April 1, 2024

12 Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer Before You Book 

Holy sh!t you’re engaged! First, congratulations on this amazing step in your relationship! Second, how the heck is wedding planning going? Typically the order for planning a wedding goes 1) engagement 2) narrow down your vibe 3) find a venue and pick a date 4) hire your photographer! Once it comes time to find the person that’ll freeze your moments in time, be sure to consider the following questions to ask a wedding photographer before booking. 

Bride and groom embracing each other
  1. What is your data backup process? How do you keep my photos secure?

This is SO important because your wedding photos are a once in a lifetime memory! Now this will get a little nerdy here, but a seasoned photographer should be shooting on two memory cards, with the images being written to both so that in the event that one card goes bad, the other card is there as backup. But the backup process shouldn’t stop there – once the wedding day is over, photos should be transferred to two harddrives – one that’s a working drive and another that’s a backup. 

Personally, I like to take it another step further and backup the backup to the cloud (maybe I’m a little bit type A but trust me, it’s for your benefit). Lastly, in case all else fails, I also hold onto those OG memory cards until your gallery is delivered so if that push comes to shove, I have all those amazing memories saved even if the world practically ends. 

  1. Do you offer timeline assistance?

Your photographer will likely be the vendor that’s with you the most during the day, so having one that helps give you guidance on how long certain parts of your day will last can be a huge stress-reliever. 

During wedding consultations, I like to provide a rough draft timeline based on a few factors – what time your ceremony is, what time dinner is, and if you’re planning on doing a first look! Then in the months leading up to your wedding day, I send out a lengthy questionnaire that dives deeper into details such as family photos, getting ready, etc. that will all help to determine how much time we need for each part of the day.  If you have hired a wedding planner, even better! I will get in touch with them and share my insight and always welcome any additional information that they have so that we’re all working on the same page!

Bride and bridesmaid dancing at wedding reception
  1. What is your favorite part of the wedding day?

This can tell you so much about your photographer and can help you decide if they are the right fit for your day! Be sure that this one is on your list of questions to ask a photographer because your photographer is going to practically be your new BFF, so you want to make sure that your values align. 

  1. Do you provide us with sneak peeks?

Editing an entire wedding gallery is a labor of love and can take some time, so another question to ask your wedding photographer is if they provide you with sneak peeks to help you relive your wedding day before the final gallery is finished! To go even further, ask them when those get delivered and roughly how many you’ll get. 

  1. Is an engagement session complimentary? What are the benefits of having an engagement session?

The beauty of the photography industry is that there is a photographer and package for everyone! The tricky part is, all those photographers have different pricing strategies and package offerings. It’s good to ask if an engagement session is complimentary or if it would be an add on to the wedding package. The major benefit to having an engagement session with your wedding photographer prior to the big day is that you all get to know each other better, and the photographer can learn how to quickly pose and prompt you and your beau to have you looking your best! 

  1. Can I choose where I print my photos or do I print them through you? 

This is another huge one because this can drastically change the cost of your wedding photography package. Regardless, I highly recommend printing your photos (because come on, they are gorgeous) but knowing where you are allowed to print them can better help to determine your overall budget. I personally give personal printing rights to my clients, so they can download and print their photos wherever they see fit, but also offer printing services through my galleries for ease of ordering. 

  1. Do you have any travel fees and other add-on fees, or is this price all-inclusive?

This can vary widely depending on where you’re getting married and where your photographer is traveling from. Be sure to ask if the quoted price includes those additional items or if those are invoiced separately closer to the wedding date. 

Bride and groom holding hands during rainy ceremony
  1. What is the payment schedule?

Typically speaking, photographers will require some sort of retainer to block off the date on their calendar. The percentage or amount varies by photographers, but I personally require a 25% retainer to keep your date, which is invoiced with a contract to make sure we both know exactly what is expected of us. 

  1. What is your team’s dress code?

Not that there aren’t already a ton of things to keep in mind when selecting your vendors, but depending on your vision, how your vendors dress on your wedding day is another important question to ask a photographer. Some vendors stick strictly to an all-black wardrobe while others may opt for something more colorful. In general, most vendors will look to wear something that is comfortable but fits well with your overall venue’s dress code. 

  1. Do you work off of shot lists?

Shot lists can mean anything from a full detailed photograph itinerary to a small list of important family members. Generally speaking, experienced wedding photographers already have a mental shot list of the things to capture for the day (think your rings, florals, decor, bridesmaids/groomsmen, etc) so a detailed shot list can often times hinder creativity because the photographer is so focused on checking off the next item on the list. 

  1. Describe your working style.

Knowing how your photographer works will be huge in deciding who to book. There’s a lot of buzz words that photographers can use to describe their working style, such as directive, candid, prompted, etc. 

A directive photographer will help to dictate all aspects of the photography portion of the day. Typically this can result in some of the best photos from a technical aspect because the photographer can fully control where a portion of the day is happening and make sure the lighting is chef’s kiss. One downside to this can be that it may feel like the whole day is a photoshoot and take away from the joy and nuance of your wedding day. Ultimately, you’ll want to think through what your highest priority is of the day before deciding if you want a photographer that works in this style. 

A candid photographer will be completely “fly-on-the-wall” and you’ll hardly even know they are there. A photographer that works in this style typically doesn’t work from any shot lists and doesn’t direct or pose at all throughout the day. In order to get the best photos with a photographer that works in this style, you and your new spouse need to be very intentional with who you are spending the most time with throughout the day, because that’ll be who is in the majority of your photos!

A prompted photographer is the happy middle ground between directive and candid. They will help to capture some posed photos (think family and wedding party) but also be very low-key throughout the portions of the evening that do not require any additional direction. So in this case, if a couple is having a joyful and tear-filled moment, a prompted photographer won’t shuffle them over to an area with better lighting but instead, they will capture the moment as it’s happening because the perfect photo is the one that’s captured. This style is a personal favorite of mine because it provides so much variety in my couples’ galleries without their wedding day feeling like one big photo production!

  1. Can I see a full gallery?

This one is huuuuuge because as we all know, it’s pretty easy to curate the perfect instagram feed. Seeing a full gallery prior to booking a photographer allows you to see how they capture and edit moments of the day that might not be perfectly lit or posed. Although no two weddings are the same, this at the very least allows you to reasonably predict what will be delivered to you after your wedding!

I know that this list seems like a doozy, and trust me I know you probably have a million more questions. Reach out and let’s chat about all things wedding photography! 

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