A lot of photographers emphatically say they shoot anything *but* weddings, and there's definitely a reason for that. Weddings are a completely different photography animal than headshots or families or commercial work. Get a feel for how many weddings this photographer has photographed.
What kind of **wedding** experience do you have?
Don't just ask if they've shot at your venue before. That doesn't actually matter that much. A photographer who has shot at your venue might have made terrible photos at that venue, while a photographer who's never been there might be one of the best wedding photographers in the world and just hasn't had a wedding at your particular venue.
Instead, think about things like the number of people involved in your wedding, specific traditions you're incorporating, the type of venue you're booking (indoor/outdoor/combo, is it a dark room, are there a lot of windows, etc.), time of year/day your wedding is happening (this impacts lighting significantly), and ask if the photographer has experience with those sorts of variables.
Have you shot a wedding similar to mine?
Ask how they got their start in photography. Is this a lifelong passion? Something they picked up recently? Do they have any specific training or are they full self-taught? Is it a side hustle or a full-time job? Are weddings the only thing they shoot or do they have photograph other things too?
What kind of photography experience do you have?
This can tell you a lot about a photographer! This is insight into how they might approach the wedding day. If portraits are their top priority, you'll want to make sure they're still capable of documenting moments, and vice versa.
That said, I don't think there's a right or wrong answer, and honestly, it's hard for me to choose! I guess moments because are happening throughout the day and portraits are a smaller chunk of time.
Do you like shooting Portraits or moments more? Why?
Okay, this is the million dollar question for shooting style. When I say the approach to specific parts of the day I mean how are they acting/shooting during getting ready? during the ceremony? during portraits? during the reception?
Are they a fly on the wall documentarian you don't even notice? Someone who's coming in to adjust tiny things so every frame is exactly they way they want it? Somewhere in between along that scale? How does their level of direction change throughout the day?
For example, no professional photographer is going to interrupt the ceremony to direct the moment, but will your photographer help you with posing and direction during portraits? At the reception, are they circling the dancefloor or are they in the action? (You know I am so totally in that action!)
What’s your approach to shooting during specific parts of the wedding day?
This doesn't necessarily have to do with shooting style, but it does for me personally, so I think it's a good question to ask.
I got into shooting weddings because I love being surrounded by joyful people having fun, and I love creating images that freeze those moments in time. So my WHY impacts my shooting style because I'm always looking for emotion and genuine moments on the wedding day.
Why Do you Photograph Weddings in particular?
How much gear are they toting around?
When do they typically use the lighting equipment?
When they are using lights, how long do their lights take to set up?
Will their lighting equipment be in the way of any important moments?
What does your lighting setup entail?
Shooting style is about how the photographer acts on the wedding day (this is sort of the sliding scale between hands-off journalist and hands-on stager) and what they choose to focus on while they're shooting. Lighting style, however, comes down to how the photographer uses light.
And since photography is all about light and the absence of light, this is a critically important question.
Does the photographer prefer to have lots of light in the image, with white skies and barely any shadows? Does the photographer not use much light at all, with an overall dark/shadowy/grainy feel to the image? Or is there contrast between light and dark with bright colors, highlights AND shadows? (that's our personal style!)
All of these "effects" are created based on how much light the photographer is allowing into the frame and where specifically the light is hitting. Editing does impact the final product to a certain extent, but how they use the light in the moment can tell you just as much.
What’s your approach to natural light vs. lighting with flash or other lights?
Regardless of whether or not they regularly use flash while shooting, a professional wedding photographer should know how to confidently use flash. Most weddings go until after dark and certain things simply cannot be photographed without the photographer adding their own light, so unless your wedding is going to be entirely outside during the day or under bright spotlights the entire time, make sure your photographer can handle things after dark.
Do you know how to Confidently USe Flash?
This is one of the most important questions you can ask.
Website portfolios and what gets shared on instagram are definitely important and that shows you the work the photographer wants everyone to see, but the important followup question to ask as you're looking through their website and online portfolios: Can they reproduce this level of work consistently?
Don’t get fooled by a photographer who only shares a few good images on their website from an otherwise lackluster wedding gallery, and definitely don’t get fooled by someone who shares images from workshops and styled shoots, without proving they have the ability to produce amazing imagery under the constraints of a real wedding.
Look through full wedding galleries to make sure the quality of their work appears throughout the galleries, not just in the highlights, and also make sure that quality is consistent from wedding to wedding.
Can I see some full wedding galleries?
Weddings involve a lot of small details and a lot of parts working together as a whole, so good communication is key to making it happen. Try to get a feel for the photographer's communication style - what methods they like to use (email, phone, etc.), in addition to their approach to important aspects of communication like problem-solving and conflict resolution. One way to think about this is simply thinking 'how's their customer service?'
How do you communicate with your couples?
Are you going to sign your contract, pay your booking fee, and then not see your photographer again until the day of the wedding? Or will they be more hands-on?
We provide our couples with plenty of resources to help them along the wedding planning journey, and are in regular contact with them in the months leading up the wedding. No questions are too small to ask, and we'll get you a response quickly. With regard to planning your wedding's unique details, we'll be as involved as you'd like, from creating a timeline for you, to simply working with you or your planner with what you've put in place.
After the wedding, we'll continue working with you to ensure you get all the printed products your heart desires!
If we decide to book, what sort of communication will we have with you between now and the wedding?
Some photo studios work at a high volume, shooting over a hundred weddings in a year. We want to make sure each one of our couples is getting a phenomenal experience throughout the process, so to ensure we can serve every couple with individualized attention, we cap the number of weddings we take on each year at around twenty.
How many weddings do you/your company shoot in a year?
A lot of couples ask if they get the copyright to the photos, when what they really want to know is whether they can print and share their images.
By default, photographers maintain the copyright, but most will give you some level of release to use the photos for particular purposes (like sharing on social media and making prints and albums). If you understand the difference between a copyright and a release to print/share and still want the copyright, you should expect to pay extra for that.
With regard to releases, some photographers only want you to print through their lab, meaning you can't print from Walgreens or Snapfish or similar consumer labs. Others might put restrictions on how you can share on social media (only if they're tagged, etc.). For us, you get a release to print and share the images as you'd like.
Can we Share Our Images? Can we Print Our images?
How your images are delivered could be some sort of hardware (dvd, thumb drive, etc.) or through the cloud (online gallery, dropbox, etc.). Whether they're edited just means whether or not the photographer has done any post-processing to color correct, crop, etc.
On the topic of editing, some photographers take almost a year to get through editing your images, others merely a few weeks. We fall in the ~6 week range.
How long it takes isn't really a testament to the quality of the work though, since so many factors come into play: how many other shoots they are currently editing, how in depth their editing process is (lots of artisanal editing or basic color correction?), whether they have a day job on top of their photography business, whether they have good systems in place to stay on top of their business tasks.
Regardless of the answer, it's good to know when you'll get your images.
How & When do we get our final images? Are they edited?
We work together well as a team. It helps us to have multiple pairs of eyes and angles on important moments like the ceremony and the first dance, and it helps to divide and conquer during other times of the day.
Having a team also helps to ensure we can get our light just right and it lets us move through group photos efficiently.
Do you work with a second shooter and/or an assistant?
Do you get digital images? Do you get an album? Why do they offer albums? I like this question because I think having a tangible keepsake from your wedding is invaluable and, to me, photographs are meant to be in print.
Other questions to ask: how many hours are included? How many hours do they think you need?
Questions about what’s included in their various collections & why?
This is another question of professionalism. If you're planning on having a black-tie wedding, you probably don't want your photographer to show up in dirty jeans. True professionals will dress appropriately for the occasion.
What will you wear to my wedding?
It's not fun to think about worst-case scenarios, but that's exactly what business owners need to be prepared for.
What happens if their camera breaks on the wedding day?
How do they backup photos when the wedding is over?
What if they are sick the day of the wedding?
What if it's raining on your wedding day? (not necessarily a worst-case scenario, but it is something that some photographers are not equipped to deal with)
Make sure they have answers to questions like these!
Do you have backup plans for worst-case Scenarios?
The point of these questions is to figure out if the photographer is running their business as a legitimate business. They should be registered as a business, insured, paying taxes, acquiring permits as necessary, etc. Ultimately, it's a question of professionalism.
Are you Insured? Do you pay taxes?
When you know you've found the photographer for you, ask about the booking process. Most photographers require a payment to reserve your wedding date, with the rest of the collection cost due later in the process.
Make sure you've got a contract too. Not just with your photographer, but with all your vendors!
And if you like Kivus & Camera...
We love the images! We love you! How do We book?