I’ve created this list of 36 questions to ask your wedding photographer. Hopefully, this will help wedding couples to figure out some ideas as to what they might want to know more about. (You won’t be able to ask them all!) Whether it’s about style, presence on the day, deliverables or pricing, wedding photographers are used to having LOTS of questions thrown at them! So don’t be shy, ask away 😉
Certainly there are a ton of articles written by wedding and lifestyle blogs that advise couples to ask the most arbitrary questions! So make sure you’re asking the right questions. Ask about what matters to you. Your time is precious, and there are only so many questions that can be addressed during a typical 1.5 – 2 hour initial meeting.
Allow the photographer to lead the conversation as there will be a process to the way each photographer conducts meetings. They will have a few questions for you, too, to help the flow of the conversation. Be aware grilling your wedding photographer is not always conducive to simply getting to know each other. Most questions are answered in the photographer’s welcome guides, FAQ’s and blog articles so be sure to check those out first to save time.
So, hopefully this list of questions sparks a few thoughts about what’s important for you to personally to find out about. Always good to have a few questions in your back pocket when you go to meet with the photographers you’re interested in.
Still trying to choose a wedding photographer? I’ve got a helpful guide on that, too!
The photographer’s experience
1. How many weddings do you shoot per year on average?
2. What do you enjoy about photographing weddings specifically?
3. Are you a full-time photographer or do you have another job as well?
4. Have you shot at our venue or a venue like it? What challenges did you face?
5. Do you have insurance? What does that cover?
If you’re concerned about the photographer’s level of experience, don’t simply ask ‘how long have you been shooting’. Why? Firstly, some photographers count ‘when they first picked up a camera’ as when they started shooting.
Also, it’s common for some photography dabblers to have shot a wedding years ago, but not a lot in the intervening years. You want to know how long they’ve been shooting weddings professionally, as well as how consistently they’re booking.
Photographers having a full-time job isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. It just may mean they might not operate with the same level of professionalism as a full-time pro that spends 40+ hours a week living and breathing their business, and weddings!
It’s good to know about how they feel about shooting weddings specifically. You can gauge whether the photographer’s heart is really in it or if they’re more invested in a different kind of photography. You’ll want to be sure that weddings are their passion.
The photographer’s style and approach
6. What makes your photography unique?
7. What level of editing can we expect, and what affects the look?
8. Can I see a range of full wedding galleries?
9. What’s your favorite and least favorite part of the wedding day?
10. What are the values that you strive for in your brand?
11. Have you ever had an unhappy customer? What happened and how did you resolve it?
Here we’re focusing on the photographer describing their style in their own words. It’s a good way of making sure that what you see in the images, aligns with how they view their work. Seeing full galleries is a great way of going deeper than the portfolio.
If you want to know more about editing, feel free to ask. A good photographer should be able to explain it in simple terms.
Does your photographer have a well-thought-out, coherent brand? A refined shooting style and consistent editing? That would increase my confidence you’re in safe hands. Photographers do often rebrand as they change style and evolve their clientele – which is a good thing!
The way they respond to the ‘unhappy client’ question will be very telling! Most photographers have had one and it can be a tricky subject to talk about. So if you want to see them squirm a bit, ask away 😉
Money & payments
12. What exactly do we receive for the price we pay? Are there any extra costs?
13 What are some typical add-ons to the package?
14. Can you let us have a quote and a sample contract to view?
15. Do you sales tax payable?
16. What is the payment schedule?
17. What payment methods do you accept?
18. What rate do you charge for overtime?
19. Is the deposit refundable? What happens if we cancel our wedding after we book with you?
20. Is there a minimum coverage time or number of hours?
As business owners, photographers shouldn’t be afraid to talk about money, whether in person, by phone or email. You want to be totally clear on how much you’ll need to pay, so that when you receive your invoice there are no surprises!
There’s nothing more disappointing than finding the perfect photographer but then realizing that once you add in all the extras, they’re out of your budget. Plus, it feels dishonest.
Whether they build you a custom quote, offer packages or an a la carte pricing menu, the same rules applies: Be absolutely sure you know what you’re getting.
Most photographers can be flexible with payment schedules but all will require a deposit of usually around 25% at the very least. As long as all payments are received before the wedding day, that’s usually fine.
Each photographer will have a different approach to overtime hours, fees and other charges. If you want to see a sample contract, this is the best place to get the scoop on cancelation policies.
An often-misunderstood fact of working weddings is the minimums that are required to make your wedding worthwhile for in-demand vendors. Just like caterers, venues and florists have minimums, so do photographers. So you see a price for an 8-hour package, don’t assume you can halve that number if you want a 4-hour package. More about that below.
Help planning the wedding
21. Do you help couples create their wedding day timeline? What planning help do you provide?
22. What are some tips and tricks for getting the most out of our wedding experience?
23. Do you include a second shooter? How do we know if we need one?
24. Do you offer meetings, and can we call you if we have questions?
25. What specific shot list is it helpful for us to provide, if any?
Photographers, as a rule, love to provide assistance with timeline planning! It ensures we allow time for all the things you value.
Planning is so key to a successful, stress-free wedding day, so we always encourage letting us in on any scheduling issues you encounter. Most photographers are quite hands-off; others like myself pride themselves on helping couples craft a timeline that works for their needs. If you’re not using a wedding photographer that provides planning help (and even if you are!) it pays for itself to hire a professional wedding planner, for small or large weddings.
An essential part of planning is meeting up and/ or phone calls. One meeting will be to get to know each other, another meeting will be to go through the timeline closer to the date. Some photographers may not offer in-person meetings.
A benefit of the a la carte system that I use, is that you are free to add on anything you like at any point in the process. There’s no pressure to purchase the ‘package deal’ before you know if you actually want or need the bundled items.
I also have a questionnaire I ask all couples to fill out in advance of the day which captures a lot of information it’s helpful to know.
On the wedding day
26. Will you be the one photographing our wedding? If not, can we meet our photographer?
27. How do you work on the wedding day and interact with our guests?
28. How do you take good photos when there isn’t a lot of light? Is that a problem?
29. How will you help us to relax and look our best on the wedding day?
30. What happens if you are not physically able to photograph our wedding?
When you meet with your wedding photographer, the wedding day will seem a very long way away. But it’s important to know what to expect on the day itself before you book.
Knowing how they would deal with particular scenarios is helpful to know, especially if your venue poses particular challenges. It’s also totally fine to bring up any issues that are on your mind when you look ahead to the day itself.
Some photographers take a very active role on the day, posing everything carefully and arranging groups for every shot. Others take a more unobtrusive approach. No one approach is right or wrong, but it may affect the dynamics of your day in ways you may not have considered yet.
This is also a reason why photographers need to provide input into the timeline. It’s a truly collaborative effort between you, the photographer and your wedding planner / venue / caterer.
Helping you to feel confident on your wedding day is so crucial. It’s can be truly daunting getting your photo taken especially when you want to cherish the pictures for the rest of your lives!
What is included after the wedding
31. How long does it take you to deliver the finished photos to us?
32. Do you provide a ‘sneak peek’ of a few images for social media?
33. How many images would you expect to deliver for our wedding? What factors influence that number?
34. Do you offer printed items and can we look into this after the wedding?
35. What size can we print the finished files?
36. What rights do we have to the images? Will we own them?
After the wedding is done, and all the excitement and nerves are gone, you’ll be eager to see the photos. However, it’s important to get a realistic sense of when you’ll see the finished images. You should know an approximate number of images per hour to expect.
Given that it can take weeks or months, you may want to ask about a small image gallery known as a sneak peek, teaser or preview. This gives you an idea of what was captured and should be delivered within a couple of days of your wedding. It’s great to have a few professional pictures to post to Instagram and share!
Copyright is another important issue – one that’s easily misunderstood. When you commission a photographer to take pictures at your wedding, they do not release the copyright to you. (Not without a costly copyright buyout.) So find out what personal usage and printing rights are included.
You want to be sure that you will get high-resolution files as part of the package, and not as a paid upgrade. Again, this comes back to knowing in advance exactly what you’re getting.
Hopefully, you’ll see there’s a bit of a theme emerging! Know what to expect and getting to trust the photographer.
Honest conversations about pricing
The issue of pricing bears another mention. First of all, always be open to the value that a photographer provides, rather than the price. Every photographer offers something different which will be reflected in the price you pay.
On the other hand, if the photographer’s starting price is way out of your budget, and you cannot stretch it, then it’s not worth meeting. I’ve personally had experience in which a prospect told me I was out of budget, booked a phone call regardless, both of them spent the time chatting, then reiterated a few days later that I was out of budget.
So, be sure that the basics are in place and you’re done your vetting before moving forward with meetings:
- You like the photographer’s work
- You are happy with and can pay the prices
- You’re read the reviews and looked out for any red flags
- You feel a connection to their words as well as imagery
- You are seriously considering hiring the photographer
Professionalism is of the utmost importance when booking your wedding vendors. Pricing is a topic that inexperienced or unprofessional vendors will want to shy away from. To understand the topic of wedding vendor pricing specifically, I’ve created this helpful resource linked below that goes into the topic in depth.
7 Questions that are (probably) irrelevant
There are a bunch of questions going around out there that are actually irrelevant and can be a waste of time to even ask. (Looking at you, wedding blogs and articles written by dodgy content mills 👀) Asking these questions will take you off-topic and may not be conducive for natural, easy conversation. Here are the irrelevant questions and a short explanation.
1. What equipment do you use?
If you don’t know the difference between an 85mm F 1.4 and F 1.2, or an 580EX II and a 600EX RT, then you probably don’t need to ask about it. Just like your mechanic, or an artist you’ve commissioned for a painting, trust they have the equipment they need to complete the job at hand.
It can honestly be pretty boring for photographers to answer questions about gear, especially when we aren’t talking to other photographers! It always makes me wonder WHY are clients asking this. If you have major misgivings about your photographer’s equipment, choose a different photographer!
2. What’s your photography style, and can you change it to suit our tastes?
Though it may seem like editing is just hitting a button, much like applying a Snapchat filter, photographers have spent years evolving and constantly refining their editing style. Going back to the painter analogy, you’d find the artist whose style you like, then commission that you make a painting that looks much like their other work, for you.
OK, we’re not painters but the same deal holds up. A good wedding photographer will not simply change their editing style for your tastes, but rather refer you to a different style of photographer that is exactly what you’re looking for.
3. Can we get a discount? Or can you match the price of XYZ Photographer?
The money question again! Negotiation is part of every business, but it’s very different from haggling. Sure, if you’re in the souks of Marrakech or contemplating a second-hand car, haggle away. In a way, that’s part of the fun. But when you’re trying to beat down a full-time professional on their prices for no good reason, you’re telling us we’re not worth what we’re charging.
If you can offer something in return, then that’s more of a reasonable discussion! Maybe you have a YouTube channel with a million subscribers, or your wedding is something truly out-of-this-world unique, or you want coverage of a lot of different events. These are all great bouncing-off points for leveraging a discount, so let’s talk!
Tire-kickers are every business owner’s nightmare, so please be respectful of a small business owner’s prices and time. If you have questions about pricing, always ask! Plus, I’m always happy to refer other awesome photographers who operate at a lower price point as I completely understand budgets are real.
4. Can we give you a shot list of everything we want photographed?
Um, no! Shot lists of ‘what to capture at the wedding’ are only required if you’re using a novice photographer who has never shot a wedding before. The only shot lists professional will need are 1) Anything unusual or unique to your wedding and 2) Family groupings required for posed formals.
All those websites out there that are just seeking pageviews will have long useless lists ‘to print and give to your photographer’. I think I’d likely die if a client gave one of those to me when I walked into their wedding! It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s worth mentioning because it keeps me up at night. Why would we need a list of shots like “marrier walking down the aisle”, “marriers first kiss”, “guests giving toasts” – like, what else would we be doing?
Unique items though, please let us know! We won’t know that your dress has custom embroidery in the lining, or you have your great-grandfather’s military medal tucked into your bouquet.
5. Can you also be our wedding planner?
Photographers do for the most part love to help with planning as we’ve spoken about. But please view this as an extra service that each photographer decides to add on in a way that they see fit. We do want the photography to go smoothly, and part of this means creating timelines that affect the whole running of the day. I love to help in any way I can with planning and scheduling, but ultimately there is a limit to how much time I can devote to it.
A photographer is not a replacement for an actual independent wedding planner! We love working alongside planners and can provide recommendations if you’re still looking for a dedicated planner.
6. Can you Photoshop that?
I never know whether this question is a joke or not! Most people probably are joking when they say stuff like ‘oh you can just make me 10lb lighter!’ but I do wonder if there’s any seriousness to the joke! In all seriousness, the editing that is and isn’t performed is detailed most fully in my contract, but I also have more info below.
It’s a fine balance between removing some distracting elements like a red fire alarm, and ensuring that we communicate a realistic expectation to the client. Fine-image retouching such as removing wrinkes, making people appear slimmer, or extensive background remodeling.
Generally, I would never change someone’s appearance, and if you request such changes after receiving the gallery there may be an extra charge for extensive retouching on a per-image basis. If it’s minor, I can probably fix that myself but it’s at the photographer’s discretion. Basically, tell the photographer at the time of shooting if you want to minimize the appearance of a particular feature.
7. Have you photographed at our venue?
I get that if you live in a small town with a handful of wedding venues, it may be a serious red flag if a photographer hasn’t shot at your venue. However, the nature of living in the vast Bay Area, with more venues than you can shake a stick at, is somewhat different! It’s common for many professional wedding photographers to be shooting at a new venue every time we shoot a wedding.
Why? Because there are just so many venues! They come and go, people get married at non-traditional venues that start hosting weddings. There’s also a super wide range that I cover. In 2019, I shot weddings from Mendocino to the Sierra Foothills, Yosemite to Big Sur. You’ll want to know that your photographer has shot in a venue like yours, be it a vineyard or a museum, a country club or a cave!
If you really want the photographer to have a great relationship with the venue, and to know every nook and cranny of the space, then ask away! Maybe it’s really important to you. But for most photographers, we are used to shooting in new places, as it’s the reality of Northern California weddings.
The most important consideration isn’t even a question
But there’s one final key consideration which has barely come up so far but is super important, and underpins this whole discussion: Personality!
You’ll be spending so much time with this stranger on one of the most important days of your life. They’ll be seeing you at your most intimate and vulnerable. So don’t be strangers!
See if you can vibe with them on a personal level. Go into it the meeting more as a casual chat than an ‘interview’, with a mix of the business and personal. Maybe you’ll prefer someone with a similar personality type to you, or with shared values and hobbies.
Bonding over shared loves is also going to be so powerful when it comes to getting amazing wedding photos. When we let our guard down just a little, it can be where the magic happens.
I hope this list of 36 questions to ask your wedding photographer was helpful! If this article has been helpful, please leave a comment.
Oh and you can learn more about my services at the links below. Hoping we’ll be meeting soon to chat about your lovely wedding!
Spot the unicorn when you hover over any image on this page =)