How to Select Your Wedding Photographer With Confidence & The Right Questions to Ask

Let’s begin with some helpful advice on the best way to schedule your special day to get the most out of your photographer.

In the past, it was always highly recommended that the couple personally meet with several photographers before making a commitment. Today, however, interactive websites and high quality slideshows allow people to review a photographer’s work without ever making a personal appointment.

If you are taking that route and not meeting with your photographer, have an in-depth phone interview and make sure to communicate with couples that have used his services in the past. Do obtain at least three references and make sure that you have a good rapport with the photographer. If, after having an in-depth conversation with a prospective photographer, you feel that your personalities do not click, then do not hire this person! Not having a good relationship with your photographer will affect the quality of your pictures!

Before choosing a photographer, determine what photography style you like best. Nowadays, the two main trends are traditional and photojournalism. Photographers working in traditional style focus on taking posed, formal portraits, while photojournalists concentrate on taking artistic candid shots. They document the “story” of your special day. If you prefer photojournalism but worry about the lack of family portraits, bring this issue up with your photographer. Most photojournalists understand the importance of family portraits and will leave a time slot for a formal photo session.

When deciding on the best times for ceremony and reception, most brides do not take into consideration the time that the photographer needs to take your wedding pictures between the end of the ceremony and beginning of the reception. You’ll be spending a lot of money on your wedding photographer so you’ll want to make sure you make time for him! For example, a common situation is to have the ceremony scheduled from 2:00 – 3:00pm with the reception starting at 3:30pm. THIS IS A NIGHTMARE FOR MOST WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS, especially if the ceremony and reception are in two different locations.

Even if they’re not, this still leaves very little room for the much-needed time it takes to obtain some really special portraits of the two of you. A much better schedule would be to have the ceremony from 2:00pm – 3:00pm, with the reception starting at 5:00 or even 6:00pm. If you’re fortunate enough to find a photographer that gives you unlimited coverage with your package, then you can space the events out as much as you feel comfortable and won’t have to worry about paying your photographer anything extra. Not that it would take that long to get the shots he wants, but why rush it? Your day and your wedding photography will be much more relaxed and memorable if you space things out and allow yourself to enjoy every aspect of the day, including your unrushed photo shoot.

There are other very important factors to consider when selecting your photographer. Please envision the following scenario which is based on many a true story:

You’ve spent months preparing for your perfect wedding. You’ve selected everything, including your photographer, whose selection of work was outstanding and the photographer’s personality was also wonderful. You really clicked with him (which is very important!) and felt very comfortable with your decision of hiring him. You really looked forward to interacting with this person throughout your special day because you got along with him so well. A huge weight has been lifted from you because one of your biggest concerns was being able to find a photographer not only whose work you loved, but whose personality clicked with yours as well. After all, you want to be as comfortable with this person as possible since you’ll be dealing with him throughout your entire wedding day!

So, the big day comes and you’re nervously getting ready. Suddenly, there’s a knock on your door. ‘Oh, that must be my photographer!’ you exclaim excitedly. With a smile from ear to ear you rush to the door excited to greet this kind person with whom you’ve meshed so well during your many conversations over the past several months. You open the door and greet… a strange looking unshaven man in rumpled clothing that you’ve never seen before in your life! “‘Hello…’ he spews, ‘I’m your photographer!’…” There’s really no need for us to continue with this very true horror story. The scene just gets more ugly from there, and yes, this has happened more than once! So right now you’re probably thinking ‘But she didn’t hire HIM! Where’s her knight in shining camera equipment???’

Sadly, there are way too many photography companies that run their businesses this way, and believe it or not, completely get away with it. These companies contract out their jobs to freelance photographers, or sometimes they have many wedding photographers working for them and just neglect to inform brides of this oh-so-important fact. What does this mean? It means that the wonderful photographer you spoke to most likely had no intentions of photographing your wedding. (That is IF he was even a photographer at all. Sometimes they are just the salesperson for the company!) But there’s more! It also means that his beautiful work and photography style that you fell in love with was most likely a compilation of work from the many different photographers they employ!

So in our above scenario, how many of this unknown photographer’s wedding pictures did this bride actually see… IF ANY? We can conclude that there’s really no way of knowing for sure. So what could she have done to prevent this from happening? The answer: HER HOMEWORK! Don’t be a victim of this kind of photography nightmare! BE SURE TO ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS WHEN SPEAKING TO POTENTIAL PHOTOGRAPHERS!

Unless this type of company can show you several weddings from EACH of their photographers and then YOU get to pick the photographer you want, then we suggest staying right away from them. The chances of finding a photography company that will allow you to do this are slim to none. We recommend searching for a photographer that shoots all of his weddings on his own, or better yet, a two-person team that will photograph your wedding together so you get 2 photographers for the price of one! They’re hard to come by, but they’re out there. The great thing about a two-person team is that you get 2 separate points of view of your wedding. Some photographers offer strictly traditional photography, while others offer strictly photojournalistic wedding photography. That’s fine if you’ve decided that you only want one or the other, but most brides prefer a variety and feel they are getting the most for their money if they can find a photographer that offers both. Additionally, traditional photography is usually what the parents prefer, while most couples tend to prefer photojournalistic wedding photography, so finding a photographer that does both is definitely a huge plus. These versatile photographers are also hard to come by, but again, if you do your homework you can find them.

Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer

Are you the only photographer in this company? If I hire you, am I guaranteed that you will be the one showing up to shoot my wedding? If yes, can I get that in writing? Is the work that I am seeing all yours and only yours or is it a compilation of work from more than one photographer?

Can you show me 3 or more complete weddings you’ve done? (By complete I mean that I’d like to see at least 3 different wedding albums or slideshows, each one consisting of at least 50 images from one event.)

Do you offer traditional wedding photography? Photojournalism? Or both?

Is color, B/W and sepia photography included, or is there an extra fee for B/W and sepia?

Do you offer special effects, digital color separation and retouching? If so, are these services included or do you charge a fee for these services?

Is unlimited coverage included in your packages or is there an extra fee for all day coverage? Are you willing to come extra early to get shots of us (the couple) before the ceremony if we choose to do that? Would there be a fee for this?

Do your packages include one or two photographers and is there an extra fee for a second photographer?

Do you work with an assistant?

How many and what kind of cameras do you use? (Do you have backup equipment if something breaks?) Do you use film based or digital cameras or a combination of both?

How far will you travel to a wedding before charging a travel fee?

Do you charge a fee if the wedding and reception are in more than one location? What if we want to go to a third location for pictures? Is there a charge for this?

Do you offer a website and CD of my images? If so, is this included in the packages or this is an extra fee?

If you don’t have a package that works for me, would you be willing to try and customize one that suits my specific needs and is within my budget?

Do you offer only traditional albums, or do you have a wide variety of options to choose from including any coffee table-style books?