I decided now would be a good time to brush up on my writing skills and dive into a new blog post.. especially since the year is 2020 and we are currently all locked up in our homes hoping for an end to the Covid pandemic. So, what better topic to discuss than what to look for when hiring a photographer?! (I’m kidding I’m sure there is tons of other things to think about other than spending money when you most likely don’t have any coming in, but neither do I, so a girl’s gotta hustle somehow)
At one time or another every wedding photographer has been asked the famous Pinterest list of “1,325 Questions you absolutely NEED to ask your Wedding Photographer”. It’s almost like one of those things that make you realize as a photographer that you REALLY haven’t “made it” until you’ve been asked these questions haha! I think the list of questions people see can be overwhelming to a couple searching for a photographer, like asking “what are you [the photographer] going to wear to our wedding etc”. It shouldn’t feel like you need to babysit your photographer! I am going to help simplify that list, but hopefully you wont even need to use your list, and your photographer will answer all of your questions before you even need to ask them! As much as there is questions you will want to ask your photographer, there are definitely some questions to make sure you ask yourself while searching for your perfect photographer! So let me help you with all of that!
“Ask your photographer what their style is?”
I personally am not fond of this question and for a couple reasons. First reason why I don’t think that is important to ask your photographer this is because really, will the way a photographer describe their photography style impact the way you look and feel about their work? Probably not. Second reason I feel this question may be a lost cause, is that if you are attempting to place a photographers work into box, most photographers are really trying to set themselves a part from the rest in whatever way we see fit, despite the similarities you may be viewing between their styles of work.
I see photographers asking other photographers all the time “what words would you use to describe my style ?” And 99% of the time the words that people use and the perceptions they have are very different. For example, I could post one of my photos online, ask other photographers what my style is, and the words that may arise are “dark” “vibrant” “bold” and “moody”. All these descriptors of my style are very different and have very different meanings. My point is how someone describes their own work may not even be how you see their work, so what I would suggest is go through all of your photographer’s work and ask your self this, “Do I like their style of work?”
“Have you ever shot at our Venue?
I see soooooo many posts where they suggest asking your photographer if they have ever shot at your venue before and if they say no, you should be hesitant. My response to this is NOOOOO… you shouldn’t be hesitant. It is totally okay! If your photographer knows what they are doing they wont have a problem shooting somewhere new! If anything, they are probably pumped to be in a new venue, where they will be able to get creative in a new space! So first ask yourself, will I have an issue if my photographer has never shot at my venue before? If the answer is no, amazing! If your response is still yes, then the next question could be, “do I trust the person I am hiring?” You want to be able to put full trust and full artistic control into your photographers hands that day! If you feel unsure about their ability at all, maybe deep down its your gut saying they aren’t the one best suited for you, and that is totally okay!
Edits, Raws, Turn around time.
Turn around time- I know how excited you will be after the wedding (or really, any photoshoot) to get your photos back, I get it we all would be! When you book your photographer make sure you ask what the turn around time is to get your photos back, and then try to remember that amount of time. If your photographer tells you that you will receive your photos about 60 days following the event, do your best to resist the intense urge to contact them before the 60 days. I promise you we are working as hard and as fast as we can to get your photos back to you, we are not keeping your images hostage just for the suspense.
Edits- You hired your photographer knowing the kind of work they produced. I have heard of situations where clients reach out to their photographer to ask for them to change their edits because they decided they actually would prefer light and airy photos from the photographers moody style, or vice versa. So I would urge you to ask yourself before hiring your photographer “Do I like their editing style”
Raws- You will probably not find a photographer who will give you raw images. I would be very surprised if you did. If you are adamant about receiving raws, make sure you discuss this with your potential photographer prior to hiring them. As a photographer, and knowing many others, they will probably tell you no, so either try your best to move on or I wish you luck in your endeavour, may the odds be forever in your favour!
Also, you know how raw chicken is bad for your physical health, well a raw image is bad for your mental health….you don’t want it. A raw image could really highlight all the things you potentially hate about yourself haha just kidding. But in all seriousness, most people cannot even open a raw file. They are not like film negatives. Negatives were given to clients in the film days in order to make more prints.
I don’t necessarily have anything against shot lists. For those that don’t know what a shot list is, it is a list of poses that are to be captured by the photographer throughout the day. For example, “bride and groom waist up: 3 or 4 versions, bride and groom full length informal: 3 or 4 versions, etc.” I have seen suggestions for couples to ask their photographer, “do you have a shot list? And If not can I provide you with a detailed shot list?”. I always ask my clients to provide me a family list because every family is different so thats a super important shot list… but as you can see, this is clearly not the shot list that I’m referring too. I do think if you want to give your photographer a shot list thats all cool, I personally want to make sure I can give you everything you dreamed of on your wedding day, BUT don’t be so stuck on those crafty Pinterest ideas you have and allow your photographer to get creative! This is why you hired us (I’m assuming) because you have seen our work and love what WE do! The lists crush our creative spirit a bit, and makes us feel like you don’t trust us to get those amazing shots and a variety of those shots so that you will want to hang our work on your walls for the rest of your life!
What type of equipment do you use?
Now unless you are a camera equipment connoisseur, I’m very curious as to why this question is asked? I personally feel like that isn’t going to help you get to know your photographer! I want my clients to get to know me so they can feel comfortable having me be part of such a special day! Learning the type of camera or lens they use, isn’t necessarily going to leave you feeling like the photographer is the best match for you! However, there is one equipment question definitely worth asking, and that is if the photographer brings their own lighting. I would hope that the answer is yes, and if they don’t I would suggest exploring with the photographer as to why! Lighting is super important, especially if you are getting married in a dark barn or a windowless venue. Again, I would simply suggest you just ask the photographer for a sample of their work from a venue that is similar to yours!
Remember that it isn’t about the equipment, like the type of camera, its more about the photographer controlling the camera!
Meeting Your Photographer
Budget ~ One thing I think is super important, and I’m sure most people do this already but figure out your budget for photography before meeting with your photographer! The last thing you want to do is waste your own time and the time of the photographer, if they don’t fit within your budget! You are already going to be meeting with so many people, it seems silly to meet with people you definitely wont use!
Involvement ~ I LOVE these types of questions. Ask your photographer “How much do you want to be kept in the loop?” I love this because some photographers love to be kept up to speed, and then other photographers just want you to figure it out and then give them all the details right before the wedding! Honestly, one way isn’t more “right” than the other, it is just two very different approaches. I personally love being kept in the loop, because if I am able to help my clients make wedding planning a little easier, I want to help. In my experience, timelines are probably the most frequently asked about, so if you are unsure or stressing around the time needed for pictures, etc., I want to ease your stress. I know many other photographers who feel the same! We would rather help you figure those things out instead of being left with no time for those photos you are going to want!
Getting to know you Photographer ~ In my opinion it is so important to meet your photographer before booking them! This person is going to be with you for probably longer then the amount of time you are going to be with your spouse on your wedding day. So, you are DEFINITELY going to want to vibe and mesh with them! Go grab a coffee, beer, wine or whatever you like to get to know your photographer a little better! Ask questions to get to know them. One question I love is asking what your photographer’s favourite part of a wedding day is, it may seem silly but you will learn a little bit more about them from questions like these! I also am a bit of a nerd, and love to tell everyone that my favourite part is watching the couple see each other for the first time in their wedding attire. I would also suggest asking what kind of advice they would give to a couple on their wedding day? Remember this probably isn’t their first wedding, they will probably have some great advice or things to say that can add to your wedding experience!
There are definitely lots of questions on those lists that I think are great to ask your potential wedding photographer, but there are also some that I feel you shouldn’t need to waste your time on! Hopefully this helps you separate the questions that you don’t need to necessarily waste your time on from the questions that can enhance your experience and also allow you to actually get to know the person behind the camera!!
In case you still want a list of great or necessary questions to ask your potential photographer, here is one below. Keep in mind your photographer will probably go over most of these questions with you so I find it best to wait and see if they didn’t mention one of your questions and then ask away at the end!
Okay!! That's my opinionated remarks for the day... Let's hope this quarantine ends soon so you can hit me up with all these questions LOL