Choosing your wedding vendors is one of the toughest and most important choices you’ll make throughout this process. From cakes to a dress, to menswear, to music, flowers and more, you’re going to be making a LOT of decisions in the next few months. Some of these will be easier than others (if the cake is gross, don’t hire that baker, etc), but some will be more difficult. Like choosing a photographer.
It seems like everywhere you turn, everyone either “does” photography or knows someone who “is a photographer”. How do you choose who to trust such an important day to? These photos that are a once-in-a-lifetime moment … how can you find the perfect match for you?
Most brides think that they can just shop by price, just like they do for caterers (that per plate price) or bakers (per slice), but with photography, that isn’t the case. Photography is a luxury item, an art. Something that requires skill and expensive (hopefully) equipment that your photographer uses to create, often, intangible products (like digitals). Their pricing also includes the time they’ll invest in your day – prior to, during, and even after.
So when you take away price, what comes next? How do you know what to ask? Try starting here:
1. How would you describe your photography style? (this is important, so that it fits with your vision)
2. How would you describe your working style? (are they a “silent behind the scenes” or a “director, composing shots” photographer?)
3. What setting do you primarily photograph weddings with? (If they don’t know what this means, or they answer “auto”, you can end the meeting here – they’re not at a pro level yet and you won’t get the images you’re hoping for. This is extremely important, and shows the knowledge and skill your photographer has).
4. What is the most important thing you tell your brides? 5. How many weddings have you photographed? 6. Do you have a full wedding that you can show me? How many of these images were done by a second or associate shooter? 7. How many weddings do you already have booked during the week/weekend of mine? 8. Will you be my photographer? If not, can I meet the photographer who will be assigned to me before my wedding? 9. Do you have references I can call? (A pro shouldn’t hesitate to hand you this list)
10. How will I view my proofs? About how long will it be before I see them? (A pro will need to edit your images for color correction, artistic elements, so don’t expect them to just hand over a disc of images that night. Most professionals take 8-12 weeks to finish proofs)
11. Do you have insurance? (If they don’t, again, you can end the meeting here.)
12. Do you allow me to give you a specific shot list? (If this is important to you – say you have certain shots you’d love to get – then make sure your photographer knows this).
13. How often will we meet or talk prior to the wedding day? (You should at least have some sort of walk-through with the photographer, especially if they’re unfamiliar with your venue).
14. Have you worked at my venue before or somewhere similar? Do you have images you can show me from that location? 15. On average, how long are the weddings you shoot? 16. How many images can I expect to see from my wedding? (Most photographers average 50 shots per hour of coverage)
17. What do your packages include? (Listen for things like engagement shoots, second shooters, albums, digital images, print credit, additional coverage, anniversary shoots, sharing sites, etc)
18. What information will you need from me before the wedding day?
19. How will you and your second shooter be dressed on our wedding day? (They should dress professionally and try to coordinate with your color palette) 20. How do you feel about our guests taking photos while you are? 21. What time do you usually arrive at the site? Will you stay late if need be?
22. Are there any special things in your contract we should know about? (Meals, breaks, and model releases are the most common)
23. What is the ordering process? 24. How much of a retainer do you require and when is it due? 25. How long have you been a photographer? 26. What kind of photography do you specialize in? (Preferably, your photographer will specialize in weddings, and not be a photographer who does anything that comes their way).