8 QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE BOOKING A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
Updated: Nov 7, 2019
Wedding photographer shopping is honestly one if the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Maybe, it is because it’s my profession, but I think it’s more because I was armed with the right questions. Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life and you have one shot to get those photos right. I legit scoured my home state of California searching for photographers whose styles I liked. Once I got the list down to 25 photographers, I asked them each of these 8 questions and I dropped my list down to 3 overnight. Now I know there are countless blogs on different questions to ask your photographer and some of them have great information, but I thought I'd throw my two cents into the ring.
1. HOW MUCH IS YOUR WEDDING COVERAGE?
Obvious, I know, but there are a few more things at play here. Receiving a photographers pricing guide is the first step to determining if they are a good fit for you. Most photographers created their different packages on time. For example, they will have a 6hr, 8hr, and 10hr packages. Some photographers offered all day coverage. While it’s nice to not have to worry about time restrictions, it’s often unnecessary. From my experience, a typical wedding needs at least 8hrs to capture in completion (getting ready to dancing) but there are always exceptions. The best way to figure out the coverage you need is to create a rough draft timeline of your wedding to see how much coverage you’ll require.
2. DO YOUR PACKAGES INCLUDE AN ENGAGEMENT SESSION?
This is so huge. If they do not include a complimentary engagement session of some kind, move on. So, why is this so important? Simple, the engagement photos aren’t just for you. An engagement session allows the photographer to get to know you and your fiancé. How you interact with each other, your mannerisms, how you move, and most importantly how you photograph. Do you really want a complete stranger, who you have never worked with before capturing the most important day of your life? I don’t think so. If the photographer really wants to guarantee the most amazing wedding photos they will offer you an engagement session.
3. AVERAGE PHOTOS DELIVERED PER HOUR?
What???? So pretty much what your asking is for each hour they are photographing your wedding what’s the average amount of photos they will deliver to you. Us wedding photographers take a lot of photos. Thousands upon thousands of photos, just to be sure that we don’t miss those important little moments. However they can’t all be gems, so we go through and pick out the best ones to edit and give to the couple. When asking a photographer this you're wanting a response anywhere from 50-100 images per hour. This, of course, various greatly per wedding and photographer. Getting the number of delivered photos per hour of coverage allows you to get a better idea of how many photos you can expect for your whole wedding. Too little, and they might not be worth the investment, too much and they might not actually be editing them. Yikes.
4. ARE ALL THE DELIVERED PHOTOS EDITED?
Again, obvious, but very important. Most of what you're paying your photographer for isn’t just for them being there on the day, but all of the hours upon hours they spend on editing your photos to perfection. Average edits you can expect are white balance, cropping, and some light retouching. If they aren’t doing at least these 3 things to every one of your photos they might be charging to much.
5. WILL I BE RECEIVING THE DIGITAL FILES?
You want your digital files so you can post your photos online for everyone to see how amazing your wedding was. Some photographers not only don’t include the digital files but charge upward of $20-$130 per photo for you to purchase them. It’s not a fun surprise, so make sure you ask.
6. WILL THE PHOTOS BE WATERMARKED?
Again, you won’t know unless you ask. Some photographers watermark EVERYTHING. Some photographers watermark nothing, and others are somewhere in the middle where they watermark the digitals but not the prints you order. You really don’t want any surprises here. Imagine paying for a beautiful canvas enlargement of your photos only for it to have your photographer's name posted across it.
7. ARE THE DIGITAL FILES HIGH RESOLUTION?
High-resolution digital files mean you can print them at larger sizes without the photos becoming pixelated and distorted. Some photographers will give you the digital files but only in a size made for social media, meaning if you tried to print them yourself they would look terrible.
8. DO YOU INCLUDE A PRINT RELEASE? If your photographer includes prints or not it completely depends on the photographer. If they do great! You scored! If they only include the digitals with the option to purchase prints from them later that's also a great choice. Professional photographers use professional printing agencies. The quality of prints is unparalleled and made to last. Trust me, you want professionally printed photographs. They won't fade and the paper won't yellow or warp over time. However, because they are so wonderful they do come with a bigger price tag. Because of the bigger price tag, a lot of couples opt to print their own photos via websites like Shutterfly or in a drug store. This is where you need to be very careful. A lot of photographers purposely don't give a print release so you are forced to print your photos through them. Without a print release, you can not legally print your photos anywhere. Not through a printing agency, not online, not at home with your printer, nowhere. Your photographer owns the right to your photos. If you're wanting to print the photos yourself, make sure you get a print release. (If you are printing your own photo try a higher quality printer like www.artifactuprising.com)
I hope these eight questions help you, not only find your perfect wedding photographer but also avoid any unfortunate unforeseen circumstances. Remember, a wedding photographer is a lifetime investment. So, do all your research before picking one. Read all the available reviews and go through every single one of their photos to make sure they are consistent. Armed with this knowledge you can make informed decisions and better determine which photographer is best for you.