With today’s seemingly endless offers and possibilities I know that this can become pretty overwhelming. That’s why I came up with a detailed guide on how to hire YOUR wedding photographer, including questions you should ask during your consultation.
You finally start planning the day you’ve always dreamed of. Your wedding day!! It’s a once in a lifetime event and everything should be perfect, don’t you agree?
It’s essential to select vendors you fully trust and love. Especially when it comes to hiring your wedding photographer. Not only is it important that you like his/her photograph style but you should also be at ease with your photographer’s personality.
Why? Well, let me tell you — you’ll spend almost the entire day with them. That’s why my first and most important advice is to always meet and interview your wedding photographer in person or at least talk to them via video call before you finally sign the contract.
Besides your memories, your wedding photographs will be the only way to relive and share your wedding day over and over again with friends and family. A photograph of your first look might be displayed on the fireplace or on your night stand to remind you of this special day.
So, I recommend you spend some time and thoroughly research the professional who will accompany you throughout your wedding day.
• Will you post our photographs on your website/ social media/ blog?
The way wedding photographers market their business is by showing their work on social media and submitting photos to publications and blogs. That’s probably how you found your photographer and fell in love with their work in the first place. Scrolling through recent blog posts and their Instagram feeds helped you to decide if you like their style and made you reach out.
You can see that posting your images is a really important part for a wedding photographer to generate new clients and keep the business running. If you don’t feel comfortable about this and you are concerned about privacy, you can definitely request that your wedding photographer keeps your photographs to themselves. I promise you that’s not a problem at all.
However, if you would love to see your images submitted and published don’t be shy about telling your wedding photographer. They will love the idea!
Another pro tip for a relaxed wedding day: Ask your wedding photographer if they’ve already worked with your wedding vendors before. This is not a must but it’s always nice to know that your wedding vendors are comfortable working with each other.
I already mentioned this before, but would like to talk about meeting your wedding photographer before your wedding day a little more in depth.
I know sometimes it’s not possible to meet your photographer in person because you’re planning a destination wedding or your photographer is from out of town. That’s totally fine but still schedule a video call.
It is so important to bond with the person shadowing your every move on your wedding day. Your wedding photographer will be there in the morning, in your bridal suite when you’re getting ready and share intimate moments with your mom and bridesmaids.
Your photographer will also be one of the few people witnessing your first look and your romantic husband and wife portraits. Don’t forget that your photographer will also interact a lot with the most important people in your life - your family and friends.
To get amazing photographs you need to be really comfortable with your photographer. They should be excited about your wedding vision and open to your suggestions. Your photographer should be prepared, ask many questions but also be interested in your opinions and listen to you.
• Do you require a retainer and when are the payments due?
• What is your refund and cancellation policy?
• What happens if you are not able to shoot our wedding day any longer?
• Is your backup equipment of same quality?
• Do you and your team have liability insurance?
You also want to know about a photographer’s backup equipment. Imagine the camera suddenly stops working. Can your photographer ensure to get the same quality images with their backup equipment? Most photographers will bring multiple lenses and at least one extra camera body to your wedding.
Last but not least, ask about liability insurance. We hope nothing bad will happen on your wedding day but you can relax, knowing your photographer and the team are covered.
This is probably the least exciting part when hiring a photographer, but definitely not less important. Before you sign the photography contract, ask about the finances. Most wedding photographers require a non-refundable retainer to hold your date exclusively for you. Ask if you can make installment payments and when the final payment is due.
As 2020 showed us, external circumstances are unpredictable and you definitely want to know about your photographer’s refund and cancellation policies. Also, what is the backup plan if for an unexpected reason your wedding photographer will not be able to shoot your wedding.
Most photographers have a great network of wedding photographers and will have sources of other wedding photographers of equal quality, comparable style and price range. Another option might be to cancel the contract and have the option to find another wedding photographer by yourself.
• Do you offer prints and albums? Do you support in designing the album?
• Do you include a print permit?
• How will the photographs be delivered and what resolution will we receive?
I truly believe that your wedding photographs do not ONLY belong on your phone. Your story should be a fine art statement piece on your coffee table or up on the walls of your home. Wouldn’t it be nice to be reminded of your most beautiful day whenever you walk into your living room?
This being said, I highly recommend you ask your photographer about what print products are included in your package and if you are able to add albums or prints. Most photographers work with amazing and highly professional print labs and even offer help create your family heirloom. You can order your prints and albums directly from them - see our samples here
If you are planning to go through another lab, don’t forget to ask about your image rights. Most photographers deliver the gallery including print permits that allow you to print your photographs for personal use. However, this is not always the case so make sure you ask! Keep in mind that the photographer owns the copyrights your photographs.
• What’s included in your most popular wedding package?
• Do you include all images in our gallery?
• Can I customize my package and do you offer add-ons like additional
hours, albums or engagement/ bridal sessions?
• Does my package include a second shooter?
• Do you charge a travel/ accommodation fee?
• Is retouching of our images included in our package?
Another option you might want to consider in your package is a second or third photographer. Special and really important milestone moments like the first look or the bride walking down the aisle usually require two photographers to capture the bride’s AND the groom’s reaction. It’s always nice to have those moments captured from two different angles.
To avoid any disappointments when you receive your wedding gallery, it’s important to understand what’s included in the package before you hire your wedding photographer. The price range can be huge and so are the options on what’s included and what can be booked on top in advance.
For example, some photographers include all images in your final wedding gallery and other photographers just promise a certain amount of wedding photographs and up-sell if you would like to purchase more. This might explain the price difference between two photographers. If you prefer getting all photographs of your wedding you might want to hire a wedding photographer that includes all in your final gallery right away.
You also want to make sure how many hours of photography coverage is included. A typical wedding day usually requires between eight and ten hours.
If your photographer includes an engagement session in your wedding packages, that’s a big plus. They are usually really interested in getting to know you better before your wedding and want to make sure your wedding day runs smoothly.
Tip: If your photographer hasn’t photographed at your venue yet feel free to ask them if they are open to walk your wedding venue prior to your big day. I encourage my couples to meet at the location whenever they have their walkthrough with their wedding planner — no matter what.
Not decided on a venue yet? Check our Charleston venue guide for more tips!
• Have you ever shot a wedding or reception at our venue?
• Can we see a recent full wedding gallery at a similar venue than ours?
The photographs you’ll see on a photographer’s website, blog or social media account most likely show their best work. Those are usually the photographs that were taken in a gorgeous location and in optimal lighting conditions. However, a wedding usually includes many changes in setting and light.
From the getting ready images inside a hotel room, to the ceremony photographs in bright sunlight to dancing pictures long after the sun has set. A wedding photographer should be able to handle all different kind of lighting situations and if the full wedding gallery looks cohesive you are on the right track.
• Are you available on my wedding day?
• Can I meet the photographer if an associate is shooting my wedding?
You’ll want to reach out to your potential wedding photographer as soon as possible. Many photographers are booked up to two years in advance and it’s always heartbreaking if the photographer of your dreams is not available on your wedding day.
Of course it is way easier to hire a wedding photographer, when you are still flexible with your date.
As soon as you’ve narrowed down your wedding photographer short list, do your research. Read through recent reviews from newlyweds and how each photographer responded.
Check on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as well and their interaction with followers. Carefully review the photographer’s websites and blogs and get a better idea of their work. All of this will tell you a lot about a photographer’s personality and sensibility and if they shoot the moments that are most important to you.
• How would you describe your photography style?
• What’s your approach in capturing the wedding story?
Today, there is a wide range of photography styles. From light and airy to classic and timeless all the way to dramatic, dark and moody. Before you even start researching, ask yourself what style do you feel drawn to instantly.
Create a board on Pinterest and collect images you love most. Go through Instagram or Facebook and get inspired. Then think about what it is you like about those photographs. Do not only consider the colors but also the emotional and artistic feel of those images.
Are you drawn more to the formal-posed portraits and the classic and timeless style or do you prefer candid ‘in the moment’ photographs? It’s totally fine if you can’t decide on just one style. For example, we use different approaches throughout a wedding day and do a mix of posed portraiture and a photo documentary-style to be able to tell the wedding story as a whole.
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