What to Ask Your Photographer: Consultation Tips

Okay, I personally hate biased blogs of companies that arbitrarily create rules and tips to assist them in making sales, so I wanted to start this blog off with a statement that the following tips are based on experience with couples coming in NOT knowing what to discuss with me, or the questions to ask RATHER than me trying to funnel questions into pre-disposed answers that I know I’ll be able to knock out of the park in a consultation.

Picking your photographer is in insanely overwhelming process. Seriously. There are more ‘packages’ and options then there are hours in the year to review them all. Plus, you’re trusting your entire wedding memories to someone you have never met before. This is stressful, terrifying, and crazy. Seriously. The list below will assist you in getting the ball rolling on the right questions, but keep the communication lines open and see how much you actually connect with them.

How Long Have You Been in Business?

You’re looking for experience here. You can also ask how many weddings have you shot. The idea is to capture an idea of how this person can navigate a wedding day. Sure you can take great photos, but are you able to know precisely when the first kiss will happen based on the priest’s sermon?

Is This Your Full Time Job?

Knowing the photographer’s priorities in life is important, do they have a family, do they have another full time job? This becomes important to you when either one has an emergency. What happens to the priority of your wedding? If you have your photographer getting a promotion that brings their family to San Francisco (True Story) and that will help him pay for his child’s education, he will choose the job over your wedding day. Make darn sure that your photographer is a full time wedding photographer with a studio.

What if You’re Sick?

Getting sick is a normal human thing, missing your wedding day because of it is irresponsible. Look for a photographer with a back up plan, and something quantifiable that you can jump to incase of a major emergency. Who is the secondary back up person to call in case of an emergency? What is your backup plan to guarantee your wedding is going to be covered?

DoYou Have Insurance?

And can you prove it? This sounds silly, but if there is a shooter who is uninsured on your property, or at your venue and they get hurt (Say a tent falls and breaks their shoulder (True Story), you are personally liable for any damages. Although there are many photographers who do this as a part time hobby, it doesn’t mean that there is any less liability on you, or your family in case of an accident.

What Happens with My Photos? Or Videos?

Do you get the high resolution images, or just low res web copy? Are they water marked, or clean? DO I have to print with you, or can I print anywhere else? You’ll be surprised with how many hidden fees happen with photographers – And you wont know until your day is long over.

How Long do I Have to Wait to get the Photos or Film?

If you get a range number (say 8-12 weeks…. OR two to three months) expect that you’ll see your photos at the longest check point during wedding season, and the shortest in off season. You wont care now, but after your wedding you’ll be itching to see the photos, and two months is a LONG time to have to wait. And don’t let them tell you that it takes time to get quality images. We turn around our photos in 30 hours of editing, not 8-12 weeks.

Why Do I have to Pay My Full Deposit Before the Wedding?

Seriously, you haven’t even touched the camera yet, and you expect me to pay you thousands? Keep the photographer honest and interested in your photo delivery times. Make the last deposit on delivery. If this isn’t good with them, it’s tine to find a photographer that’s fairer to your needs. Plus, pre wedding costs are insane – It’s nice to defer payments until you get all your wedding gifts.

Where Can I Find Reviews?

Or can I contact a few brides to see how they liked working with you? (You pick…. Not them) Get a feel for the connection and quality from the people who have been through it before. Tip: go to the social media pages, and contact past brides directly – Good experiences will be happy to tell you, and bad ones… even more so.

How can I save money?

Packages are based on hours, not as an entire unit. If you see a package with the perfect photographer for 10 hours at $3400.00, and your topline budget is $2800, see what they can do to balance this budget out. This MAY end up with you losing a second shooter post ceremony, or less images overall, but you’ll still get the professionalism and perfection of that photographer at a price you can swallow.

How many backups of my wedding photos do you have before you leave the reception?

Things happen, cards get lost, and computers get stolen. As unfortunate as it is, these situations can be tolerated (and paid for through insurance) but losing your wedding day cannot. If your photographer is not backing up on a laptop before they leave your wedding, you are risking your entire wedding day memory to a hope that they will not be lost in the shuffle. Trust me, I’ve only ever lost one card to technical failure post wedding, and if we didn’t’ have it backed up before I left, we would have lost the ceremony and the photo-shoot photos.

Bonus Questions:

What’s Your Style?

After seeing their portfolio, it’s pretty clear to know what you’ll be getting for your photos. “Airy and naturally candid photo journalistic” is awesome sounding, but what does it actually look like?

What Kind of Gear Do You Use?

Unless you’re in the business, a Canon 5ds with a prime 50mm f.1.2 lense doesn’t mean anything (It’s what we shoot with though). Just know that they shoot raw and consistently.

Will you show me an unedited wedding day? This is a good way to make sure that your shooter doesn’t miss important moments due to lack of skill or consistency. If the raw album is pretty spot on throughout, and minimal errors (light focus etc..) you have a good photographer.

Will You Show Me all the Photos in a Completed Album?

Anyone can take 100 great shots during a 12 hour day, and even more can take 3 amazing shots to post on Instagram. You want to see the WORST shots in each delivered album, this can start to be considered more accurate to what you should expect.

Again, what the objective of each of these questions is aiming to do is to create dialogue with you and your photographer about the professionalism and technical ability of his work as well as the business ethics they hold. If they can confidently answer these questions, and give you piece of mind that they are the best choice for you two, it now comes down to personality and price.