You’re about to hire the most important vendor of the wedding: the person who will capture your memories of this most incredible day.
Here are the best questions to ask a wedding photographer (and a few that really don’t matter).
Kathryn Cooper Weddings | Questions to Ask A Wedding Photographer | What to Ask Your Wedding Photographer
What to ask your wedding photographer? There are so many things you CAN ask, but certain ones you really need to—and they’re usually not the questions every wedding magazine says to ask.
You’ve found your partner, you’ve discovered the perfect venue, and you already know the celebration you’re going to have. So who’s going to catch these actual once-in-a-lifetime memories? Your wedding photographer! Now…how do you pick the right wedding photographer?!
Let’s Get Into It: What Are the Best Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer?
Sure I’m biased as a wedding photographer, but even if you don’t hire me (which of course you should!), please, please don’t skimp on your memories. If you hire a student or a cheap nationwide company, you’re sacrificing even the positive memories of your day because whenever you look at your prints or screensaver, there’s a good chance you’ll see the imperfections or lack of moments caught at all. A bad photographer can unfortunately create bad memories, but a good one will catch the most amazing ones—and moments you didn’t even see yourself.
So whether you’re just starting your photographer search or have a few on your shortlistand need to make your final pick, here are the questions I’ve found most valuable (and least valuable!) for finding and booking an amazing artist to capture your day or weekend.
Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer: The List
Experience: How much experience do they have? How long have they been photographing weddings, and how many weddings/elopements have they photographed?
- You ideally want someone who has photographed at least 30-50 weddings. 200? Even better, because they’ve probably seen everything/have a handle on anything that could arise. This is one of the most obvious questions to ask a wedding photographer, so try to learn a bit: How did the person get started in wedding photography? What else do they shoot? Full-time/part-time?
Connection & Trust—THE most Important quality in your wedding photographer! Do you have a connection and trust in your photographer? This may sound new age, but you needn’t worry about so many things if you have trust in your experienced photographer. They’ll already know what to bring, what to capture, and how to capture it without you writing out a shot list.
- Good photographers save you stress, time, and money in the long run by advising, comforting, and being always nearby to catch the shots you may have missed. I’ve worked with amazing photographers who were on their phones all the time or couldn’t socialize, and as such, the overall photos suffered. Make sure you connect!
Photography Style: What is their photography style? Is she/he a photojournalist, a fine art photographer, a fan of posed shots, super creative, adventuresome, mixed…?
- Make sure you have looked at the types of wedding photos on your photographer’s site, and know the types of photos and general photo plan. Some will stay in the background, some will take you out for scenic shots, and some will pose you every step of the way. Know what you want, and make sure that’s what you’re paying for!
- See https://www.kathryncooperweddings.com/the-different-styles-of-wedding-photography/ for more on the different styles of wedding photography.
I’m Nervous…Can You Help?! Most couples have never had professional photos taken, so will the wedding photographer you choose help you out? Will they guide you, pose you, and make you feel at ease?
- One of the most useful questions to ask a wedding photographer is how they’ll work with those who aren’t used to being in front of a lens. Will they direct you? Will you be able to ask for certain photos over here, or over there?
- When you pick your wedding photographer, make sure you feel comfortable from your first email to your online or in-person consultation, and that way you’ll be sure to feel yourselves whether a lens is pointed at you or not. I hate being in front of the lens myself, so I know how nervous folks feel! Laugh, run, frolic, pose—be yourselves.
Values: LGBT Couples, Religion, Diversity Do they value what you value? E.G. if you’re having a Muslim ceremony, or you’re an LGBTQ couple, or you’re having a secret elopement…does your photographer’s vision align with yours?
- This isn’t important to everyone, but is extraordinarily important to others. Many of my LGBT clients want to make sure I have a lo of experience working with all types of couples, people of color want to make sure I’ve photographed couples of color, etc. You’re the client, and you need to feel 100% safe and welcomed.
Backups & Ensuring Your Photos are Safe: What will your photographer do if it rains or snows? What will your photographer do if her/his camera breaks? What if the dog eats your photos?
- Make sure that if bad weather or bad luck comes, you have backups. This goes back to trust and experience as well, because a real professional will have backup gear, cloud backups of photos, and equipment for indoor flashes if there is inclement weather.
- Every professional photographer should have two cameras and multiple lenses. If they don’t, this is a red flag. Camera equipment can fail at any point, and there must be a backup plan. Feel free to ask this question to your photographer! As for the dog…well…get a cat instead? Or a chinchilla?
Personality: Does your photographer have a personality that jives with yours? Your wedding photographer doesn’t need to be your best friend or match yours necessarily, but you need to be able to get along with them in times of stress, partying, laughing, and more.
- What to ask your wedding photographer? For this one, you can easily get a sense simply by speaking to them. Believe it or not, I’ve seen photographers yell at clients or groups to take photos, or throw tantrums if they don’t get the images they want. Yikes! Make sure your photographer will be the type of person who can keep you calm, happy, and in control yet kind (or whatever personality you may need that day). Plus, the more comfortable your friends and family are with your photographer, the more awesome your photos.
Photo Delivery: How many edited photos will you receive, and by when will you receive them? What about extras, like albums or prints?
- Your contract must lay out when photos will arrive, and approximately how many you will get. Ask your wedding photographer to go over this in your call. A good rule of thumb is around 75+ photos per hour, edited and delivered digitally within 1-3 months. Want black & whites, a giant canvas, or engagement photos? Ask!
How Do Their Photos Make Your Feel? When you look at your photographer’s portfolio, what do you see and feel? Excitement? Calm? Wonder? In the moment? How did they do that? I wish I were there? Make sure you can see yourself (or wish to see yourself) right in there!
- Catching emotion and feeling right there is a sign of an amazing photo. If the photographer comes highly recommended but you feel nothing, move on. You want to feel right back in the moment of your wedding day and partying and wild fun when you look back at your own photos, so see to it that you’re already in love with their work.
I Love My Job: Does your photographer love what she/he does, or do they have 20,000 Instagram followers but hate weddings? Make sure you get a sense of who they are and why they are a great fit for you.
- Don’t pick your wedding photographer based off of coming up #1 in a Google search, or having a super popular social media account. You want to make sure that your joy comes out in your photos, and that you’re not just another wedding that will have cookie-cutter photos. You and your partner deserve to be the stars of the day.
Editing Style: What makes their photos different? What’s their unique take/their editing style? Research their photo library extensively, from their Instagram and website to blog posts and even a full wedding (just ask the photographers you’re researching to provide a link to a full wedding and you’ll get a sense of this).
- Make sure you know the editing style of the photographer you’re hiring. This is one of the most important questions to ask a photographer—though you’ll definitely get a sense from their website.
- For editing styles, there’s true-to-color and vibrant (my style here at Kathryn Cooper Weddings), dark and moody, light and airy, and a few others. If all the photos in the photographer’s portfolio are orange-y, yours probably will be too. If all of the photos are very dark and mysterious, you can expect the same from yours.
Price: How much will my wedding day cost me in total? Do I have printing rights? Are there any taxes?
- The pricing question isn’t fun, but it’s necessary. Ask about prints that are included or printing rights, if there is any additional pricing, if you need to cover travel or accommodation, etc. Are engagement photos included? If they aren’t, don’t worry–you’re not getting a cheaper price necessarily when they are. It’s all worked into the price, and pricing varies from location to time of year to day of the week. Look, wedding photography is expensive. Why? It’s not unfair pricing—it’s because you have literally one day to get it all right. There are no do-overs. There’s no recreating a special moment. You can skimp on a few things at your wedding, but if you’re this far in the article, then you already know how important your wedding photos and memories are.
- When you hire a wedding photographer, you’re purchasing several weeks’ of their time (along with years’ of training, equipment, business expenses, etc.). There’s discussions, meetings, contracts, emails, insurance and contractual fees, taxes, getting equipment ready, coordinating with other vendors and the venue (and other behind-the-scenes work people aren’t aware of), photographing the day, backing everything up, and editing for weeks and weeks—generally 80-100 hours of work in one wedding. This is why you can expect to pay $3000-$5000+ for a professional wedding photographer who is insured, experienced, and ready to capture the most amazing day of your life.
Reviews: Does your photographer have at least a few great reviews on a few different websites?
- I’ve been a professional wedding photographer for years and years, but I also am really bad about getting clients to leave reviews on all the different platforms out there. Still, I have enough for people to know I’ve got lots of happy clients, but no time for Yelp reviews 😛 What you can do is make sure people have left reviews (5-10 suffice) on at least a few different platforms (Google Business, testimonials on a private site, Facebook, Zola, etc.).
- A good photographer doesn’t have views on every site. Example: I don’t advertise or get clients through The Knot or Wedding Wire, which are often for more traditional weddings and wedding vendors. No judgement here, but my style is more for fun-loving, adventurous, unique couples. Therefore, I don’t have tons of reviews on every site. Still, here’s what my reviews on FB, for example, look like: https://www.facebook.com/pg/KathrynCooperWeddings/reviews
Destination Weddings: Has your photographer photographed destination weddings before? Has she/he captured your particular environment, such as a beach, redwoods, the desert, a 10-mile adventure session in the rainforest, a boat wedding, etc.? How will they find the best locations if it’s their first time there?
- As a destination wedding photographer who has shot all over the USA and world, I not only have experience in every setting imaginable, I have a set method for researching and scouting out locations for my clients. If you’re having a destination elopement or destination wedding, this is a definite question to ask a wedding photographer. All this goes back to trusting your photographer and hiring someone who has a tremendous amount of experience. Make sure the photographer you hire will know how to yield the most amazing photos for YOU.
Bonus: Pro Tip: What are other people saying about their memories? Do former clients speak highly of the photographers you’re about to interview? Go to Instagram and I’ll show you how to find out!
- Here’s how to “stalk” a photographer on Instagram. In addition to watching their stories and even messaging with them, go to the right-most tab on their IG account—the one that looks like a profile in a box. This will show all of the photos that others have tagged. How frequent are they? What are customers who post their photos saying? What are other vendors saying?
Now That You Have Questions To Ask A Wedding Photographer, Here’s What You DON’T Need to Ask:
- “Have you photographed at my venue before?” You don’t need to ask this, because if you trust her or his experience and style, you already can trust that they’ll research the venue, bring the right equipment, and know how to make you look great anywhere. Besides, folks who work at the same venue again and again tend to get the same types of photos again and again. I eschew cookie-cutter photos, and by working at lots of different venues, I can bring in a new set of creative eyes.
- “Do I need to tip you?” Look, tips are lovely, but they are certainly not expected. Just as awesome is getting a great review from clients, or having them tell their engaged friend about my work. Please do not ever feel pressured to give a tip!
- “Do I need to write out a shot list of all the details I need, such as my invites and my shoes?” No, you really don’t. Every professional photographer knows to get traditional wedding photos. If your photographer is experienced and worth what seems like a lot, skip that list because trusting your photographer means they’ll know to take all those shots and then some.
When you get married, you only have a few things left after your wedding: Your partner, and your wedding photos. Occasionally you also have a wedding video and a tier of frozen [ahem, freezer-burned] cake. But really, what are you going to be looking at around your home and how you remember beautiful, surprise, funny, and tear-jerking moments? Your photos.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask…Well, Anything!
What are the best questions to ask a wedding photographer? Turn the question on them! Ask what you wish they knew, or what they can tell you from their experiences.
After you’ve narrowed down your list to a few photographers whose work you love, have phone or video chats with them, or even meet in person. Save this list of questions to ask your photographer, budget for someone amazing, and you’ll never regret the incredible images and feelings from your day.
Kathryn Cooper Weddings | Destination Wedding Photographer | New York Wedding Photographer | California Wedding Photographer