Newly engaged, and starting to build your vendor team?
It's no secret that starting the wedding process is, to say the least, a lot. Whether you've had your dream team picked out for years, or you're just starting to gather information, it's important to do your due diligence in finding your vendors to make sure they truly are the best fit for you on your big day! While I may be biased, I am of the belief that your photographer has an incredibly significant role on your wedding day: they are integral to your timeline management, they leave you with the only product remaining after your day has ended, and they spend more time with you throughout your day than any other vendor. They are with you for your most intimate moments, the ones where you're overtaken by emotion, the ones where your nerves are most heightened, the moments your guests don't get to see. It is so deeply important that you trust your photographer and feel comfortable with them, not only as a person but as an artist.
So how do you make sure you're selecting the right photographer?
Whether you're jumping on a phone or video call, or meeting up for your beverage of choice, here are some great questions to ask any photographer you're interested in hiring:
Ask about their back up process
Professional photographers shoot in a RAW file format, and ideally back your images up to several locations immediately after your wedding day. Most professional cameras also write each image onto two memory cards, which are never formatted until after your wedding gallery is delivered. This means that even if equipment fails, there should always be several copies of your RAW images.
Ask about gallery delivery time frame
All photographers have a different workflow and different circumstances that go into their anticipated delivery time frame. I typically deliver between 6-8 weeks. It's extremely common for wedding galleries to take 10-12 weeks for delivery as well (keep in mind that film can sometimes take even longer). Each photographer has their own individual workflow, and it's up to how the time frame impacts your decision.
Ask about business insurance
Whether it's a single-day event insurance policy or full blown business insurance, it's always good to make sure your vendors are insured going into your wedding day. I wouldn't hire a vendor without it.
Ask to see a full wedding gallery (... or two, or three)
Ideally, this would be in a venue or vision reminiscent of your own day. I always send prospective clients 3-4 wedding galleries to go through, in the hope that at least one resonates with the style of their own day. Full galleries look different than what you see on Instagram and contain a variety of different lighting situations, posing styles, etc., which helps to prepare you for how your day will look!
ASK ABOUT THEIR APPROACH TO YOUR WEDDING DAY
This is completely dependent on the style of images you want and how you want your wedding day to feel.
Are you looking for posed, Vogue-esque images? You're probably looking for a very hands-on, editorial style photographer who will curate and pose your whole day.
Are you looking for more candid, down-to-earth images? You're probably looking for a more documentary style photographer, who will sit back and watch as your day unfolds.
(Pro tip: a lot of wedding photographers are a hybrid of both!)
Ask what happens in an emergency, if they can't be there?
Whether it's a car accident, illness, or some other act of God, sometimes emergencies happen. It's extremely helpful to know that your photographer has plans in place in case the worst happens. This can include a network of trusted photographers to ask, an associate photographer list, and more.
ASK TO READ REVIEWS
Whether they're on the Knot, Google, or Facebook, reviews are extremely telling about any vendor you're hiring - read them, and trust them.
ASK ABOUT THE ENGAGEMENT SESSION
Is it included? Does it need to be scheduled at a specific time or date? Is it a requirement? Does the photographer help you plan or location scout?
Ask how long they have been photographing weddings
I am firmly in the camp that age and newness to the industry should not necessarily disqualify photographers from your short list. There are incredible wedding photographer who have only been in the industry for a short period of time. That said, there is reliability in experience, and it's helpful to know where your photographer stands in their career.
There are many, many more questions you can certainly pose to your wedding photographer, but I hope that this list gives you a great place to start! If nothing else, this should give you a great feel for how you will work together with any photographer you're looking into, and help to narrow down what matters most.
No matter what, the most important thing in your planning process is to trust your gut - that applies to your vendors, as well.
Congratulations, and happy planning!