Hello amazing person! So, as a wedding photographer in Los Angeles and Boise, I get asked a lot of different questions. But a lot of times, people don’t know what to ask. So here are a few suggested topics/questions for a wedding photographer. Before you even sit down to chat with them, however, make sure you’ve looked at their portfolio and reviews carefully. Look for examples of weddings or venues similar to yours. If you’re a bigger person, make sure they’ve photographed people like you before. If you’re of unique racial background, look for people with similar skin tones or style in the portfolio. For tips on spotting an amateur photographer, read this.
These are good questions I’ve been asked, along with revealing questions that I never would have thought of before becoming a photographer. Below, there are explanations and background. I’ve heard so many stories from people who didn’t know or realize what they were getting from their photographer. Then they ended up disappointed or felt cheated. I never want that to happen to anyone. So here it goes:
1. How many photos do I get?
Every photographer has a different target amount of photos. For example, some photographers deliver 120 images. That’s it. No more. You never see anything else. Most deliver a few more than that. I’m one of very few wedding photographers who lets clients see the unedited files and choose the ones they want. I’ll deliver a few dozen of my favorites, usually, then send you a link for your “proofs” gallery, where you can comb through EVERY photo I took at the wedding and pick out the ones you want. Why? Because there are so many circumstances where the photo is not technically correct, but there is an expression or person or mood that just touches the client and they want it.
2. When will I get my photos?
Most photographers deliver in 2-8 weeks, but I’ve heard some say more like 3-4 months. I try to deliver within a week. My fastest was 3 days. But I always send a few within 24 hours of leaving the wedding, so you have something to look at and post.
3. What rights do I get to my photos? Can I print them anywhere? Is there an extra cost to get a print release?
Print rights and copyright are a whole mess of worms. Some photographers make it really complicated to print your photos yourself, and want you to order through them. I understand this, because a lot of times places like Walgreens or Walmart don’t do the best job. But I also understand needing to stay inside a budget, which is why I give full print rights to any client who wants them. You can also order prints through my website, and I try to keep my prices competitive, but clients are under no obligation to print through me.
4. Can I see a recent full gallery of photos you delivered to your last couple?
A bride asked me for this once and, although surprised, I was also impressed. It’s genius. Because a lot of amateur photographers would be discovered if they had to show their full galleries. Sometimes, even if someone has a lot of beautiful pictures on their website, the pictures were just all lucky shots. But asking for a full gallery forces them to show you something more similar to what you’d actually get (theoretically).
5. How long have you been doing wedding photography? How many weddings have you done?
I had a couple contact me recently who hired a wedding photographer with a beautiful portfolio. Everything looked and felt perfect… until they got their final gallery. The photos were not good. They sent me a link and I spotted it right away: the photographer was an amateur. She had beautiful work on her website, but it was all in very specific circumstances where she could control the environment. Weddings are crazy, you can’t control where things are most of the time, and you have to be VERY good at your settings to get the right shot at the right time (using auto mode doesn’t give you the best results, even with today’s technology). The photographer had used auto on a lot of the photos, because the lighting was tough. The photos turned out blah and the couple was disappointed. So they turned to me and asked if I could fix some of them. I did my best on one of the photos, but the choices the photographer had made messed up the entire picture and there wasn’t a lot I could do.
6. Can I talk with the last bride whose wedding you photographed?
Personally, this question scares me. I’ve never had someone ask, but if I was hiring a wedding photographer and wasn’t 100% sure, I would ask for this. Since reviews are so public (and often asked for by the photographer personally) sometimes people don’t want to say anything bad. But speaking alone with a former bride could give you a better picture of what the photographer is like to work with.
7. Will you be the one photographing my wedding?
In a world of entrepreneurship, sometimes a wedding company or studio will do all the publicity, and send individual photographers off on jobs. Be careful of this! One of the keys to getting good photos is being personal and getting to know each other, which is why I always meet my clients before the wedding. Also, there’s less accountability in big companies. The big photographer can take all the images you see on the website, and then send their apprentice (who may not be experienced) to photograph your wedding. It’s not always like this, but be careful! Always try to meet the people you’ll be working with! Your photographer will be with you almost all day and it’s important that you mesh well and she or he is not super high-strung (last thing you need on a wedding day).
8. What happens if there’s an emergency and you can’t photograph my wedding?
Make sure they have a plan in place!
9. Can I see a contract?
Read it carefully and see what it says about print release, case of emergency, refund policy, etc.