11 Questions you need to ask your wedding photographer!
What’s your photography style?
It may be obvious from looking at their portfolio, but it’s always a good idea to check! Some photographers lean towards capturing more of the whole scene with the people being a part of the setting. Some get a little closer up and focus more on the couple. Generally most good professionals will shoot with a balance of styles and a mix of angles and looks. Don’t hesitate to ask to see an album when possible from a wedding they’ve shot as this will give you the full representation of how they capture the big day. For more information on the different wedding photography styles, see one of our previous blogs on the major styles explained!
What’s your working day style?
Starting with the two extremes, some will take a fly on the wall documentary style approach. Some will stage everything from every inch of the first look to where your fingertips go. Everyone is going to have their own tendencies so it’s important to go over what your expectations are for the big day. If you like to be told what to do, make sure your photographer is comfortable with giving directions. If you want a more natural look to many of the photos, make sure your photographer is comfortable with a more laid back approach. Some photographers work as a team or bring a second shooter so many times you may get the best of both worlds.
What is included in your packages and are they flexible?
This goes without saying, but we can’t stress enough to make sure you know everything you’re getting or not getting. Don’t feel bad for asking questions! For Jenny and I, the ultimate goal during this process is for our clients to be informed and comfortable with every decision they make moving forward as that is the key to a good client and photographer relationship. Some things to consider will be does your package include printing rights? Do you have permission to share the photos electronically? Does the package you want include an engagement session, but maybe you don’t need it because you’ve already had one? Remember, wedding photography is one of the most important investments you will make for your big day. Make sure you are clear on what you’re getting and if you’re not quite sure if everything fits, ask your photographer is they can customize a package to fit all of your needs.
What if everything doesn’t go according to schedule?
Having nearly 60 weddings scheduled this year, we can tell you from firsthand experience, rarely does everything go according to schedule. Go over this with your photographer to make sure they are comfortable going with the flow as well as if the schedule gets way off, what would they recommend cutting out? Or what would you like minimized (if anything). Sometimes this may require your photographer to stay longer which could mean additional costs. Make sure to discuss this beforehand. If your photographer has to stay an extra 10 minutes, it’s likely not a big deal, but if you’re talking an hour or more, it will likely cost you more. This information should be included in your contract.
Are you comfortable shooting indoors and outdoors?
It’s no secret that most photographers are fans of good natural light. But not all lighting is created equal. A ceremony shot outdoors at noon is going to be drastically different in terms of look then let’s say one shot during golden hour (the hour leading up to sunset). Make sure your photographer is comfortable shooting with these different situations and maybe even ask for examples of their work if they have any, shot in those specific conditions. Shooting indoors can also present varying conditions that they will need to be comfortable with in order to provide the images you desire. Many indoor ceremony and receptions may have beautiful natural light beaming in from large windows reflecting off light colors. Some venues may be older, darker, and rustic in which case this light can reflect varying shades of yellows, reds, and oranges completely changing the color balance adjustments needed for a crisp, clean photo. These conditions can be offset with proper white balance adjustments, flash use, and post processing, but if your photographer is strictly natural light, this can be troublesome for photos in dim lit reception areas with little if any natural light, and yellow indoor lighting.
Is editing included and if so, what kind of edits?
In the age of digital photography, you can do wonders with photos in post processing. Sometimes you can save photos that may otherwise be mediocre at best. Sometimes you can take a photo shot incorrectly and turn it into a creative piece of art. No doubt, the better your photographer shoots the photo in its raw form, then likely the better it will look once it’s been given their special touch. In fact, editing style is one of the things that can help differentiate your photographers style from another’s and may be one of the reasons you were attracted to them in the first place for “their look and feel.” So make sure you have the discussion about editing, what’s included, what’s expected, and if it costs extra. We've heard of photography companies that charge a significant amount more for photo editing and thus will offer services or packages without edits included and with edits included. We personally believe in always putting out the best quality work we can while staying true to our style so all of our packages and services include photo editing and their fees.. Where this discussion becomes relevant is asking what would be included with editing. The most basic of edits which will likely include color corrections, exposure and contrast adjustments, clarity, sharpness, etc. In our experience, we find this meets most of our client’s needs but some may want editing corrections and styles that take significantly more time. These edits will typically cost more and it’s a good idea to discuss them with your photographer beforehand so there are no surprises in the end. These could include edits such as removing of power lines and telephone poles from the background of your photos, or having wrinkles reduced around your eyes, and head swaps. At this point, you are no longer editing what’s there by adjusting the photo’s properties in post processing, rather you are changing the actual content of the photo by taking away, adding to, and sometimes recreating, all of which will typically take significantly more time. Also, something to discuss, is photo preference in terms of look. Do you prefer your photos a little lighter and brighter? Do you prefer softer edges or sharper more vivid images? Discussing these subtle details in how the photos are processed can help to ensure that you will love your final photos when they are delivered. We find that most couples want a small mix of edits with the core bunch maintaining a relatively consistent look.
What if you get sick or injured before the wedding, do you have a back-up?
This is a very relevant question as life happens! We are happy to say that in 7 years of shooting weddings we’ve never cancelled on a client and never intend to, but heaven forbid your photographer was in an accident the day before your wedding or became severely ill, what would happen? In our case, Jenny and I are the primary shooters for our company, but we also have a sister company with other team mates who cover weddings when we are already booked and occasionally will work with us as a 3rd shooter when needed or as an assistant, so we have the flexibility to have someone take our place in an emergency. This is an important point to discuss with your photographer as sometimes timing is bad and the unthinkable happens. Always make sure they have a back-up plan just in case.
What if you break your camera or equipment during your shoot? Do you have back up equipment?
As previously stated, accidents happen and maybe we won’t get hurt but what about our precious equipment? Cameras today have been engineered to be pretty durable but they are not indestructible. There’s only so much of an impact they can take and only so much weather they can take. It’s definitely relevant to make sure your photographer has at least some back up equipment. When we go into a wedding we always have four cameras plus a multitude of lens options, flashes, flash stands, and in some cases, even back up memory cards. Sometimes as photographers we will get into the most peculiar of positions or situations and sometimes you will pay the price or almost. I remember vividly the time I was shooting a proposal/engagement in the smoky mountain national park on a wet somewhat rainy day. The rain finally subsided and the river was flowing full. The couple I was working with (Rachael and Corey) wanted to hop out on to the rocks in the middle of the river and get a shot there. To make sure they had the best perspective possible, I also wanted to get out into the middle of the river. I was careful as most of the rocks were wet and covered at least partially in green (i.e. super slick). I crouched down, set up, nailed the shot, success, or at least so I thought. I stood back up and apparently it was a bit too fast as I instantly lost balance and all my weight shifted back as my feet slipped forward. I went flying into the air, as did my brand new at the time (literally 2 days old) Canon 5D Mark III. Somehow I was blessed and fortunate enough to land on my back with my arms out without getting hurt, and through this split second folly, I even somehow managed to catch my camera just before it hit the water (wheeewwww….Jenny would’ve killed me lol). The point is, on any given shoot something can happen, and if your photographer’s equipment hasn’t been well maintained, it could breakdown in the middle of your wedding. So, the importance of back up equipment cannot be understated.
How long after the wedding will it take to receive my photos?
This is a very relevant question. We’ve all heard the horror stories of friends taking 6 months or more to receive their photos (OMG!). Make sure to discuss these expectations with your photographer to get an approximate timeline. If your wedding is during a peak month like October, it may take a little longer to get your photos as your photographer will likely have multiple weddings every weekend so their workload will be a little higher. Generally during most months of the year, we aim to get all of our couples final edits to them within 2 weeks, but during more popular months, we give ourselves a 3 week buffer. Wedding size can also affect the delivery time as an all-day wedding will take longer than a 3 hour elopement. Each photographer is going to have a different work flow, editing style, and process so get this information up front so you’re not disappointed if it takes a few weeks to a few months.
What will you wear?
Seems like it might be a bit of a shallow question, but trust us when we say you don’t want your photographer showing up completely unprofessionally dressed as this can be a distracting eye sore for your big day. Some venues even have dress codes for vendors so worst case scenario you don't want your photog essentially kicked off the premises until they change as this could definitely throw your day off. Discuss expectations in advance and what you find acceptable. Sometimes couples want you to blend in with the color scheme. Often times you’ll see photographers wearing mostly darker colors to not stand out. The big thing is you don’t want to be embarrassed by one of the vendors you’ve hired on your wedding day. As with anything, we’ve heard some pretty funny stories about what people show up wearing. The goal should always be to be professional, presentable, but not drawing attention to ourselves.
Is there anything I can do to make your job easier?
This may seem like a weird question but it will be well received and likely refreshing. Navigating a wedding day can be an amazingly fun and rewarding process, but it can also be touchy. Make sure your photographer(s) know that they have your full support to capture the wedding the way you want it. This may mean giving them creative freedom. This may mean listening to their suggestions as to best location for photos. This can also mean helping support them through the awkward social moments of the day like when they are trying to shoot something important, but your grandmother or friend from college keeps hopping in their way ruining photos (we can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen a perfect moment ruined because a family member turned a bride and groom’s moment into their own). Generally this is just a courtesy question, but it can go a long way towards making sure your photographer is willing to go the extra mile for you, especially when they see that you care enough to go the extra mile for them.
We hope this can help to serve you as you move forward in the process of working with a wedding photographer! Don’t feel bad for asking question, as we always say, comfort is key!
Joe & Jenny