The wedding photographer. Obviously my favourite topic when it comes to wedding planning. And I would hope my area of expertise. I could talk for hours about how much value photographs hold and how important capturing your wedding day is. But I can sum it all up in one sentence. Trust your photographer!
Your wedding photographer is the person who you will spend the most time with on your wedding day other than your new spouse. My intention is always that every bride should have the best photographer for them on their wedding day. There are countless lists online of things that you should ask your photographer. Some are great and some not so much. It can be really overwhelming planning a wedding and difficult to build a team of vendors that not only see your vision but also that you trust to care about your wedding as much as you do. Today I am here to give you the real list of things that you should ask your photographer and also the questions that may not be the most productive.
Definitely ask these:
1. Are you insured? Insurance is important. It just is. A lot of venues require it in fact. Insurance protects both the photographer and the couple as well as everyone at the wedding.
2. How do you deliver images and what is your policy on digitals? I feel like this is an important question to ask. Every photographer is different and views this topic differently. I include all the digital images with every one of my collections and release them to you in an online gallery with no additional charge. You should find out from your photographer what their policy is and whether this vibes with what you want. If you are more interested in prints and products you should make sure your photographer is able to provide this for you.
3. How extensive is your editing process, do you charge extra for additional edits? This is a question worth asking. Some photographers edit quite a lot, some edit each individual image, some batch edit. This all comes down to personal style of course. Whether they edit a lot or a little has nothing to do with their capability but everything to do with their style. Do you prefer a clean edit, are you expecting all blemishes to be fixed? Get an idea of what to expect before the wedding not after. If you expected a lot of stylized editing and your photographer has a simpler style, you don't want, nor does your photographer want you to be surprised after.
4. Always read the contract carefully and get any questions answered. This is not so much a single question but just a good tip. Your photographer should of course have a contract. In it is pretty much an overview of all their policies and how they run their business. It includes what you should expect and what they expect. Everything from editing to copyright to payment. It is an important document. As long as everyone is clear on the contract before-hand there should be no surprises after the wedding. All that will be left is for you to admire your images and bask in the newly married glow.
Be careful with these:
1. How long have you been photographing weddings? I'm not saying that this isn't important to know. But it is worth it to keep in mind what you think the answer will mean. You shouldn't necessarily throw someone's name in the NO pile if they've only been in business a short while. As long as they are capable. Someone could be a vastly talented photographer and very capable and not have been shooting for very long. On the other hand you could find someone who has been photographing for decades but that doesn't possess the style or provide the kind of service you'd expect. It is better to focus on the experience your photographer strives to provide to you just as much as their technical capability. Decades of experience doesn't necessarily translate.
2. How would you describe your photographic style? This is another one I'm not saying you should forget about. Style is very important. It is vital to make sure that you admire their style so that expectations are set early. If you expect a more editorial look and end up with natural images because that was the photographers style then there will be disappointment all around. Of course it is important to view a portfolio to get an idea of their style, but the problem with this question is figuring out exactly what style you expect. If you ask that question and the photographer says they are photojournalistic or contemporary, or maybe a mix of both, will this give you enough of an idea of style? Sometimes couples know the vibe they want but don't necessarily know how to express this in words. A better question would be for you to ask what words come to their mind when they think about their images or what emotions their images evoke for them. This will give you a deeper understanding of not only their work but their heart as well. A photographer's work can be deeply emotional.
3. What type of equipment do you use? I definitely understand where this question comes from. Couples want to make sure that the photographer they hire has the equipment to handle their wedding. But I think there can sometimes be a problem with this question. Perhaps you don't know a lot about photography and their list won't mean much to you. Or perhaps you do know a lot but their list is different than what you have or what you expect. This doesn't necessarily mean they aren't capable or prepared. What you should make sure is that they have backups in case of equipment failure and that they know how to work the equipment they have well. Reviewing images from different lighting situations will give you an idea of how they work their gear.
4. Can I give you a shot list of images to get at the wedding? This one is tricky for wedding photographers. I know with the couples I work with, I want to capture their day as it is and give them the memories of their own wedding. So yes, I appreciate a shot list to a certain extent. I want to know what is important to you. I want to know about grandma's brooch or grandpa's cuff links. I want to make sure I don't miss really important memories I may not otherwise know about. I want to make sure your day is represented properly. What can become tricky is re-creating images. Your wedding is your own and there needs to be a certain amount of creative freedom to capture it and do it justice. It can be difficult to be creative when working strictly from an extensive shot list. I want to bring into being that one image that epitomizes your wedding. Your own Pinterest worthy shot. Instead of forcing moments I want to let them happen organically. This is where trusting your photographer comes in to play. Trust them to capture all of the important moments and get those amazing creative shots as well.
in the end what is important is whether you like them, whether you can trust them whole heartedly and whether you admire their work. Those three things will determine for you who you should entrust to let into one of the most personal and important days of your lives. It is a job that we as photographer's do not take lightly. Every time someone entrusts me with these precious moments it makes me tear up a little. This is not a flippant job but one that should be taken very seriously. I appreciate every single couple that includes me in their special days.