Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer
Tips for Planning: Questions to Ask Your Prospective Wedding Photographer
By a Wedding Photographer! (Me)
I created this list to try and help put some perspective out there for those of you going through the stress of planning a wedding. Your photographer is a very important vendor who is giving you something that you will take away and have forever from your wedding day. The following questions are things that I try to instill in my own business to make my clients feel comfortable and confident in their choice, and I believe they are questions that you should ask any wedding photographer you are looking into for your wedding.
Do you have a full wedding gallery (or several) that you can share with me?
Check out a full gallery before hiring your wedding photographer. A full gallery may be a lot to look at, but here’s the deal – most of the photos you’re going to see in a photographer’s portfolio and blog posts are the BEST shots (rightfully so, nothing wrong with that) but a full gallery is going to show you if the rest of their imagery is consistent in quality and style. I also personally feel that it can be helpful to see what the photographer shoots throughout the day, to understand how we work and what to expect, especially since there may be certain shots you REALLY want to see. Not every photographer shoots the same way.
Can I share my Pinterest board with you? Can we copy some of the poses?
Pinterest is an awesome planning tool, and I love it and use it myself for all kinds of things. I personally welcome sharing some of these ideas, but the one thing I want you to know is that your day is YOUR unique day, and you are hiring a photographer to use their vision and their talent. Picking out a few wish list poses or ideas is okay – but remember that those photos were taken with many different variables; locations, time of day, lighting, color schemes, individuals, and more. From an honest perspective of a photographer, it will hinder the flow and creative process to try and re-create a list of poses from a Pinterest board at the wedding.
Do you have a contract that I can read?
Contract is an intimidating word, but I promise that having one doesn’t just protect your photographer- it protects you too and ensures you understand the terms under a variety of situations and how your photographer runs their business and handles things like payments, cancellations, image handling, rights, when and how you will get your images, what you are purchasing, and more. Read and understand the contract before you hand over money for a retainer and ask your photographer if a clause or wording is confusing so that you feel you understand it.
Do you bring your own lighting?
Gear will vary from photographer to photographer, but as a general rule they should have and know how to utilize an external flash, or multiple. Many venues, though beautiful and ambient to the eye, will greatly benefit from adding extra light to photograph better. This could be in the form of an external flash on the camera, or one or more set up on a stand, often for the reception portion of the wedding. Know when and where extra lighting may be prohibited by your venue or you may not want it to be used, particularly for the ceremony. This tip is from my personal experience and will vary amongst photographers and how they work. Ultimately, viewing a full gallery from a venue with mixed lighting situations will tell you how well your photographer tackles them with or without additional lighting.
How should I prepare my wedding day itinerary with photos in mind?
Your photographer likely has questions they will ask you to help prepare your itinerary with you or add commentary to one already made, to allow ample time for the formal photographs (your couple photos, wedding party, and family). Ask your photographer how much time they want to allow the best results for the different photos needed so that it can be worked into the schedule. Keep in good communication with your photographer to ensure your coverage will adequately allow them to capture everything you want, without being too crunched. Time buffers are your best friend.
Should I do a first look?
Think about whether or not you want to do a pre-ceremony ‘first look’ – an intimate moment amongst the two of you to see each other before the ceremony for the first time. There are a few benefits to having a first look that you can weigh; it can allow you to roll right into photos before the ceremony, to allow everyone involved in formal photos to get to the reception quicker, and it can also ease some of your jitters. It also allows you to take your photos when your hair and makeup is still at its best! However, the bottom line is, don’t feel pressured to do a first look if it is not what you envision.
How can I be sure I will look natural in my photos?
Trust your photographer to capture your moments and relax. Don’t focus on the camera being there, just focus on each other and your guests as your photographer documents the day. Your photographer will help you with flattering poses. Always communicate with your photographer if you like a certain pose better than others or something is uncomfortable. When you choose your photographer, make sure it is someone who you get along with starting with the first meeting. They are one vendor that is going to be with you most of your day and if you are comfortable with them and click, it will help you relax.
How many weddings have you shot?
Depending on where in their career your photographer is, I don't feel that this question is as important as seeing a full gallery, having open communication, having adequate time for photos and providing your photographer a list for family photos and wedding party photos you want, so that you know you will get all of the images you need. Less likely than poor photos from a new wedding photographer, is simply that without experience in planning for and executing wedding day photos, things can get missed that they simply may not know to be normal - go over your expectations with your photographer, their previous work, and make sure they are comfortable shooting in the venue you have chosen. It is VERY different photographing a fast paced, one-chance wedding day than taking beautiful landscape photos, just like it's also very different taking photos in a dim lit venue than golden hour!
What do I get with my wedding package?
Every photographer prices out their packages differently - sometimes you will find you pay for coverage only, then add what you want, whether it be an album, prints, digital files, the option to print yourself or to print through the photographer, what packages include a second photographer and so forth. Sometimes you pay a premium, but you're getting everything you'd want within that. Get a clear, concise answer on what the package you are eyeing includes so there aren't any surprises later and you know exactly what you'll come out with.
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