A good wedding photographer can make your wedding day look like a million bucks! They can also help it go smoothly! While a bad photographer can stress you out, miss photos, and even take unflattering photos…yikes! You HAVE to find a wedding photographer who knows what they are doing. You only get one shot at your wedding photos!
As you are searching for the best wedding photographer for you, it can be overwhelming. There are so many great options. How do you know which one is right for you? I’ve have compiled a list of questions you should have answered before booking your wedding photographer.
These questions are not meant to be asked outright like an interrogation – in fact most of them will probably be answered on the photographer’s website or within the first email after contacting them. These questions are a guideline to help get you thinking about what’s important for your wedding photography.
Click on the button above to open these questions as a google document so you can use them online. You can also print the 2 page document to keep in your wedding planner or take with you when you meet with a wedding photographer. Pin the image below to Pinterest to come back to this post later!
Asking your wedding photographer to see a full wedding day gallery is so important because what you see on their website is a small percentage of their work. We share our best work on our portfolio. To give you an idea, I usually deliver over 1,000 photos per full wedding day but only blog 40-60 images and share 1-10 images on social media.
You need to see what their work looks like in all different lighting situations especially indoors and in the dark – do you like how they use flash?
Bonus if they can give you a full gallery of your venue or a similar venue so you can get a better idea of what to expect.
I highly recommend that you do an engagement session with your wedding photographer before the wedding. Not only are engagement session great to get photos for your invites or guest book or just to capture this awesome milestone in your life; An engagement session is essential to getting comfortable with your photographer. It alleviates a lot of stress to know by experience, how your wedding photographer will operate on your wedding day.
This is an easy way to actually see how they work and how their photos turn out. That way you can discuss what your favorite poses and photos are so your photographer can do more of that on your wedding day. Or if you end up not liking the photos or don’t jive with the photographer then you still have time to find a new photographer.
Most photographers require some kind of retainer (non-refundable) payment to reserve their date, this can range from $500, $1000, to 50% of the final total. Do not book anyone that doesn’t have a clear payment plan and a contract. A contract protects you both, don’t be afraid to ask questions about it.
I use an online contract and invoice with your own personal online portal so you can view them anytime. It is super easy to use!
Your wedding day is unique! You should totally be able to customize your photography needs as you wish. My two pieces of advice are that you get more coverage than you think you need (so you don’t have to stress if anything runs behind) and that you get some form of printed product.
Ways to customize your photography collections usually include: The amount of hours of photography coverage, photographer assistant, additional photographers, engagement session, bridal session, rehearsal dinner coverage, prints, canvases, albums, and more.
A second photographer is great to have peace of mind knowing you are gonna get all the angles. Additional photographers also insure that if anything happens to your primary photographer you will still have someone there to take photos for you.
An assistant is super helpful to take care of you (fix hair, fluff your dress) , get you water, and also carry any equipment needed.
Some photographers have “associate photographers”. This means that they have another photographer shooting for them. Just be clear on who you want with you on your wedding day because personality is important.
Liability insurance is often required for many venues and for special use permits in state or national parks. This is insurance your photographer pays for that will cover you if you get hurt or if there is property damage. Legitimate photographers will be able to provide this with no hassle!
This one is so important! Make sure you not just hiring a photographer, but a wedding photographer! Regular portraits can be retaken, but you only get one shot at the photos on your wedding day. I can’t tell you how many horror stories I have heard over the years – cameras breaking, sd cards corrupting or getting water logged, images getting deleted, gear getting stolen, etc the list goes on and on.
I personally carry a backup camera, lenses, and lighting equipment. That way if something happens to my primary gear, I can still capture the rest of the day.
In case of illness or whatever reason that I can’t make it to your wedding; My second shooter will take the lead or I have a list of awesome photographers I’ve worked with that I will contact to take over. (Knock on wood…I have never missed a wedding yet).
I also always shoot to two cards, then immediately backup the images in 3 places to prevent any loss of the image files. I carry my cards on my body so that they don’t get stolen or damaged.
This will be a gut check for you. Do you want someone who is super experienced shooting 40+ weddings per year or do you want someone who shoots 10 weddings per year so they have more time to focus on you?
The key here is to get the amount of service you are looking for. Experience is needed, but as long as you love their work and personality, experience doesn’t determine how good of photographer someone is.
For me, less is more. I would rather have less weddings and give all my couples 110%. My couples deserve the best and to me that is quality attention and time.
Wedding days are usually a mix between being a fly on the wall and stepping in to pose you and your spouse as well as the guests. Posing is so important to make you feel and look great as well as make portraits get done quickly. This is why I highly recommend doing a portrait session before the wedding day so you know how your photographer works.
As far as types of posing there is:
Traditional– Smile and look at the camera
Fun – Playing games, laughing at the camera
Romantic – Twirls and kisses
Editorial – Modern lines and more separated, the model look
Most of my posing is fun and romantic, but I do a mix of all of these so you get a lot of variety. Photos with me are meaningful and flattering. I keep it fluid so we are just moving between poses quickly and time flies.
While no photographer can guarantee the exact amount of images – some photographers will give you a ball park or minimum. Some photographers will cap the amount so they only deliver the best images to you.
I deliver about 50-100 images per hour of shooting. I only remove duplicate images, blurry, dark or any otherwise unusable images. You get everything that is printable!
Industry standard is about a 4-8 week turnaround. But why? Editing that many images takes a lot of time and cannot be done in one sitting. My turnaround is about 4-6 weeks, sometimes faster if it’s not busy season.
I deliver my images via an online gallery. Some photographers will send a USB drive or ask you to meet for a gallery reveal in person.
RAW images: I honestly don’t know of any photographer that gives out RAW images nowadays. A RAW image is the image straight out of camera, the largest file size, with no editing. RAW digital images typically have very little contrast and are underexposed. It is faux pas to ask for the RAWs since that is not the final photo. That is like asking a baker for the cake batter instead of getting a baked cake with beautiful frosting. Photographers spend a lot of time editing the photos so they look amazing!
There is confusion online between what a print release is and what a copyright is so here is the difference:
Print release: You can print your images whenever and wherever you want. This is pretty standard when photographers give you the digitals, but not all photographers include digital images for free. The photographer will give you a document saying you can print them. Many consumer print shops ask to see the print release before letting you print professional photos.
Copyright: Means that you now own the images and the photographer cannot publish them at all. Think of it like the photographer handing of the film negatives to you. You can do whatever you want with them basically.
This is not typically included, but can usually be added for an extra fee if you are a private person or want to use the images for any commercial use.
Most photographers offer prints, canvases, albums and other products. This is one less thing you have to worry about! Plus photographers have access to professional, high quality printing labs so you know you are getting the best.
Fortunately, I haven’t had any couples cancel but have had couples reschedule their wedding day. For me, the retainer paid is non-refundable no matter what, but any additional payments would be refunded. Depending on the situation I will do what I can to still provide services.
As long as you love their style and the photos look consistant you don’t have to worry about this too much. Here are the main photography styles out there right now –
Clean – clean, not busy photos that are true to color
Bright and Airy – creamy, lots of white and bright photos
Dark and Moody – sultry, emotional and dark photos
Tinted – images with a strong hue of yellow, orange, or pink
Saturated – typically flash photographers, wide angles with vibrant colors
I lean towards the bright and clean side, I believe wedding photos should be timeless and true to color as well as bright and joyful. Just something to keep in mind that most trends will be dated within a decade and these are the photos you are going to hand down to your children.
Another thing to think about is “photoshopping”. We can’t just press a button and photoshop stuff out of the photo or make people look skinny. This typically costs extra depending on what you want done. I do light skin retouching on close up photos because you shouldn’t have to worry about breaking out on your wedding day!
I send you a questionnaire a month before the wedding so I can find out what is most important to you! While I can’t guarantee that I will get every single photo from a big long list, I do make sure to get your top 3 and am totally open to any posing or ideas you have. These are your wedding photos after all!
This is one most couples (and new photographers) don’t think about. Your wedding photographer should blend in with your day. If you are having a black tie affair, you don’t want a photographer in jeans and a polo. And vice versa, if you are having a low-key wedding in the woods you don’t need a photographer in a tux. Most photographers wear dark colors and dress for the occasion. I am usually in a black jumpsuit and pearls (so I can run around or get on the ground to get the best angles). I really like to blend in with whatever the vibe of the wedding is.
A typical wedding day for me is 4-8 hours. And might look like this:
1 hour for detail photos
1 hour for getting ready photos (putting on the dress)
30 minutes for bridesmaids and groomsmen photos
30 minutes for first look and portraits
1 hour for the ceremony (break if needed)
1 hour for family photos
1 hour for husband and wife photos
2 hours for the reception (dinner break)
I like to start with taking photos of the details, it gets me “warmed” up for the rest of the day. Then I take photos as events happen with some time for posed portraits mixed in throughout. I prefer a relaxed approach, that way you don’t feel rushed or stressed and there is always plenty of time to just soak in your wedding day.
I added this question because these specialities are a little more technical and you may have never heard of them before! Most of these require special gear/skill. Some awesome specialities –
Underwater photography – drench your dress after the wedding or even take engagement photos underwater. Or maybe you want a session of you two surfing or paddle boarding! Underwater photography requires special (expensive) water proof housing for digital cameras and lights.
Drone Photography – Birds eye point of view photos from above are super cool, they can get a view of your whole venue that is just epic!
Astrophotography – Taking photos at night with the stars. These are truly beautiful and only require a tripod and some special editing to turn out great.
Boudoir – These are sexy, intimate photos. Typically photos of the bride in lingerie as a gift to her groom.
Film Wedding Photography – The sharpness and grain of film is just beautiful. The colors are soft and beautiful. Obviously it requires a film camera and the film is about $10 per 36 images nowadays. Most film photographers are hybrid, so they will take some images on film but also take a lot of images on their digital camera then match the editing style.
Double Exposures: This is where you put 2 images together. It can turn out really cool! You could take a photo of your venue and smash it ontop of a photo of you two kissing. Or you could take a close up photo of you two mixed with a far away shot of you two. Or you could take a photo of the bouquet and mix it with a photo of your dress. The options are endless!
Additional services could include a photo booth, videography, gift registry, album design, wedding planning, and more. Some photographers double as officiants, florists or makeup artists too!
Seasoned photographers will be well connected and be able to recommend the best venues/vendors for what you need.
This question is to get a feeling for your photographer’s personality. They should be just as excited as you about the wedding day!
My favorite part of the wedding day is when I get to photograph the couple alone. It is the sweetest thing to watch them interact with each other. I let them enjoy themselves for a bit and just capture all the love. It melts my heart!
This one might be the most important question of all...So here’s my answer:
I’ll be honest, I am NOT the photographer for everyone. I am 100% okay with that because your wedding photography is so important to me, I want you to have the BEST photographer for you.
If you are looking for someone that will help you every step of the way and be your calm & prepared, yet stoked side kick then I’m your gal. I pride myself on creating beautiful, meaningful photos that make you look and feel amazing. I am down for adventure and can go wherever you want to go. I am ready to create something beautiful with you and for you so when you look back on these photos, you remember why you love each other.
These may seem harmless, but are super off-putting to us photographers. We want to start off on the right foot with each other!
Some people assume that what we make per hour is our wages, but that is not the case at all. Typical businesses costs are a third for taxes, a third for expenses, and third for profit which can be reinvested back into the business (like gear and education) or paid to the owner/employees.
You will find that the cost between photographers can vary a ton! New photographers could charge $500, luxury photographers can go for $10,000+, and celebrity photographers can cost 6 figures. As with any artistic service – the pricing comes from exclusivity, service and quality/experience.
The average cost for a wedding photographer in the USA is $2000- $3000. For the most part, wedding photographers really are “you get what you pay for” service.
More info on wedding photographer costs here: https://www.weddingwire.com/cost/wedding-photographer
If you can, stretch your budget to get a great photographer! Photos are the only thing left from your wedding day to remember it all! I totally understand having a strict budget; Just be respectful in how you communicate that with potential photographers.
Printing off a list of 100 photos to get from pinterest is not super helpful and more like a slap in the face for photographers. You gotta trust we know what we’re doing 🙂 That’s like going to a steak house, handing the chef a your steak rub recipe, and asking them to make it.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t have any input! Creating beautiful photos is a collaboration between the photographer and who is in front of the camera! This is why I send the questionnaire before the wedding day so I know what is important to you. We will have lots of communication before hand! I also love looking at Pinterest boards my bride’s put together for inspiration.
A better question is to ask for a link to online reviews. I don’t want to give out personal information about my past couples to a stranger. That’s just awkward. It is important to know what past client’s have to say though. Online reviews are the best way to get that info! You can find their online reviews on their website, Facebook page, Google business page, Wedding Wire listing, Knot listing, or sometimes even on Yelp.
I would be happy to answer any questions you have about being a wedding photographer or the wedding photography experience with me. You can reach out to me by emailing email@example.com or use my contact form at https://kacilou.com/contact
Feel free to add your questions and comments below too!
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February 7, 2020