From what I’ve heard from brides over the years (and from my own experience), determining a wedding venue and photographer are two of the biggest stressors in the planning process because they hold so much importance. Once these two things are decided, everything else can follow and fall into place. I love that they are so important, but you shouldn’t have to stress over the decision!
Choosing your photographer may be overwhelming because you just don’t know where to start and what questions to ask. Or, you may be torn between choosing a friend who is getting started in photography to capture the biggest day of your life to-date or investing in a professional with proven experience. Here are five questions you should be sure to ask your potential wedding photographer before booking with them. These will increase confidence in what you’re signing up for and save you from stressing about it when it gets to the wedding day because you know exactly what to expect!
1) How long after the wedding day will we receive our images?
I put this as question #1 because it is absolutely crucial that you not only ask this up front, but also get it in writing on your contract. I have heard way too many horror stories of couples not getting their photos back for 6 months or having to nag the photographer to get them at all. In my opinion, you should receive them within a few weeks of the wedding. For example, I promise 5 weeks maximum just in case I have an extra busy season, but I can’t remember the last time it’s taken me over 2 weeks to return all the edited images. It is very possible and should be the norm for professional photographers to have a timely return.
This question goes for your videographer as well if you choose to hire one. It seems to be a trend that it can take even longer than the worst-case scenarios I mentioned for photography and that is just not okay!
2) Do you use external flash in dark lighting situations?
This is one that can really separate professional photographers you can trust from hobbyists. Many photographers market themselves as “natural light photographers,” but if your wedding or reception will go past sunset or will take place indoors at any point, that becomes quite problematic. Many beginner photographers are intimidated by the prospect of external or off-camera flash, but it is critical to capturing bright, timeless images inside or at night so this is a question you will want to ask and should definitely be something to consider paying more for if it comes down to a photographer who is comfortable with it vs one who isn’t.
Holly Lichte, Kansas City Bride
“Kira is wonderful. Not only were my husband and I extremely pleased with her and her work, but my family and friends loved her personality and work as well. She gives great feedback during photo sessions and is great with communicating via text, calls and emails. Kira has a keen eye for different shots and lighting, she is great both indoors and outdoors! I could not have asked for a better photographer to capture our special wedding day.”
3) Does the price include an engagement session or second shooter? And are there any hidden fees?
I always encourage couples to do their engagement session with their wedding photographer, whether it’s included in the wedding package or not, because it gives you a chance to get to know each other better. That way you are mentally prepared for what to expect on your big day, removing any anxiety about what it will be like to work with them and making the whole process that much more enjoyable. This is the reason that I offer a complimentary engagement session with each of my 6+ hour wedding packages.
This may be detailed in their pricing sheet, but some photographers like to always shoot with a second shooter while some feel confident covering the day all on their own.
**TIP If a second shooter is not included, then I would recommend inquiring about a 2nd shooter hourly option and rate to provide coverage just during getting ready photos for bride and groom + the ceremony. This helps for the moments when the photographer can’t be in two places at once and provides an additional angle during the ceremony as the processional and recessional take place down and up the aisle. I don't believe it's always necessary to have a second shooter present during the entire day.
Examples of Other Hidden Wedding Photography Fees:
Be sure to ask if there is any fee for travel (for both the engagement session and the wedding). Also ask if they charge sales tax on top of their package price. Some photographers build it into their package prices, but some add it to the contract once you agree to book. Both are standard practices and shouldn’t be a red flag either way, but it’s just good for you to know up front what the total amount you’ll be investing is.
4) Will you help me with the planning process or just show up on the day of the wedding?
Photographers will typically have good suggestions for planning the best time for specific shots, photo locations and how long things might take simply because of how many times they have participated in weddings so those types of questions are definitely worth running by them to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Sometimes they will even have a questionnaire they can send you soon before the wedding to make sure you’re both on the same page and maybe even help you notice some things you hadn’t thought of before (I do this for my couples and it often brings up conversations that they hadn’t thought to have yet).
For example, based on a few questions like timing for the ceremony, whether the couple wants a first look or not, and what time they’d like to do their exit from the reception, I provide a custom timeline rough draft that they can tweak and work off of to plan for a smooth wedding day, start to finish. I also provide an engagement session planning guide and wedding photography planning guide that help my brides think through important details to focus on to help me create the type of images they desire.
My suggestion would be to use your photographer’s experience to your advantage! Chances are, you haven’t planned a wedding before and they have (hopefully) been around so many wedding days they often know what works best and what doesn’t. You definitely want someone who is willing to help make the whole experience enjoyable from time of booking through receiving your images and/or prints + album, not just someone who shows up on the day of the wedding and snaps some photos.
5) How would you describe your photography style and your working style?
Even though you have seen some of their images already, this is a good question to make sure your expectations are aligned with your first impression of a photographer. Typically descriptors like bright and airy, bold and colorful, or dark and moody are used to describe a style of photography and a working style would refer more to the type of photography and how their personality plays in.
For example, a documentary/journalistic photographer may stay more in the background and just capture scenes as they unfold, resulting in story-filled candids and emotional images, whereas a traditional wedding photographer may place more emphasis on coordinating specific, posed shots. Typically someone who values the importance of capturing a good balance of both is a safe bet since you want a strong enough personality to help your crazy family through the posed photo time, but also someone with an eye for special moments and knowledge of how to capture them masterfully.
Don’t just take the importance of this balance from me - see what one of my 2018 brides had to say about working with me and how it affected the experience of the whole bridal party:
Madison Ray, Golden, Colorado Bride
Kira is AMAZING! We were absolutely blown away by her work! My husband and I went to college with Kira and she has always been the most kind, approachable, lovely lady she is today! The entire wedding party complimented her professionalism and their comfortability taking direction from her. There was not an awkward moment all day long and the pictures turned out INCREDIBLE! Her unique styling ideas and lighting expertise made for some of the most wonderful photos I’ve ever seen! We also had all of our pictures (over 800!) beautifully edited and accessible one week after our wedding. ONE WEEK! Like I said, this girl is the best! I would 100% recommend Kira for any and all of your photography needs. We are definitely planning on using her again in the future.
**Bonus Wedding Photography Planning Tip
If you'll be having a full meal at the reception, ask if you can build in a 30 minute break for the photographer during that time in order to extend your coverage time a little on the front or back end since nobody likes images of themselves eating. If they agree, be sure to invite them to grab a bite to eat at that time (typically best for this to happen while the bride and groom eat so you are all done at the same time and ready for more photos). If you are using place cards at the reception tables, don’t forget to include their name on one so they have actually have a place to sit and eat.
Ready to find out how you can work with Kira Whitney Photography for your wedding day?
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