At A Lark Creation, we know that your wedding day will be inevitably be a day that you want to cherish forever. To capture all of the magical moments on your wedding day it is important to pick a photographer that is the perfect fit for you as a couple. Selecting the right photographer can make a world of difference in the moments that are captured from your engagement session all the way to your reception. This is the best advice we can give: Don’t rush your decision and be sure that you check out all of your options, and remember the things that are important to you.
During the selection process be sure to ask questions to ensure that your photographer fits you and your fiance and all the things that make your relationship unique. You may prefer a more journalistic style while another bride desires a fashion-filled photography, not all photographers can accomplish the look you desire. Asking the right questions will help!
Start off with preliminary questions to lead into the more personalized questions for you as couple to decide if there is a point in moving forward in the booking process or if it is best to thank them for their time and prepare for scheduling another interview.
1. Are you available on our date? How far in advance do you need to reserve their services? This is a no-brainer but we want to make sure it gets said. If you get a no then of course there is no need to move further. Remember that even if they do not have a specific time you have to book them, that new couples may contact them needing their services on the same day. Always make sure to take as much time as you need to make a good choice, but do not put it off until the last minute either.
2. What is the deposit required to book their services and what is the total cost? What all is included in the fee? After determining their availability, find out how much the deposit is to reserve your date and when it (as well as the final payment) is due. Request a sample contract for you, your fiance, and your coordinator to review prior to signing. Professional photographers will go over everything that is included and what is not included in the fee. Be mindful of what the cancellation and/or refund policies are, how many hours the fee covers and if there is any overtime charges. You may also want to ask about travel fees and if they are traveling long distance, will they require a hotel room as well. Never hire a vendor of any type who will not have you sign a written contract. The contract is there as a safety net for not only the vendor but for you as well. It lays out all of the terms that the two of you have agreed on and all services that will be provided.
3. How many photographers will be shooting on our wedding day? Find out if the photographer you are meeting with is going to be your only photographer or if there will be a second shooter. Sometimes photographers work completely alone, others have more than one photographer in a package. Also, make sure that your photographer has a back up plan and back up equipment as well in case of emergencies.
4. How many weddings have they photographed? Do they have a portfolio you can look at? Seeing their most recent work is a good way to judge their experience and also a good time to inquire about size of previous weddings in comparison to your wedding. Inquire on how many weddings the photographer usually commits to per day and/or weekend. If your photographer commits to more than one wedding per day it is always a good idea if this is something you are comfortable with and making sure that the photographer is capable to adhering to your wedding timeline to avoid confusion later if they are late to or leaving early from your wedding.
5. Can they provide recent reviews? No vendor should ever hesitate to provide you with a list of references and reviews unless of course they are brand new and you are their first client! Checking out credible reviews online is also a very good source in addition to references. Previous couples will give you first hand knowledge on their shooting style, professionalism, and value.
6. What is their shooting style? In photography there are several styles such as, artistic, traditional, documentary, fashion, or journalistic. First research all of the different styles to get an idea of what you like best then find a photographer that has a passion for it already and is comfortable with that style.
7. Are you comfortable with taking the lead? This is a very important question because while photographers may be excellent at what they do, that does not mean that they are good with a crowd. You need a photographer who does not mind taking charge and letting people know (politely and in a non-disruptive way, of course.) that they need to get in a spot to get just the right picture or that they need the group to relocate somewhere else for a group photo. You don’t want to have to be the one herding the crowd and getting sweaty on your big day!
8. Are they comfortable with you giving them a list of preferred shots? We all have certain poses that we absolutely love the most and are “must haves” and you should be sure to voice that. Some couples want to focus a lot of shots on the first dances, cake cutting, the grand entrance or send off, other couples prefer more time spent for the intimate moments like the “first look” shots. Most photographers do not mind if you give them some shots or pose that you really want, however you may run into a few photographers that will want to have “free reign” to capture all the shots they can while still remembering to get the ones that you adore and requested.
9. Do they provide a personal-use copyright release? This is important! Don’t forget that your photographer is an artist and deserves credit for their hard work! You will need permission before you begin uploading and updating to all your social media outlets or printing shots for your home. Even with permission when you post them it is still a nice gesture to give them the well-deserved credit by tagging them, or add their business name with a thank you into the caption…maybe even throw their hashtag on it!
10. What information do they need about your wedding before the big day? Giving information on the theme and style for your big day is always a great idea so that they can prepare for it in advance and try to have everything they will need to capture your big day in all of its glory.
11. Will pictures be retouched before or after you order? How long before you can expect to receive the photos? It can take months to get pictures back depending on if it is film or digital as well as how many photos the photographer will be retouching prior to you getting your copies. All photographers vary in time frames so it is always a safe bet to simply ask your photographer up front. Some photographers will show you the photos before retouching them, while others may retouch them all first and then show you the proofs to make your choices. It never hurts to ask your photographer specifically so there are no surprises!
12. Do you bring your own lighting? This may seem minor but is something you will need to know to better prepare for budgeting in lighting equipment and/or tweaking your venue layout to ensure enough space for the lighting equipment.
13. Have they previously worked with any of the vendors you have already hired? When you have a team of vendors who have worked together in the past it can help the entire day run smoother. Make sure to inquire about how they will coordinate to provide the best product from all vendors involved (this is also something your wedding coordinator can assist with). Find out if they have worked at the venue previously and if not if they will need to see the venue prior to the wedding day.
14. Do they mind other people taking photos also? If you plan to have a family member or family friend also taking pictures throughout the day, make sure that you and your photographer are comfortable with other people taking pictures at the same time. If you are considering hiring more than one photographer if they work alone then this is a good time to address that as well. Let’s do our best to avoid any unnecessary awkwardness the day of your wedding.
15. How will they and their assistants be dressed? Again, this may seem minor but I have seen vendors arrive looking more like unwanted guests than professionals. Your photographer should be professional and fit your idea of how you want them to look so be sure to voice any concerns. Advise of any dress code/theme so that you can determine together the best attire. Remember that while your photographer and the assistants need to look professional you want to allow them to be comfortable enough to provide you with their best work possible.
Now that we’ve covered suggestions you should consider asking the photographer, let’s take a step back and remember that before you schedule any appointments for interviewing photographers you need to have a good idea of what you as a couple are want and like so that you know what you are looking for! Throughout the entire planning process, you always want to keep sight of what you want for your big day. Here are a few important questions to keep in mind:
1. What kind of budget do you have?
2. What kind of style do you want? Does your personality match well with this photographer?
3. Are you comfortable with how they communicated with you and their work?
4. Have all your concerns been addressed and have they listened to everything you have said?
5. Is this THE one? It sounds silly but you don’t want to be uncomfortable getting your picture taken thousands of times by someone you and your fiance are not happy with.
While this seems like a lot to consider, it is a good thing to remember that photographers (especially seasoned ones) are used to these questions and nine times out of ten they will answer them before you even have to ask each one specifically. Use this as a guide to know what to ask if they do not cover everything, what you need to find out, and what to look for. We hope that this helps you in your selection process and makes it a bit easier!