It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s a time of joy, love, giving and proposing. Yes, you read that correctly…I said proposing. This time of year is the most popular for engagements and guys are falling to their knees about as fast as a photographers calendars fill up this time of year. It’s officially engagement season and the wedding planning guides will start flying off the shelves quickly.
What about those wedding planning guides though? Do they really help? Are they all the same? Do you actually need one? There is so much that goes into wedding planning, it’s helpful to have guides. But buyer beware…these guides are not tailored to your personality, wedding style, budget and most importantly, your needs.
The problem with most “ask the photographer” guides you find…well, are pretty generic and confusing. An example of a common question found on these guides is: “What camera, lenses, lighting and back up equipment do you use?” I’m happy to list out all of the equipment I bring with me on a wedding day…but will seeing a list of camera equipment mean anything to you? (well, if you’re a photography fanatic then yes, but mostly the answer here is no) Are you going to base your decision on whether I’m a Canon shooter or a Nikon shooter? I’m a Canon girl all the way, but honestly both get ups are amazing in their own special ways. The point is that there are many more important factors that need to be addressed other than Canon vs Nikon.
Then what exactly should you ask your photographer? The short, and not what you want to hear, answer is there is no official list. Boooooooo right? Should you have a list of questions for your photographer? Yes, of course! Let’s be thoughtful however of the questions on your list instead of just picking up a guide and reading down their list of questions. Here’s what we suggest you do to prepare to meet with any professional wedding photographer:
First things first. You need to find photographers you want to interview and that can be an over whelming task that makes you want to elope. Talk to friends and family for recommendations. This truly is the best place to start since the web is filled with endless photographers. Find out from couples that have worked with professional photographers what they loved and what they learned. Ask them if they would hire the same photographer if they could do it all over again.
Now that you have a list of recommendations, carefully look at each photographers websites. Don’t rush through this on your lunch break at work. Make time to sit together and look through each portfolio and blog posts. Talk to each other about what you like and don’t like about the photographers style and processing. One question you’ll find on many planning guides is “What style(s) do you specialize in?”. This should be apparently clear when looking at the photographers portfolio. Even if you don’t know the ‘names’ of photography styles, you can determine if you like their way of shooting and processing just by looking at it. If you’re not a fan, then mark them off the list and move on.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list and have reached out to schedule meetings, it’s time to get prepared. Selecting your wedding photographer is a big decision and you want to ensure you’re fully educated on what to expect before signing a contract and making your deposit. Your meeting with the photographer (whether by phone, skype or in person) is the time to gather information and see if you are a good fit for each other. Make the most out of your time together by reviewing any information the photographer has sent to you and writing down any questions you may have. Check the address of where you are meeting to know how much time it will take to arrive and plan accordingly. Running late can bring on stress and anxiety and that’s no fun way to start off meeting someone new!
During the meeting you should be chatting about your wedding vision, sharing details about getting ready and venues. Once the photographer knows more about your day, they can better educate you on their menu, coverage, pricing, expectations, so forth and so forth. The photographer should answer the majority of your common, and really good, questions you find in wedding planning guides.
In the end, you want to ensure you know the following from your photographer:
What products/services they provide and what you are receiving in your package
Expectations for image delivery including publications and social media features
Total costs, including all fees such as travel and sales tax
Payment schedule and forms of payment accepted
Who your photographer will be
What happens in an emergency
Who you will be communicating with before, during and after the wedding
How will the photographer work with you to get the most out of your photography
What to expect between signing the contract, receiving your images and final products
How long the photographer save your images
Last but not least, watch for red flags and listen to your gut. How the photographer made you feel in the initial communications is a huge insight as to what you can expect. If you don’t have a good vibe or are unsure if you like their work, then chances are the photographer is not a good fit for you.
If you’re looking for more great tips on hiring a wedding photographer, then check out our very first Wedding Photography Guide series: How to Hire a Wedding Photographer!
Happy Wedding Planning!