Lets talk about choosing your wedding photographer. This is such an important decision for so many reasons. The first reason being that you're going to be spending a LOT of time with this person throughout your day. You are going to want someone who is going to be helpful, professional, organized, and an all around positive part of the day. I always encourage people to do their homework, visit with a few photographers, sit down and chat with them, and of course ask questions. Here are the top 5 most important questions when meeting with your potential photographer...
1. Can I see a full wedding?
As photographers we love to showcase our best work online and share some favorites from each session. We even design sets for pretend weddings called "Styled Shoots" where we can get some beautiful marketing content in completely controlled settings with out any pressure of a real wedding. But what about the other important stuff you may not see? Are they able to photograph and direct large groups? what about Dark churches? Tricky barn reception lighting? This stuff is extremely important, and much of the work you will see on photographers pages are outside, and in beautiful & sometimes perfect lighting conditions. This is not the case for the whole day, so make sure to see what the collective finished product looks like!
2. Do we get the digital files?
This one is confusing for many people. What are digital files? Do I own my own wedding pictures? Digital files are web-sized files to use for online and social media sharing. High resolution files are suitable for printing purposes. Most companies either include the high resolution files in their packages, or have it so you can purchase them separately along with a print release while some companies don't offer that as an option at all. Make sure to ask about how this all works so you know what to expect after your wedding gallery is delivered. almost all wedding photography contracts explains that the actual copyright of the images remains the ownership of the photographer.
3. Do you have experience with shooting indoors?
There really is no such thing as a "natural light wedding photographer". To be able to efficiently capture many different lighting scenarios throughout the day you will most likely need some knowledge of lighting and flash. Many photographers want to use natural light as much as possible, but sometimes its just not a reality and bringing in some extra lighting to make sure no moment goes underexposed, missed, or poorly captured is very important.
3. Do you have a second shooter?
This one varies with every company. Some wedding photographers have their second shooter pricing built directly into each package and they never shoot without one. Some of them will use their discretion on whether or not you should consider adding on another shooter. If you are having a smaller wedding between 50 and 100 people, you most likely don't need two photographers. For larger weddings, you might want to consider adding that second shooter. My favorite aspect about adding a second shooter is that you get to see a glimpse into the early part of the day before the ceremony. That's the one part of the day that you are not together so its cool to see each others pre-ceremony moments.
4. How long does it take to get our pictures?
This varies with different companies as well. The average is about 6-8 weeks following your wedding for delivery of your gallery. Larger companies may be a little faster because they can afford help with editing. Many photographers will send over a sneak peak of a few key favorites from the day.
5. What happens if you become sick, or unable to shoot our wedding?
This is an important part of the contract that many people don't think to ask about. I am confident that most full-time professionals have plans in place in the event that they become physically unable to shoot your day. For example, in my contract it states that if I become ill, or unable to photograph the day it is my responsibility to find you a replacement/or refund your retainer and payments in full. Its highly unlikely that your photographer would have trouble finding you a suitable replacement. Many photographers work together and have a great network of other professionals to reach out to if something like this happens. Although this situation is very rare, Its good to know that your photographer has a plan, and has your back in case something like this happens.