Planning a wedding is often a once in a lifetime experience. As a result, couples planning their weddings will no doubt find themselves turning to google time and again with planning related questions. One of the most popular searches is “What questions should I ask my wedding photographer?”. If you’ve ever googled this yourself, you’ll know that there are thousands upon thousands of results.
For the most part, many articles repeat themselves and sadly, a lot of these articles are out of date too. Many refer back to the days when film photography was most common. You may find questions like “how many photos will you take” which generally speaking, isn’t relevant in this digital age. We’re no longer restricted to rolls of film with 36 shots, luxury.
Additionally, the problem with many articles is that they are often written by photographers or other wedding professionals. The problem with this being that they assume a certain level of knowledge. With most couples being novices to wedding planning and indeed to things like professional photography, it’s all well and good having a set of questions- but what answers should you be looking for? The answers after all are more important than the questions.
So what questions should I ask my wedding photographer, you may be asking yourself?
A lot of it will come down to budget and expectations. If you’re working with a small budget and are therefore considering less experienced photographers there are some questions that may not always apply to a seasoned professional.
So grab yourself something to nibble on, tuck up and read our guide to some of the questions you should be asking your wedding photographer…..in no particular order…..AND the answers you should be expecting.
Are you insured?
Anyone offering their photography services should be insured. They should hold public liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance and also equipment cover. So the answer should be yes. Some venues require proof of insurance before they will let a supplier work there, so don’t be shy about asking for certificates before you book someone.
What happens if you’re unwell or unable to shoot our wedding for any reason?
Most people will tell you that they are rarely unwell and that it would have to be very serious for them to not attend your wedding. Great! But what is the plan of action IF the unspeakable happens? Broken bones happen, bereavements happen, unwell children happen. It’s all part of life sadly. But you want to know that your photographer is best prepared for the unexpected.
A photographer should have a solid plan of action to cover them in most circumstances. What you want to hear is something along the lines of- the photographer is part of a number of photography groups or communities which can help provide emergency cover if necessary. You’ll want to know that they have colleagues, second shooters or emergency cover that they could potentially call upon should the worst happen on the day. If they needed to cancel in advance for any reason, what happens then? Will they help you find another photographer? Will they refund your deposit and any other money paid by you?
How do you make sure that you’re prepared for unexpected situations on the wedding day? For example, if the weather is bad, your camera breaks?
A miserable day weather wise isn’t what any of us hope for when planning our wedding, but it happens from time to time. A photographer should have lighting (flashes) for use indoors if required and they should also have back up equipment. They should have at least 2 cameras and a few lenses as a minimum, along with spare batteries and spare memory cards.
How do you ensure that my photos are kept safe?
This is one you never see in articles and yet it’s one of the most important things to know!
Most professional cameras now allow you to shoot on dual cards (you can shoot to two different memory cards at once.) This means that you are creating a back up for the photos as you actually shoot. Therefore, a professional should really be shooting dual cards on the day itself and backing up your photos when they get home. You’ll want to know that your photographs are going to be backed up in multiple locations and that your photographer has access to card recovery software if the worst happens.
How long will it take to receive the photographs after the wedding?
There’s no right or wrong answer here, but most photographers average around 2-12 weeks. Longer wait times are to be expected towards the tail end of wedding season.
How will we receive our photographs?
Again, there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer here, but if someone says disc, consider your options. Most PCs and computers are made without disc drives these days. They are becoming obsolete. Be wary about condemning your wedding photos to what we already know is old technology. Ideally look out for a USB and/or online gallery.
How many photographs will we receive?
Anything around 250+ for a full day, with one photographer could be considered normal. Personally I think that’s a little on the low side to comprehensively tell a wedding day story, but different strokes for different folks. Better to have fewer, quality images than more, poor ones.
Just make sure you clarify in advance how many you will receive, or if they do not cap the number, what is the minimum amount that you will receive?
Will we, or our guests have to pay for photos?
It’s always good to know in advance. Some photographers allow free access to images after the wedding, whilst others charge for prints (usually via online gallery.) If fees will be involved, ask how much per photo or print. You don’t want any nasty surprises later on.
Can you see a full wedding gallery?
Always see at least one full wedding gallery. If your photographer has expressed that they’ll deliver 500 photos, you’ll want to see what 500 photos across a full day look like. They may be exceptional photographers when it comes to portraits and things they can control, but you need to see their work and how they cope with different situations that are unpredictable. See a couple of full galleries from different venues, in different weather conditions and compare.
How long will we have you for on the day?
Some photographers work to a set number of hours, others provide unlimited coverage. “Full day” coverage typically refers to anything 8hours +
Most weddings don’t fit neatly into a little 8 hour box, so be sure to discuss how many hours their fee includes and whether there’s an option to add more coverage if required. If so, how much will this cost?
Do you shoot group photographs?
Some photographers don’t. Really. Photojournalism and more natural coverage is on the rise. More couples than ever are requesting minimal and sometimes no group photos at all. If these are something you want, make sure your photographer actually offers them.
How much will it cost? What is included?
It’s always a good idea to know what your wedding photography is going to cost. Let your photographer know your requirements and ask for a quote. Remember, things like albums are usually optional extras and do not always have to be ordered at the time of booking. Book the best photographer that you can afford.You can always sort out an album once you have your photos back.
If we decide to go ahead, how do we book? What is required to secure our date? Is there a deposit?
Will you need to meet the photographer in person to complete a booking? Will they send you paperwork in the post? Can you complete your booking online? Find out in advance what the process is, so that if you do decide to go ahead things are as quick and seamless as possible. Good photographers book fast. It’s good to know what they require from you- is there a fee to secure the date? How much is it?
Will we need to sign a contract?
Never, ever book anyone without a contract. Anyone offering their services should be providing a contract, for their own protection as well as yours. READ THE CONTRACT! It should detail your obligations (when payments are due for example) as well as the photographers obligations (how long until you get the photos back.) It should also mention things like what happens in the event of cancellation, how you can use the photos and lots of other things relating to your coverage.
When is payment due?
Everyone works differently, but it’s an industry norm for full payment to be due before the wedding takes place. Usually anything from 6 weeks before, to 1 week before the wedding. However, red flag alert!!! So, so many scammers offer discounts for full payment upfront i.e at the point of booking, or before it would otherwise be due. It is a common scam. If someone offers a discount for paying in full at the time of booking, or for paying off your balance early, be very cautious.
Are there any additional charges or fees that we should know about?
Some photographers charge extra for travel and/or accommodation, so it’s good to know in advance what the full cost will be.
The answers to these don’t really matter if you love someone’s work, but they are all “good to know” type questions.
How much editing do you do?
It’s always a good idea for expectations to be managed. Your photographer may do basic editing, whereas you may be expecting a full on round of skin smoothing and photoshop. Less is often more and the vast majority of photographers charge an additional fee for extensive photoshopping.
Will you require a meal on the day?
Many photographers have it in their contracts that a meal must be provided. This is not to be cheeky, but if you’re a photographer who works all over the country it can be really tough to actually provide your own food. If you’re shooting a wedding on a Sunday for example, 3 hours from home, with a 10am start, you’re going to have left home well before the shops open. If you’re staying overnight you’ll have had no means to prepare your own food and nowhere to store a packed lunch. Very few venues provide alternative catering facilities and therefore the only way a photographer can guarantee that they’re going to be able to eat is knowing that catering has been provided. If it’s a deal breaker for you, talk to the photographer. Read more about feeding your photographer.
How many weddings do you shoot a year?
If someone is good, it doesn’t really matter if they shoot 12, or 112 weddings a year. 25-50 is probably in the “normal” range for a full time photographer if you’re looking for a rough idea.
How long have you been shooting weddings?
Again, if someone is good, this isn’t a very big deal. However, if someone is £3000 and they have been shooting weddings for a year, you may raise an eyebrow. Likewise, if someone has been shooting for 20 years and they are £800, you may also wonder why.
Is photography your full time job?
It’s a hard world at the moment and many professionals who are fantastic at what they do are having to maintain a full time job in order to support their families. This is not a cause for concern in itself. It’s also super tough to get a mortgage, finance or to rent a house if you are self employed, so some photographers maintain a full time job so they are more attractive to lenders. Go with your gut. Don’t right someone off just because they are not a full time photographer. Plenty of people are and they are pants! And/or are supported by a spouse with a well paid job.
What optional extras are available?
If you are interested in albums, prints, extra hours of coverage or an engagement shoot for example, it’s good to get an idea of what it available in advance. Ask about pricing too and any specific information that may be relevant. For example, can engagement shoots be taken at the weekend, how many photos will you get from that? etc