It’s important to know your wedding day vendors, and even more important for them to be transparent with you while you’re getting to know them. I will say though – there are helpful questions you can ask, and then there are questions that have nothing to do with the photographer’s skillset, experience, personality, etc. Knowing what to ask is really the hardest part, but that’s why they pay us the big bucks. Here are 10 actually useful questions to ask your wedding photographer & the reasons why you should ask them, plus 5 questions to avoid.
Are you available for my wedding date of xx/yy/zz?
The reason: it would definitely help if your photographer was available for your wedding date ?
What services do you offer?
The reason: This is more helpful than asking “what is your pricing?” I can only speak for us, but rates can change. They can change depending on the coverage you need, what products you’re interested in adding, what your budget is, etc. Another thing – if you’re new to the searching-for-a-wedding-photographer process, you may need some intel on what you’re able to choose from. Engagement shoots, prints, albums, USBs, RAW images, overtime – these are all things that may or may not be offered by your photographer. Getting a list of all of the products will help you narrow down what you 100% need and what you can do without – then from there, you can determine a budget and discuss rates.
Do you work with/recommend a 2nd shooter?
The reason: It is always encouraged to have a second set of eyes there on your wedding day, but this is also a good way to determine who will actually be there to photograph it. If it’s a larger studio, it’s best to get your shooter’s info early so you can talk & get to know each other. If it’s a smaller studio (like us!), it’s best to find out all of your shooters will be available for your wedding date (especially if they take on multiple weddings per weekend).
Can we see full wedding galleries or albums?
The reason: Photographers showcase their best work, just like everyone else running a creative business, but you need to feel confident that your photographer is capable of capturing your entire day, from pre-prep to pre-inevitable hangover. Seeing a full gallery lets you see how the photographer handles every part of the day.
Do you offer engagement sessions?
The reason: I’d be shocked if a photographer turned down an engagement session – they’re perfect for getting to know each other, getting comfortable in front of the camera, and being familiar with the general workflow of photography. Some packages will include engagement sessions, so depending on which one you’re interested in, they will be complimentary. However, every photographer should be okay with offering it a la carte.
Is there a deposit? What about installment payments?
The reason: Deposits due upon receipt of contracts are a pretty common practice – the average is $1000. Your photographer should be honest & upfront with you about what you’re paying and when. If your budget is tight, tell them! Communicate with your vendors about any pricing struggles you have – but we’ll cover more of that later.
Is there a shot list? How will you get everything we need?
The reason: Photographers work with sort of ~formula. We know there’s a time & place for each shot, and we’ll know when to click the shutter during important moments. However! If you have a particular set of images – first look portraits, bridal party portraits, family portraits, candids, etc – that are most important to you, tell your photographer. From there, we’ll take care of it, but don’t be afraid to give us your priorities.
We’re new at this – what do you recommend for coverage?
The reason: This opens the door for more communication with your photographer. From this, we can talk about budget, which elements of your day are most essential to be captured, if a 2nd photographer is a necessity, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – that’s why we’re here!
Do you offer video?
The reason: Speaking for ourselves, we happily provide both. If your photographer isn’t a one-stop-shop, that’s helpful to know ahead of time, since you may want to continue/widen your search.
When will we receive our wedding photos?
The reason: Every photographer’s schedule varies, but it’s good to have a rough estimate of when you’ll be able to view your images. Some photographers will provide sneak peaks, some will deliver your gallery in a week, some will take several months. Either way, it’s good info to know.
Let me preface this section by saying: there are some questions that will help you, and there are some questions that will waste your (& the photographer’s) time. These questions do the latter. You can ask them, sure, but they will probably not give you any insight. With that being said, here are some questions to avoid.
Have you shot at our venue before?
The reason: Sometimes, or most times, the answer will be no. This is not meant to be discouraging, but we can’t be everywhere. Every photographer will give their all regardless of if they’ve shot at your venue or not. Some will go the extra mile and go there early to scout locations, others won’t. It never hurts to go to the venue a few days pre-wedding to see what the light/architecture is like.
Do you shoot in black & white or color?
The reason: Unless your photographer shoots exclusively in film, it’s almost a guarantee that each image is color and is later edited, using your photographer’s ~artistic~ eye to determine which images get which treatment. Black and white is usually for more artistic and documentary-style images.
How would you describe your style?
The reason: If the photographer you’re inquiring about hasn’t made their style clear with their image selection on their website, Instagram, etc., then I could see why you’d need to ask this. On the other hand – you want a photographer who communicates clearly: who they are, what they do, & why they do it. If you’re feeling lost and the images look jumbled, keep searching for a photographer that makes that little voice inside your brain go “FINALLY.”
Can we request a specific list of shots to be taken?
The reason: This question is like the evil cousin of “Is there a shot list? How will you get everything we need?” The difference between these two questions is that one is purely out of curiosity, and the other implies there is a lack of trust between the client & the photographer. Your photographer should be one you know you can rely on, and no one likes to be told how to do their job. Have an open & honest convo about what’s most important to you, and your photographer will happily oblige and give it their signature flair (aka why you’re paying them). Don’t send them someone else’s portfolio and say “do that”. Big no no. We’ll cry.
How long have you been shooting weddings? How many have you done?
The reason: Sure, experience helps. Sure, “Over 1,000,000 images” looks good. But it’s not the tools you’re given or the years of experience you have that define your work – it’s what you bring to the table. It’s how you make people feel. It’s the passion you have. And most importantly, it’s the quality of your work – and 20 years in the business can’t guarantee that.
Feeling confident? Feeling in-the-know? Good. Amazing.
Feeling even more confused? We’re here to help, always. Reach out to us anytime.
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We're Sava, a small studio of photographers who bonded over our similar educational background, love of art, & general affinity for timeless wedding photos. Based in NYC, will travel, will pick up your coffee order on the way.