How to determine you’re getting what you need from your wedding photographer
Finding the right wedding photographer is crucial. Not only are you relying on your photographer to produce great pictures of your wedding but you will also spend more time with her than most anyone else on your wedding day. You need to choose a person you feel comfortable around; a person whose judgment you trust and a person who’s going to make the very unnatural process of being photographed as natural as possible for you.
For these reasons, it’s necessary to meet with your photographer and ask the right questions to ensure you’re getting exactly what you want.
In this article, we’ll map out six essential questions, you should ask a prospective photographer.
1. What do you enjoy most about photographing weddings?
This question allows you to gain an insight into the sort of photographer he might be. Find out what motivates him to do this line of work.
Personally, I love photographing weddings because of the great images I’m able to create. Weddings are unique opportunities that elicit countless moments of emotion. I seek out instances of joy and excitement in order to create impactful pictures. I thrive off of creating unique and powerful photographs. I’m always looking for that next great photo and I see every wedding as an opportunity to produce stunning images.
I also love photographing weddings because of the rush that comes with the excitement of the day. There are so many important moments about to happen and I’m responsible for capturing them. For me, this pressure to produce is where I derive a lot of my motivation.
As a bride, you want to be reassured on your wedding day, when the pressure is on, your photographer will come through for you.
Whatever motivates the photographer, you’ll want to hear him or her express passion and excitement through their words.
Another good reason to ask this question is to narrow your search. Though most wedding photographers love the action of a wedding day, don’t simply assume every photographer shoots weddings because he or she likes them. It is important to weed out those photographers who shoot weddings just to make a few extra bucks while their real passion is for artsy gallery work that they’ve never seemed to figure out how make a living from.
2. Can you tell me about your team and equipment?
Find out whether the photographer you’re speaking to will be the actual photographer at your wedding. Big studios often employ several different photographers. Find out who your photographer will be and ask to see that person’s specific portfolio.
In addition, ask your photographer if a second shooter is necessary for your day. Depending on either the size of your wedding or your desires for coverage you may want to spend a little more money to employ a second photographer. Figure out what makes sense for your wedding and if your photographer is able to bring on a second shooter.
As far as equipment, ultimately it’s the photographer that produces great images, not the camera. An amateurish photographer with the latest $3,000 camera could produce images that aren’t half as good as an experienced professional with an iPhone (though we’re certainly not recommending you hire a wedding photographer that shoots with a cell phone!). That being the case, your primary concern is ensuring your photographer is experienced. After that, make sure the photographer has equipment that is in good working order and preferably a backup camera.
I always shoot with two cameras with lenses that have different focal lengths. This allows me to have a backup but also to quickly capture action in a variety of ways (i.e. a wide shot and a close up)
Other practical questions:
- How far in advance do I need to book my wedding date and how much deposit is required to reserve your services?
- How many weddings is your photographer attending on the day of your wedding?Make sure she doesn’t have to rush off before you’ve had the first dance.
- What time will the photographer arrive on the day?
3. How would you describe your photography style?
It’s important to hire someone who produces the types of pictures you are attracted to. Do you prefer posed, formal photos or candid, documentary style pictures? Perhaps you’d like a combination of the two?
It’s important to establish whether you want the photographer to be unobtrusive on the day, simply blending in and capturing natural images as the day unfolds, or whether you’d like him or her to take a more central role and start organizing the bridal party into positions.
Think of the disappointment you’d feel, either without the choreographed direction you’d been expecting, or with an unwanted interruption to the personal moment you and your bridesmaids are sharing.
Spend time going through the photographer’s portfolio before arranging a meeting.
Choose a particular photo that appeals to you most, make a note of it, so that the photographer can get a sense of your style preferences. This will benefit both of you since and keep you on the same page about your expectations.
4. What’s included in the package?
Find a photographer that provides a variety of packages to choose from based on range of needs and budget. Whichever package you choose, it’s essential you understand exactly what you’re getting for your money. Make sure the photography packages include the coverage you need for the duration of your wedding day as well as the deliverables you want. Ask about albums, discs and whether an engagement shoot is included.
Find out about the extent of processing that the photographer will complete. Make sure the photographer goes through every image from your wedding day. Part of what you’re paying for is having him sort through and deliver the top images. Even if it’s 750 photos, you want to make sure they are the best 750 photos. The last thing you need is to be sent to a gallery of thousands of pictures, most of which you have no need for.
Determine if the photographer charges extra for retouching or enhancing the images. Ask if there are any additional fees required for the work you are expecting.
5. Can you tell me about your experience?
You need to know you’re not getting an amateur. Anybody can press a button on a camera, but only the professionally trained can provide you with high-quality images.
Find out where the photographer received formal training and education. Ask how she continues to develop her skills as a photographer. Look for someone who is always striving to refine her craft. For example, I submit my work to competitions for feedback, I attend workshops including the annual WPPI conference, I regularly read wedding photography magazines like Rangefinder and I am a member of professional groups like Fearless where I’m able to compare my work to other photographers and look for inspiration. A photographer who is passionate about his work will continually seek to improve it.
In addition, don’t just ask how long he or she has been a photographer but specifically ask about their years of experience photographing weddings.
Most photographers will be happy to answer your questions patiently and thoroughly but if they’re not, do you really want to spend 12 hours of your life with them on the most important day of your life?
6. How long will it take for the proofs to be delivered after the wedding?
After your wedding, you’ll be asked repeatedly about the photos from family and friends anxiously waiting to see them. Of course you’ll also be excited to see the pictures. Find out up front how long with will take to see them.
Wedding photographers are extremely busy during the peak of the season. They have to process thousands of images for each wedding. Therefore, be expected to wait while before you see any pictures but also be sure to have a clear deadline. If you require a set of pictures sooner than that timeline, you may be able to negotiable that with the photographer. Make sure to have that conversation up front.
I always like to deliver a gallery set of a dozen or so pictures in the first one to three weeks after the wedding day. Then, I give myself up to 14 weeks to deliver the full gallery of the wedding day. This allows me to satisfy that immediate urge for the couple and guests to see pictures and also to make sure I’m delivering the best images and in their highest quality.
Denver Wedding photographer K. Joseph Mohatt has been photographing weddings since 2007. He is currently accepting bookings for this upcoming season and next year’s wedding season. If you’d like to meet face to face for a chat, or you’d like to ask any questions over the phone, please contact Elati Photography at 720-460-0668.