Top 10 Questions to ask your Wedding Photographer

Thanks for looking at my blog, maybe because you’re in the process of choosing a photographer for your wedding.  Personally I believe this is one of the most important decisions you have to make (I know, I would say that). 

Yes, you want your flowers to look gorgeous and your cake to taste delicious, but if they’re not perfect you won’t have to live with the consequences for generations!  Sounds dramatic, but I truly believe your wedding photos, beautifully displayed in an album will become one of your most important family heirlooms.

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I’m sure I’m not the only photographer you’re considering for your big day.  It’s important you do look around and choose the best photographer for you.  Here are the top questions I believe you should ask your photographer before you make the final decision.

1)      How long have you been photographing weddings?

It’s very easy for anyone to knock up a professional looking website & populate it with a few images of a couple of lovely summer weddings, but do they have the experience to cope with weddings in all circumstances?  Maybe you’re getting married in the middle of December in a beautiful candlelit, oak panelled hall, so does your photographer have the skills and experience to work in these conditions? The longer a photographer has been in business the more likely they are to have been able to invest in the best quality cameras and lenses that will enable them to work in all conditions as well as the knowledge of how to get the best out of every location. I confess, in my first year of business I would have been terrified to see that rain was forecast on the day of the wedding, but ten years on I know I have the skills to be able to deal with whatever conditions are thrown at me!

2)      Can I see examples of complete weddings?

As mentioned in point one, even the most inexperienced photographers can pull together a few good shots from a selection of weddings, but can they consistently shoot great photos across a whole wedding? As well as showing albums featuring whole weddings you can also see a selection of photos from complete weddings in my blog and I can provide access to galleries containing 500+ photos from individual weddings if you’d like to see even more!

3)      How much do you charge, what is included, and when the money is due?

I am happy to send a price list out to you and will happily run through the terms of payment with you over the phone or in person. I personally believe I offer a unique and very helpful payment schedule!  I offer digital only packages as well as a variety of albums to suit your own tastes and budgets.

I know many photographers base their packages on numbers of hours, but I prefer to be more flexible and cover specific events. For example, I’d be with you for a couple of hours before the ceremony taking photos as you get ready and then stay with you until your first few dances. If your first dance had been planned for 8.00 but your day was running behind schedule and didn’t happen until 9.00, no problem, I will stay until then at no extra charge. The last thing I would want to be doing on your wedding day is negotiating a price for me to stay longer, or walk out at a pre-agreed time. (I was once a guest at a wedding where the photographer walked out halfway through the speeches because her time was up and she wasn’t prepared to stay later than agreed – who could do this to a couple?!)

If you do only want a photographer for a couple of hours I can offer this option too, please just ask for a quote.

I appreciate that prices vary considerably between photographers, and you may be tempted simply to choose the photographer that seems to offer the best deal for the lowest price, but DON’T! Please read my article here which helps to explain why photographers charge different amounts for what appears to be the same service.

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4)      How long after the wedding will I see my photos?

I try to have fully edited photos uploaded to my website within 2 weeks of the wedding, usually by the time you get back from your honeymoon, but there are times when this simply isn’t possible, particularly the busier summer months, or maybe when I’m off on my own holiday following your wedding. The longest you would have to wait would be 4 weeks.

5)      How many photos will I receive?

Some photographers place a limit on the number of photos you receive, so you will always wonder about the photographs they left out, and whether you might have loved them.  I never limit the number of photos I give you.  If I think there’s even a chance you might like an image I will give it to you, even if I’m worried it’s not technically perfect! On average you can expect to receive 500+ photos, largely dependent on how many hours I am with you for. I’d rather you choose which of those are most special to you, rather than me make that decision for you. The photos are provided to you on USB as fully edited high-resolution JPEGs that you can print yourself, and also share with your family and friends. A separate folder containing smaller resolution images will also make sharing the images on social media even easier for you. The images will also be available on a password protected gallery so that even those living far away can see your photos and buy copies if they wish.

6)      What happens if you’re ill?

Over the ten years I have been in business I have built up great relationships with a large number of photographers that I could call on if I was ill, and have myself stepped in at the last minute to cover weddings for other photographers.  On one occasion I put a photographer on standby because my husband came down with a sickness bug 3 days before I was due to photograph a wedding and I was worried I would get ill too. I was absolutely fine, but it was reassuring to know that I could have called somebody at the last minute if I had been taken ill. I also avoid shellfish and drinking alcohol the night before a wedding to try to protect myself even more!  If you don’t want to use the photographer I recommend I would offer a full refund and allow you to choose your own.  I also full professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance to offer even more protection and peace of mind.

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7)      Do you have backup equipment?

Again, more inexperienced photographers are doing well to afford to buy even one decent camera and lens, they are unlikely to be able to invest in backup equipment. I can’t stress enough how important it is for your photographer to have backup equipment. Even the best cameras, lenses, flashguns and memory cards fail, and it is essential that your photographer has backup equipment that they can use. (Bit of boring technical detail, but my camera allows me to shoot to 2 different memory cards at the same time, so that even if one fails there will be a backup of the digital files. Hasn’t even happened to me, but it’s important to know I am covered). People tend to think that it’s the camera that’s the most important piece of equipment, but good lenses are just as essential, and a professional will need a variety of different lenses for different circumstances to do the best possible job.

8)      Is this your full time job?

There are a lot of people out there advertising themselves as professional photographers, but in reality they have another full time job and turn to wedding photography at the weekends to try and earn a bit of extra cash. They don’t charge as much as the full time professional photographers because they don’t need to photograph weddings to earn a living and support their family. The problem is that neither do they invest the time and effort needed to do the best possible job that they can. They won’t invest as much in equipment, often using cheaper cameras that really aren’t up to the job, and are very unlikely to have backups in case of problems. They won’t continually invest in training and updating their skills, because they don’t really need to ensure their business is successful. They will often appear to offer you a deal that seems too good to be true. It is. Don’t risk trusting your day to someone who doesn’t really know what they are doing – it’s too late once you see the photos to realise you should have spent a little more on hiring a true professional.

9)      Will we meet up before the wedding and would you visit the venue?

As far as possible I would always want to have a look round the venue before the big day, to ensure I know exactly where everything is taking place and where the best places would be for photos, rain or shine. You may have an idea of the perfect place for the photos, but if it’s pouring with rain on your wedding day (yes, it can even happen in August), I need to already know where I will be able to shoot the family photos. Ideally I would like to meet you there at the same time so that we can run through the timings for the day, the more formal family & friend group portraits you’d like me to take, and any other issues that need to be discussed.

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10)  Do I like you?

Sounds an odd question, but it’s really, really important that you like your photographer! Your florist can be a real cow, but as long as she drops off your flowers on time her personality won’t have much of an impact on your day. Your photographer will be with you all day, interacting with you and your guests, so you have to get on with them.  Feedback from couples is really important to me, so please have a look through some comments from previous couples to get a feel for the sort of person I am. I’d love to meet you too before you make a decision, and hopefully you’ll think I’m lovely too!

Please get in touch if you think of any questions I haven’t thought of, I’d love to hear more about your wedding.

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