I know there are a ton of online lists of questions to ask a photographer before you hire for your wedding. But to be honest most of those questions are unnecessary and are already answered on most photographers’ websites – in their FAQ section. Of course, asking if they have your date available is an absolute must, but I’m talking about after that initial email with them. When you’ve found some contenders, who have packages in a price that fit your needs, what questions are you going to ask to separate the one from the rest. The biggest thing to keep in mind when it comes to searching for your wedding photographer is that most photographers are freelance. You’re dealing with individual artists whose policies, processes and style vary from photographer to photographer. So, what questions help you find the best photographer for your wedding day? I’ve picked out five key questions that will help you narrow down your search.
1. What led you to wedding photography?
The most basic question on the list, but it gives you a TON of insight and answers more than just one question. From this question you’ll get how they got into photography (especially weddings), how long they’ve been a photographer, why they love weddings and continue to photograph weddings, and how many weddings they’ve photographed. It allows for the photographer to share their passion with you as well as their history.
Hiring a photographer who is seasoned and still loves their job is so key. I’m not going to lie and say that being a wedding photographer is an easy job, you really must LOVE it to keep going for 5+ years. It takes a lot of passion, patience, and hard work to keep going with 20+ weddings a year. This also shows you that they will be around for a few more years after your wedding and won’t close up shop on a whim.
2. How would you describe your work?
This one seems like a no brainer to ask, but you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve met and talked to potential clients and this question never gets brought up. Asking the photographer gives you a better idea of what you’re going to receive from your own images. After this question I would follow up with asking for full wedding galleries from your venue or one similar to see how they handle the lighting and what a full wedding day looks like.
When they describe their work, they might use photography terms you’re not sure of, here are some of the terms you’ll hear:
Light and airy – You’ll also hear natural light photographer in this category, the images you’ll see are softer and more romantic. They can range from having a clean and classic look to a very overexposed or blown out look.
Dark and moody – Characterized by the deep shadows and minimal highlights, you’ll see this style a lot in photographers who categorize themselves as a fine art photographer.
True to life – What you see is what you get. The photographer matches colors and tones in their editing to what you saw on your wedding day as true as possible.
Muted – This is a newer style with colors like green and blue being desaturated, sometimes with this style you’ll see more of an orangish hue. This style is more on the moody side but doesn’t limit itself to be a darker photo.
Traditional/Classic – The modern take on the posed photos in your parents wedding album. Traditional photographers focus on capturing the details that are important to you, including family photos, décor, and other images that you might have on your shot list.
Photojournalistic/Documentary – The photographer follows you, capturing events as they unfold in order to tell the story of your wedding. They don’t give direction or pose and try to fade into the background to capture the wedding day as pure as possible.
Candid/Lifestyle – Closely tied with documentary but includes direction and styling with approachable feel and a relaxed result. Photographers with give prompts or things for you to do that are more natural, but also set up the scene for the result they want.
Editorial/Dramatic – Posing with more serious facial expressions and lighting that is influenced by high end fashion photography.
Fine art – The mindset of a fine art photographer is that every moment has the potential to turn into a piece in an art gallery. However, you see this come up with a lot of photographers who just want to sound fancy, if you’re looking for this style, I would suggest looking into an editorial style photographer.
3. What is your favorite part of a wedding day to photograph?
Why this question? It gives you an idea of what photographer is going to give you the best experience and the photos you want. For example, if you’re all about the reception and want a ton of your guests on the dance floor, you’re probably not going to get the photos you want with a photographer who likes to concentrate on posed portraits and details. Knowing what is most important to you on your wedding day and having a photographer that can excel at it is key. If you’re all about reception photos (or if you’re venue is low light/darker), you’re going to want to make sure you have a photographer who can handle lighting the dance floor and has examples that showcase that.
Every photographer is different depending on what part of the wedding they focus on. Your more editorial and detailed photographers are going to need more time before the ceremony for styled photos of your rings, flowers etc... Whereas a photographer who is more about the candid moments are going to be more open for how the day unfolds.
4. What is your workflow for the wedding images?
What you want to hear with this question: What is your turn around time? Do you do a sneak peek? When do I get to see the sneak peek? Are the photos I see in the gallery edited? How much editing and retouching do you do? Do you offer extensive retouching? How do I receive my images?
This is the question for what happens after your wedding day, knowing when and how you’re getting photos is one of the most important things to know before signing any contract. How long is their turn around, is it a month? Six weeks? Two months? Having an expectation of when they will be completed and having that in the contract is key to keeping the photographer in check with your images. Many photographers post a sneak peek of images to hold you over till the full gallery is completed. Things to ask about the sneak peek: Are the images the final edit? How many images are included in the sneak peek? Where online do you post them? Can I use them on social media?
After asking about their style you should have a good expectation of what the photos are going to look like, but if you’d like more extensive retouching you’ll need to find a photographer that offers that service. Photographers really don’t like to be asked to Photoshop images during or after a session, especially photographers that consider themselves more of a candid or journalistic photographer. If you already know you’d like more than the basic editing, talking about this before signing a contract. Being upfront with what you’re looking for with your photographer and asking what they offer is the best way to avoid being disappointed with your photos or having to pay extra for your photographer to send out the images to be edited.
What makes you stand out from other photographers in the area?
This is not a rude question, it’s a chance for the photographer to win you over with what they do that the others don’t. Do they post a sneak peek within 24 hours of your wedding? Do they offer help and education on preparing for your wedding day and help build a wedding day timeline? Do they include an engagement session? Do they offer help on what to wear at the engagement session and when to have it? Do they gift prints/other items when you book or after the wedding? If you don’t ask what they offer you won’t know what to compare past style and the other questions above.
There isn’t going to be one photographer that offers EVERYTHING including the kitchen sink. That’s just impossible in a business sense, and honestly unfair of anyone to expect. As a couple, you should sit down and really weigh out your options. What is important to you? Would you rather have a quick turn around with nothing extra? Are gifts more valuable than personalized client education? Figuring out what is important to you is the best way find the right photographer that checks all your wedding photography needs and wants.
Good luck on your search! Click here for more information on Sydney Marie Photography.