As an experienced wedding photographer I have a fair bit of knowledge on the sort of questions that arise from a couples extensive search for their most perfect wedding photographer. Wether you choose to use these questions on me or another photographer is completely up to you – I’m just happy to share a bit of info. to help everyone get through this lengthy process.
It doesn’t have to be a chore but a lot of this is essential knowledge if you want to make sure you’ve covered all the important bits to keep yourself and your investment safe…
Of course this should be the first question and the most obvious. Personally I get booked up to 1-2 years in advance but for some photographers that maybe longer. You’ll need to have secured your date and dream venue first. If however your right at the beginning of your planning journey then ask for help, especially from your favourite photographer. We know all the best venue’s inside and out and can give an un-biased opinion on wedding flow and staff etc.
It definitely puts your mind at rest if your photographer knows the location well but this is not set in stone. Any experienced photographer could literally turn up on the day to a new venue and still find all the good bits. But saying that, most venue’s have a recommended supplier list thats worth looking in to first.
With wedding photographers you really do get what you paid for and if your photographer is extremely cheep then you may find them not very experienced. Paying for experience means that you’ll have someone who is always in the moment. Someone who knows where to be at the right time and able to capture those unique situations that you really can’t re-create. I personally think having at least a couple of years experience is a safer choice but I do also agree that supporting a new business is important too. If you have a friend who is starting out consider also booking an experienced photographer and having them assist them, rather than having all the pressure on themselves.
An important question to ask up front. I personally shoot around 30+ Weddings every year and from what I understand from my fellow TOGS this is a standard amount. I know a few that shoot ALOT more and of course thats great, but I would worry about how rushed your edit would be if I crammed in more and more weddings. I’m so aware that you will be doing this only once so I would never want you to just fit in on my overcrowded conveyer belt of tasks. You have to remember that for each wedding shot there is at least a further 3 to 5 days of admin and editing. Sometimes more, sometimes less. If a photographer shoots ALOT less than this, say 5-10, I would ask them wether this was their main job or wether they were part time? This doesn’t mean not to use them but you may not get your edits done within a decent amount of time if they are busy every weekday with another job.
Again a good ‘early in the conversation’ type of question. You’ll need to know before you fall any more in love with your photographer wether you can afford them. Decide whats important to you and if having an album maybe with ‘parent’ albums too is on top of your list then get it all sorted and agreed up front. You will most probably save money this way and trust me, nobody has the budget to pay for wedding albums after their wedding day! You maybe able to negotiate adding things like ‘pre-wedding’ shoots, additional photographers, thank-you cards or extra album pages.
I personally have a starting price for my basic package and then couples can add to this once we have our proposal meeting. That way I can create a bespoke package that suits the individual rather than my couples having to choose something that that don’t want or need.
If your asking these questions at a one-to-one meeting then it’ll be easy for the photographer to show you visually when flicking through their sample albums. You’ll have an idea of course of whats most important to you but remember most wedding photographers are VERY adaptable and have to wear a lot of hats all day. For instance a very arty, creative type will also be able to do your groups shots if thats what you’ve asked for. Here’s a basic list of what to look for:
DOCUMENTARY & EDITORIAL – capturing the moment. Creating more of a narrative, a story-book of your day. Real candid occasions that help you re-live your wedding day and will bring a smile to your face, maybe a tear to your eye years after.
FINE ART & LUXURY – Creating stunning stand alone portraits, works of art that you’ll be proud to show off. A more creative, fashion-led style influenced maybe by an editorial background.
ALTERNATIVE – Very creative, quirky or edgy. Often hand in hand with an avant-garde editing style & filter usage.
TRADITIONAL – focusing on formal group shots and traditional more static poses. A more old fashioned approach that dates back to when photographers used to have to count the rolls of film so couldn’t risk being too creative.
No not for the general run of the day, this will we plan together at final scheduling meeting. I will however ask you to compile a short list of the formal GROUP shots that will keep your families happy. The formal groups are the ones straight after your ceremony as if you’ve just come out of a church (and maybe you have). Again I will direct you on how many is good and show you an example list nearer the time. Then I would also advise you to make a 2nd more casual GROUP shot list for later in the day. This will include things like ‘all the stags’ and ‘all the hens’. Possibly best friends from Uni and work too.
There is always the possibility that your photographer may be too ill or injured to attend your wedding day. Ask them what their back up plan is. All photographers will have one and make sure you feel comfortable with their answers. It should be in their contract that they will find you a suitable substitute should the worst happen. It should be up to them to find someone to cover your day and not down to you when your left with nobody at the last minute. All photographers, like me, will be members of various networking groups where we all have each others backs and are in constant communication. This stems back to 2020 when we all had to have back up plans in case the worst happened at the last minute.
I would also add though should the VERY worst happen, like your photographer isn’t conscious or in a position to contact you – then speak to your venue ASAP. They should be able to find a replacement from their recommended supplier list at late notice.
Every professional will have professional indemnity insurance AND public liability insurance. They should be willing to show you copies of this if you ask.
You’ll want to be assured that your photographer has back up plans and idea’s for every eventuality. You’ll want to know they are confident, capable and experienced enough to have dealt with rain, hail and snow and thrived from the new opportunities it brings.