Our dear friends at Visual Appeal Studios have been gracious enough to share with us their take on interviewing a potential wedding photographer. Read on to find out an insider’s opinion on what you should be asking at your consultation!
Questions to ask the Photographer (From an Insider)
Chances are you’ve never hired a wedding photographer before. A great majority of the couples we meet with don’t ask many questions because they don’t know what they should be asking. We guide them through what they could be asking us and now we’re here to help you too!
We recommend meeting your photographer in person. While it’s a whole lot easier to chat via email or telephone meeting your photographer in person lets you get to know this person. After all they’ll be with you for the entire duration of your wedding you’re probably going to want to get along with them. Set up a meeting with your photographer, have a cup of coffee or even a light lunch and get to know them. During this meeting is a good time to learn about them and about their services.
First we’ll start with some basic questions:
- Do you have our wedding date available?
- How long have you been in business? How many years have you been photographing weddings?
- What type of equipment do you use? Digital? Film?
- What is included with your services? Engagement sessions, meetings, albums, rights to print?
- How long is it until we can see the final images? How do we see them?
- Do you offer any products such as prints and albums? What is the pricing for those products?
- Have you worked with our wedding planner/venue/videographer/etc. before?
All of the above are important questions to seek answers for. Here are a few more that, in our experience, couples don’t know they should be asking.
Question: How would you describe your style? Do you use natural light, flash or a mix of both?
Why you want to know: You can look at a photographers work and begin to see their style. Some photographers use vintage processing, bright realistic colors or many black & white images. Photos can be candid, staged, formal, or informal. Finding out what image style your photographer likes to shoot gives you the knowledge how your photos will turn out. Image style goes hand in hand with the photographers working style. Some photographers shoot strictly photojournalistic while others stage many shots throughout the day. It is important to know what the photographer shoots and make sure it blends with your ideas for your wedding. If you like candid and unpredicted images a photographer who works in a photojournalistic style will stay to the side and not impact the flow of your day. If you are interested in traditional images you might like a photographer who takes control of the situation. Or maybe you prefer a little of both, look for someone who shoots to the side and still includes the formal attributes you’re looking for.
You will want to know if your photographer shoots natural light or flash in the instance that your wedding is planned for mid –day or if you are planning to have a dimly lit reception. From about 12p to 3p is the harshest light of the day meaning that heavy shadows will be seen and a photographer working with flash will know how to balance out the dark and the light. A flash shooter will also be able to capture the action in a dimly lit reception. Natural light photographers have their advantages too. Being able to capture soft toned images and minimal disruption are nice. There’s something to be said about the image style of natural light photographs. Maybe someone well rounded with both is perfect for you.
Question: Who will be photographing my wedding?
Why you want to know: Some photographers and larger photography companies contract photographers to photograph or assist on wedding day. If your photographer is contracting out to another photographer for your wedding or planning to hire a second shooter, don’t be shy, ask where you can see their work as well. Photographers are artists and they all vary – make sure their style suits you.
Question: Do you charge hourly or for full day coverage?
Why you want to know: Imagine for a moment that it is the morning of your big day and well, you’re just not ready yet! Your photographer is clicking away, make up and hair are just about perfect but you’re already 30 minutes late for your ceremony (GASP! Yes! It can happen!). Eventually you make it there and finally marry the love of your life and head off to the reception you’ve been planning for months. You’re just about to cut into your cake when your photographer approaches you – their time is up and if you’d like them to stay it’s going to be $X an hour.
Way to kill a buzz!
You want to be prepared! Make sure your photographer plans to be there until the end- some of the best moments happen at the end of the night! At the very least be aware of your photographers hourly rates and book the appropriate amount of time.
Question: Can we see the photographs from an entire wedding?
Why you want to know: A photographer designs their website to show their best work – we want to catch your eye! When you meet with your photographer ask to see a full album of wedding photos so you can look for consistency. A photographer could have beautiful outdoor photos but may not be as successful in a dimly lit reception – you’ll want to know their strengths (and weaknesses) to make sure they work well with your wedding plans.
Question: Can we look through a final album?
Why you want to know: Our guess is that you buy a car without going for a test drive, your wedding dress without trying it on or that new TV without knowing a little about it. You shouldn’t buy your wedding album without knowing about the quality of the design and materials either! Just as photographer styles vary their album style will vary too. Some photographers provide traditional albums while others design modern layouts using a variety of materials. Look for the artistic quality you appreciate as well as quality of build, materials and images.
Question: What happens if something goes wrong? Do you have backup equipment?
Why you want to know: On wedding day things can go wrong. Camera bodies, lenses, memory cards or lighting equipment can malfunction, get lost or stolen, but that shouldn’t stop your day from moving. Having backup equipment is essential. You want to make sure that in the event that a photographer experiences equipment failure, they have comparable equipment that can handle getting the shots for the rest of the day. Also be sure to ask about backup methods that the photographer uses throughout the day and as well as after the wedding is long past. A photographer should keep backup copies (on another hard drive or in the cloud) in the event that post-processing issues occur. Be sure to ask about retention of your photos as well! In the event you misplace or damage your current digital copies so that your photographer can restore your copy ASAP.
Question: Who owns the rights to the photographs?
Why you want to know: Some photographers prefer to hold onto the rights to the photographs, others will give them to you while some will create a compromise or offer to sell them to you. All this confusion could add up to extra charges for you – so ask how your photographer deals with this touchy subject. Ownership of the rights after the wedding is up to the discretion of your photographer. In their contract it should state what they are willing to do with the rights. Of course there is no reason you can’t ask a photographer who retains the rights to sell them to you or to come to an agreement so that you may use them as you see fit. Using or printing photos you do not own the rights to can mean trouble so get the facts!
Question: Do you share all photos on social networks and your website?
Why you want to know: With the popularity of social networking a photographer uses websites, blogs, Facebook and more to market their business. The current trend is to share wedding photographs widely across the web. Most couples don’t mind or even enjoy sharing their special day. However, if you are a private couple and prefer not to have your intimate day shared that is up to you. Express this concern with your photographer from the very first meeting and see if they are willing to work with your desires.
Don’t forget! Your photographer wants to know just as much about you as you want to know about them – so let them ask questions too. Both parties should feel comfortable with each other and if conversation flows easily that’s a pretty good sign. When you know; you know!
If you liked our questions print out this Photographer Interview Worksheet and take notes at your next meeting!
A huge thanks to VAS for the insight, the lovely photos and of course, the kick-ass PDF! I highly suggest that you set up a meeting to ask Tim & Ashley all of these questions! I’m sure they’ve got all the right answers!