Making decisions is stressful. Picking a wedding photographer is super stressful. A few weeks ago I wrote a general process of How to Choose a Wedding Photographer, and after reading it, I felt like there was still more to be said. Mainly, questions to ask the photographer at the in person meeting.
One the last steps in the process was the meet with the photographer to get an idea about their personality, but it’s also about gaining information about their process. Some of these questions are extremely important, while others might not be a deal breaker. A lot of that will depend on the bride and groom and what they value.
How to Choose a Wedding Photographer: Questions to ask
1. How many years have you been shooting? How many weddings have you shot?
Experience is important. The more weddings a photographer has shot means he or she has practiced that much more and dealt with that many different situations. If he or she has only shot 5 weddings, he or she might not be prepared for a dark venue or rain. Will he or she feel comfortable because of the experience or will there be nervousness and panic? I’m not saying that every new photographer is bad, and I’m definitely not saying experience makes you better. I think it is smart to know the photographers background, though.
2. What kind of equipment do you have? Do you have backup equipment?
A lot of photographers will argue that gear doesn’t matter; it’s really about the photographer. I will agree to an extent. There are some situations where gear might not matter that much, but gear can be a limitation or even a downfall when it comes to weddings. Cheap equipment does not work so well in the fast-paced, harsh environment of a wedding. Can it focus quickly? Take multiple quick shots? Shoot in a dark environment? I guarantee that entry level camera won’t stack up well to a professional model. Make sure the photographer has a backup camera body and multiple lenses. Things break, and if they only have one, it’s all over. I carry two bodies with me during the entire wedding day just in case something happens to one of them. Another vital piece of equipment is a flash or hopefully, multiple flashes. Some photographers claim to be natural light only, but I think that’s because flash can be scary. It’s another piece of equipment to learn, and it can be confusing, but there are some wedding situations where it is vital. Then there’s extra equipment for creating different effects or photos. Can they do Off Camera Flash? Having a flash is good, but being able to move it off the camera will opens up creative possibilities. I use Off Camera Flash for the dancing photos, portraits, and exits. Long exposure shots, like spelling with sparklers? The photographer will have to have a tripod. Having a camera is good, but it simply isn’t enough when you are a wedding photographer.
3. Are you (the photographer you are meeting with) going to be the one shooting the wedding or are there other photographers working for the company?
I know that is wordy and confusing, but I’ll try to explain. Sometimes a photography company is more than just one photographer. Just because the name of the company is John Smith Photography, does not mean John Smith will be your photographer. I’ve heard of several instances where a couple booked someone only to have a different photographer show up the wedding day. It’s not really lying, but it could be a bit misleading, especially considering people pick a photographer based partially on personality. I would just make sure that you know who you are booking.
4. What’s the turnaround time on the photos?
Each photographer is different, so it will take each one a different amount of time to get things done. Some will say a month, others several months, and some crazy photographers deliver within two weeks. I personally aim for 2-3 months. If I had more time to spend on editing and took less weddings, I could probably bump it down to a month, but that’s not my situation. A stay at home mom with no kids and one wedding a year could probably get it done in a week.
Those are a few questions I’d suggest asking when choosing a wedding photographer. There are whole lists of them out there if you want to Google it. If more questions pop into my head, I’ll update and write another blog on How to Choose a Wedding Photographer.