If you’re like the millions of other couples in the universe, your days (and nights) have probably been spent scrolling through your IG feed, dreaming of color swatches, and finding yourself buried under an ever-growing mound of bridal magazines. If you’re lucky, you’ve probably narrowed your search down to 10 photographers that fit your style and budget. But herein lies the problem; all the photographers on your short-list look the same, yikes!
This is where the consultations come in handy. Despite all the bad information that exists out there in the interwebs, I come from the belief that there’s no such thing as a silly question. The important thing to remember is that you need to be asking the right questions, the ones that really matter.
In no particular order, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most typical, magazine-type questions we’ve ever been asked, questions that are sure to raise a few eyebrows if you’re tossing them to a seasoned pro – but we’ve refined and recalibrated them into the right questions, the ones that really matter.
Typical Question #1: “Can I get some references?”
Ask this instead: “I wasn’t able to find any reviews of you online, is there a place where we may find them?”
Yes, reviews and references are important. Fortunately for you, most photographers will have an online presence of some sort, and a quick Google search will turn up the kind of information you may be looking for. Ideally, you’ll want the reviews to come from an independent 3rd party (The Knot, WeddingWire, Yelp, etc). Should your research turn up any negative reviews, give the photographer an opportunity to explain their side of the story. In a scenario where online reviews do not exist, see if you can find your photographer on social media, and
see stalk their interactions there.
Typical Question #2: “How many weddings have you shot?”
Ask this instead: “Would you happen to have any delivered online galleries we may review?”
Here’s the ugly truth: it doesn’t matter if the photographer has been doing this for 3 years, or 30 years. What matters most is whether or not the photographer can (1) produce the work you see in their portfolio, (2) fit your budget, and (3) pleasant enough to be around for 8-10 hours on your wedding day. While comparing photographers’ galleries, pay attention to how they photograph the details, family photos, portraits and moments throughout the day. Experience doesn’t matter as much as style, depth, and attention to detail (but if you can get all of the above – even better!).
Typical Question #3: “We’re on a tight budget. Can we get a discount?”
Ask this instead: “We’ve been doing our research with several different photographers, and the work all seems very similar. What are some things you do/offer, to account for the price differences we are finding?”
Pricing will generally depend on their business model (“Shoot & Share” vs “IPS”), their experience, as well as the market demand for their work. You’ll have to trust that whomever you’re about to hire is charging a fair & reasonable rate for his/her services. By asking for a discount, you’re telling the photographer that they’re not being fair & reasonable. Would you want to work with someone who wasn’t being fair & reasonable?
Typical Question: #4: “Will you scout our venue/location ahead of time?”
Ask this instead: “What are some of the things you are looking for, when selecting locations for photos on a wedding day?”
Scouting beforehand can sometimes be a fruitless labor of love, because seasons, lighting, and weather conditions can change between the scouting day and the actual wedding day itself (and therefore limit what the photographer can do). Your photographer will always have certain things that they would be looking for, whether it be lighting, compositions, and/or colors. But if there are locations that are sentimental/important to you, just let your photographer know – oftentimes, they’ll be happy to oblige!
Typical Question #5: “Can I send you my Pinterest Boards?”
Ask this instead: “I love what you did with this couple at the XYZ Venue. What would you need from us so that we could get photos like that?”
In order for the photographer to produce the images you see in their portfolio, certain parameters would generally need to be in place (location access, lighting, client cooperation, and creative freedom, etc). It’s important that you’re able to convey what you’re looking for (preferably through the photographer’s own work). That way, they’ll know how to focus/tailor their creative energy specifically just for you.
Typical Question #6: “How would you describe your style?”
Ask this instead: “What’s your favorite thing to photograph at weddings?”
Many photographers (myself included) will have a hard time describing their own work through words alone. Even worse, some photographers will mislabel themselves into a category which may/may not be an accurate description of the kind of work they actually produce. By asking about their favorite things to photograph, you can better decide for yourself if your interests and values are aligned. But truthfully, a thorough look at their IG and blog will provide a good indication of what your photographer genuinely loves photographing.
That wasn’t too bad, right? I hope these tips will help you navigate all that crazy dynamics that go into finding the perfect wedding photographer. Remember – just try to enjoy the process, ask lots of questions, and you’ll find your perfect wedding photographer in no time :).