What questions should you ask a wedding photographer? (part 1)

What questions should you ask a wedding photographer?

Many brides read wedding magazines and search social media to help plan their wedding and choose vendors. Choosing, the venue, dress and photographer are usually the highest priority on the list. Since we are wedding photographers, we wanted to give you a list of questions to ask your potential wedding photographer. You can ask them stuff like: "Can you describe your style?" or, "What equipment do you shoot with?” But let’s be real, do you really care what camera they are using? These questions really don’t help you pick an ideal photographer. Whether a photographer uses Canon, Nikon or Sony models should have no bearing on your decision. The real question is do they know how to use them. The proof is in the pudding...or this case the imagery. We decided to ask some brides and photography-friends for better questions and put together a list of all those questions you really want to ask, and all those things we really want you to know.

12 questions to ask a photographer

Before you can ask the questions, you have to do some homework. How do you pick a good photographer when there are hundreds to be found online? First, look for images and find out who shot them. A forum or blog that appeal to you will be ideal for finding other brides who have had good experiences. Ask family and friends who recently got married about their photographers and how well they like their service. Obviously photographers local to you will be easier to meet with and probably cheaper than hiring some big gun from out of town.

Once you've got a few photographers that peak your interest, start narrowing it down to a handful of favorites and set up a time to meet them. Make sure you're meeting with the person who will be wielding the camera at your wedding, not a sales consultant or studio owner. With Christopher Paul Photography, you meet both Christopher and Marcy. Christopher and his associate photographer are the ones who will be photographing your wedding, while Marcy runs the studio and is the point of contact throughout the planning process. We feel it is important that you meet with both of us to build the rapport with you and your fiance. 

1. What make you different than all the others? -Single hardest question you could ask any photographer that doesn't have a real vision or mission. You could receive a variety of answers to that question. If you get a cookie cutter answer like, ("I just love photography.") Really? Who doesn't? You'll undoubtedly get cookie cutter photos. If you get a overly cocky answer like, "Well, I am the best!", you'll get someone who is hard to work with and doesn't care about your vision.

At Christopher Paul Photography, our answer is simple. Our goal is to create art for your wedding day! We do this through building a relationship with our clients. You should like & trust your photographer. Not only should you like their images but, you should also like them as a person you can have fun with on the biggest day of your life! That way, you can leave the magic of artistic photo making in the photographer's hands. You will be spending many hours with your photographer during your wedding day, having a fun time is a must. Christopher is talented, artistic and sometimes funny (don't tell him I said so). You'll have a blast being entertained by Christopher all day.

2. How many photos do I get? -Typically your photographer will deliver 50-100 photos for every hour of coverage they provide. Four hundred photos may seem like a lot, but your photographer is preserving all those little details and the moments you missed while you were mingling. Those details are important. Christopher & his assistant go out of their way to capture each special moment and detail.

On average, our clients receive 1200-1500 images from an 8 hour wedding. Of course, we shoot with every wedding with multiple photographers.

3. I love those photos with the blurry backgrounds. Do you do photos like that? How do you get that look?  -You're talking about shallow depth of field. Photographers get that look by using professional lenses that are able to focus tightly on the subject.

Photographers with an eye for art will often use this technique when appropriate. You wouldn't want your entire day photographed in this manner. Sometimes it just puts the icing on the cake with truly special moments. Christopher will always include some of these with your wedding photography.

4. I found one photographer whose images look soft and pastel, one whose images look clean, and one whose images look like they were shot on old film. What's the deal? What style do you most often use? 

-This is all done after the fact in what we call, post production. Every photographer has a different way of editing their images using computer software (the high-tech version of a darkroom...ie Photoshop & Lightroom). Most photographers do some basic lighting and color adjustments, but you can also use editing software to create a unique look. Three popular styles right now are:

Clean: lightly processed to appear natural Matte: a low-contrast look with muted pastel colors, similar to vintage film High Contrast: a vibrant look with rich colors that pop You may see all three styles within our studio.  We also create at least one signature edit with every wedding and/or engagement session. A signature edit is another thing that separates us from the others. One of these can take several hours to complete. This was Christophers vision when setting up the shot that day. Here's an example below.

Chicago-Wedding_Photographer-Christopher-Paul-Chris&Kasha-1

5. My friend just bought a camera.. I can hire them to photograph my wedding to save money right?

-Wedding photography is easy money.. right? We work for one day and rake in the cash, right? We have heard the friend's camera thing time & time again. Honestly, if my friend has a kitchen, should she be your caterer or cake baker?

Most full-time wedding photographers I know, including us, have a working studio, carry over $20,000 worth of photography gear and often work 60-70 hour weeks. (Remember those 800 or the 1500 images from question #2? It takes several full days just to edit those.)

Photography is the only part of your day that lasts forever. Do you want to really trust that to an amateur just to save money? How long do the flowers last? How many times will you wear that dress or look at you invites? There is money you can budget for a professional photographer if you want the day to be remembered forever. You just have to decide what is really important to you over the long haul.

Here's an example of the above photo without any editing...this was straight out of camera. Anyone could have shot this, that is true. That is not art, that is just a photo. With special editing, this did become a piece of art. So, if you want to hire a friend, prepare to edit your own photos. Editing aside, do you think your friend who owns the camera would have the vision or even tried to direct you into getting this shot?

straight out of camera

follow this link to part 2: http://christopherpaulphotography.com/what-questions-should-you-ask-a-wedding-photographer-part-2/