Five Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer

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Choosing a wedding photographer to capture one of the most important days of your life can be confusing. Of course you want the best wedding photography available without paying an arm and a leg. You want a wedding photographer who will portray your wedding in the style you envision. You also want someone experienced, competent, and easy to work with as well as talented.

Hiring the perfect photographer doesn't have to be a headache if you know what to ask. Start by doing a quick phone interview of each wedding photographer to narrow down your choices. Find out first if they are available for your wedding day--if they're not, it narrows things down immediately. Ask about prices, who will be photographing the wedding, what style of wedding photography they use to shoot weddings (black and white, color, posed photos or candid shots).

After you narrow down your wedding photographer choices, you'll want to set up a date to interview the photographer. In some large companies, the photographer you talk to might not be the one they send out for your event. Make sure you interview the photographer who will actually be at your wedding and see his/her portfolio, in order to evaluate their style. You'll also want to find out what happens if the wedding photographer you choose is fired before or right after your wedding date. Knowing your wedding will still be photographed and that you will have access to your photos regardless of the hiring status of the wedding photographer will give you peace of mind on your big day.

When interviewing the photographer, remember to cover these questions:

1) Experience Level. On the most important day of your life, you want someone who is an expert at wedding photography to preserve your memories in a professional manner. Therefore, it's very important to make sure you ask your wedding photographer questions about their experience.

  • Is this a job or a hobby for the wedding photographer? Do they have formal training or education in wedding photography? It might be cheaper to hire a wedding photographer with less experience, but do you want to have great photos or so-so photos to preserve your memories?
  • Do they frequently photograph weddings? Some photographers may have more experience with posed studio photography than wedding photography. Photographing a wedding involves capturing spontaneous moments, not just poses, so it's important to have someone who is an expert.
  • Does the wedding photographer use professional-grade equipment, and do they have back-up equipment available, just in case? Have they photographed weddings in your chosen location before? Prior experience in a location gives the wedding photographer an advantage because he'll know ahead of time what film, filters or flash he/she might need to get the best results.

2) Ask About Their Portfolio. Photography is an art, so it's understandable that you may or may not like the style used by the wedding photographer. To make sure you're going to love the way your wedding is photographed, request to see a portfolio featuring their work.

  • To make an educated decision, you'll want to view an entire wedding portfolio from start to finish, not the best few photos from many weddings.
  • Ask what style the wedding photographer uses. Some photographers tend to like more posed shots while others have what is called a photojournalistic style, which involves more candid shots.
  • Ask if he/she likes to use color photos, black and whites or a mixture. Also, ask if they use a digital camera and retouch the photos to make them black and white, or if they use film.

3) Will They Dress the Part? Your wedding photographer will be spending a lot of time with you on you on the most important day of your life. It's crucial that his or her personality blends in, making it a pleasure to have him/her at your side.

  • If the wedding photographer makes you uneasy in a short interview then don't hire them for your event!
  • No matter how charming he is, you'll want to make sure the wedding photographer will dress the part and look professional while taking those important photos.
  • Finally, ask about any assistants. Ask if you can meet them and ask about how they will dress and conduct themselves to ensure your wedding goes smoothly.

4) Money and Technical Matters. Though you don't want to skimp on wedding photos, it is important to make sure this particular photographer isn't going to break your budget. Find out ahead of time about how much it will cost to have him/her photograph your wedding.

  • You'll want to know how much time you'll be allotted, and how many rolls of film they'll take during that time. If the wedding photographer uses digital cameras, ask how many shots they will take to ensure the event is well-documented.
  • Most photographers offer packages that specify a certain amount of pictures for a set fee. If you don't see a size of photograph that you want, ask if those packages can be customized to meet your needs.
  • You'll also want to ask about the cost of albums and copies, since you're probably going to fall in love with a lot more of the photos than you bargained!

Ask about deposit and cancellation policies. What kind of a deposit is needed to hold your date? What are the cancellation policies? If the wedding photographer cancels, will your deposit be refunded?

5) Ask If You Can Get It In Writing! You'll want a contract to protect you in case you're unhappy with the services of your wedding photographer. If you end up going to court to settle matters, the judge will only be concerned with the conditions written in the contract. Therefore, it's very important to make sure you get all of the details in writing.

The contact should include:

  • Expected services, fees, cancellation policy, fee schedule and all aspects of your photo packages written in detail.
  • You'll also want their name and address, as well as your name and address on the contract.
  • Make sure you both sign and date the contract, and that you get a copy of both sides.

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