How do you know who the right wedding photographer is for you? Choosing a wedding photographer can be quite a daunting task, you will be putting a lot of trust in one person to capture the memories of your special day. This is probably the first time you’re getting married so it’s understandable that this whole process is completely unknown to you, including what questions to ask your wedding photographer. The last thing you want is to look back at your photos and be filled with disappointment because they didn’t capture what you wanted, have the style that you wanted, or just made a big pigs ear of the whole thing.
To help ensure that doesn’t happen here are some questions to ask a wedding photographer, and things to consider before booking.
Do you want candid, documentary photojournalistic type of photos where the emphasis is on recording the day as it happens without staged photos? Or a more traditional style where pictures are more posed and structured? Maybe you like something more contemporary with Instagram type filters that show the two of you stood square on to the camera in a field with blank expressions? That would be my least favourite! Some photographers may use flash through the entire day, whereas others will use only the natural light until the first dance and party kicks in. It is best to look through the portfolio pics on a photographers website or Instagram feed and see if you connect with the images. My goal is to create photos that are timeless, so like to avoid ‘on trend’ editing techniques and Instagram filters that can date quickly even after 5 years.
Do they have insurance and do they have backup equipment in case of failure? Accidents happen, like the time when I heard a bang in a lift, and looked down to see that my new £1200 lens had fallen off it’s mount…£400 repair bill.
I even had a camera and flash fall off a shelf on it’s own, with nobody even near it! The hotel must of had a ghost. I can’t imagine there are photographers out there shooting weddings without a backup camera or multiple lenses, so i don’t think it is necessarily something to worry about. But do they have public liability insurance? This ensures they are covered if a lighting stand falls onto someones head for example. Some venues insist that all suppliers are insured, and won’t let a photographer shoot there if he can’t produce a certificate.
Don’t leave it too late to find out.
Delays can happen and small incremental delays can add up, meaning the cake cutting and first dance happen later than expected. If proceedings are running late will the photographer charge you extra time? I won’t be that guy who hits you with an invoice later adding 2 hrs overtime to the bill.
Ask your photographer if you can view a whole wedding from start to finish and preferably one that is printed in an album.
3 or 4 photos don’t tell the whole story. You want each photo to be consistent from start to finish and the album should flow through the day in order. Images shouldn’t just be randomly plonked onto the page. It will also give you a better idea of how many photos it takes to tell the whole story of your wedding day. I would say 100-150 is a good number of images to show a wedding from start to finish. All my albums start with 20 pages and 60 images as I like couples to have something tangible, and not just a USB that may end up sat in a drawer.
Photographers just starting out may use images on their websites from portfolio building days with models. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that, you have to consider whether they will they be able to produce the same results under the pressure and variable conditions on a real wedding day.
Your photographer needs to be in the right place at the right time, so the more details you can give them the better. Prior to the wedding I send out a questionnaire to couples to make things easier. The exact locations of where the couple are getting ready, as well as the best man's mobile number, plus the running order of the day, times of the cake cutting, first dance etc will need to be filled out if possible.
Most photographers these days are well connected through social media and are members of facebook groups etc. They should know of very good photographers they can call on to cover a wedding at short notice.
Wedding photography can be a big investment as you are really paying for 30-40 hours of the photographers work, not just the 8 to 12 on the day. It may be worth asking if you can pay in increments when money becomes available.
The only time I didn’t photograph one of my friends weddings, he booked the cheapest photographer he found at a wedding fair. He was advertising himself as a full time professional photographer but really worked at M&S. My friend had to wait 6 months to get the photos back which is frankly ridiculous. I also spoke to a couple who never got any photos at all! The photographer did a runner with the money after the wedding.
I am a full-time professional photographer so give each wedding 100% of my time. A finished set of pictures take a full week and I aim to deliver within ten days. Everything from the culling, editing, colour correction to the album layout gets my full attention. I also inspect every album before delivery.
These questions are not something to get hung up about. It’s better to just have a conversation and see if you like a photographers personality instead of following those ‘top questions to ask your wedding photographer’ blogs that often aren’t even written by photographers!
It’s not crucial to have a photographer that has shot at the venue before. Many photographers would want to shoot at a different venue every single wedding to keep them fresh. Your photographer can either scout the venue before, arrive earlier on the day and will probably research it online. It is easy to do a quick walk through of the venue and become familiar with it.
5D mark III, D5, XT4, A7S unless you are a camera buff it’s pretty irrelevant. All camera’s from the last 10 years are capable of producing great results. In fact my favourite digital camera of all time is a Nikon D700 which came out about 10 years ago. If it had a second card slot for back up I would still be using one. It’s not the gear but the person using it. For instance I bought a George Foreman grill but it didn’t turn me into a chef. It did improve my uppercut though, which is kind of weird : )
I rarely get asked this question but do see it in print a lot, as if quantity of photos is a marker of quality.
If you are choosing a photographer because he is going to give you 2,000 photos, well, any photographer could do that, just by including 25 identical shots of every group and throwing in 400 unspectacular party shots. That many photos can be incredibly overwhelming to look through. It takes hours to weed out all the duplicates, unflattering shots and 'blinkies' and is part of the service you are paying for. If there is photo worth seeing then you will get to see it.
I’m not talking about a list of family group shots that you need, that’s a given, and you can list them on the questionnaire I will send you. But if you want a photographer to copy 100 staged photos from Pinterest then you are going to be missing everything going on around you. All the authentic and candid photos and if you are hiring a documentary style wedding photographer, thats not what you hired them for. You will not love the photos and they will not represent what really happened at your wedding.
No question is a bad question but I wouldn’t place too much importance on the one’s above.