One of the most common questions I get asked during client consultations is, “What do most people usually ask?”
If you’re planning a wedding, you’ll come to a point in the planning process where it’s time to decide on a wedding photographer. DSLR cameras today are more affordable and there are so many photographers out there.
Navigating a sea of talent might be overwhelming for newly engaged couples planning their big day. In order to weed through potential photographers, you may want to chat with them, almost like an interview. Get a feel for their personality, their approach and skill level. It’s ok to be a little picky about this important investment.
Questions to Ask a (Potential) Wedding Photographer
Are you available?
First and foremost, you should check if they’re available. Our contact page includes “event date” so we know right away if we’re available.
It’s also important to know their booking policies. We don’t hold dates without a formal booking; 40% down and a signed agreement. We often have several couples inquiring on the same date, especially during prime wedding months.
Do you have a contract?
Your photographer should have a contract. Period. And this contract should not only detail things like your payment schedule, editing timeline and cancellation policies, but it should also protect YOU as a client.
The contract needs to detail what your photographer expects from you, but it should also list things you expect from them. For example, you expect them to be punctual and dressed appropriately. You expect them to deliver your photos in a specified timeframe. As a photographer, we expect our clients to be aware of our editing style and policies. We expect that they provide us with a guest meal (because we get hungry) and that they are prompt in communicating with us on important wedding details.
And don’t be afraid to ask about the contract if something doesn’t make sense. Definitely don’t sign it without reading it in full.
How long does editing take?
The answer may vary between photographers, and personally, we wouldn’t let this sway our decision unless the answer is like 5 months. Again this is just our opinion, but photo editing shouldn’t take longer than 2-3 months, which is what we tell our couples. We always try to get them out sooner, and we share sneak peeks as soon as possible! Just make sure the expectations are clear up front. This timeline should also be explicitly stated in your wedding photo contract.
Can I see a full gallery?
It’s always a good idea to see a full wedding gallery. A photographers website and social media accounts typically only show you the best of the best. It is important that you love the work they feature online but it’s also important to know exactly what you’re getting. A full gallery will give you a much better idea of your photographers style, attention to detail and ability to capture the moments; big and small.
We like to send a full gallery right when you inquire because we aren’t trying to hold anything back!
What does editing entail?
Editing entails something different for every photographer, so don’t be afraid to ask them to explain it to you.
Here at MHP, our clients and our vendor friends rave about our photos because of our timeless and classic editing style. They key is getting the photos right in camera. This is achieved because we understand our settings and this makes editing much easier! We like to keep it natural, because just like pencil thin eyebrows and bell bottom jeans, fads go out of style. Timeless never will!
When we edit, we lightly color correct your photos, adjust the exposure, straighten the horizons, organize your gallery in a way that makes sense. After that, we take the images we flag for further editing into Photoshop for further retouching. This is usually for that giant zit that decided to show up the morning of your wedding or that drunk groomsman photobombing. It happens, and we will fix anything that takes away from the beauty of your images.
We never do any body manipulation ever, but we do offer airbrushing, teeth whitening and stray hair removal for an additional fee. It’s always good to ask so you know upfront what’s being done and what extras will cost. The reasons heavy retouching is not a part of the process is because we firmly believe everyone is beautiful. Your laugh lines make you YOU. Your nose crinkle is adorable and embrace those freckles babe! Seriously, we think you look great the way you are – but just ask if you really really have to have anything removed or edited.
How will we receive our images? Are they accessible online? For how long?
We love the way online galleries have made this process so so simple! We create your gallery, organize your photos into albums and can show them to you literally as soon as we upload them. Plus we have unlimited storage, so your photos will always be available online. Check with your photographer on this. Many of these systems have paid storage plans, so they may only keep your galleries up for a limited time.
Do we have to order prints from you?
This is super important, because not every photographer will provide digital files. Some photographers provide a limited number of digitals, or they have to be purchased separately. And they may require that any prints be ordered through them.
We like make sure to let our clients know that we only guarantee their prints when they order through MHP.
We partner with some of the top photo labs in the country, so you are always getting the best with us and our lab partners! And we also provide a print release so you are welcome to print anywhere you’d like. Just remember, you’ve made an important investment in your wedding photographer, so make sure you do the same with preserving those photos with tangible prints.
What is your favorite photo…and why?
This was actually a question we were asked recently in a client consult and it was HARD.
Not because we didn’t have a favorite, but because we had way too many! We were asked this during a Zoom consult, so we started going through our instagram feeds and pointing out different photos. We explained why they were our favorites and it was a great way for our cleints to see the heart behind what we do.
They said as we were scrolling, they were watching our faces and seeing our smiles light up as we found yet another favorite. It was a way to see the genuine person behind the work. We were able to show our clients what motivates us and that was incredibly special. And a sneaky way to get that answer without directly asking us what motivates us.
We would encourage you to add this question to your list and really hone in on how they answer. If the reasons seem superficial and lacking in depth, then maybe their heart isn’t in photography for the right reasons. This is so important in choosing a photographer, so this is a great question to ask your wedding photographer.
What kind of equipment do you use?
We are firm believers that it is not the gear that makes the photographer, it’s the person behind the gear. However that doesn’t mean that your wedding photographer shouldn’t have great gear.
We don’t really have couples ask this often, but it is an important question to ask. The main thing we’d want to know as a photographer is if they shoot on a full frame camera. Full frames are considered professional level DSLR cameras, unlike most of the kits you can buy at Costco. When MHP was a one woman show, Megan shot for 2.5 years on Costco kit cameras and produced quality work, but below is a little comparison so you can see for yourself.
Megan’s gear list (as of 2020)
(2) Canon 5D Mark III Cameras
Megan is waiting for canon to release something new, so cross your fingers… and book a session haha kidding…but not really.
Do you have backup gear?
What happens if something happens to the photographers camera?
Megan’s story time…
I was at an event once and my camera went to a black screen. It was on, the shutter was clicking but NOTHING was displaying on my screen so I had no way of knowing if the photos were recording on my card. My heart would have dropped if I had come with one camera, but my backup (which is the same as my main camera) was safely tucked in my backpack. Thankfully I just removed the battery and turned it back on to discover all was well, but you never know.
You should make sure your photographer has a backup plan. We *cringe* when we see photographers show up with one camera. WHAT?! WHYYY?
And as a business owner, part of being a smart business owner is making sure our gear is serviced and maintained properly. Just like oil changes in your car, camera gear needs care and servicing for peak performance. All our gear receives annual checks and servicing whenever they need it.
How many weddings have you photographed?
Combined, the MHP team (as on April 2020) has photographed over 80 weddings with over 7 years of wedding photography experience. So trust us when we say there is NO substitute for real wedding experience!
Styled shoots are growing in popularity, and there’s a reason for that. They are so much fun! It’s a great way for a group of creatives to come together and style a specific look so that the images in their portfolios are reflecting what they want to photograph.
We love styled shoots, but the problem is, they are not real weddings.
A styled shoot is much different than photographing a real wedding and it’s important that as a client, you are aware of a photographers experience level when you book with them.
Another variation of that last question is “Have you ever photographed a *insert culture here* wedding?”
Megan’s story time:
I photographed my first Indian wedding in the summer of 2018 and it was awesome! There were a lot of cultural and traditional ceremonies going on during the wedding I had to be aware of so we could get the best coverage for their wedding day. I’ve traveled to Chile and attended a Chilean wedding church ceremony (that I didn’t understand since it was all in Spanish) and then partied LITERALLY all night long at an awesome wedding reception. By all night I mean we left at like 5am for the hotel.
The point is that every culture, and even every family will have new or different traditions. It is so important your photographer is not only aware of that, but prepared to handle the events of the day!
Questions that aren’t as helpful, but you could still ask;
Have you ever photographed a wedding at our wedding venue?
While I understand why couples ask this question, to me, we don’t think it’s that helpful. Sure it’s great to have a photographer who knows where they are, but photographers are generally creative anyways and new places give them the freedom to get creative with what they’re photographing.
And out of the weddings we’ve photographed, we’ve shot duplicate venues about 10 times, so most of what you see from MHP is our first time on site.
Can we request a shot list?
We think it’s great to have couples share their ideas with us. We always send a family photo checklist so we don’t miss important family shots. And we encourage you to share your Pinterest board with us, so we can get a better idea of your wedding vibes. Don’t be e-mail a 3 page list of every. single. shot. We have received attachments that have said;
Bride putting on her earrings, bride spraying on perfume, bride buckling her shoes, bride applying mascara, bride holding the bouquet, bride smiling in front of the glass windows, bride looking down at her bouquet in front of the glass windows…OH. MER. GERD.
First off, you should book your photographer because you TRUST in their work. Photography is a creative art and lists are the furthest thing from being creative. You should review full galleries so you know what to expect, which is why we listed that question earlier. These are such important questions to ask your wedding photographer.
To help our clients feel confident without a list, we have a short but detailed questionnaire. We send this out usually a month before the wedding. You can explain important moments, describe special details and share anything with us so we know what to expect.
Is your Grandfather the officiant? Maybe your cousin playing the piano? Is mom saying grace before dinner?
That’s where you can share those details so we know to get some sweet photos of Gramps tearing up during your vows, your cousin doing their thing and Mom bringing everyone together. Weddings are such a fluid event, we simply cannot guarantee specific photos.