When it comes to planning a wedding, there are a handful of very important vendors that you will want to spend your time researching and deliberating before deciding. One of the most important is your photographer. This person will capture your day for you to remember for eternity, and you want to make sure that they are dependable, talented, and most importantly, someone you feel comfortable with.
To make sure you are making the right decision, I recommend calling or meeting a few different photographers in person before signing a contract. They might be able to answer all of these questions in the checklist with answers you are happy with, but if they don’t seem professional enough or like someone you would vibe with, they might not be the one for you. You can also learn about what makes a photographer special by asking them about themselves and having them offer their own tips to you.
I felt that this post was pertinent because we got our engagement photos back and we LOVE them! Out photographer was so easy to work with and she captured some beautiful moments of the two of us. Thanks Jackie!
To get started in making your decision, take a look at this list below.
How to Find Your Wedding Photographer Questionnaire
- Do you have my wedding date available? A photographer isn’t much good if they can’t attend your wedding!
- How long have you been in business? It’s not necessarily bad if a photographer hasn’t been a business for long, you may even save some money this way, but you will want to make sure that they are a reputable business. You want to make sure they will keep up with their equipment and practice.
- How many weddings do you shoot per year? Have you done many that were similar to mine in size and style? Your photographer should have some experience shooting weddings. This will give them a leg up on classic shots to make sure not to miss, how to corral people for family photos, and how to make you comfortable with your new spouse taking romantic photos in front of someone you don’t know very well.
- Have you ever worked at my wedding site before? If not, do you plan to check it out in advance? Again, this isn’t a deal breaker, but you should want your photographer to get an idea of what the space is like and what lighting to expect. They will want to know these things to be prepared before working the wedding.
- How would you describe your photography style (e.g. traditional, photo-journalistic, creative)? Do you like a more natural style of photography? Bright and light? Moody and dark? Traditional with minimal editing? Look around the internet to find out the style you like and find a photographer with a shooting style and editing style that matches your preference.
- How would you describe your working style? How will you (and your assistants) be dressed? You don’t want your photographer and their team showing up in ripped jeans and flip flops. You also may or may not want them to pose you… or maybe you do! Make sure they agree with your methodologies.
- What do you think distinguishes your work from that of other photographers? It’s good to ask this question to see what they think of their competition. My photographer mentioned that her editing style was more timeless and less trendy, and that really spoke to me, even though I had initially thought I loved the moody look. Remember those photos with the black and white and one color selection from the mid 2000’s… you don’t want to regret your photos!
- Do you have a portfolio I can review? Are all of the images yours, and is the work recent? Though most photographers have their own photos on their sites, make sure they were taken and edited by them or the team members coming to your wedding. You can also ask to see entire wedding albums to get an idea of what shots they usually get, and if the quality of the work on their website is consistent over all of the rest of the photos.
- What type of equipment do you use? Typically you will want your photographer to have a full frame lens for wide shots and some other choices for different types of shots.
- Do you have backup equipment? What about a backup plan if you (or my scheduled photographer) are unable to shoot my wedding for some reason? It would be a travesty if your photographer’s only camera lens broke on the day of your wedding, or if they got sick and had no backup plan. Make sure to ask about the worst case!
- Can I give you a list of specific shots we would like? What shots do you normally get? If your photographer is a consistent wedding photographer, they will probably tell you that they get all of the classic shots: the dress, your accessories, your invitation suite, you and your bridesmaids getting ready, etc. If you have family group shots you want to get, make sure to point these people out and give your photographer a list!
- Are you the photographer who will shoot my wedding? If so, will you have any assistants with you on that day? If not, who will be taking the pictures and can I meet them before my wedding? Make sure your contract states that your photographer will be the person you have been talking to and not just one of their staff. If you like their style, it’s possible that their team will be similar, but it’s not guaranteed.
- If my wedding site is out of your area, do you charge a travel fee and what does that cover? You can always bring a photographer in from your local area if you are doing a destination wedding, but it will usually come at a price.
- Are you photographing other events on the same day as mine? Unless you are having a short wedding, like only a brunch, you should look for a photographer who will only be photographing your wedding that day. If you need them all day then it is crucial that they are available to do that.
- Do you have a policy to be the sole photographer/videographer for my event? If a photographer does videography, they may request that they are the sole person providing both services. Make sure they are the person/company you want for both if that is the case!
- What time will you arrive at the site and for how long will you shoot? What would you expect the day’s events to look like? This might not be set in stone when you speak with your photographer, but you will want to know how long they plan to stay and if they plan to get there early enough for getting ready photos and late enough for your final exit.
- If my event lasts longer than expected, will you stay later? Is there an additional charge? Some photographers have a hard cut off time that they will need to leave your wedding, and some will only stay for the contracted amount of hours. If you think you may change your mind later on, find out what the extra time would cost you and when you would need to make decision.
- What packages do you offer? Most photographers offer packages or menus of items that they offer such as photographer per hour, cost of adding a second photographer, engagement photos, bridal portraits, prints, and more.
- How many photos should we expect to receive? You will want to make sure you are getting a decent number of photos for the money you are paying. Usually photographers offer about 75 photos per hour. If it’s far less, you might be missing out on some special moments.
- Can I customize a package based on my needs? Don’t want engagement photos or a canvas print? You might be able to save some money if your photographer will let you cut items you don’t want from their package!
- What type of album designs do you offer? Do you provide any assistance in creating an album? As an FYI, albums are very expensive and can take a lot of work to put together. They come with a variety of pages, paper types, cover materials, and sizes. Compare offerings and also consider having it printed yourself through Shutterfly or a similar company if you don’t mind a DIY project.
- Do you provide retouching, color adjustment or other corrective services? This might be something you are interested in if you want your skin to be airbrushed and teeth to be bright white, but make sure they don’t go overboard! You want to look like yourself.
- How long after the wedding will I get the proofs? Will they be visible online? This can vary quite a bit, with most photographers giving a 6 week timeline for getting photos back. Online galleries where you can print, download, and purchase prints are very popular right now. Some photographers still offer a USB, though it’s probably unnecessary.
- What is the ordering process? Look for an option for people to order the photos they want without having to go through you, as well as for longevity. If you photos are only available online for printing for a few months, that’s not a lot of decision making time.
- Will you give me the negatives or the digital images, and is there a fee for that? Make sure digital copies and the rights to print the copies are included in your contract. If your photographer plans to take photos with a film camera, find out if you will get the negatives to reprint.
- How much of a deposit do you require and when is it due? Do you offer a payment plan? Most photographers will require a percentage of your package to be due to secure them for your date. Find out the payment schedule so you don’t incur late fees.
- What is your refund/cancellation policy? In the event that something terrible happens, find out the cancellation policy so you don’t loose a bunch of money if possible.
- When will I receive a written contract? NEVER CHOOSE A PHOTOGRAPHER WITHOUT HAVING EVERYTHING IN WRITING! Contracts are the only thing that confirms that all of the discussions you have had are set in stone.
- BONUS TIP: When looking for a photographer, consider searching for “(INSERT CITY) PHOTOGRAPHER” online to see what comes up. Some photographers specialize in things like portraits, but also do weddings, but they don’t pay to advertise on sites like The Knot and Wedding Wire. These photographers may have better pricing since they are not only in the wedding business, which we all know is always more expensive than any other.
I considered putting off more wedding posts until Kyle and I had actually had the wedding, but there is so much that I’ve learned in the process of planning our wedding that I couldn’t bare to wait another 11 months! This summer I plan to share more checklists like this one for other wedding vendors. I personally created and used all of these lists based on tons of other checklists that I found on other sites, and I think it really paid off.
Make sure to look out for more, and let me know if there is one in particular you are anxious to see! Here are a few more of our favorite photos from the shoot. Our photographer is Jacqueline Vega and she did a gorgeous job!