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13 Questions To Ask Wedding Photographers

 Questions To Ask A Wedding Photographer

By Jeffrey House Photography

 

We are professional wedding photographers and when we are contacted by couples, do you know what question is asked at least 99% of the time?  

"How much are your wedding packages?"  However, price is rarely the most important issue for couples - it's usually around the 4th or 5th most important issue.  So, why is price always the first question?

Because couples aren't sure what they should be asking!

While price is important, it's not the most important.  In this article,  we are going to answer the question - Questions to ask a wedding photographer.  

1.  Should We Give You A Shot List?

The answer to this question will largely depend upon your wedding photographer.  Some photographers feel shot lists hinder them, while others love them because they know exactly what the couple wants.  Personally, I like couples to provide a shot list for any details that are unique to their wedding day - a special bouquet, a piece of jewelry, a detail at the reception, etc.  Couples should also include any "VIP's" that will be attending the wedding to ensure we capture ample pictures of them.  Aside from any unique details and VIP's, we will be capturing the "standard" shots most couples expect from their photographers - rings, wedding dress, cake, etc.  

One word of caution when it comes to shot lists.  Weddings have an ebb and flow to them and you never know when those candid, heartfelt moments are going to unfold.  If your photographer has their nose buried in a shot list, there's a high risk they will miss these special moments.  

2.  What Is Your Photography Style?

I would be willing to bet every photographer's website will describe their photography style - I know we provide a description of our style.  However, I often feel this information is not very useful.  If a photographer defines their style as "a blend of fashion and contemporary photography with elements of photojournalism," what does that really mean for you?  Do you now have a clear vision of what your pictures will look like?  I would much rather see couples ask a photographer to show them five or 10 pictures that they feel best support their style.  

3.  What Is Your Work Style?

I believe this question to be one of the most important questions a couple can ask.  Your photographer's response should essentially outline their approach and beliefs to wedding photography.  Do they insist on giving detailed direction on every shot?  Do they prefer to let couples just naturally interact with one another?  Do they like to keep a low profile?  Or do they like to be in the middle of the action snapping away?  It's important that a photographer's style coincides with your needs.

4.  Do Your Wedding Packages Include A 2nd Shooter?

I know a lot of photographers that only photograph weddings by themselves, and that works for them.  However, I'm of the belief that having a 2nd shooter is very beneficial to the couple.  That's why every wedding collection we offer includes a 2nd professional photographer.  Having a 2nd shooter allows us to cover your wedding from multiple and unique perspectives, while still allowing us to remain unobtrusive.  In my opinion, a 2nd shooter provides couples with a more comprehensive final product.  

5.  Can Our Guests Take Photos At The Wedding?

Most photographers, including ourselves, don't exclude your guests from taking pictures.  However, due to the abundance of cell phones these days, we do suggest you strongly consider having an "unplugged wedding."  

From the perspective of a wedding photographer, I highly suggest having a policy in place during your wedding ceremony that excludes guests from using any sort of photography or video device.  In our experience, it appears a good two-thirds of wedding guests are using cell phones, iPads, small camera or video cameras during the ceremony.  While your guests have the best of intentions they are unknowingly compromising and often times ruining your wedding pictures.  Taking pictures of the ceremony filled with raised arms holding cell phones or guest leaning into the aisle severely degrades the images.  

6.  Have You Shot At Our Venue Before?

As photographers we shoot at a lot of venues, but most photographers haven't shot at all of them.  However, if you click with a photographer, I wouldn't not hire them because they haven't shot at your venue before.  If we are going to be working at venue that is unfamiliar to us, at some point we will conduct an on-site visit of the venue to prepare for your day.  Not to mention, professional photographers are used to dealing with difficult and challenging environments.  That's a huge part of our job.  They will ensure your day is perfect.

7.  Do You Offer Engagement Sessions?

I don't know of a wedding photographer who doesn't offer engagement sessions.  Some may charge an additional fee for the session, while others include one with your package.  It's our belief the engagement session is vital to the overall success of your wedding photography.  The couple gains a lot of experience with their photographer, the professional picture making process, and the camera.  As photographers, we learn a great deal about you and your "couple style."  This is very useful in how we manage our approach with each couple.  

Because we feel the engagement session is so critical, all of our wedding packages include a complimentary engagement session!  

8.  Do You Edit Our Engagement & Wedding Pictures?

This is certainly a good question to ask your photographer.  You may even want to ask them what their editing process consists of - this will give you a good feel for the final product you will receive.  This could ultimately make or break whether you hire a particular photographer or not.  You may also want to ask your photographer whether they edit the pictures or whether they outsource it to a third-party editor.  We personally edit all of our photos for quality control reasons.

To give you a little behind the scenes look at professional editing, we are going to use a real life example.

We have two pictures above.  The image on the left is the picture straight from the camera with absolutely no image corrections.  The photo on the right is the picture after it has been fully edited.  

We have a beautiful bride with a nice application of make-up, which is very helpful with the editing process.  The first step we take when editing is to make some general adjustments to overall picture exposure, contract, color, cropping, etc.  Once this is complete, we then identify the areas that need some sort of adjustment.  For the sake of this sample, we have used the "red arrows" to identify these areas.

1.  As you can see by the arrow pointing to the bride's forehead, we have some wrinkles from raising the eyes to look at the camera.  We just soften those wrinkles a bit.  

2.  Next, we have an arrow pointing to the right eye.  We use a tool that adds just a little "highlight" to the iris of the eye and helps make the eyes "pop."

3.  When taking portrait, you always want the focus on your subjects eyes.  When looking at a portrait we will naturally gravitate to the eyes; therefore, it's essential to have sharp focus on the eyes and let the areas around the eyes have a touch of "soft focus."  Because the earring in the right ear went softly out of focus by design, we just hit it with a bit of "sharpening" to give it a little more life.

4.  The next arrow is pointing to the upper left side of the wedding dress.  As you can, there is a little material that is under the dress causing it to look a little awkward.  Also, this particular pose tend to "push and bunch" the skin.  We removed those issues to create smoother, more appealing lines.

5.  The next arrow is pointing the elbow of the bride's left arm.  Because of the pose and camera angle we get a strong view of the bone in the left elbow.  On the right you can see we made some minor adjustments to soften the appearance.  

6.  The last arrow is pointing to the upper right hand corner of the picture.  On the right hand picture (the edited version) you will notice the right hand corner is darker.  We added a vignette to the image to darken the outter edges and create more focus on our subject - the beautiful bride.    

7.  Lastly, we apply some light, but natural skin smoothing 

As you can see the differences between the unedited and edited version are pretty subtle, but the sum of these slight changes adds up to a beautiful image.  

9.  Will You Give Us The Unedited Files & We Can Edit Them?

I don't know of any professional photographer who would agree to do this and I can tell you this is not an option we offer.  Part of a photographer's reputation, brand, and style is based on their editing.  A professional photographer should handle all aspects of creating the final finished product.  

There are photographers that don't do any editing and give their clients the images on a memory card straight from the camera.  They are called "shoot and burn" photographers.  They usually charge couples between $1,500 - $2,500 to shoot your 8 hour wedding, but you are responsible for editing the images.  I can tell you that a skilled photo edited will spend, on average, around 40 hours editing the images from an 8 hour wedding.  Editing is an art and if you don't really know what you are doing, it can be incredibly frustrating.  

10.  How Long Does It Take To Get Our Pictures After The Wedding?

Time frames to receive your pictures can vary considerably.  I've heard of couples receiving their photos in as little as two weeks and I've heard of couples waiting 14 months!  First of all, it depends on how many photos are included with your wedding package.  Second, it will depend on how detailed your photographer's editing process is - Using the editing example above, some photographers only do a fraction of those steps.  Obviously, you will get the pictures sooner this way, but you're also sacrificing quality.  Personally, I would rather wait a couple more weeks to have a more professional looking product. 

Our contract states to expect your pictures within 12 weeks, however, our couples will typically receive their pictures within 6-8 weeks following the wedding.  If we are going to be later than 12 weeks, we will advise couples of the delay as soon as reasonably possible.  Sometimes pictures can require a more in-depth editing process than expected.  While we understand how exciting it is to get your pictures, we also want to ensure our couples receive a quality and professional product.  

11.  What Makes You Distinct From Other Photographers?

This is an excellent question to ask when interviewing photographers.  The bottom line is, a lot of photographers can take beautiful pictures, so what's the difference between photographers?  Obviously, I can't speak for other photographers and wouldn't even begin to try.  I can only speak on behalf of Jeffrey House Photography and what we do.  The easiest way to explain what makes us distinct is "the experience."  As a photographer it's critical to earn the trust of your clients.  We make it our priority to create personal relationships built on trust.  It's the personal attention to your needs and your details that ensure a first-rate experience.

12.  What Equipment Do You Use?

In our experience, this is a question that that is not asked enough.  There's a saying in photography, "cameras don't take pictures, people do!"  While this is true, don't be tricked into believing that equipment doesn't matter, because it does!  Wedding photography is very demanding and it requires equipment that can handle difficult environments, like low-light.  

What should I be looking for when it comes to equipment?  I can tell you that we use professional grade full frame Nikon camera bodies and lenses.  They provide superior low light pictures, produce ultra sharp images, and provides us with great reliability.  

Cameras

Cameras are made with "crop sensors" and "full frame sensors."  Full frame cameras have a larger imaging sensor in them; therefore, they are much better at performing in low-light conditions and produce sharper images.

Lenses

Just like cameras, there is a lot of technology that goes into building a camera lens.  To get an idea what kind of quality your photographer has in their lenses, ask them how "fast" their lenses are.  This refers to the aperture part of the lens.  Fast lenses typically have an aperture that is 1.4, 1.8, 2.0, and 2.8.  Fast lenses are typically quality lenses as well.  While you can take beautiful pictures with  event the basic camera, professional grade cameras provide photographers with more reliability, creative control, consistency, and professional results.

13.  Do You Offer Wedding Albums & Do You Have Samples?

This is another feature that may or may not be included with your wedding package.  The important thing with wedding albums is having the opportunity to see a sample.  This will allow you to physically see and feel the product.  Wedding albums come in a variety of qualities, so you want to be sure you're getting a quality product.  

We hope you found this article helpful and we hope it answered some of your questions too!  Again, we would like to thank everyone who shared their questions with us. These are great ways for everyone to learn!

Do you have a question we didn't address?  Please feel free to email us your question to jhouse@JeffreyHousePhotography.com!