Credit for this post goes to Rachel West Designs and the info was so good that I had to share it. I’ll add a few comments of my own to this as well for further explanation.
One of the most important days of your life is approaching–choosing the right wedding photographer can be a daunting task! Certainly, you want the highest quality of wedding photographs without going broke. You are looking for a wedding photographer who is in tune with your wedding style as you imagine that day. You also want a photographer who is professional, experienced, talented, and a pleasure to work with.
Partnering with the right photographer is easy when you know what to ask. Start by doing a quick phone interview of each wedding photographer to narrow down your choices. Find out first if they are available for your wedding day—if they’re not, it narrows things down immediately. Ask about prices, who will be photographing the wedding, what style of wedding photography they use to shoot weddings (black and white, color, posed photos or candid shots).
After you narrow down your wedding photographer choices, you’ll want to set up a date to interview the photographer. In some large companies, the photographer you talk to might not be the one they send out for your event. Make sure you interview the photographer who will actually be at your wedding and see his/her portfolio, in order to evaluate their style.
You’ll also want to find out what happens if the wedding photographer you choose is fired before or right after your wedding date. It will put your mind at rest if you are assured that your wedding will be photographed even if your photographer is no longer with the company and that you will also have access to your photos no matter what the hiring status of the photographer.
Be sure to ask these questions when interviewing the photographer:
1) Experience Level.
On the most important day of your life, you want someone who is an expert at wedding photography to preserve your memories in a professional manner. Therefore, it’s very important to make sure you ask your wedding photographer questions about their experience.
Is this a job or a hobby for the wedding photographer? You need to know this because it will show in the quality of the work and their overall attitude toward the job. If it’s just a hobby, then you may be put on the back burner when a “more important” job comes along (and I have seen that happen.)
Do they have formal training or education in wedding photography? While formal school education is good, you mainly want someone with experience shooting weddings and not someone who is using your wedding as “practice”. an experienced wedding photographer will be able to adjust for the variety of lighting situations that a wedding might entail as well as any other surprises that typically occur on a wedding day.
You might be tempted to save money by hiring a novice wedding photographer, but do you want stunning photos that capture your special day or just so-so ones?
Do they frequently photograph weddings? The more weddings that they have photographed, the better prepared they are to shoot yours!
Some photographers are better at static and posed studio photography than action oriented and “on location” wedding photography. Photographing a wedding involves capturing spontaneous moments, not just poses, so it’s important to have someone who is an expert.
Does the wedding photographer use professional-grade equipment, and do they have back-up equipment available, just in case?
Have they photographed weddings in your chosen location before?
Prior experience in a location gives the wedding photographer an advantage because he’ll know ahead of time what film, filters or flash he/she might need to get the best results.
2) Ask About Their Portfolio.
Photography is an art, so it’s understandable that you may or may not like the style used by the wedding photographer. To make sure you’re going to love the way your wedding is photographed, request to see a portfolio featuring their work.
To make an educated decision, you’ll want to view an entire wedding portfolio from start to finish, not the best few photos from many weddings. Ask what style the wedding photographer uses. Some photographers tend to like more posed shots while others have what is called a photojournalistic style, which involves more candid shots.
Ask if he/she likes to use color photos, black and whites or a mixture. Also, ask if they use a digital camera and retouch the photos to make them black and white, or if they use film.
3) Will They Dress the Part?
Your wedding photographer will be spending a lot of time with you on you on the most important day of your life. It’s crucial that his or her personality blends in, making it a pleasure to have him/her at your side.
If the wedding photographer makes you uneasy in a short interview then don’t hire them for your event!
No matter how charming he is, you’ll want to make sure the wedding photographer will dress the part and look professional while taking those important photos.
Finally, ask about any assistants. Ask if you can meet them and ask about how they will dress and conduct themselves to ensure your wedding goes smoothly.
4) Money and Technical Matters.
Though you don’t want to skimp on wedding photos, it is important to make sure this particular photographer isn’t going to break your budget. Find out ahead of time about how much it will cost to have him/her photograph your wedding.
You’ll want to know how much time you’ll be allotted, and how many rolls of film they’ll take during that time. If the wedding photographer uses digital cameras, ask how many shots they will take to ensure the event is well-documented.
Most photographers offer packages that specify a certain amount of pictures for a set fee. If you don’t see a size of photograph that you want, ask if those packages can be customized to meet your needs.
You’ll also want to ask about the cost of albums and copies, since you’re probably going to fall in love with a lot more of the photos than you bargained!
Ask about deposit and cancellation policies. In order to hold your date, what method of deposit is needed? What are the cancellation policies? If the wedding photographer cancels, will your deposit be refunded?
5) Ask If You Can Get It In Writing!
You’ll want a contract to protect you in case you’re unhappy with the services of your wedding photographer. If you end up going to court to settle matters, the judge will only be concerned with the conditions written in the contract. Therefore, it’s very important to make sure you get all of the details in writing.
The contact should include:
Expected services, fees, cancellation policy, fee schedule and all aspects of your photo packages written in detail. Also in the contract, you need to include their expected arrival time and departure time if there are a limited number of hours in your wedding. For example, if your wedding starts at 3pm, you may want the photographer there at least 30-45 minutes before then…
You’ll also want their name and address, as well as your name and address on the contract. Be certain that the contract has a signature and date for both of you and that you receive a copy of both sides.