You are pouring your heart and soul into planning your wedding, and you’ll want every meaningful moment captured in photos. But with 100’s of wedding photographers to choose from, how do you know which one is going to be the perfect photographer for you??

First, research, research, research…. Do your homework by researching online, checking out websites, galleries, reviews, social media, etc. to find a photographer whose work and style speaks to you and makes you fall in love with their portfolio and style.

Next, make sure you click with them on a personal level! You want a photographer that you could see yourself being friends with. The more at ease you are with them, the more natural and authentic your wedding photos will be. 

NOW it’s time to learn what questions you need to ask your potential wedding photographer before you make your final decision.

HAPPY WEDDING PLANNING–MELANIE

1. Will the photos be edited and color balanced? and will that be done before I see my images?

Why you want to know: Some photographers will polish all your photos, while others will show you untouched proofs and work their magic only on the images you order. There is no incorrect answer…it’s all up to what you prefer.

2. How many weddings have you shot, and how many do you do shoot in a year? Also, what’s your favorite part of a wedding day, and time of year to shoot?

Why you want to know: You only have one chance to get amazing wedding photos, so you’ll want to hire someone who knows exactly how to get those shots under pressure (like: someone who shoots weddings for a living, not your old college roommate who takes pictures as a hobby). Be sure to check their websites or Instagram pages to see samples of their work too.

3. Do you shoot both digital and film?

Why you want to know: While digital is most common today, film has had a resurgence. If you want the latter, be sure your photographer has the relevant experience and skills required to execute this old-school format. If you’re obsessed with the dreamy quality of film, go with a pro in this medium. In addition to asking how many weddings they’ve shot in total (see above), let them know how many you want taken with film.

4. What exactly is included in your packages?

Why you want to know: When comparing fees, check whether prints, albums and proofs, as well as extra coverage such as engagement shoots, are covered. They can all alter the costs significantly. It’s not necessarily a bad thing if, say, your album isn’t included—you can always make this on your own or buy it à la carte—but you want to be sure you’re comparing apples to apples to get the best value. If you’re having your shooter use film, also ask about film costs and processing fees.

5. How many hours of coverage do we get? What is the charge for extra coverage?

Why you want to know: If extra coverage is going to cost you a ton, you’ll be able to plan their hours accordingly. For instance, if you have six hours of coverage but your photographer charges a huge hourly rate for more per hour, you might have them leave after you cut the cake instead of after the last dance. Or, you may opt for a longer package to pay a little more up front (and avoid the larger hourly overtime rate later).

6. How much is the retainer and total fee?

Why you want to know: In addition to this bottom line number, you’ll also want to ask when it’s due.

7. Will you be my actual photographer, or will it be one of your associates?

Why you want to know: Don’t assume Bruce of Bruce Photography will be taking your photos. That doesn’t mean Bruce’s partner Frank is subpar, but you’ll want to meet with him (and see his photos) in order to make an informed decision.

8. Do you have backup photographers who will shoot the wedding if you’re sick?

Why you want to know: If you’re going with a company that employs a team of photographers, you’ll have a built-in backup. But if you’re going with a solo shooter, ask if they have colleagues on call in case of an emergency.

9. Will there be a second shooter or any assistants? Is there an additional fee for each?

Why you want to know: Second shooters can cover more ground and can give you two perspectives on major moments (for instance, one can shoot the groom’s face when he first sees his bride and the other can photograph the bride as she walks down the aisle). But this may cost you extra.

10. How long after the wedding do we get to see the photos?

Why you want to know: You’ll want to see photos ASAP, and the wait can be pretty agonizing (it can take months!). But if you know in advance, you can manage your (and your mom’s) expectations.

11. How will you coordinate with my videographer? How do you envision working together?

Why you want to know: This pair will need to coordinate and stay out of each other’s way— easier to do if they have a good rapport. If you haven’t hired a videographer yet, ask them for a suggestion.

12. How many weddings do you do a weekend?

Why you want to know: If your photographer is shooting an afternoon wedding before yours, you’ll need to work out a plan if the first event runs over.

13. Have you ever shot at my venue(s) before?

Why you want to know: Your shooter should be aware of any lighting needs or issues specific to the space. If they haven’t ever worked in your venue, they should be willing to check it out beforehand.

14. Will you follow a shot list? Or do you prefer to have free reign to capture the festivities how you see fit?

Why you want to know: Most photographers will welcome a (short) shot list to make sure you get the specific pics you want. But don’t overwhelm them with hundreds of requests—if you hire a good pro, you’re hiring them for their eye as well as their experience creating amazing albums, so let them do their job.

15. If you provide print albums, what type of paper will you use?

Why you want to know: The answer should be acid-free, archival-quality paper, which will stand the test of time.

16. What are the restrictions for sharing photos online or for publication? Do you own the copyright to the photos?

Why you want to know: If you’re a Facebook and Instagram addict, not being allowed to share some of your wedding photos online may be torture—better to know about this ahead of time.

17. Do you bring your own lighting?

Why you want to know: Not only will you want to determine if you’ll need to supply additional lighting (either hiring a lighting designer or having the venue supply it), but you’ll want to be sure the equipment they bring won’t be too bulky or obtrusive.

18. Do you Have Insurance

Why you want to know: accidents happen; like one of your guest trips over the photographers light stand and breaks an arm..who pays for that? Your photographer needs have insurance so they are covered.

19. What will you wear?

Why you want to know: Discussing their wedding day wardrobe will allow your photographer to plan to match the style of your wedding. Most will be happy to blend into the scenery (for instance, wearing black for an evening loft event or lighter hues for a daytime garden party).

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