Logo Logo

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What to ask a wedding photographer

I have to give some kudos to a happy couple I had a wedding consult with recently on a few questions they asked me about my business. Curious? Here they are:

  1. Do you have backup equipment and extra batteries?
  2. What will you wear to the wedding?

They seem like simple questions, and they are details that I usually go over anyway, yet I have never actually had anyone ask me directly. There are a lot of questions you should ask a potential wedding photographer, and these are certainly among them. If you do some googling for questions to ask a wedding photographer, you will find all kinds of irrelevant questions about things like the photographer's dark room. Now if you want your wedding shot on film, that's awesome, but is the average person really going to know enough about film to understand what I mean if I said that I use Ilford XP-2 and that I prefer the look of underexposing then push processing? Not likely. Can you find a wedding photographer that still shoots film? Probably not, unless you ask ME to, but even then I'm not going to use it much. What I want you to get from that random rambling is that if you don't understand the question, you are not going to understand the answer. Take some time to read through the questions you find, and if you don't understand them, do a little research. By the way, I don't actually prefer to underexpose then push process my film. Just in case you are wondering. ;-)

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are some good questions to ask your wedding photographer.

  • What do you love about photography?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How many weddings have you shot?
  • Do you offer a second photographer?
    Tip: Having a second photographer can not only save you time while getting ready, but they will add a second eye and a second angle to your wedding, and catch moments that otherwise would not have been possible.
  • How do you describe your photography style?
    Tip: Most photographers fall into these categories: Traditional (posed), photojournalistic.
  • Do you have backup equipment and extra batteries?
  • Do you make backup copies of my photos?
  • How long will you keep my photos on file?
  • What will you wear to the wedding?
  • Is it okay if others take photos while you are taking photos?
    Tip: Informing your wedding party about this decision is important. While many wedding photographers will tell you to your face that it's OK for your guests to take photos also, the vast majority really don't like it. It can not only make our job more difficult, but we can even lose shots because we get crowded out by hundreds of iPhones.
  • Are you the photographer who will be shooting my wedding?
  • Do you have any other events scheduled on the same day as mine?
  • Do you come to the rehearsal?
  • Will you customize a package for me?
  • Do your packages include an engagement session?
    Tip: Having an engagement session is a great idea. It gives you a chance to get even more comfortable with the photographer, and it's the photographer's chance to educate you on their methods of controlling a shoot. It also gives you a chance to run screaming before your wedding should you feel the need to...
  • Can I give you a list of shots we want?
  • How long after the wedding will I see proofs?
  • How do I order prints?
  • Have you photographed my venue before? If not, will you check it out in advance?
  • How much is your deposit? When is the balance due? Do you offer a payment plan?
  • Are you insured?
  • Do you charge a travel fee?

These are all good questions, but as long as none of them have thrown up any red flags in your mind, it really comes down to these 3 major questions: 1) Do you like their portfolio, 2) Do they have the equipment to cover your wedding adequately, and 3) Are you comfortable around them and are they comfortable around you? If you are not comfortable with the photographer as a person, you won't be comfortable in from of their lens, and you will be able to see that in your photos.

So are you curios about my answers to their two questions?

  1. Do you have backup equipment and extra batteries? Yes! I bring 4 camera bodies and enough gear to make my car really dislike me. For batteries, I have enough power to shoot about 4 weddings straight without recharging, and about the same with memory cards. I was guilty of not being prepared for the very first wedding I ever photographed. It was way back before I even considered taking "people" pictures, and I did it as a gift for a friend. I had never done a full day of shooting so I really didn't realize how fast my battery was being depleted, and half way through the reception, my battery died. I have not stopped investing in my gear since.
  2. What will you wear to the wedding? I'm sorry, but I will not show up to your wedding wearing Armani. I will typically wear khaki cargo pants with a nice button-up shirt. I don't go all-out on my work uniform because at almost every wedding I find myself crawling through some kind of muddy ick to get the shot I'm looking for. The extra pockets in cargo pants allow me to carry extra memory cards and batteries, a white-balance card, and sometimes even an extra lens everywhere I go, so I can be well prepared.