The Ultimate Guide to Questions for a Potential Photographer
Because finding your dream wedding photographer is hard!
What the hell kind of questions should you ask for a potential wedding photographer?!? How do you begin finding the photographer that makes your heart beat faster? The internet is almost no help, with pages and pages and pages of options. The entry to becoming a photographer is as simple as paying Amazon for a camera and throwing up a Facebook page. By the way, if they only have a Facebook page, don’t hire them. If they can’t even put the effort into a simple website, they won’t put effort into your memories. Period. Because it can be so overwhelming and the horror stories are plenty, I wanted to create this guide that provides ten interview questions for a potential photographer, that might help you find the wedding photographer of your dreams!
If you peruse the gazillion blogs on the internet, you’re going to find SO MUCH ADVICE. What to feed your guests, the best first dance song, should you have donkeys bring beer around for everyone, etc? (If you’re looking for a gender-neutral wedding playlist, check this one out!) That’s all subjective and really, your wedding isn’t screwed because you decided to play six Bruno Mars songs—in a row—or chose beer alpacas over beer donkeys.
What you DON’T want to do is receive photography advice from anyone who isn’t a legitimate full time experienced photographer. Shot lists with 73 different moments demanded? No thank you. Questions about what equipment I have? Exactly the kind that produces my portfolio. Do you receive all of the RAW images? Would you ask a Michelin chef for the recipe?
Instead, I’d like to give you ten questions to ask your photographer. I’ve been doing this for over ten years now, 350+ weddings and wayyyyy too many wedding blogs under my belt. I’ve stopped reading them, for the most part. Instead, I’ve begun to write my own informational blogs, including one that went viral about a bride who didn’t do her research. It’s a bit harsh, but the simple fact is when you read about these scammers, there is a good chance someone has already mentioned they’ve been scammed. You need to look at full galleries, reviews, and voice chat in some way with a person. Of course, it isn’t a perfect science. Some scam artists define the word artist. However, 99% of these situations are 100% avoidable.
So here are ten interview questions for a potential photographer and the answers that you might want to look for!
1. How many weddings have you done?
This is super important. I’ve done hundreds and I *still* get surprised. Weddings are unpredictable, like wild stallions and all the best planning still gets thrown in the wind sometimes. Experience means you’re good on your feet, certainly more than weekend warriors new to the industry just trying to make a buck. Of course, some wedding photographers are more boutique and will have shot less weddings as a result. That’s where my next piece of advice comes in.
2. Can I see three full wedding galleries?
Make sure to ask for full galleries. Even now, when people approach me, wanting to hire me…they don’t ask. I offer, but they rarely ask. The trust is amazing and clearly, I’m not a scammer but…it’s still smart to ask. It’s even better to ask for variety. See how the photographer thrives in different situations, in different lighting. Can they photograph in the rain beautifully? Are they okay in dark reception halls? Websites are always the photographer’s best foot forward (theoretically) and thus, it is a smart idea to ask for what they actually deliver clients. Don’t rely on the website hero shots.
3. Do you have liability insurance?
This is non-negotiable and often not on the list of questions for a potential photographer. There are a LOT of people pretending to be professional photographers but do nothing to protect their business or clients. If they don’t have it, they aren’t professional. Hell, make sure they’re charging you tax as well. So many people do this to make quick bucks but really, being a wedding photographer means that over 50% of your income goes to The Man.
Your wedding isn’t screwed because you decided to play six Bruno Mars songs—in a row—or chose beer alpacas over beer donkeys.
4. Do you do this full time? If not, what will you do if your main job calls you in?
A lot of photographers hide that they have day jobs. I know this for a fact because I jumped into this business without any clue what I was doing, thinking I could just make it happen. So if they do have day jobs, ask about their requirements and commitments. Make sure they will actually choose your wedding instead of their day job. If they can’t promise that—RUN!
5. How often will we meet prior to the wedding?
Only invest in people that invest in you. Period. If by two months before the wedding, you haven’t heard a peep, contact them. If by a month out, you STILL haven’t heard anything, begin to make a contingency plan. Examine your contract. Read the fine print. Protect yourself if your photographer isn’t willing to.
6. How many images do you deliver, on average?
My average is 523. Yes, I did the math. You don’t want thousands, but you don’t want 150. Quality over quantity, any day but also, no delightful moment should be withheld! Make sure to also ask about the print release. Some photographers offer this, others don’t. Don’t be caught unawares after your wedding day, discovering that you have to pay even more afterward.
7. How do you stay creative?
Where do they get their creative juices? How do they stay fresh? Do they invest in continuous education? All of the best wedding photographers I know never stop learning. For myself, I do at least one workshop a year. In 2020, I did three. Sift through their Instagram and see if there is an evolution of skill. Make sure you aren’t hiring someone who is just in it for the cash.
Examine your contract. Read the fine print.
Protect yourself if your photographer isn’t willing to.
8. What sets you apart from other photographers?
This is always a fun question! I love answering this question! For me, personally, my brand and personality are what draws clients my way. The fact that I acknowledge that pre-wedding depression is real and valid is a topic few people in the industry want to admit. It’s become one of my most popular blogs recently, which means there are people out there right now struggling. For my clients, the way I give space for them to be real in a non-judgemental environment has been the biggest foundational piece of their experience.
9. What is your preferred schedule for a wedding day?
Every photographer does things differently from the other. What are their preferences? Recently, I updated my blog on how to plan a wedding timeline but every wedding is unique. What works for a six-hour wedding definitely won’t work for a ten-hour or even three-hour wedding. All professional photographers will sit down with you to find the perfect timeline with you. Hell, if you have an experienced wedding planner, they’ll get started on it far faster! If you haven’t already, make sure you learn about the different kinds of wedding planners, so you understand the limitations of each kind.
10. How many weddings do you photograph every month?
I don’t do more than four a month if I can help it! Make sure they aren’t overburdening themselves! That’s how double-bookings happen. Also make sure to ask how they will ensure you receive your photos in a timely manner (anything more than two months isn’t timely, regardless of season). It’s important to understand the kind of company you’re hiring. There are shoot and burners that will take photos, run them all under the same filter and just send them off. Then there are others, like myself, that take care of every single image. I’ll retouch them as needed, make sure they fit my branding, and of course, edit the art in a way that meets my vision from the wedding day.
Check out this awesome infographic below, that helps break down all of the different things you should consider when trying to find your dream wedding photographer. There are so many scams out there, so following these six steps will help mitigate some of these issues. If your memories and art are important to you, it’s absolutely vital that you do your due diligence. Side note: below, I state that if a photographer has more than two bad reviews, you should run. Let me clarify: some people are bananas. They write reviews over the stupidest things. Use your critical thinking skills to decipher whether or not a complaint seems valid. Look to see if the business owner responds to them, as well.