Your wedding photographer might be one of the most important decisions for your wedding day– once the cake is eaten, the dance floor has been cleared, and the flowers have died (get your flowers pressed folks!), all you will have from your special day are the memories and your wedding photos. That's why choosing your wedding photographer is a big choice. Here are some questions that I (a wedding photographer) recommend asking at your initial meetings with potential photographers.
#1 Are you available for my wedding date?
Probably an obvious question, but the one to start with!
#2 How would you describe your shooting style?
Do you prefer a more candid, photojournalistic approach? Or do you prefer a more posed, choreographed approach? Both working styles are great, and most photographers will use a mixture of both, but will lean heavily on one or the other. When thinking about your wedding, do you want a photographer that doesn't draw much attention and captures authentic moments as they unveil? Or do you want a take charge photographer that calls the shots and utilizes more posing?
(example of candid, photojournalistic style)
(example of posed style)
#3 Can we see a full gallery?
Such a great must ask question. This ensures that their work is consistent and that they don't just have a few bangers that they post on instagram. Pay special attention to their reception work and photos in tricky lighting situations!
#4 What is included in your editing/retouching?
Almost all photographers will only deliver photos that have been edited in their style– this includes color adjustments, cropping, vignetting, etc. If you are wanting in depth editing such as body modifications and skin retouching make sure to ask your photographer if this is something that is included or can be added on to your package! Skin retouching alone can add anywhere from 2-60 minutes per photo depending on the complexity, that's a lot of extra time if applied to every image!
#5 What is your payment structure? Do you require a retainer? Is it refundable? Do you offer a payment plan?
Every single professional photographer should be requiring a retainer. This ensures that the date is locked in for a client and we turn down every other wedding for that day. Because of this, most photographers' retainers will be non-refundable. Asking about a payment plan is also a great question! Most photographers prices reflect their costs of doing business and amount they need to maintain a sustainable business and living wage, so prices usually don't have much flexibility, but payment plans are a great way to budget for the investment!
#6 What are your packages or `a la carte pricing? Is our package customizable?
If your photographer doesn't list their rates on their website this will be a question that needs to be addressed. Couples always feel awkward asking it, but trust me, it's not awkward at all and usually the photographer will bring it up first! There are 3 most common types of pricing structures:
A fixed package model - usually 3-4 fixed packages with little to no customization. These are great for people that don't know where to begin or are easily overwhelmed with options. Often the packages will have some sort of discount versus paying for each item `a la carte.
An entirely `a la carte model - pricing will begin hourly, with add-ons such as the engagement session, second photographer etc. These are great for people that want to design a package that's perfect just for them.
A hybrid package and `a la carte model- exactly what it sounds like! Usually this will begin with a package, but then offers add-ons at an additional price. The package typically won't allow for removing items since the package will already be at a discounted price.
#7 What is your favorite/recommended package?
This is the question I wish all my clients asked me! Wedding photographers have *likely* been to way more weddings than you, we know the general structure of the day, typically how long getting ready will take, how long you should allocate for portraits, etc. When couples ask this question I am not looking to up-sell them on my 12 hour package (because let me tell ya, nothing is worse that a couple booking a 12 hour package and only needing 6 hours of coverage and not knowing what to do for the remaining 6 hours). I am truly doing a deep dive into their needs, their expectations, and their rough timeline to see what is the best fit for all of us.
#8 Do you have a second photographer? Do they work with you often/have their own photography business?
I love second photographers because they tell a full wedding day story. One of the most important shots is the walking down the aisle shot, with a second photographer it guarantees that ever nanosecond of this emotional moment will be covered. Second photographers are also amazing if the schedule is a little tight in the morning, we can divide and conquer. But it's always great to ask about the seconds credentials, especially if they will be capturing part of the day solo!
#9 How many photos do you deliver?
This will vary from photographer to photographer, but the most common range I see is from 50-80 per hour. Keep in mind this number will fluctuate largely from event to event. If you allocate more time for portraits or have lots of dancing at your reception, for example, the number might be a lot higher! I know it's cliche, but keep in mind it's always quality over quantity. Yes, you want to make sure you receive enough images to fully tell your wedding day story, but you also don't want to be overwhelmed by a gallery of 3,000 images. The mark of a good, seasoned photographer is the ability to edit down and only deliver the best to their clients, the couple should never be the ones culling their photos– that's our job! (*culling means going through and selecting the best images to deliver to clients)
#10 How will our photos be delivered?
There are lots of options here! High resolution galleries, USB drives, cloud services, photo albums and print packages. I personally love high resolution galleries because they are so incredibly user friendly while also being very professional. These galleries allow you to download full resolution files without any image compressing. You can also send the link to all your family and friends so they can see the images and even purchase prints directly.
#11 What is the turnaround time for our photos? Do we receive any sneak peeks before final delivery?
Again, this will vary from photographer to photographer. My turnaround time is 6-8 weeks, which I found is the perfect amount of time to ensure every photo is edited up to my standards. I always give sneak peeks the week after the wedding, I am usually just as excited to share your images as you are to see them!
#12 Do you offer a print release or can we just get prints with you?
This question is really 50/50. Some photographers will grant you printing rights so you can get prints and products wherever you choose. Others will only allow printing to be done by them. Both valid. But keep in mind the only way a photographer can guarantee prints and products is to print with their professional lab. Whatever you do, please print your photos, don't just store them on your phone/computer/USB!
#13 What rights do we have with our photos?
Photographers automatically own the copyright to all their images. Some photographers will transfer the copyright, but expect to pay a large fee. Make sure to ask about rights for sharing, printing, and social media. Some will require image credit, some might even still have watermarks on your images (yikes). It's always best to ask upfront (and double check in their contract).
#14 What happens if you get sick?
The absolute worst case scenario! But it's super important to ask.
#15 What's your favorite ice cream flavor?
Joking, kinda. I hear a lot about wedding consultations being very one dimensional. Your wedding photographer is likely going to be the person you see the most on your wedding (even more than your fiancé!) Not to mention the months of communication leading up to your wedding. You want to make sure you get along and your personalities match. Ask what their hobbies are, what drew them to photography, their favorite wedding, etc. Having your photographer feel more like a friend and support system on your wedding day makes the process (and wedding day!) so much more fun, trust me!
If you have additional questions, I always encourage my potential clients to write them down before we meet– it's so easy to forget things once you start chatting! And remember, your wedding photographer has likely heard it all, don't worry about asking too many questions or saying the wrong thing, we want to get to know you just as much as you want to know us! It's important that we're a perfect fit, so ask away!
Leah Goetzel Photography is a Dallas based wedding photographer capturing fun, authentic and bold weddings and elopements! If you are interested in booking her in the Dallas, Austin, or Colorado area we'd love to hear from you! Send us a message here!