In the previous post we discussed things to help decide who to meet with. So, let’s assume you have determined, they are available for your date, they are within your budget, you like their style, they are professional. Now we will get into what to ask when you actually meet with potential wedding photographers. Take notes as they answer your questions so you can compare their answers to each other and this list.
- What packages do you offer?
Most photographers offer a few different packages designed to save you money by bundle services. That’s how you get the biggest bang for your buck! Pretty good rule of thumb, the more a photographer is able to deliver with their packages, the greater chance they are the real deal. Amateurs & Weekenders are not able to deliver premium services or products.
- Do you touch up/edit all my photos?
This should not be taken to mean “photoshop”. That is just one of many photo editing programs. If they can’t answer that question with a yes, you should say thank you and move on. Do you really want to spend money on photos that look like they were taken from a cell phone? At minimum, there should be basic edits done to your photos such as, lighting, color and any other corrections needed.
- Have you ever shot at my location or venue before? (if not, will you scout it before my wedding?)
Obviously, professionals have been to many different venues so, there’s a possibility they have been to your location. Great. If they haven’t, you really want them to. This is essential to being truly prepared for your wedding. Every venue has its challenges. Why not be prepared for those? This is something I do for every venue. I even go so far as to take a few photos during my visit so, I have a good working knowledge of the space. I promise most don’t do this. The time it takes is so worth it to ensure a flawless event.
- How long after my wedding will my photos be ready?
There are many schools of thought on the answer to this question. My personal opinion is that anything more than 8 weeks is excessive. In today’s fast paced world, isn’t sooner better than later? My goal is to deliver my client’s photos 2 weeks after their wedding. By the time 6-8 weeks roll around, the buzz from your wedding has long been forgotten about by your guests. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to see and share your photos right after the honeymoon? That is hard to find. If you get your images in 6-8 weeks, you should be happy. Too many times I’ve heard, “we still don’t have our photos…”. I hear that from couples who have been married 1-20 years.
- Do you have back-up equipment?...a back-up plan?
Your photographer should have a minimum of one back-up camera with back-up lenses and flash. Be wary at those who don’t answer that question with an immediate Yes! Part two of that question, a back-up plan… what if for some reason, your wedding photographer has an emergency the day of your wedding? Do they have a back-up plan? Your wedding photography will be ruined if they don’t have a fill in. In my studio, we always shoot with two photographers no matter what. The odds of both of us not making it is enormous. We also have a back-up on call for every wedding. Don’t you deserve that kind of commitment from your photographer?
Now, when you search around google, bing or yahoo, you will no doubt find questions everyone thinks you should ask potential photographers. Some have value and some are worthless!
What kind of equipment do you use? Worthless! Does it matter? Do you know the difference between camera models and hundreds of lenses? This question always kills me. Do you ask your auto mechanic what kind of wrenches he uses? Do you really have opinions about various brands anyway? Anyone can go and buy the best camera in the world. Do they know how to use it? Leave this question out. Whether or not they have a back-up is far more critical than camera brand or model.
Do you have liability insurance?
This is a good question. If one of your guests were to trip over the photographers gear and they did not have insurance, you could be held liable in court. If your photographer does have insurance, their policy would cover such an incident.
Will you create a detailed shot list?
Also a good question but, I say this should be a given. Before you ever get to this point, this should have been previously discussed. I can’t even imagine a photographer saying no to this. No matter what, each couple at every wedding has at least a few specific photos they really want. This list should be made by you and given to your photographer prior to your wedding. If you or want or Mom wants some “posed/formal” photos and your photographer won’t do them or can’t get them done in a timely manner, they probably are not a good choice.
Are you my actual photographer?
To me this is senseless but, necessary. If you are meeting with a company that has several photographers, you should be meeting with whomever will be there on your day. If not, you’ll have a total stranger on your wedding day trying to capture your most cherished and intimate moments. I prefer to get to know you at the initial meeting and even more so on the day of your engagement session. This helps me know exactly what to do on your wedding day. You will also be at ease on your wedding day knowing what to expect from me.
With these questions, you should be able to sift through your initial list of wedding photographers and narrow them down. My opinion… follow the above blueprint and make sure you put everything in writing. You should have a contract with them just like every other vendor you have. If they meet or exceed that criteria, you are probably making a smart decision.