Here comes the guide..

You’ve put so much time and effort into planning your gorgeous wedding you’ll want every special moment captured in your wedding photos! But how do you know which photographer is right for you? Whether you’re considering photographers featured on my Real Weddings page or somewhere else, you need to do your homework. Most photographers travel, so that makes it easy to find a great one that you have your eyes on. However, they do book up quickly so this will be one of the first vendors you want to book. They also very greatly in price depending on experience and notoriety. In my Wedding Budget Breakdown I estimate most brides are spending 10-12% of their budget on their photographer. When you have your short list of photographers that fit your budget, here are the questions you should ask to ensure that the one you ultimately choose has the same vision and style of photography that fits you and your wedding.
THE BASICS:

  • Do you have my date available? NOTE: Obviously, if the answer is NO and you’re not willing or able to change your date, don’t bother asking the rest of these questions.
  • How far in advance do I need to book with you?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How many weddings have you shot? Have you done many that were similar to mine in size and style?
  • How would you describe your photography style (e.g. traditional, natural light, creative)? NOTE: It’s helpful to know the differences between wedding photography styles so that you can discuss your preferences with your photographer. 
  • How would you describe your working style? NOTE: The answer should help you determine whether this is a photographer who blends into the background and shoots what unfolds naturally, or creates a more visible presence by taking charge and choreographing shots.
  • What do you think distinguishes your work from that of other photographers?
  • Do you have a portfolio or website I can review? Are all of the images yours, and is the work recent?
  • What type of equipment do you use?
  • Do you shoot in color and black & white? Infrared? NOTE: Photographers who shoot in a digital format can make black & white or sepia versions of color photos.
  • Can I give you a list of specific shots we would like?
  • Can you put together a slideshow of the engagement session (along with other photos the couple provides) and show it during the cocktail hour? What about an “instant” slideshow of the ceremony?
  • What information do you need from me before the wedding day?
  • Have you ever worked with my florist? DJ? Coordinator, etc.? NOTE: Great working relationships between vendors can make things go more smoothly. It’s especially helpful if your videographer and photographer work well together.
  • May I have a list of references? NOTE: The photographer should not hesitate to provide this.

THE SHOOT:

  • Are you the photographer who will shoot my wedding? If so, will you have any assistants with you on that day? If not, who will be taking the pictures and can I meet them before my wedding? NOTE: You should ask the questions on this list of whoever is going to be the primary photographer at your event, and that photographer’s name should be on your contract.
  • Do you have backup equipment? What about a backup plan if you (or my scheduled photographer) are unable to shoot my wedding for some reason?
  • If my wedding site is out of your area, do you charge a travel fee and what does that cover?
  • Are you photographing other events on the same day as mine?
  • How will you (and your assistants) be dressed? NOTE: The photographer and his/her staff should look professional and fit in with the style of your event.
  • Is it okay if other people take photos while you’re taking photos?
  • Have you ever worked at my wedding site before? If not, do you plan to check it out in advance? NOTE:Photographers who familiarize themselves with a location ahead of time will be prepared for any lighting issues or restrictions, and will know how best to incorporate the site’s architectural elements into the photos.
  • What time will you arrive at the site and for how long will you shoot?
  • If my event lasts longer than expected, will you stay? Is there an additional charge?

PACKAGES, PROOFS AND PRINTS:

  • What packages do you offer?
  • Can I customize a package based on my needs?
  • Do you include engagement photos in your packages?
  • What type of album designs do you offer? Do you provide any assistance in creating an album?
  • Do you provide retouching, color adjustment or other corrective services?
  • How long after the wedding will I get the proofs? Will they be viewable online? On a CD?
  • What is the ordering process?
  • How long after I order my photos/album will I get them?
  • Will you give me the negatives (without watermarks) or the digital images, and is there a fee for that? NOTE: Do not miss this question! Most brides are making their own albums these days and use digital photos for social sharing and social media sites, so it is so important to get the negatives!

CONTRACTS AND POLICIES:

  • When will I receive a written contract? TIP: Don’t book a photographer—or any vendor—who won’t provide a written contract.
  • How much of a deposit do you require and when is it due? Do you offer a payment plan?
  • What is your refund/cancellation policy?
  • Do you have liability insurance?