10 Questions to ask before booking your Wedding Photographer

Interviewing potential wedding vendors is like going on an awkward first date — you both hope there's chemistry, but it can be confusing to know exactly what to say!!... Here I'll give you some questions to ask, ones which I hope I'm asked when meeting prospective new clients as it shows they have put some thought into it, and also are serious about the quality of the photography they desire.

1. Is photography your main business? What percentage of your work is composed of weddings?

First, you need to gauge how much experience a potential vendor has. Wedding Photographers' time commitments and skill sets vary—some only work part-time or might mostly photograph something else (e.g. Babies or Landscape). This doesn't necessarily mean they won't do an amazing job as your wedding photographer, but it will give you a sense of what they will be able to contribute towards your social day (Do Babies & Landscapes get married?).

As a Devon Wedding Photographer, I see some amazing locations, churches and hotels/venues, of which YOU would have spent a lot of time and of course money on for the perfect location for your Wedding...I therefore need to not only capture it but absolutely make it look like the dream you have in mind.

Photo Credit: Stuart Brampton Photography

2. How long have you been photographing weddings? Can I see a list of references and/or reviews?

This follow-up question is another indicator of experience and will reflect accordingly in the pricing. "I am often asked (usually by the father of the bride), 'What justifies your prices?' My reply is simple: 'Time & quality.' I've been photographing weddings for over 5 years, some of my best friends have put their trust in me. I'm proud of my work and happy to share it online and anywhere that is often requested. References are absolutely critical—ask around (recently-married friends and other vendors you've booked can be great sources), read anonymous reviews online and speak to former clients.

3. Have you ever worked at our location before?

"It's often comforting for clients to hear that I have worked at the venue and even know the staff by name," If they haven't shot there before, ask if they would be willing to visit your venue before the wedding to acquaint themselves with the layout. Each location comes with its own unique advantages and challenges. I ALWAYS visit the venue at least once, normally at the time of day your will be there so i can assess the lighting, find the best location, photo opportunities, trust me, it makes everything run smoothly on the day...even if i do have to usher people around!

Photo Credit: Stuart Brampton Photography

4. Will you be my photographer on the day of the wedding? What is your plan if you are unable to attend due to illness or unforeseen circumstances?

Some larger studios might book your appointment with a sales rep or agent. Ask to schedule a follow-up meeting where the actual photographer assigned to your wedding is present, so that you can get a sense of their personality and demeanour before you sign on the dotted line.

5. Can we see a recent finished set of proofs from an entire wedding?

"Samples are great, but seeing an entire wedding from start to finish is equally important to see how the entire day is covered," As you flip through the album, pay close attention to the style of the photography and make sure it matches what you had in mind for your own. Keep a mental checklist to determine that they covered all of the major moments (e.g. cake toss, first dance) as well as fun, candid shots. Think about the entire album as a whole—it should evoke your emotions and give you a good sense of that couple's wedding day. "Make sure you see some printed photos when you meet with your photographer. You can make a bad photo look good online but things like out-of-focus shots or overly grainy pictures will stand out in an album.

6. Are you willing to work from a shot list?

Ask this wild card to check your vendor's temperature and see if they would be open to collaborating with you. I encountered one or two potential vendors who blindly told me to "just trust" them when I asked about a shot list, which was one of my red flags. There's a fine line: You want a photographer who is going to capture the details and guests that are most meaningful to you, while still giving them the freedom to live in the moment (which often leads to the best photos). Later on, AFTER you book, you can discuss specifics (e.g. discussing family dynamics so they know not to pose your step-dad next to your biological one).

Photo Credit: Stuart Brampton Photography

7. What makes you different from other photographers? How would you describe your photography style?

"Is it their photos? Their customer service? Their amazing and charming personality? All of the above? If your photographer can’t answer this question in a way that makes you see why they are different, you might have to ask yourself why you are considering them," Talk to the photographer about whether you want traditional portraits (posed group photos), photojournalistic action shots of the day's events, or if you fall somewhere in between and would like a blend of both.

Photo Credit: Stuart Brampton Photography

8. After the wedding, when can we expect to see the photos?

Managing expectations is key to any successful vendor partnership in your wedding. "Your photographer is going to need to take some time to edit your pictures, and you should get clear time frames for when and how you will receive your images so you are not wondering where your photos are!" says Fatchett. Most photographers release the images in stages (such as a wedding slideshow, Facebook teasers, online proofs, and then finally a proofbook, if it's included in the contract). If the images are produced too quickly, you can be certain that very little if any editing has been done....NOT a good sign. Social media teasers (Sneak Peek) are something i love to do, and always gets great comments.

9. What do your packages include and what will I have to pay extra for?

Photography packages vary drastically; some include a flat rate (e.g. £1500 for 8 hours of footage) with a-la-carte extras (your album or a photography assistant) while other photographers may have a selection of different levels of packages ranging from least to most time-intensive (think: engagement shoots, getting ready, first dance, evening guests etc etc). I offer 3 simple Collections (Packages) as starting points, but can & often are tailored to suit your individual requirements

Photo Credit: Stuart Brampton Photography

10. How much of a deposit is required to hold the date? When is the balance due? What forms of payment do you accept?

Get down to the nitty-gritty of finances towards the end of the conversation, once you've had a chance to warm up to the photographer. Find out when the deposit is due so that you don't risk the chance of losing a vendor to another couple who's getting married on the same date. You can expect to spend about 12% of your wedding budget on photography on average, so "ALWAYS make sure you get it in writing. Do not deal with any vendor who does not offer you a written contract!"

Thank you for reading my blog, and i truly hope it helps, Stu. :-)

Loading Conversation