Real Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer
This questionnaire was created as part of my Step-By-Step Guide to Hiring a Wedding Photographer. I recommend starting there, since these questions are meant to be asked during the interview/meeting phase once you’ve narrowed down your list to your top three.
Questions About The Business
Will you have a second photographer or assistant?
Some photographers feel second photographers impede on their process. Others won’t photograph a wedding without one. Others will always have an assistant and not a second. So, just ask in order to know more about how the photographer works and how it benefits you.
Will you be our photographer?
Some photographers have associates that work for their company, but this is usually on their website. However, it’s always good to double check.
Will you be working multiple events on our wedding weekend?
Some companies photograph two or three weddings per weekend while others limit it to just one wedding. Photographers who have associates can do this easily. However, if they do take on multiple events as the sole photographer, ask to see an example of the weddings they photographed back to back to get an idea of their work when they’re working a lot of hours over two days.
Questions About Editing
Will our gallery be fully edited, or only a certain number of photos?
Most photographers will edit your full gallery to make it look cohesive, but not everyone does this. This is basic editing which includes white balance, color correction, cropping, sharpening, etc.
Is retouching included? If not, what is the cost?
Retouching is skin smoothing, blemish removal, etc. It’s more involved than basic editing. Some photographers include a complimentary number of photos to be retouched and some photographers charge per image from the get go.
Questions About Skills
Are you comfortable in low light?
Sometimes flash isn’t allowed inside churches that have low light, so it’s important that our cameras can handle this and have fast lenses to compensate. You don’t have to know exactly the style of lens and camera, simply ask if they have a few examples to show you of low light ceremonies.
Do you use off-camera lighting?
Natural light can be beautiful, but photographers shouldn’t depend on it. Especially during receptions when things are moving quickly. Also, it’s just better to have a photographer that knows how to light in case anything crazy happens, like a blackout.
Will you direct us on what to do?
Okay, so there’s not really a wrong answer here. It depends on what you want. Some couples want a photographer who stays back and captures the day as it unfolds. No styling, directing, nothing. Other couples want someone to tell them what do in order to look their best in photos. It depends on what is most important to you.
Questions About Emergencies
What happens if you are unable to photograph the wedding?
Photographers get sick and get into accidents. It’s life and they need a back-up plan in case it happens.
Do you have insurance?
Many venues require vendors to have, at least, a one million dollar policy in case anything happens. It’s just good to have even if venues don’t require it, too.
Do you have backup equipment?
Again, things happen. A camera can lock up as the bride is walking down the aisle. A lens may not be working properly, etc. How we protect against failed equipment is having back-up cameras and lenses.
Questions About Delivery
How do you deliver the photos?
Most photographers use online galleries to deliver your photos so no waiting on snail mail. However, USB drives are still a really popular way to deliver galleries. If they deliver via online gallery, ask if they have a time limit on how long your wedding will be available to download.
How long is the typical turnaround?
This varies widely between photographers. Some will say two weeks while others will say three months. It also may depend on your wedding date. If you have a September wedding, it may take longer because you’re in the middle of busy wedding season.
How do you ensure the safety of our photos?
This may sound like an odd question to ask, but sd cards fail, hard drives fail, computers crash, equipment gets stolen. Something can happen. Most wedding photographers use cameras with two card slots that read to both cards at the same time, so if one fails, we automatically have a backup. Another thing we do is backup the photos as soon as we get home, so now they are on a hard drive and two cards.
Questions About Money
How Much Do your charge for xyz?
You may not know how much coverage you need before meeting. That’s okay, every photographer should be able to give you an idea of coverage based on what is important to you. However, if you need a guideline on what to ask for here are some things to get prices for so you can compare them later.
- What are your starting prices, and what does that include?
- What do charge for 8 hours with and without a second photographer?
- What do you charge for my dream package? (This is everything you’d want to be covered. For example, it might include an engagement session, 9 hours of coverage, and a wedding album.)
How Much is the retainer/deposit?
It’s the industry norm to require a retainer to book your wedding date, which is usually due upon signing the contract. It’s also something that can vary widely. Some photographers have a set amount for every wedding while some have a percentage anywhere from 20-50%. So, just for clarity, ask this so you know what to expect.
When is the remaining balance due?
It’s also the industry norm is to require your balance paid in full about 30 prior to the wedding. This is the case with most vendors, so nothing surprising. However, some photographers require it to be two weeks prior or the day-of. Ask this question so you can add it to your wedding to-do list once you book.
If we need you to stay later, how much would it cost?
Sometimes weddings run over or there was a cool photo opportunity but it needs to be dark for it to happen. Either way, sometimes couples want their photographer to stay after the original time, and some photographers charge by the hour or have a flat rate of overtime.
How do you handle cancelations or postponements?
Life happens. As I’m writing this we are in the middle of a pandemic. So, yes, unexpected things may happen that will cause your wedding to be canceled or postponed. Here are some questions that are related to this one.
- What is refundable and what isn’t?
- Is there a rescheduling fee?
- Will the retainer carry over to the new date?