There’s few other events in life that are as anticipated as a good wedding. So, when it comes to your very own big day, nothing should be left to chance, especially your wedding photos.
Once you’ve settled on a wedding venue, booking a top wedding photographer is the next priority and one of the most important wedding suppliers you will hire. As such, it’s important to find someone with the right blend of personality, professionalism and experience to capture the magical moments of your big day. This is why it’s ideal to have a list of questions to ask a wedding photographer prior to hiring them.
As a professional photographer with more than 12 years’ experience, I know what it takes to document the most special day of your lives, having photographed hundreds of weddings in the UK and abroad and it’s not just a couple of professional cameras or technology that creates a wedding story, it’s the photographer.
Questions to ask a wedding photographer…
But knowing what to ask a wedding photographer can be difficult, in most situations you’ve never had to hire one before so I’ve put together this top 10 list of questions to consider in advance of booking them:
1. How long have you been working as a wedding photographer?
It’s always good to establish someone’s credentials early on. The difference between a good photographer and a good wedding photographer is huge. A talented wedding photographer will understand the proceedings and pressures of the day, knowing when and where to anticipate precious moments and never miss a shot. I would always recommend using a seasoned professional photographer, despite the allure of a cheaper less experienced amateur. There’s plenty of good photographers that take wedding photos as a side hobby, but is it really worth the risk if they lack experience?
Wedding photography is an industry where price reflects quality, and it’s worth paying a little bit more for someone you can trust to capture the memories of the most important day of your lives. Typically speaking, an established wedding photographer will have a few years’ experience under their belt and photography will be their full-time profession.
2. Can I see your portfolio?
Unless it’s displayed online this is another fail-safe way to check that your photographer has adequate experience. Use this as an opportunity to talk-through some of their work, checking for variety of shots, breadth of experience and photography style. This can be in print format, or through their latest wedding blog posts. Let your instinct guide you, especially if you can picture yourself in the photos of imagine it being your big day, that’s always a good sign.
Make sure that the images your potential wedding photographer is showing you are images taken at real weddings and not styled shoots or from a photography course. These images are fine in your portfolio as long as they make you aware. Styled wedding shoots are VERY different to a real wedding where you have many hours of styling and prep with professional models, this doesn’t reflect the pressure and time constraints that a real wedding brings to the table. Every single image you see on my website are from real weddings.
3. What is your photography style?
All wedding photographers have their own unique style. Looking through their portfolio you will be able to decipher a top wedding photographer from an average one. I’ve always felt that candid wedding photography is the best style, since it allows you to capture genuine moments that are real and in the moment, this is also known as reportage wedding photography. Naturally, you will want creative shots too, but it should mostly be capturing the day as it unfolds, telling your story. Being super creative comes with a lot of experience, being able to set up a shot ahead of time, knowing that the day isn’t about you but the Bride and Groom so being respectful of time is imperative to keep the day flowing.
Nobody wants a wedding photographer in London who keeps asking you to pose or set up 20 group photos. It’s about working in a controlled manner, being efficient with the time you have to put the story together. I like to let the day flow naturally and if you hire an experienced professional they will know how to keep to this whilst creating the hero shots.
4. What Equipment do you Shoot With?
This is a good question to ask a wedding photographer to understand their technical prowess, rather than anything else. Nikon, Canon and Sony cameras tend to be the major brands used by professionals and cameras must ideally be full frame with fast prime lenses. You may also want to ask about lighting and exposure, this will provide an insight into their foresight and planning ability, as well as highlight any considerations for your venues. Do they sound like they know what they are talking about?
It’s absolutely essential the photographer takes 2 or 3 cameras on a wedding day with multiple lenses, those with just 1 camera are taking a huge risk of losing all of your wedding images and will not be professionals. Having backup equipment is a part of being a professional photographer.
5. Can you photograph abroad?
There’s no better backdrop than a bright blue sky on a perfect sunny day. Unfortunately, this is one thing the great British weather can’t guarantee. It’s also one of the main reasons why many people chose to elope abroad. If you are thinking about a destination wedding photographer, a local UK photographer can be just as affordable as hiring one abroad. Plus, you have the added benefit of meeting them in advance, being able to speak to them in English and having access to them at your disposal while away. If your photographer can shoot abroad, ask them what costs are included in the package, it’s really not as expensive as you may think.
I shoot many destinations weddings and enjoying being a destination wedding photographer and always provide many more images that a UK wedding as I like to meet the wedding party the day before. This provides me the opportunity to bond with the group, make friends, gain trust which reflects in the images I deliver.
6. How do you provide the images and how long does it take?
This is an important question that a lot of people should ask, but don’t. It’s good to have expectations managed from the start. If you would like your photos within a certain timeframe, and if you want a mixture of landscape and portrait, colour and black and white shots, this is a good opportunity to talk them through with your photographer. As a general rule, it can take anything from 5-8 weeks to get your wedding photos back, these will be retouched and cropped for you to share. I personally hand edit each image to ensure consistency. I then provide a gallery for you to view and share with family and friends.
If your wedding is chosen to be up on the blog I will let you know. Here is Koichi and Carolinas wedding featured wedding in Italy
7. How long will you photograph at our wedding?
Each wedding photographer will have their own style and requirements. It is advisable for the photographer to start with the bridal party to capture all the special moments of them getting ready, moving on to the vows and reception afterwards. Some photographers will leave before the wedding breakfast, others will stay for the first dance. Everything can be negotiated, but my advice is to have your photographer stay as long as possible, so you capture every special moment. I’m with you from the moment the brides makeup starts to the first dance. I personally don’t offer half day wedding photography packages.
8. Do we need to provide you with food and drink?
If your photographer is staying with you throughout the day, then you will need to consider time for them to have a rest and eat. This is worth asking early on to factor them in to the day. I’m with you for at least 10 hours, carrying 2 heavy cameras, being mentally with you and focused, walking over 15,000 steps. Honestly us photographers aren’t all super human and all need to sit down now and again
9. Do you know the venue?
Although every venue is different, an experienced wedding photographer can turn their hand to any location. They will constantly be thinking ahead of lighting, people, backdrops and all the other elements that come together to produce the perfect shot. It’s a bonus if your photographer does know the venue, but most will have a good understanding of the logistical elements and a recce is rarely needed.
10. What is included in the package?
While weddings can be very expensive affairs, a top wedding photographer should be looked at as an investment. Packages can be negotiated, and may include high-quality prints, as well as digital versions. Think about your requirements before meeting and discuss these with your photographer. I try to keep wedding photography packages simple and transparent, which would include any travel or accommodation costs depending on where your wedding will be.
11. What if you fall ill on the day of our wedding?
What happens if your photographer falls ill on the day, or something happens that means that they aren’t’ able to attend? This is a vital question to put to your wedding photographer, and they should have a backup plan in place. A professional photographer always has a plan B and a plan C, including a list of industry contacts they can call upon at a minute’s notice if something happens. If your photographer can’t answer this, alarm bells should be ringing! Unless I’m on my death bed I’ll be at your wedding.
Questions to ask yourself:
And finally, here’s a few questions and wedding tips you might want to ask yourself too:
• Do I have good rapport with the photographer?
• What do wedding photos mean to me and do I pay that little bit extra to hire a good professional?
• Have I seen their work/portfolio and do I like it?
• Am I comfortable in their company, knowing that they will be taking intimate photos of our big day?
• What do other clients say about them (check out their website and Google reviews)?
• Are they active on social media? (Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook)
By knowing what to ask a wedding photographer and with some forward planning in place, you’re taking the right measures to ensure your big day is also the best day of your lives!
Does planning a wedding sound daunting? Check out my wedding planning checklist for industry leading tips on getting the most from your wedding day.