So, whenever I am in a wedding as a bridesmaid or attending a wedding as a guest (yay, night off) I always get this text message from me friends —
“Hey Danielle, so I have a call with a photographer were thinking of hiring this week! Is there any specific questions I should ask them!?! HELP!”
Haha yup, photographers you know what I am talking about! I guarantee that I am not the only one who gets asked this question!
SO– I decided to help everyone out (and myself because now I can just send this link instead of typing this out everytime) and write a blog post on these very important topics to discuss! I included the questions and the ideal answers that they should be responding with if they are running a good business, are honest and worth the money they value themselves at!
Here it goes!
Do you have liability insurance?
They should for their own sake and yours to avoid any fines if something were to happen that day. Most venues will require proof of insurance from the vendors working your wedding. Some require that it be at 1,000,000 liability coverage, which is standard from what I’ve seen and who I have worked with.
What equipment do you bring with you?
The main reason to ask this question is because you want to know if accommodations will need to be made with space for lighting / gear in the church or venue. Also, some churches do not allow flash / lighting so you want to make sure you and your photographer are both clear on this. Some photographers shoot with just camera and speedlite and/or OCF (off camera flash). They are all great!
What gear do you shoot with?
This kind of ties into the previous question but you mainly want to know if they bring a back-up camera on the day of just in case technology fails (because we all know that it does)! Your photographer should have two camera bodies (NOT including her second shooter). Two camera bodies benefit in the way that they have a back-up should something break or the system stop working and it also gives them an opportunity to have two different lenses on hand at all times in case they need to zoom in quickly or switch to a great portrait lens! Having multiple styles of lenses helps the photographer photograph in low light situations, portraiture, zoom, and macro for all the detail shots. Every photographer has their own unique style / camera system that they use, so please don’t take this list to heart but here is a list of popular camera lenses used at weddings—
100mm | macro lens good for the details
135mm | good for portraits
35mm | good for portraits and low light situations
70-200mm | versatile lens great for portraits, zoom, depth of field
50mm | depth of field and portrait
What is your backup process for your photos?
Probably the MOST IMPORTANT of them all. Any photographer should be shooting on your wedding day with dual memory cards. This means that there are two slots in her camera for cards. One CF (Compact Flash) and one SD (SanDisk) so that your photos are being backed up immediately every time a photo is taken. Memory cards can get corrupt, possibly losing all photos. It’s scary and doesn’t happen often, BUT IT CAN. After the wedding, all photos should be backed up on a hard drive AND some sort of cloud server. God forbid, If her house burns down, her hard drive gets corrupted, dropped, broken or even stolen (sadly, I have heard of this happening) at least your photos are in cloud storage to recover and deliver to you!
How long do you keep my wedding photos for?
This answer should be forever. Professional photographers pay to have a service that backs up your delivered photos to you in a cloud storage to recover if ever needed. Some photographers will charge you for this separately after so many years, others will just include it in their original pricing. However they do it, just make sure it’s done.
How long after the wedding will I receive my photos?
Everyone here is different so I can’t really give you a right or wrong answer BUT you want to know what their expectation is so they follow through on their words. I have heard of couples not getting their photos back for months after their wedding. On average being in the industry it’s typically 4-6 weeks. But have heard of two weeks as well. It all depends on how busy they are and what kind of team they have to take care of post wedding stuff. I deliver within 4 weeks.
How do you choose who your second photographer is for our wedding?
Most / All photographers won’t reveal who is second shooting with them that day just because those second shooters are working for them and not you, the couple. You are hiring them because you trust their vision and love their work you’ve seen online consistently. BUT don’t be afraid to ask how they determine who is shooting for them. You just want to make sure it is someone who has a similar style to the photographer and who consistently has shot with them before. It’s the photographer’s job to make sure that they have the correct gear and skills to fulfil the roll. Don’t stress about this, let the photographer worry about that piece of it. Any good reliable photographer won’t bring in someone who’s vision they don’t trust.
How do you handle emergencies if for some reason you couldn’t make the wedding?
OMG. This sounds like SUCH a scary question to even be asking, but like technology sometimes fails, so do our bodies / health do too. It’s very unfortunate if something like this were to ever happen, BUT it’s important that a photographer have a PLAN in place for you because they do care that you still have a beautiful gallery delivered at the end of they day. Most photographers do have it in their contract that “in case of emergency, XYZ would happen.” Be sure that this plan is communicated with you so that you feel comfortable with it in the instance those events were to occur. I can’t tell you what each photographer would say, because everyone works with different teams has different connections, but just make sure they have a plan to not leave you high and dry!
Are there any other fees that will be added on to my total price other than the package price?
OH BOY, pricing. Let’s talk about it. Everyone is at different stages in their business and career so that is why you see so many different ranges of prices. Some include their taxes in the package price, others will add it on at the end. Depending on where the photographer is located they may have a travel fee and/or ask for a hotel stay. This should all be outlined in their contract, but it’s good to ask these questions on the initial call so you can align everything with your budget and not be surprised with any charges at the end!
Does your photographer create a “day of timeline” for you?
This is really nice to have especially if you didn’t hire a wedding planner or your venue didn’t come with a wedding day coordinator. You hire the photographer for X amount of hours so they need to determine when to start and when to end AND make the events of your day is fully documented. When I give advice from a vendor perspective, I like to break up the wedding day into three parts — the hair/makeup artist/photographer, the photographer, and then the DJ/band. In the morning, the getting ready process it is important for the hair/makeup artist to keep things on schedule, while the photographer does detail / getting ready photos. Once the bridal party is ready is when the photographer takes over and keeps things on schedule (first look, portraits, ceremony, family formals). Once we reach cocktail hour and reception The DJ / band keeps the party going! Handing the couple a wedding day timeline just reassures them of their schedule and allows them to communicate it with the other vendors so we all work together to help make your day go smoothly!
Above all else, make sure you feel like your vibin with your photographer! Does the conversation flow easily? Here are some questions you can ask just to get to know him/her not necessarily a deal breaker to hire–
What got you into shooting weddings?
Are you married / have kids?
Where did they meet?
What are their hobbies / What do they do in their spare time?
Margaritas or Beer?
Dogs or cats?
Tacos or Pizza?
Make it fun! Enjoy this process!!
I hope this was helpful, I know I get asked these questions a lot and just wanted to share my thoughts, advice and experience!