When searching for a wedding photographer, especially a Chicago wedding photographer, you will want to make sure you find the right fit to document your wedding day. You have spent months, maybe even years, planning, and there is a lot at stake on your big day. Of course, you will want to confirm they have your date available and you will want to see package options. However, it is crucial you get your questions answered about their personality, approach to a wedding day, photographing and editing style, and how they’ll keep your photos safe. I’ve also created a PDF guide to use when researching potential wedding photographers. Here are 12 questions to ask a wedding photographer before booking with them:
You want to make sure your wedding photographer will keep your wedding photos safe from arriving at your wedding all the way to the final delivery of your images. Find out what their backup plan is if they couldn’t attend your wedding (family emergency, sickness, etc). Often, wedding photographers work with groups of other photographers who will stand in their place if needed.
We all know that sometimes technology fails. That’s why you will want to make sure your wedding photographer has at least two cameras. That way, if one of their cameras fails for some reason, they have a backup. I also highly recommend you ask how many memory card slots their camera has. Some cameras have one memory card slot, while others have two. Cameras with two memory card slots can be programmed to make a copy of the photo as it’s being taken on a second card. I do this for every wedding and engagement session.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure they have a solid backup process. Be sure your photographer keeps your photos in two, if not three, different places until your photos are delivered.
Some wedding photographers are a part of a larger company, some have a few associate photographers who work for their brand, and some photographers photograph all of their own weddings. Be sure you know if the person you’re chatting with will be the one to photograph your wedding, or if someone else will be present on your wedding day. If it will be someone else, one of the questions to ask your wedding photographer is if the associate has a similar style to the photographer’s work that you fell in love with!
This is one of the most important questions to ask a wedding photographer. A wedding photographer should absolutely have at least one full wedding gallery, if not several, they can show you. Make sure you like the photos from all parts of their day in both indoor and outdoor light. While your wedding day will of course look different from the couples’ wedding galleries you’re viewing, they should give you some insight as to what your full wedding gallery will look like.
Many blogs will suggest you ask your photographer if they’ve photographed at your venue before, or if they’ve photographed at one similar. While this is a valid question to ask, the heart of the question is this – Will you be able to handle the lighting situations at my venue? If your wedding photographer is trained in all types of lighting (hint: I am!), then they will be able to handle any wedding venue. You need a photographer who can photograph:
If they say, “I don’t have a contract” – RUN! A contract is crucial to making sure the expectations for both you and your wedding photographer are crystal clear. A good contract will have clauses that protect both you and your photographer. Here are some things to look for in a contract:
One of the questions to ask a wedding photographer is, “How will my wedding photos be delivered?” Some wedding photographers deliver your photos via an online gallery, while others only offer prints. You should also inquire if you get all of the images from your wedding day, if you get to select a certain number, or if the images are an extra cost. This should also be covered in their contract.
You should get a good sense of this from their website and social media profiles, but asking a wedding photographer what their style is like will give you some insight into their approach and methods. Most photographers will not change their editing styles, so be sure that you love the look of their portfolio before inquiring.
Some wedding photographers take on a fly-on-the-wall approach, some are heavily involved in posing and directing throughout the day, and some are a mix of both (that’s me!). Ask yourself: Do I like photojournalistic and candid images? Do I gravitate toward posed photos? Do I like a mix of both? The wedding photographer you book should have a style that is going to achieve the type of images you love.
This is far more important than how long they’ve been a wedding photographer. A wedding photographer could be in business for two years and have photographed 8 weddings or 80 weddings.
The minimum number of weddings you’re comfortable with a photographer having photographed before hiring them is highly subjective, but I recommend finding someone who has photographed a minimum of 10 weddings. Weddings come with all different types of unexpected changes. You want someone who is multi-talented and experienced enough to handle what may pop up throughout the day. Having photographed 10 weddings will give anyone base knowledge on the flow of wedding days and different scenarios that may occur.
You may think more is better, but be cautious. A typical (responsible) workload for a photographer is anywhere between 15 and 35 weddings per year. If someone says they’re photographing 50-60 weddings this year (full weddings, not smaller elopements), they may be stretched too thin. It is typical for a wedding photographer to take on up to two weddings per weekend (again, full weddings, not smaller elopements), but any more than that, and you may get a tired, burnt-out photographer. You deserve someone who is able to be fully present on your day!
You don’t want to be surprised by additional fees leading up to your wedding day. Find out if the photographer’s pricing is all-inclusive, or if there are additional fees that may occur. Some wedding vendors do not put taxes or additional fees (such as travel fees) in their initial pricing proposal. You will also want to know if it includes an engagement session.
When you’re ready to make it official, one of the final questions to ask a wedding photographer is how to reserve your wedding date. Most photographers will require a retainer or a deposit and a signed contract. A typical retainer or deposit ranges, but most photographers’ retainers or deposits are somewhere between $500 and $2,000. Also, most wedding photographers will not reserve your date until those two items are completed.
At the end of the day, you want to hire someone you trust to document your legacy. There are so many options for a wedding photographer, you want to make sure you hire the right one based on your needs, wants, budget, and desired style. Choose a wedding photographer you believe has your best interest at heart so you can relax and enjoy your wedding day, while your wedding photographer documents it all.