Finding the perfect wedding photographer can be a daunting task. Regardless if your looking to hire me or another photographer/studio, below are 10 questions to ask your potential professional wedding photographer before booking.
01 – What is your primary style?
Probably the best first question to ask. Look at their style of photography and does it resinate with you. Hiring someone to capture your big day and not liking how they edit the photos is a bad move for everyone involved. You need to love the photographers style. My style of wedding photography is photojournalistic with elements of creative fine-art photography. Please read more above my photography style here.
02 – How many weddings have you photographed?
This is a great question to start with also as it instantly gives you an indication of their wedding experience. In a previous article; How to find the perfect wedding photographer there is a little experience indicator which looks like this…
1-5 Weddings – Inexperienced | 6-10 Weddings – Amateur | 10-20 Weddings – Knowledgeable | 21-30 Weddings – Experienced | 31+ Weddings – Professional
A response of anything under 20 should be treat with caution in my opinion, wedding photography may just be a side job. Take extreme caution when looking at photographers who have photographed less than 10 weddings as they will have very limited experience. Always review their portfolio and ask to see a full wedding day i.e. start to finish so you can see the quality of work from bride prep through to the 1st dance.
For responses over 30 this will indicate this is likely their full time job and not a side job meaning they are fully dedicated to wedding photography and is the most desired answer. You want a photographer that does weddings all year round in various venues, lighting and weather conditions not to mention a whole host of other benefits. If those 30 weddings were captured over 3 years though you can assume wedding photography is a side job at 10 per year. Look for a wedding photographer who captures approximately 25+ per year as a good rule.
03 – Do you have backup equipment?
Do not hire any photographer, amateur, enthusiast or pro who does not have back-up equipment.
This is a very important question and from my experience is criminally overlooked. I booked 38 wedding in 2018 and close to 50 in 2019 and NONE of them asked if I had backup equipment, that’s 88 weddings and none of them thought to ask. You’re hiring a professional, they should have at least two cameras, lighting, various lenses, multiple batteries, several cards and especially two cards in the camera so each image is recorded to both cards as a backup. If your photographer has no backup equipment and their camera decides to malfunction during the wedding ceremony or anytime of the day for that matter, then precious moments will be missed. What will they do? borrow a non professional camera from a guest? They can’t exactly stop the ceremony for a couple of hours while they try and borrow a camera from someone.
04 – Do you have lighting?
Another important question. Run as fast as you can if a photographer says; “yes, my camera has a pop up flash on it.”
A professional wedding photographer needs to be skilled in lighting not just photography. They should understand lighting patterns, colour correcting with gels, lighting control and more, it is a vast subject. The featured image above would not be achievable without lighting! Check out my Award winning images also which cannot be created without the use and understanding of lighting.
An ideal answer to this question would be; “Yes, I have lighting equipment. multiple flashes/strobes, coloured gels, grids, diffusors etc. 2-3 light-stands for Off-Camera flash techniques during the speeches, cake cutting, 1st dance and any creative artistic photographs!” – this would be my response to this question.
Lighting is important as there are so many dimly lit venues, without lighting, elements such as ISO need to be raised which drastically affects Image quality.
Read What is ISO: And why is it important!
Be cautious of photographers using the strap line; “I’m a natural light photographer!” – This is a strong and likely indication they do not have any lighting and no knowledge of lighting. There are a great deal of venues which are badly lit, if there is no lighting, image quality will suffer, there is no way around it.
05 – Are you Insured?
Just like the backup equipment question above, this question has been neglected. Possibly 2-3 of the bookings I have taken from 2018-19 have asked about insurance. Not very many. Ask your photographer are they insured. They should be!
As a professional wedding photographer they should have Public Liability Insurance, Professional Indemnity Insurance and equipment cover and be able to present evidence of such.
06 – Have you captured a wedding at my venue before?
This questions isn’t a deal breaker but it does help. If the photographer says Yes, they may have example photos from that venue so you can get a feeling for the type of photos you can expect. The photographer will also likely know the venue inside and out and know exactly where the hidden gems are for your photographs. Familiarity with the venue staff could also be a nice touch. Should the photographer say No, not to worry. Most professional wedding photographers will scout the location before the wedding or arrive an hour or two before hand to look around. I like to have a final meeting a few weeks before the wedding at the venue, that way we can have a look around together if needed.
07 – How will I receive my photos?
I personally deliver via a download. Downloading your images means you receive them quicker than waiting for DVDs or USBs in the post etc. Delivering by download also saves on cost. Photographers with USB boxes etc included in their packages have added the cost of these USB products into the overall price. If you’re not bothered about a USB ask them to remove it, it may save you a few pounds. Same can be said of Albums. Here at Sawyer and Sawyer Photography items such as Albums and USBs etc are additional extras as 90% of my bookings do not want them, so it would be unfair to add them in the package and hike the price up. Interested in a wedding album? My prices are pretty much at cost price plus a reasonable design fee. If you do decide on an album now you know you’re not having your eyes taking out.
08 – Will my Images be professionally edited?
I add this question as I have seen delivered Images for weddings where the photographer had clearly done no editing and simply gave the client JPEG Images from the camera which look unfinished. A professional wedding photographer will always capture your Images in RAW format so they can be edited after the wedding to a high professional standard.
Do not hire anyone who will shoot in JPEG and deliver you the SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) Images.
09 – How long does it take to receive my professionally edited Images?
If you ask around your friends/family this will vary. I have heard answers as long as 6 months. WOW!
In the vast majority of wedding photographers; Images are delivered approximately 6-10 weeks after the wedding. Sounds fair, right? Now if i tell you I captured 38 weddings in 2018 and around 85% of them were fully edited and delivered within 5 days and the other 15% within 10 days, the 6-10 weeks sounds ridiculous.
In my opinion it truly is ridiculous too. Even at my busiest time where I had 6 weddings in 2 weeks the longest they waited was 9 days. If your photographer gives you an answer of 6+ weeks, ask them why? Responses like “I take care to edit each and every image” etc is rubbish. I edit every photo individually too and it takes less than 10 days during busy months. If you look through my portfolio, you can see this doesn’t affect the quality of work I produce, in fact, I have won countless awards including the 2019 Yorkshire and North East Wedding Photographer of the Year in the Newcomer category at The Wedding Industry Awards!
As of 2019 I give my couples a 14 day timescale. Delivery is usually around a week though and 14 days at busy times.
10 – What happens if you’r ill?
I personally would need to be rushed to hospital to miss a wedding. In the event of such an incident/sickness. I have good relationships with other North East professional wedding photographers and would have one of them cover the day – This is a last resort though and very unlikely to ever be needed. Though it is good to have this backup option should it be necessary. You should expect this sort of answer as most photographers have relationships with other photographers for this.