5 Questions for Your Wedding Photographer
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Often, I get questions about what equipment I use. What camera do I shoot on? What lenses will I be bringing? What will be my lighting setup? I’m always happy to answer these questions but I personally don't feel that they get at the most important aspects of what to look for in a wedding photographer. Once you're confident that someone is a competent photographer (which you can use their portfolio to get a sense of their skill and style), it's most important to figure out if you'll have a good rapport and how they'll handle a stressful situation.
I did not love high school physics but absorbed enough of the lectures on thermodynamics and entropy to learn that occasional chaos is inevitable. The best planned weddings and ceremonies still sometimes go awry. A flower girl goes rogue or trusty camera gear suddenly fails, these things have a way of happening. It's good to have some sense how your wedding photographer will react in a tense moment and if they have contingency plans.
In terms of gear, I've learned from enough photoshoot mishaps to never walk out the door without back up batteries, extra memory cards and a backup camera.
There's also a lot of variety in motivations and thus subsequent styles among photographers. You'll be spending 6 to 8 hours at least with your wedding photographer. They'll be there during one of the most important moments in your life so it's good to have a bit of rapport and understanding. This is a easy introductory question that'll give you some sense of who your photographer is as a person and what they tend to focus on and photograph.
It doesn't have to be a favorite TV show but try to find something you have in common, whether it's a love of travel or a love for silly corgi videos. This is basically part 2 to the previous question. As a photographer, I always look for common points of interest with whoever I'm photographing. Shoots can be extremely quick and transactional but I think it's way more fun to find something in common, get to know one another and have a good time.
Photo editing can sometimes be the most time consuming part of photography, which is why some photographers hire editors. That's not necessarily a bad thing but if you love a specific style, double check that whoever will be editing your photos understands that. Also, if you're working with a large photography studio, it's likely that your photographer will not be your photo editor.
A few weeks back, a ton of people sent me articles about a Dallas couple that trashed their wedding photographer and then lost a defamation suit. It seemed like a nightmare situation for everyone involved. A lot of wedding photographers have various specifications for when they'll release full resolution photos. For some it's tied to a final payment and for others it's tied to a wedding album purchase. If you feel strongly about having full resolution photos, be sure to double check when you can expect to receive them and if there's an additional cost.
Personally, I release all of the photos at full resolution as soon as I'm done editing, which is usually within 2 weeks.
One Final Thought
One of the most frequent complaints I end up hearing about other photographers is that they're difficult to get ahold of or unresponsive. It's easy to get busy as a photographer with shoots, editing and scheduling future work but consistent communication is extremely important. There isn't a good question here to suss lazy communicators because I'm guessing most people would consider themselves responsive but it's something to look for. If you send an inquiry to a photographer and don't hear back for several days or weeks, consider moving on.