that I chose. Looking back, I wish I would have known more and asked more! This is why I wrote this blog post.
Find your style
There are SO many different styles of wedding photography. There are the big ones like light and airy, true to life, or dark and moody. But, in all honestly, a TON of photographers don’t fit perfectly in any one category. Decide what you are drawn to and go through their work. Find a photographer who has a style you like. Don’t pick a photographer who DOES NOT fit your style and hope it will be different for your wedding. What you see on their website is the style you should expect to get.
Get to know them
You end up spending the most time on your wedding day WITH your wedding photographer. They are basically everywhere you are and super hands on throughout the day. You want to ensure you choose someone you feel comfortable with and get along with. How do you do this? Get them on the phone. Better yet, meet them for coffee!
Ask to see a full wedding gallery
Why do this? Well often times, you are seeing the best of the best of people’s website. There is a lot of different scenerios and lighting situations that happen throughout the wedding day. Most photographers can take a great photos in perfect lighting. For an all day wedding, you can almost guaruntee you won’t get perfect lighting all day. There is a really good chance your first look or ceremony will be taking place when it is sunny outside. Can they handle harsh lighting conditions well? Does your getting ready space have minimal natural light? Can they shoot well in a room with no windows? How is your reception photography going to look? Do you want nighttime photos? Have they done those?
At the end of the day, you want to ensure that you have seen full galleries and you like what you see throughout the galleries, not just during perfect lighting!
Budget over hours
A lot of times couples will say I want full day coverage and my budget is $XX. This might be eliminating some incredible photographers. Decide what is most important to you.
If you have a smaller budget, try finding a couple photographers you love. Then ask…. my budget is $XX, how many hours can I get within my budget?
I promise you will not regret doing 4 hours with an amazing photographer vs doing 8 hours with a mediocre photographer
Tips for finding vendors through Facebook
Facebook is such a powerful tool to find wedding vendors. I have connected with a ton of couples through social media! Join some Facebook groups local to your area.
When making a post, I highly recommend being as specific as possible. You don’t want to waste your time going through vendors who aren’t available or don’t meet your needs.
Specify your wedding date + venue
Specify your budget and what you are expecting within the budget.
Questions to ask
ARE YOU INSURED?
This isn’t a deal breaker, but most reputable businesses should be carrying insurance for their businesses.
WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS FROM START TO FINISH?
DO YOU LIVE IN STATE?
There will be traveling photographers who may want to shoot your wedding. Are you ok with this? Do you prefer someone local? Do they have travel fees? What happens if they aren’t able to travel into your wedding due to bad weather?
ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH INDOOR LIGHTING?
If you are having an indoor wedding, ensure the person you are hiring is comfortable with indoor lighting. Some photographers are natural light photographers which may not work. You can ask to see examples of their work where the wedding was done inside. Lower lighting can be more challenging.
DO THEY OFFER ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO YOU?
For example, my couples get vendor recommendation guide, engagement session planning guide, wedding timeline planning session, wedding tips and advice.
IF YOU ARE NOT DOING AN ENGAGEMENT SESSION, CAN YOU MEET THEM BEFORE THE WEDDING?
I hiiiiiighly recommend this. If you aren’t doing an engagement session, make sure you can meet your photographer and get to know them before the wedding.
WHAT IS THEIR TURNAROUND TIME FOR PHOTO DELIVERY?
You want to know when will you get your photos. Will it be one month or three? Will you receive a sneak peek of your photos?
DOES THE PACKAGE INCLUDE ANY PRINTS OR ALBUMS?
Check their reviews
Go to Google + Facebook and check their reviews on their page to make sure they look good. You can also go into a local Facebook group and ask if anyone has used the person you are considered and their experience.
An associate photographer is someone who contracts to work under a main photographers brand. This is an important one to ask! The person you are talking to, will they be your photographer? Will they be at your wedding?
If the answer is no and you are ok with an associate photographer, find out who it will be and look at full galleries they have done before. The work you are seeing and their beautiful social media work is their work, not their associates work. You want to know what you are getting for your money.
You want to make sure that you know what your contract entails. These are things that should be in your contract. If they are not, make sure they are added so you are covered and the expectations are clear. No matter how big or small your budget is, a thorough contract should be signed. Just because you talked about it, doesn’t mean it is in the contract. Please, make sure to read the contract. It is ok to ask for things to be clarified or added to a contract. Remember, this contract is not just for the photographer, it is for your benefit and protection as well.
- What is included in the package? Make sure everything that was specified is shown in the contract
- Delivery time: your contract should state what the turn around time for your photos is
- What is the deposit? What portion is non-refundable?
- When the remaining balance is due
- What is the cost per hour to add on additional hours. Is there an upcharge for day-of addition of hours?
- Cancellation policy
- What is their policy if you need to change your date for any reason?
- What happens if your photographer fails to perform?
- If your photographer cannot be at your wedding for any reason, are they allowed to cancel? If the photographer cancels, is your deposit now refundable? Will they find a replacement for your wedding?
- Do you need to provide your photographer with a meal?
- If you got into a situation where a refund should be paid to you, how long does the photographer have to issue this refund?