Are you getting married in Pennsylvania and starting to narrow down your venue of choice and decide on a photographer for your special day? My name is Shea and I’m a professional wedding photographer in Phoenixville, PA. I’ve had the pleasure of working with over 200 couples on their wedding days and I’m here to guide you and help make sure you ask the most important questions when it comes to hiring the perfect wedding photographer for your event.
Should I Hire a Wedding Photographer
Hiring a professional wedding photographer to cover your special day is a must, as you want someone with experience who will not be muddled under challenging weather or differing lighting conditions, as well as someone who has mastered both the art of formal portraits and candid shots, so you don’t miss anything throughout the day.
Professional photographers know to look for the smallest details which will help tell the story of your wedding in a unique and creative way true to its essence. They use their artistic vision to capture those special fleeting moments you don’t have time to think about and will provide editing and retouching to enhance a final product that is stunning and unforgettable.
One of the most important reasons to hire a professional photographer is that it takes the stress off you on your wedding day. Professional photographers are on time, well spoken, well dressed, respectful of your family and guests and work tirelessly throughout the day to make sure every moment is captured creatively.
Now that you understand the importance of hiring a professional photographer, let’s consider some of the most important questions you should ask a photographer to help you determine if they are the right person for you. Once you’ve signed a contract with a photographer, you’ll be working with them over the months or years leading up to your wedding, and even for some time afterward.
In this blog post I will list the questions every bride & groom should ask their shortlisted photographers to ensure there will be no surprises before, on the day of, or the days following the wedding. Let’s get started with the basics and then move into the more detailed questions to help you understand what the entire process of wedding photography will consist of.
Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer - PDF Included
- Are you available on my wedding date?
- Do you offer engagement photography or videography?
- Are you willing to travel for a destination wedding?
- Do you offer hourly coverage or wedding packages only?
- Can you provide a digital gallery of one of your previous weddings?
- May we see a full wedding album from one of your previous weddings?
- How will you handle group and candid shots?
- Are you comfortable working with a shot list?
- How would you best describe your artist vision for wedding photography?
- May we request specific shots and poses?
- How do you typically work with wedding planners?
- What type of cameras and lenses do you use?
- Do you have backup cameras and lenses in case of technical difficulties?
- Have you ever had to shoot in the rain or snow, and if so what was that experience like?
- What is your policy on editing and retouching images?
- How long will it take from the wedding date to receive the processed images?
- Do you have business and liability insurance?
- Do you normally use an assistant or second photographer for weddings?
- Do you have experience shooting at our (this) wedding venue?
- Do you provide both black & white and color processed images?
- Have you ever worked with family members with disabilities and special needs?
- Are you comfortable working with a different team of videographers?
- Are you willing to travel to multiple locations on the wedding day to shoot portraits?
- Are you comfortable working with different religious and/or cultural traditions?
- Are you willing to provide the RAW images if requested?
- Are you able to provide 2-3 references from previous clients?
- Will it be you shooting our wedding or another photographer from your team?
- Would you be able to put together a contract for us to review?
- If we choose you as our photographers, what is required to secure the date?
- Do you accept check or credit card as a deposit?
- In what format and resolution are the final images delivered (jpeg, psd, tiff, etc.)?
- How many final images should we expect to receive?
- Are we able to hire you for additional hours on the day of the wedding?
- How do you handle the copyright of images and ownership of our wedding images? And do we have all rights to use our images however we’d like?
- Will you provide us with a detailed timeline of the wedding day prior to the event?
- What happens if you are sick and unable to make it on our wedding day?
- What is your policy if for any reason we have to call off the wedding or move the date?
Every photographer will have different answers to all the above questions, which is why it’s so important to ask up front and understand exactly what you’ll be committing to. Of course, the questions will need to be tailored to meet your specific needs, and maybe they’re not all applicable depending on your specific circumstances.
However, the more details you can get from your wedding photographer upfront the better prepared you are to choose a photographer whose work you love and who has a personality and style you’ll feel great working with on the most important day of your life.
Wedding Photography Tips for Couples
By asking the right questions up front, you can be sure that you’re hiring a wedding photographer who understands your vision and who will live up to all your expectations. However, it requires more than just asking the right questions. Below I’m going to list out the top 6 tips when it comes to hiring the right wedding photographer for your day.
- Look at the photographer’s portfolio in detail. You’ll want to see the photographer’s work to make sure their style aligns to your expectations. For example, if you love documentary wedding photography with an emphasis on unposed and candid photos, you’ll want the majority of the photographer’s photos to match that.
- Meet with the photographer in person when possible. The best thing you can do is schedule a meeting with the photographer so you can sit down and talk, getting a sense of their personality and how clearly they communicate with you. It’s important you feel the photographer will be able to handle the pressure of the wedding day and manage any crowd when shooting formal portraits on the day.
- An experienced wedding photographer will be happy to give you references. It’s great to contact previous couples they’ve worked with to see if they were satisfied with their experience.
- Clarify everything included in the photographers’ services or packages. Sometimes photographers offer more cost friendly packages without assistants or second photographers, while more expensive packages may have additional add-ons that you do or don’t need. You’ll want to make sure that the package you’re purchasing lines up with your allocated budget.
- When it comes time to sign the dotted line, thoroughly read through the contract and don’t hesitate to ask the photographer for clarification if there is anything you don’t understand. Specifically, you’ll want to understand all of the terms and conditions, including retainers, future payment schedules and cancellation policies.
- Always ask about the backup plan in the event of an emergency should camera or lenses fail, or any other unexpected issues come up.
Best Time to Book a Wedding Photographer
While booking a wedding photographer well in advance is going to be high on the priority list, the most important thing after getting engaged is securing the wedding venue.
Once the venue is booked it’s a good idea to book the wedding photographer next, as popular photographers can book up quickly, especially for weekends during the peak wedding season. In fact, it’s common to find that once couples settle on the perfect photographer, they may book them a year or more in advance to secure the date.
If you’re having a smaller wedding with more flexibility and aren’t too picky about which photographer you hire, you may be able to find a good photographer closer to your wedding date. It’s always a good idea to check the availability of several photographers when you begin the process of searching so you get an idea of how quickly photographers book dates.
Keep in mind that all photographers will require a deposit or retainer to secure the date, so you’ll want to be prepared to pay that portion of the wedding photography upfront.
If you’re looking to have an engagement session, double check that your photographer can include that as part of your package and make sure you ask the photographer typically how long it takes to edit and deliver the engagement photos after the shoot, so you can build that into your timeline when creating save the dates and wedding invitations.