Choosing the right wedding photographer is important. After your wedding the only thing you’ll have other than memories will be the photos. With all the expenses of the day, this one is arguably the most important.
For my wedding, one of my tasks was to choose the photographer. I mostly decided based on photos I found online and really liked. There were several great photographers that had actually done weddings at our venue, so it was easy to see how ours might come out. After finding a few photographers that were available and within budget, I came up with the following list of questions:
1. Can I see a full wedding’s photos?
Photographers post only their best work online. A full set of wedding photos will not look exactly like the small set that were hand selected for a website or social sharing. Asking to see the whole wedding will show the total quality of the photos for an event. It may be that only two or three photos turned out well from the wedding. This is also a great time to see their technique in different scenarios. Will your wedding be at night? Ask to see a night wedding. Can this photographer handle low light situations? Mastering off camera flash isn’t easy for someone that normally shoots in natural light. Would you be happy if this set of wedding photos is what was delivered to you?
2. Are you insured?
You are going to want to make sure you are dealing with a professional, and that the professional is insured. Insurance covers a wide variety of scenarios that rarely occur, but do happen. Ask them about their contingency plans. What happens if they get sick, have car trouble, or get hit by a bus the day of the wedding? Pick someone that has an answer to these what-if scenarios.
3. How many weddings have you shot as the primary photographer?
Experience is important. A photographer may claim to have shot over 20 weddings, but this could have been done as a second shooter. This experience is good, but you want to make sure your photographer has a good sense of timing, knows the shots to take, has experienced some challenges, and can manage their own second shooter. The primary photographer is also generally in charge of the editing and handling the business/contract side. A person with greater experience will also likely be more expensive. If you’re looking to save money, choosing someone with less experience may be the way to go. I would make sure that they have done at least 15 weddings as the primary.
4. What are your deliverables?
You want to know what you are paying for. Are you going to receive physical prints or digital images or both? Can you make your own prints or do you need to buy them from the photographer? Will the package include an engagement session? These deliverables generally drive the price.
5. What is the turnaround time on a final product?
You want to know when you’re going to receive your wedding photos. A busy photographer can take a long time to go through and edit photos. Don’t be shocked if a busy photographer says it will take 30 days. You may prefer someone that can deliver them sooner, and will commit to two weeks instead of 4-6 for example. If you do not ask, the photographer may take their time, and deliver the photos months after the event.
6. Do you have backup equipment?
Backup equipment is required. Equipment fails all the time, you want to make sure your photographer and their secondary shooters are covered in these cases. Make sure they are going to bring multiple cameras, batteries, flashes, and memory cards. Are they prepared for bad weather if it occurs?