Your wedding photographer is arguably one of the most important vendors at your wedding. I know I'm biased, but after your wedding day your photos and the memories are really going to be all that's left. That's why it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to booking a wedding photographer. Going through the experience myself I know how hard it is to make decisions for your wedding day, in particular, hiring a wedding photographer. Because there are SO many options in the industry, and it can be hard to know where to start, I put together a list of 10 questions you should ask before hiring a photographer for your wedding day.
Quick note before we start, know that when hiring a photographer, it’s an emotional purchase. These people are preserving one of your coolest memories, so you want to make sure you trust them. You're also going to spend your entire wedding day with your wedding photographer so you want to make sure you’re comfortable with them as well as excited to work with them.
Where to Start
Google searches can only get you so far. After you get engaged, head to Instagram or Pinterest and start searching hashtags based on where you plan to get married. For example, if you're getting married in Kenosha Wisconsin you might search #kenoshaweddingphotographers or #wisconsinwedding to see who's photos pop up. In the beginning, you're going to be just looking for styles you like, follow a handful of these photographers and put their post notifications on so you can see their posts and stories and get to know their personalities.
Wedding photographers typically book 12-15 months out for wedding days. There are a lot of photographers out there, but if you have a budget you would like to stick in and a couple of photographers that are higher on your list than others, you'll want to contact them sooner rather than later.
Throughout your booking process, there will be questions that you want to ask yourself as well as questions you'll want to ask your wedding photographer. In the beginning, as you're looking at these photographers' work and getting to know them via social media, there are a handful of questions you'll want to ask yourself.
Questions you Should Ask Yourself:
1. Do I like their style?
Look at their editing, the way they document different parts of their day, look at their blog, check out weddings in venues that are similar to yours and scroll through their IG feed to get an overall feel of what their photos are like.
2. How do I want my photos from my day to look?
Do you have specific photos that you are expecting to see? Do you want more photos of the “vibe” of the day? Are couples portraits really the only thing you care about? There are no wrong answers to these questions, just make sure your photographer’s portfolio reflects what you hope to have after your wedding day.
After you have three or four photographers scouted out on Instagram, you'll want to move onto their sites to send over some inquiries. I would do a max of four inquiries at a time. You want to take your time, get to know them, and if they aren't a right fit, send out one or two more inquiries. When you inquire, please note that the wedding photographers will want to talk to you over the phone or via facetime, so you'll want to plan accordingly. Before you send over your inquiry, here are a couple of things you will want to look for on their site.
Questions You Should Look for Answers to on Their Site:
3. Do I like their personality?
Check out their IG captions and set notifications on your phone for when they post stories. You can get to know a photographer a LOT just by watching their Instagram stories.
4. Are they within my budget?
Check out their information page on their site. Look at the packages they offer and decide whether or not they fit within your budget before you inquire.
5. Do I like their editing?
This is super important. Their editing is a part of their art thus, they will not change their editing for you. Make sure that you vibe with their edits and that you could picture yourself hanging their photos around your home one day.
6. If I need them to travel, do they travel?
If you find a photographer that you like that isn’t based in the state you’re getting married in, make sure to scope out whether or not they travel. For example, I try to keep most of my weddings in and around the Midwest.
7. Do they have photos in all types of lighting scenarios?
This is SUPER important. You want to make sure that your photographer has work in all types of lighting scenarios displayed on their website. General rule of thumb, you want to see outdoor photos, indoor photos by a window, flash photography and low light photography (i.e. window light or reception lit without flash).
Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer Before You Hire Them
After you inquire with your photographer, typically, you'll have a better look at their pricing as well as a look into how they communicate with their clients. Along with some more information, they will want to hop on a call or facetime you to get to know you more. I know this can seem like a lot when hiring multiple vendors, but I cannot stress how important it is to get to know your wedding vendors before you hire them. When you hop on your call, here are some questions that you will want to ask your potential wedding photographer.
8. What does your wedding day experience look and feel like?
Every photographer's experience leading up to the wedding day and throughout the wedding day is going to be different. Some photographers are super hands on, others take a more hands off approach. Do you want a more documentary style? Or do you want your photographer to tell you exactly where to put your hands? Or do you want a mixture of both? There is not a right or wrong answer, there is just your preference !
9. Can I see a full wedding album?
Instagram and websites are just a highlight reel, we all know that, so it is important to ask your photographer to send a full gallery over to you before booking. You want to make sure you like the way they tell the stories of their clients. You want to make sure their photos make you feel the way you want to feel when you see your photos after your wedding day.
10. What does payment look like and when is everything due?
Last but not least. By industry standard, you’re going to need to make a non-refundable deposit in order to secure your date. Then after that, every photographer has a different way of collecting the rest of your payment. Some offer payment plans, others request to have the rest in a lump sum at the end of the month. Every process is different so be sure to ask how this works for them.
Overall lot of the work when researching your wedding vendors is going to happen prior to your actual inquiry. The people you actually inquire with should be vendors that you already feel like you know to some degree. You want to have some trust in them and know what they're about so that when you get on your call with them you can just get to the finer details in making sure you're a good fit ! If you're planning your wedding day and you're looking for some inspiration or a look at one of my own weddings check out Jordyn and Sean's wedding day !