Hitched 2.0: 10 Questions To Ask Potential Photographers

In my personal opinion, photography is one of the very most important aspects of the wedding (after the actual getting married thing, of course). Flowers will wilt, candles will be extinguished, and the music will stop—but the pictures are forever. They’re one of the few lasting, tangible things you’ll have from your big day, so it’s important to find a photographer who you’re happy and comfortable with. Doing so can be a bit overwhelming, so here are some questions to aid in the process.

1. What’s your style? Do you orchestrate poses or let things happen?

It should be more than, “taking good photos of your wedding.” Photography is an art, and there are lots of different styles and approaches to creating that art. For us, it was important to find a photographer with a photojournalistic style, who can tell the story of our wedding day with primarily candid pictures. Some photographers may systematically place each person in specific positions to get a desired shot, or orchestrate seemingly candid scenarios, like “casual laughing” or “looking adoringly at the bride.” Others prefer to act more as a “fly on the wall,” and capture moments as they happen naturally.

2. Can we see a full set of photos or album from one wedding?

Be wary of someone who only shows you a smattering of photos from multiple weddings. Most photographers can capture at least one great shot at a wedding, but you want more than that. Checking out an album or collection from one wedding will be more telling than simply seeing the best photos from five different weddings.

3. What time do you typically arrive and leave?

While many photographers charge based on the number of hours they’re with you, some are looser with their schedules. And if there is a set amount of hours, make sure you’re on the same page as to when those hours start and end. Does he typically arrive before you have your makeup done, or right at the end? Does she stay just long enough to capture a few dance floor photos, or stay until the music totally dies down? Chances are, your photographer will be flexible based on your preferences, but it’s definitely something you should discuss ahead of time.

4. What’s your backup plan if you can’t make it?

Chances are, a backup plan won’t be necessary. But things happen—whether it’s a horrendous traffic jam, food poisoning, or any other number of unpredictable scenarios—that could keep your photographer from showing up. So, rather than hope for the best, make sure you ask what would happen in that case. Does he or she have a reliable substitute? Is there a system in place to contact the necessary people? Better safe than sorry, as they say.

5. Who is your second shooter?

Most wedding photographers work with at least one counterpart during your big day, and that counterpart is equally as important. After all, while your photographer is snapping shots of you getting ready, that second shooter is with your groom. And while one person is getting an amazing candid of your maid of honor doing the worm on the dance floor, the other could be taking photos of all the gorgeous décor you spent so much time putting together. Make sure you know who that second shooter is, what kind of experience he or she has, and if it’s someone your photographer works with regularly.

6. Do you design the wedding album?

Whether you want to be the one to select every single photo that goes into your wedding album, or you’d rather leave the overwhelming task to the professional, it’s good to know what’s standard or possible. In our case, we want a little of both: The photographer selects the majority of the photos and designs the layout of each page to start, and we can swap things in and out as we see fit after seeing a proof.

7. Is the album price based on number of photos or number of pages?

If your photographer’s fee comes with an album, be sure you know what that entails. Some charge based on the number of photos that go into that album; others based on the number of pages; and others still keep it flexible.

8. Do I get all digital files and rights?

This is a big one. Even with a gorgeous album, chances are you’ll want to print, share and do what you please with various photos from your wedding day for years to come. To have that freedom, negotiate your contract to include the digital files of your photos, and the rights to do what you want with them. (In our research, we found the only thing you really can’t do is sell the photos, which is fair.)

9. How long does it take for you to design the album?

Planning to give your mom an album for her birthday? Or perhaps you’re just impatient when it comes to your memories? Whatever your timeline, make sure you know your photographer’s timeline, too. Ask when you’ll be able to see photos online, when you can check out an album proof, and when you’ll have the actual album in hand.

10. What do you wear?

Honestly, this one never crossed my mind until my fiancé asked it, but it makes sense. Whether you want your photographer in a suit, or just not in a loud, attention-grabbing outfit, it’s worth it to check in advance what he or she typically dons.