36 Answers from a Wedding Photographer, Part 1
I have a love/hate relationship with “list” articles. It feels like anytime I’m researching a new topic or just surfing the web (is that a thing anymore? Am I getting old? Probably.) I am constantly seeing results in the form of “10 best ways to do the thing.” While I will click these articles and normally get what I’m looking for, there’s still this nagging feeling of “is this really the best thing? Or is this someone’s version of the best thing? What does it really mean to be the best?” And that continues on for awhile until I have an existential crisis and eat a grilled cheese to feel better.
I recently decided to go out into this world fraught with crisis and see if I could find a list I could get behind for wedding photography, and was actually surprised by how not cringe-worthy they were. I had every expectation they would be full of questions like “What camera equipment do you have?” (which is a fine question, but unless you are also a camera geek that might not be the information you’re looking for).
But I think a lot has changed since these lists became the norm - people are actually putting out USEFUL questions now to get better SEO (Search Engine Optimization, for those non-techies out there - basically the way Google decides what is relevant content when people search for things. It’s the silent killer information collector). Bully for engaged couples in this modern era!
I decided the review Bride’s 36 Important Questions To Ask Your Wedding Photographer since that one had the most useful questions, and try to add a little of my context to them. I’ll also try to answer these questions RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW whenever I can. Are you ready for this?
Is my wedding date available?
If this isn’t your first natural question out of the gate I’d be a little concerned for you. BUT it’s still a good question - if I’m not available, I’m happy to refer you to other photographers that are.
Will you be the one shooting my wedding? If not, can I meet the photographer who will be on-site?
They go on to explain this one a bit more but I’ll add it here too - most photographers who own their own business, especially in Vermont, are the ones shooting and editing. Otherwise, it will probably be pretty obvious from their website whether they are a group vs a single photographer. My business being named after me is also a good indicator that I’m a single photographer shop.
How many other weddings will you photograph that weekend?
Scheduling is pretty fluid in the photography world, so a better question might be “how many weddings do you normally schedule on a busy weekend?” The answer will likely be 2-3 weddings. If the answer is more than 3, please tell me who they are because I do not know how they do it and I want to talk to them about how they stay sane.
How long have you been shooting weddings? How many weddings have you photographed?
This is an especially good question for the price conscious couple. I can tell you that my pricing very much reflects my confidence in my ability to capture a wedding, and that all comes to how many weddings I’ve shot. If you do find a newbie whose charging a lot right out of the gate, really get into the details of why - what other qualities are they bringing that compensates for their lack of experience?
Can we see the full galleries of a few of your recent weddings?
OH HECK YES. I love showing off my work, and if you find a photographer that isn’t then I don’t know what their passion is. Only thought on anyone who would be hesitant there is if they want to maintain a couple’s privacy from their most recent wedding
Do you often shoot weddings that have a similar size and style to the one we are planning?
I would throw this question right back at whoever was asking me this - does your wedding match the style I typically shoot? I’m all about trying new things and pushing the limits, and I’m also assuming that whoever has contacted me has looked at my work and is excited to talk to me more, because they found an element they feel really works for the wedding they’re planning. For me first and foremost, we need to feel a real connection, and the style of wedding comes second to that. But don’t worry, I’ll still be super jazzed about your doughnut centerpiece idea. Because, you know, doughnuts.
How would you describe your photography style? What would you compare your work to?
This is kind of a similar question to the above - every photographer has a style they’re striving for, so if they give an answer to this that doesn’t really match the work you’ve seen on their website, it’s a great opportunity to ask more questions why. Everyone has a story to tell, and are at different parts of that story with their own work.
How would you describe your working style? Do you prefer to blend into the background to capture candid moments, or do you like to be more visible and take charge to choreograph images?
This is a lovely question, and one of my favorite parts about talking with different photographers. Everyone has different answers to this question, and all for different reasons. For me, I try to find balance between letting the natural moments happen and being a part of the fun. My goal is to connect in order to capture, so watching from afar isn’t my style. I love making fun of people and myself to get people comfortable with me and results in much more relaxed, fun photos.
What is included in your standard package? What add-ons do the more expensive packages include?
Can I customize a package to fit my needs?
Do you include engagement photos in your packages? What about pre-wedding events like rehearsal dinners?
These last three questions all have really similar thread, which is: “how flexible are you with what’s included in your rate?” This answer will also be different no matter who you talk to. As long as your photographer can clearly explain why they do or don’t include certain things, and how much more they cost, then you’re talking to good people.
Alright, I got through 12 of the 36 with a little cheating at the end there. I think I’ll split these up into a multi-part blog post in order to not overwhelm you guys. Stay tuned!
Got more wedding photography questions of your own?
Read the next part of the blog series in Part 2