In a market this is filled to the brim with so many wedding photographers, we know how hard it can be to narrow down your choices. Choosing your wedding photographer is a big decision and one that you will live with for the rest of your life. It may sound a little crazy to think of it that way, but it is true – your wedding photos will be all that you have left when the day is over, besides each other of course! We hear too many bad stories about people being disappointed or even worse, upset about their wedding photos. We don’t want that happening to you. Here are some questions you can ask and things to consider when you are trying to decide who to hire to photograph your wedding day.
Is this their full-time business? Wouldn’t you rather hire someone who is into the wedding photography business with their whole heart?
What editing will they be doing to your photos? We heard a story recently where a client (not ours, of course!) was given 10,000 wedding photos by their photographer which is just ridiculous. In an 8 hour wedding day we may take 5000 images and we always edit it down to the very best ones for our clients to approximately 100 photos per hour. We also go through each and every photo that we give to our clients and work on them so that they are print ready. There is no way that a photographer who hands his client 10,000 photos has done much if any work to the photos.
Always ask to see complete weddings. You want to be able to see that your photographers can cover the whole wedding day well. Weddings can be tough to photograph with different lighting throughout the day, lots going on in a short period of time and even sometimes changes on the fly. You want your photographers to be able to catch everything and to photograph it all well.
Meet with a few photographers. Don’t get pressured into buying on the spot. As we said above, it’s a big decision so don’t rush it.
Does your photographer have any professional lighting? We always have our car filled with lighting on every wedding day. Most of the time we don’t need it but if we are stuck inside because of bad weather or a not so pretty outside location, we know that we can light up the portraits to make them look great. Lighting can be a wonderful thing when we need it.
On that same note, if your photographer does not have a clear, legal contract for you to sign and if they don’t ask for a retainer, run. We have heard way too many stories about photographers not showing up, canceling their services at the last minute or leaving earlier than they were supposed to on the wedding day. In every case the client hadn’t signed a contract and just had email correspondence for proof.
You should always ask how long it will take the photographers to deliver your photos to you and it should also be clearly written in the contract. We share our top 75 images with our clients within 2-3 weeks of the wedding date and the rest of the photos within 8-12 weeks of the wedding date. We think photos are so much more enjoyable when you can see them closer to the date.
How long have they been in business and how many weddings have they photographed? Over the last 8 years in this industry we have photographed approximately 150 weddings (in the early days we didn’t keep the best records!). There is something to be said about the experience we have gained shooting all of those weddings.
Ask if they will be doing the location scouting for the portrait session the wedding day. This is something that is a given for any pro photographer. We’ve heard a few stories where the photographer asked the client to choose the locations. This is something we would never do. We absolutely talk with our clients about ideas for locations and what kind of look they are wanting. After we know what our clients are looking for, then we head out and scout locations at the same time of day that we will be taking the photos. We need to know what the lighting will be like and we always have way more ideas for locations than we have time for. Being overprepared is always a good thing. We honestly just don’t understand why I photographer would leave such an important part of our job up to someone else. It makes no sense to us. We spend 1 to 2 hours scouting locations for every wedding, no matter where it is. We also always have a rain plan. We live in a rain forest so we always have a backup plan for rain. It would be silly if we didn’t.
Ask if they’ve ever lost wedding photos. In our 8 years in business we’ve only been asked this twice. We have never lost wedding photos (knock on wood) because we are super paranoid about our memory cards. We carry them in shatter proof & water proof cases and they do not leave our side until we get home and back them up. We also have the files backed up in 2 different locations (at home and at the studio) just in case. Any pro photographer has off-site back up for their work.
We hope this has been useful to you. On a side note, we don’t mean to slam any businesses that don’t follow these practices. Just think about it, that is all that we are saying.