You’ve settled on a style, reviewed hundreds of portfolios online, and now it’s time to interview your potential photographers in person. But besides asking to see even more photographs and telling them what you envision for the photos of your big day, what else should you ask?
We talked to Elle Gonzalez at LA Budget Wedding Photographer in Los Angeles and Monique Jimenez at Cloud Foto in Chicago, two successful professional wedding photographers who use Thumbtack to find clients, about which questions they recommend asking and the types of answers you should expect.
Here’s their expert advice:
1. How many weddings have you photographed?
There’s no “right” answer to this question Gonzalez points out, as it depends on what you’re looking for, but considering most working wedding photographers have shot at least 50 weddings, you’ll want the answer to be at least a dozen. Still, Gonzalez says you’ll want to take your budget and what you’re looking for, as well as the photographers other experience into consideration. She says, “They may have only shot half a dozen weddings, but if they’ve photographed a hundred birthday parties, you can probably feel pretty confident.”
Jimenez says you should also ask how many weddings they’ve shot as the primary photographer. “People get their experience as the second and third shooter,” she says. “But it’s very different when you’re running the show as opposed to assisting someone.”
2. What type of equipment do you use—and do you have back-up equipment?
While you want to be sure the photographer has good equipment, Gonzalez says what’s more important is that the photographer knows how to use it. Jimenez agrees point out that someone can take really amazing photographs with even the most basic equipment.
If you like the photos, Gonzalez suggests you ask to see enlargements since that’s when you’ll really get to see the details. Most of all though: be sure the photographer has back-up equipment at the event so that if something fails, you’re not left in a lurch.
3. Can you shoot in all types of light and weather conditions?
Once you’ve picked the venue and date, you’ll have a good idea of what the light is going to be like and if there’s a chance it might rain or snow. Jimenez says to be sure to find out of the photographer is comfortable shooting in all kinds of conditions. After all, if it does rain, you’re probably going to want a cool rain photo. Or if you’re getting married in the winter, there’s a chance most of the photos will be taken a night and possibly in the snow. She suggests you ask to see examples of different lighting situations so you’re not just seeing a bunch of photos taking on a perfect cloudless day. In addition she says to ask the photographer to show your photos that would mimic your circumstances. “I don’t show church photos to someone who is getting married at a winery.”
Photo credit: LA Budget Wedding Photographer
4. What will your approach be to the entire day?
You’ll have a sense of what you want going into the wedding—lots of family portraits, candids of the bridesmaids getting ready, etc.—so it’s important to be sure your photographer has a strategy that will allow her to capture all of those moments. Jimenez says if you want traditional photos where the photographer is setting things up and making sure that strand of hair isn’t in your face, you need to make sure that’s the photographer’s style versus someone who might have a more candid approach and really is about capturing the actual (and not styled) moment.
5. Tell us about a time something went totally wrong and how did you react?
Jimenez says this is a question every bride and groom should ask and that they should push for a specific example. What went wrong? How did you adjust? What were the results? She says one time a ceremony started two hours late and they lost all of the light, but she’s still responsible for getting great photos. “No one remembers the specifics of what went wrong,” she says. “But they notice if they didn’t get the pictures they want.”
6. What happens if the photographer is ill on the day of our wedding?
Sure, this is a worst-case scenario, but if your photographer breaks his arm the night before your big day, you want to be sure you’re covered. Gonzalez suggests you find out what their plan is, but says most studios have more than one photographer and even independent contractors usually have a network of photographers they can call on in an emergency.
Photo credit (top and above): Cloud Foto
7. How many photos will we receive?
This totally depends on the package you purchase, but you just want to be sure you’re comfortable with the number before you sign any contracts. Gonzalez says most photographers will deliver anywhere from 500-1000 photos from a full day of wedding events.
8. When will we receive our photos?
This is another one you’ll want to figure out ahead of time so that you and the photographer are on the same page. If you’re going to want them in a week, look for a photographer who can deliver that. If you don’t care if it takes three months, that’s also something you should factor in. Gonzalez says you probably don’t need to worry unless the photographer says it’s going to take more than four months. Regardless, it’s important to come to an agreement beforehand so that expectations are set. And as a gentle reminder, Gonzalez says, “If you agreed upon two months, don’t bother your photographer after two weeks.”
9. Do we have printing rights for the photos or will we purchase prints and enlargements exclusively through you?
This will depend on the photographer and the package you buy, but be sure to do the math so that you aren’t caught unaware.
10. Do you have any reviews from previous wedding clients?
Thumbtack has a great review section and they’re all verified. Gonzalez says it’s important to have honest reviews, even if there’s something negative… at least you know it’s representative of the work and something you can ask the photographer about.
11. Do we get along?
Okay, so you might not want to ask this one aloud, but Jimenez points out the most important thing you can do is make sure you love your photographer. “That’s the person you’re going to spend the most time with on your wedding day. Not your husband, not your bridesmaids. So make sure you really like their personality. Ask them what they like to do in their free time. Getting along with them is so imperative because that person is going to be with you all day long: from getting dressed to getting drunk.”
Looking for a great wedding photographer? Here’s how to find one in your area.