Picking out a wedding photographer can be overwhelming. Whether you’re scanning through Instagram, scrolling through The Knot, or Googling for wedding recommendations, it’s no secret that there are tons of photographers for you to select from. Once you narrow it down to a handful of photographers, how do you pick from there?
Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer
Whether you book with me or another photographer, it’s important to trust them, be compatible with one another, and feel confident with the experience they are giving you. Here are 16 great questions to ask your wedding photographer before booking.
Is our wedding date available?
If you have your wedding date set (and you have no intention of moving it), this should be one of the first questions addressed. With all of the vendors you’ll be connecting with during the engagement phase of your relationship, you don’t want to waste your time (or the photographer’s time) with entertaining a vendor option that might not be possible.
When couples inquire with me, I have this question directly on my contact form. This way, I can immediately them know whether or not I’m available without taking up their valuable time.
Will you be the photographer shooting my wedding?
This is an important question to ask! The last thing you want to do is book a photographer thinking they are going to be the one to show up on your wedding day, only to find out one of their associates is actually your day-of photographer.
If the photography business you decide to go with only has one main shooter (like mine, for example), you don’t really have to worry about this. When a business has a team of shooters, this is when you want to confirm you’re actually getting the photographer you envisioned.
Any good photography studio with a team of associates will make sure to clarify the photographer you’re getting to ensure your expectations are managed and you’re happy!
Will you create a contract for this?
If a photographer does not have a contract in place, this is a major red flag! Seriously, it’s for your benefit (and the photographer’s) to have a well-written contract that solidifies the terms of the photography agreement.
Even if you know the photographer well, it’s crucial you both sign a contract. If the photographer is just starting out and hasn’t figured out their contract situation yet, walk away.
Do you have insurance?
Just like the contract question, this is another important one. If you’re talking to a photographer and they don’t have insurance, it could be a red flag. They may just be starting out, or they might be shooting as a hobby. Professional photographers should not only have equipment insurance, but they should also have liability insurance as well.
What does the payment process look like?
Find out early on how the payment process works. Most photographers (myself included) can help to create manageable payment plans leading up to the wedding day.
If you’re a photographer reading this, I use Honeybook to collect payments, because it makes it SIMPLE for brides and grooms to pay. I highly recommend this CRM!
Will you have a second shooter or assistant with you?
This is another one of the important questions to ask your wedding photographer! There are a few factors to consider when determining if you should have a second shooter at your wedding:
- Are you having over 50 guests attend?
- Do you want photos of both the bride and groom getting ready?
- Are you planning on hiring a photographer for 8 hours of coverage or more?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, it’s a good idea to select a photographer who will have a second shooter there too. Personally, I prefer to have a second shooter with me at every wedding, because they can really help in telling the whole story of the day.
Not only can they get different angles than me, but they can focus more on guest reactions (while I hone in on the couple).
How would you explain your photography style?
I believe that you should strongly connect to two things: First, your photographer and their personality, and second, the overall style of their images.
To quickly touch upon my first point, you should have a great connection with your photographer. After talking and meeting with them, ask yourself, “Could I see myself grabbing a beer with them on a Friday night and just hanging out?” Having a real connection makes SUCH a difference. I still get together with several of my past couples for games nights and brunch because we get along so well!
After you feel like your photographer could be your new BFF, make sure that you mesh with their overall style. From the dark and moody style to the light and airy, check that their overall aesthetic matches with your vision.
Do you offer wedding albums?
Even if you don’t initially think you want an album, this is a great question to ask! Often times, after the wedding is done and you see the photos, you realize that you do actually want a wedding album. By going with a photographer that does offer albums, it’s simple to get it ordered!
Sidenote: if you’re on the fence about albums, I encourage you to get one! Having a physical product that you can display in your home is a great way to easily reminisce about your special day.
What’s included in your packages?
Whether you’re selecting a pre-created package, a custom package, or a la carte items, make sure you know what you’re actually getting.
Along with this, it’s important to ensure you’re selecting a package that actually works for your wedding. If having a quality wedding album is important, make sure you select a photographer that can fulfill that.
How many hours are included?
Are you clear on how many hours of coverage your wedding photographer will be there for? You don’t want to go into the wedding day thinking that your photographer will be there ALL day, only to find out that you only booked them for 6 hours of coverage. Talk with your photographer beforehand to understand how many hours you’re spending with them.
How much do extra hours cost?
Piggybacking on the previous question, understand the photographer’s policy on additional hours and the pricing for it. The last thing you want is to tell your photographer during the reception (when you’re a few drinks in) that you want to add on an additional hour, only to find out AFTER the wedding how much that hour actually cost you.
Talk with your photographer ahead of time so you know how much additional hours cost.
Are there travel fees we should know about?
It’s not uncommon to pay a travel fee for your photographer if you’re:
- Having a destination wedding
- Booking a photographer from a different city/ state
Clarity is key here. Don’t be afraid to ask this question, even if it seems obvious one way or the other. It’s important to know how much you’re spending! Depending on where your photographer is located in relation to the wedding site, you may be expected to pay for airfare, transportation, and/or housing accommodations.
And, if you’re having a destination wedding at a venue in San Diego, let me know! I know some pretty great locations to shoot, and there’s no travel fee required. :)
How will the images be sent to us?
Images can be delivered in a variety of ways, such as online galleries, USB drives, or physical prints. Most of the time, your images will be delivered in a beautiful online gallery. From there, you can order prints and share images with your friends and family on social media.
When will we receive our images?
Typically, an average turnaround time for images is 4-6 weeks. Make sure that how long to get wedding photos back is defined in your contract so you have clarity on this. Photographers know that clients are excited to see their photos after the wedding day, though please be courteous about asking if your images are done 3 days after the wedding.
Most photographers have multiple weddings each month (especially during the summer and fall months), which is why it can take 1-2 months for your images to be ready.
What do you typically wear while shooting?
While I might show up in flip flops and a t-shirt for your engagement shoot (especially if we’re at the beach!), I make sure to class it up for your wedding!
Before a wedding, I always connect with the couple to learn what the dress code is. Personally, I like to dress to blend into the guests (or be slightly nicer). This way, I don’t draw attention to myself, and I also don’t look like part of the catering staff. Also, if you’re planning to have a black tie or a certain themed wedding, I like to know ahead of time so I can dress accordingly.
Sidenote: While this is totally a valid question to ask, this should not necessarily be a determining factor in choosing your photographer. If you’re selecting a professional photographer, they will likely show up in appropriate attire.
Do you do engagement sessions?
First of all, I highly recommend that every couple does an engagement session! I could write an entire post about the importance of this shoot. Here’s a quick list:
- Get to know your photographer before the wedding day
- Incorporate props that are significant to your relationship
- Become comfortable in front of the camera
- Gives you an opportunity to dress up and take photos with your man
- Take photos in a different location than the wedding site
Now that we got that out of the way, be sure to ask your photographer if an engagement session is included in the collection you’re looking at. For my couples, I include a complementary engagement shoot in every collection. Why? See my list above. :)
Questions to Avoid Asking Your Photographer
Okay, so we’ve gone over a bunch of good questions to ask your wedding photographer. What about questions that you should not ask your photographer?
Have you ever shot at my venue?
While I hear this question ALL the time, I don’t think it should be something you base your decision on when booking your photographer.
While it might seem like a benefit to work with a photographer that has shot at your venue, hear me out for a second. If you’re getting married at the Martin Johnson House in San Diego (an outdoor venue), and your photographer has only shot there once, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re comfortable shooting there. If they typically only shoot indoor receptions, knowing how to light an outdoor space at night can be tricky.
So, asking “have you shot at this venue” may not be as useful as you think it is.
Ask this instead: My venue is an outdoor venue. Are you comfortable shooting outdoor receptions?
- By rephrasing and asking the question this way, you’ll get a much better idea as to what the photographer is comfortable shooting!
I have a Pinterest Board – Can you be sure to take photos just like those?
While Pinterest can be great for inspiration, don’t turn it into a giant photo checklist of images you “have to” have. When you show up to your shoot with a list of images that you feel like you need, it limits a photographer’s creativity. Hire a photographer because you like their work – not because you want them to replicate someone else’s!
Ask this instead: There’s one photo that would be really meaningful to me – can we work to capture it?
- By asking this, you’re letting the photographer know there’s an image you really want to take, which is totally fine! We’re there to capture the special moments for you – we just don’t want to be confined to what you saw on Pinterest for the entire shoot.
Can you edit in a certain style just for my wedding?
Please don’t ask this! If you’re hiring a photographer, make sure you like their work and how they edit.
If you love light and airy images, choose a photographer who focuses on this. If dark and moody is your vibe, pick someone who edits this way. Photographers work hard to define their editing style, so don’t ask them to change it just for your wedding.
Can I have my cousin (who has a nice camera) be your second shooter instead of paying for one?
No – just no. Personally speaking, I’ve worked hard to build up a very reputable group of talented second shooters (most of which have their own successful wedding businesses).
This ensures that you receive 2 professional photographers on the day of your wedding who can work well together and successfully capture the important moments.
Asking if your cousin or uncle can shoot alongside me instead will result in an immediate no. My goal is to make sure the images captured beautifully showcase your wedding, and I can’t guarantee that with a second shooter I’ve never met before.
All questions aside, make sure you mesh with the photographer you choose. You’ll be spending pretty much the entire wedding day together, so it’s important that your personalities align!