Creative Wedding Photographers Albany, NY
Discover 17 Questions To Ask Every Wedding Photographer And 5 Questions To Ask Yourself!
What information do you need to know when hiring a professional wedding photographer?
You can search the internet, but are you really getting the best information? We are creative wedding photographers in Albany, NY and can assure you that you'll find plenty of websites offering you lots of advice.
Most of the websites offering advice for finding a wedding photographer will provide you with a list of at least 25-30 questions. Unfortunately, many of these questions don't really provide you with much value. For example, every website will tell you that you need to know whether your photographer has photographed a wedding at your venue before.
If they haven't, is this cause for panic?
Absolutely not! If a professional photographer hasn't been to your venue before, they will make time to visit the venue and explore it prior to the wedding to ensure they are fully prepared. And professional photographers are highly skilled problem-solvers. We are used to photographing weddings in varying and challenging conditions - It comes with the job.
With that being said, let's take a look at the questions you should be asking.
17 Questions To Ask Every Wedding Photographer
1. What Is Your Availability & Booking Requirements?
Does the photographer you want to hire have availability for your wedding date?
While this is an obvious first question, you can either continue your search for a photographer or switch the date of your wedding so you can book them. However, switching your wedding date may not be an option, especially if you've already booked your wedding venue.
If the photographer you want is available, be sure to confirm the specific requirements for booking and guaranteeing your date.
2. How Far In Advance Should I Book?
Again, this is another fairly obvious question, but professional wedding photographers book quickly. If your personalties mesh well and you like their work, book them as soon as possible.
The wedding industry, due to the limited wedding season, works on a first come, first serve basis. You don't want to miss out on booking a photographer that's a really good fit for your wedding.
3. What Is Your Photography Style?
Every website offering advice for hiring a wedding photographer will tell you 2 things:
- You must familiarize yourself with "wedding photography styles"
- You must ask potential photographers to "define" their photography styleErase
Erase this from your mind. The only true way to assess a photographer's style is through their imagery. And here's why.
If you were to ask 10 photographers, all defined by the exact same photography style to photograph the exact same scene, you would get 10 very different photographs. Every wedding photographer "views" the world differently. Every wedding photographer "experiences" the world differently. Because of this, every wedding photographer will compose their images differently, every wedding photographer will use light differently, and every photographer tells the story differently.
How a photographer "defines" their style does nothing to help you clearly understand what your photos will look like. There are many variables behind a photographer's style and these variables are what cause such disparity between their photographs - Even when they're defined by the exact same photography style.
View their work and focus your energy on answering these questions -
- Do their photos make me feel good?
- Do the people in their photos look happy? Do they look natural?
- Does the lighting appear nice in the photos?
- Do the colors of their images look good?
[DISCOVER: OUR PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE]
4. How Would You Describe Your Work Style?
This is definitely an important question and yet I rarely, if ever, see websites recommend you ask it.
Ask your photographer to explain how they approach photographing a wedding. When do they usually arrive, what do they do first, etc. Ask them to walk you through an entire wedding day. Also, you'll want to inquire whether they prefer to capture photographs from the "shadows" or whether they like to be in the middle of the action clicking away.
In my experience, most couples prefer the unobtrusive approach and it's the approach we use too. We feel it's a more respectful method of photographing a wedding, especially to you and your guests.
5. The Portfolio & Beyond
Much like photography style every wedding resource will suggest you ask your photographer see pictures from a full wedding.
It makes sense and I understand the reasoning behind it. They want you to see pictures beyond a photographer's portfolio as a portfolio generally features the "best of" images. But I have another approach and it will provide you with better feedback.
Every wedding is different and every wedding comes with its own unique set of challenges. Instead of a full wedding, ask your photographer to see a variety of images from different weddings and from the different parts of a wedding day (i.e. getting ready, details, ceremony, creative portraits, reception, etc.). This will allow you to see how well your photographer handles varying conditions and solves problems.
And don't hesitate to ask them specific questions about each photograph. For example, as you browse their images, ask them to share the most challenging aspect of photographing that particular wedding and how they overcame it. You can learn a lot about a photographer through these types of questions. You will get a good sense of their overall photography knowledge which will confirm they captured these images on purposes, not by accident. You will get a sense for how genuine they are - Did their responses appear honest or fabricated? Asking more questions like this will likely catch them off guard, but it will also give you insight to how well they handle pressure - Do they appear frazzled by your questions or are they doing a good job keeping their composure?
6. What Distinguishes Your Photography From Other Photographers?
This is a great question because most photographer's won't expect it and it can give you valuable insight.
A photographer should have a clear and well crafted response - if they take their business seriously. If they don't have a good response, it could be a red flag. It's not necessarily a deal breaker, but I would be a little skeptical. It would appear they have lack of direction and/or commitment to their business. Every photographer should have something they feel makes them unique - something that's different from what every other photographer offers.
Let me give you an example. Our wedding collections include two professional photographers. A lot of photographers offer this, so how does that make us special? Most photographers use a pool of second shooters and they usually don't know who will be photographing with them until a week or two before your wedding. This is where we're different. We're a real couple that photographs every wedding together which means you know exactly who will be photographing your wedding.
More importantly though, because we have a history of working together, our photography styles complement one another; therefore, the images have a very cohesive look.
7. What Type Of Equipment Do You Use?
Many couples don't bother to ask this question because they aren't familiar with camera technology, so how would they know whether it's good or bad?
We're going to give you a couple pieces of information, so you know what to look for. Let's start with the camera.
Every camera has an image sensor which is essentially responsible for turning electronic data into the image we see. Cameras either have a crop sensor or they are full-frame.
Let me first say this about crop sensor cameras:
- Many of them are perfectly capable of handling the demands of photographing a wedding
- Many of them produce beautiful and professional looking images
However, we use "full-frame" cameras for the following reasons:
- They create larger images with more detail; therefore, they provide more creative control
- The produce images that are sharper
- They perform better in low-light situations
That's really all you need to know about cameras for this purpose. Let's move on to lenses.
Lenses are commonly referred to as "glass" and having good glass is the most important aspect of camera equipment. Great lenses on an "okay" camera will create images that look much better than a bad lens on the best camera.
When it comes to lenses, you need to pay attention to "aperture." Aperture is one part of the lens that dictates the amount of light that's allowed into the camera while capturing a photograph. A small aperture (f 22) will allow a minimal amount of light and will create a photo in which everything is in focus.
Conversely, a large aperture (f 2.8) allows a lot of light into the camera and creates photos in which the subject is clearly in focus, but everything in the background goes soft and blurry. This is a creative technique used by photographers to create very professional looking images.
When interviewing potential photographers you will want to ask them how fast their lenses are. If they say 1.4, 1.8 or 2.8 they are using professional grade lenses. If they say 5.6 or higher, they are using consumer grade lenses and they will struggle to handle the demands of wedding photography - Especially in low-light conditions.
Lastly, just make sure they have back up equipment - cameras, lenses, and flashes. Equipment does fail from time-to-time. If they only have camera and it breaks - What's their back up plan?
8. What's Your Post-Production Process?
Post-production is the part of wedding photography that's the most time consuming for professional photographers. Most people believe we show up and take pictures for 8 hours, and we're done.
But the real work begins at the computer in post-production.
Unfortunately, post-production is an area that a lot of photographers ignore. Time is money and many of them find all sorts of creative ways to cut corners. They will tempt you with intriguing (or ridiculous) promises - "We'll deliver you 1,000 fully edited images within a week."
And they will. But, contrary to their promise, they are not "fully editing" your wedding photographs. They are putting the images through a program that "batch processes" them and applies only basic editing effects. They are not taking the time to retouch skin, remove lint from your attire or remove distracting elements from the images.
Ask yourself this simple question when it comes to post-production.
What's more important - quantity or quality? Do you want more or do you want better?
Most professional photographers will take between 2,000-4,000 pictures during an 8 hour wedding, but many of these images are duplicates and triplicates because we need account for:
- Closed eyes
- Unflattering facial expressions
- Lighting issues
- Camera focus issues
Almost every couple that chooses quantity over quality, looks back with regret. They realize they really didn't need that many photos - it was overkill. Their completely overwhelmed looking through 1,000 images. Most wedding photographers and most couples will tell you that 400-500 images is the ideal amount.
9. Should I Give My Photographer A Shot List?
This is a common question and it's definitely a question you should address directly with your photographer, but there are some thoughts you need to consider.
Any qualified photographer understands the photographs they need to capture when photographing a wedding and they have a game plan in place well before the wedding day. But maybe you want pictures of VIP guests or maybe you're going to include some details that are unique to your wedding - For these type of situations, I would suggest giving your photographer a shot list.
If you feel you need to give your photographer a shot list for every single image you want captured, keep this in mind because this is where it gets a little interesting.
Wedding photography has a lot of facets to it - Capturing details, people, moments, etc. If your photographer has their nose buried in a shot list, it's very likely they will miss capturing those special candid moments that unfold throughout the day. Ultimately, this will impact how they capture and document the story of your big day.
10. Who Will Be Photographing My Wedding?
Many couples hire a wedding photographer and assume the person they spoke to will be the one photographing their wedding. As you'e getting ready on the wedding day, you're suddenly surprised to see someone completely different standing there holding a camera. Who is this person? Where is the person you spoke with before?
Some studios use "associate photographers" so they can photograph multiple weddings in a single day. This is not necessarily a bad thing as long as this is communicated to you ahead of time, and you agree to it. It shouldn't be something you're hit with last minute.
Lastly, if you have authorized an associate photographer to photograph your wedding, you should be paying a lesser price for them.
11. Do You Photograph More Than One Wedding On The Same Day?
This is another important question to address with your photographer. Some photographers will book more than one wedding in the same day.
But what if you're the second wedding and the first wedding was delayed for some reason? Should you then expect your photographer to arrive late to your wedding? Absolutely not!
Or maybe you're the first wedding and would like your photographer to stay an extra hour or two. If they have a second wedding, most likely this will not be an option.
12. How Do You Dress When Photographing A Wedding?
This may feel like a question you can skip, but don't. There are photographers who have shown up in sweatpants! While this is the exception, it's a question worth asking just for peace of mind sake.
I don't think this should have to be a question - It should go without saying that you need to dress professionally. Professional photographers, in the business of professional photography, dress professionally.
13. Can Guests Take Pictures During The Wedding?
Every photographer will have their own beliefs, preferences, and policies when it comes to this question, but generally speaking, most photographers will allow your guests to take pictures.
That being said, let's take a look at some thoughts to consider.
Your wedding ceremony is the most important part of the wedding day. You and your partner will stand before family and friends, and share in a very unique experience. I highly recommend communicating to your guests there is a "no photo or video" (unplugged wedding) policy during the ceremony.
Due to the sheer volume of camera phones present at weddings, ceremony pictures are often filled with people standing or leaning in the aisle or tons of arms raised in the air trying to capture the perfect moment.
While your guests have the best of intentions, they are unknowingly destroying your wedding photos. The sudden flash bursts emitted from these cameras can easily ruin your professional photographs because they are bright, sudden, and unexpected.
Just prior to the start of your ceremony, have your officiant or wedding planner advise guests no photos or video will be allowed during the ceremony. They should sit back, relax, and experience the ceremony.
The only other times guests should be prohibited from taking pictures is during the formal and artistic portrait sessions following the ceremony. It creates a lot of distraction and your professional photographs will have everyone looking all over the place.
14. Do You Use A Contract?
When it comes to contracts, there are 3 simple rules to follow:
- Never hire a photographer without a contract
- Never hire a photographer without a contract
- ever hire a photographer without a contract
Simple, right? Contracts are designed to outline the responsibilities of all parties, clearly communicate the products and/or services you'll be receiving, and outline the price you will be paying (including all fees and taxes) in exchange for these products and/or services. If any part of the contract seems ambiguous, be sure to discuss this with your photographer prior to signing it.
[DISCOVER: OUR FULL WEDDING CONTRACT]
15. What Do Your Packages Include?
Be sure to review each wedding package offered by your photographer, so you fully understand what's included. This is also important when comparing their photography packages to other photographers. It's the only way to ensure you're comparing apples-to-apples.
One final thought - be cautious of the wedding packages that are confusing and filled with "fluff." They may make you feel like you're getting a lot in return, but they're filled with products and/or services that have little to no value.
16. Do You Offer Engagement Sessions?
The engagement session is one of the most important steps in successful wedding photography.
For most couples, it's the first time they have ever been professionally photographed. Initially, it can feel a little intimidating, but the engagement session is a great opportunity for you to learn about your photographer's personality, their work style, and their approach to the professional picture making process.
It's also a great opportunity for your photographer too. They get to learn about your personalities and your "couple style" or how you naturally interact with one another - this is very valuable information for managing your photography sessions and building a trusting, personal, and meaningful connection.
[DISCOVER: TIPS FOR AN AMAZING ENGAGEMENT SESSION]
17. Image Copyrights
Including an image copyright with photography packages has become the standard in current wedding photography. If you're unfamiliar with copyrights, it means your photographer is going to provide you with copies of the final images on a storage device or through a download. Typically, you will be able to reproduce the images for personal use.
When reproducing your images, I would recommend bringing them to a place like Staples, Walmart or CVS for prints that are 8x10 or smaller - These retailers provide prints of a "proof quality." If want a nice 11x14,16x20 or larger, go through your photographer for the print as they will use professional labs. Professional labs will reproduce accurate color and they come with excellent archival qualities - meaning your images will last a much longer time when exposed to light and will be very resistant to fading or discoloring.
Great! We've now outlined the 17 questions you need to ask every photographer. Now it's time to take a look at the bonus questions - 5 questions you need to ask yourself!
Every bride wants a great wedding photographer, but what makes a photographer great? Of course, you must like the imagery they create, but actually choosing a wedding photographer will come down to these 5 questions!
1. Did I Like Their Personality?
Personality is the single most important detail to consider when hiring a professional photographer and it's imperative your personalities mesh well. Your photographer spends the entire wedding day by your side, so you don't want to work with someone that irritates you or makes you feel uncomfortable.
They should be fun, outgoing, personable, trustworthy, respectful and professional. They should also be great at interacting with your wedding party and guests - they need to understand the art of communication and making everyone feel important - But in a genuine fashion.
[DISCOVER: 9 TIPS FOR CHOOSING A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER]
2. Did I Feel A Connection With Them?
This goes hand-in-hand with personality, but you want to feel you have some sort of initial connection with them. This is extremely important for establishing a positive and effective working relationship. And, of course, for getting the most out of your wedding photography.
3. Do They Seem Trustworthy?
Trust is rarely earned immediately, but if they have a good personality and you feel a connection, it's likely you will eventually be able to fully trust your photographer. This is vitally important to creating beautiful, authentic, and amazing wedding photos.
4. Did They Listen To My Needs & Did They Have Creative Ideas For Adding Value To My Wedding Photography?
The only way a photographer can possibly deliver a personalized experience to their clients is to truly understand their needs, desires, and overall vision. If they don't seem interested in what you have to say or appear to lack creative ideas, it's time to move on to another photographer.
Wedding photography is a collaboration between you and your photographer. You're relying on their creativity and experience to make your wedding photography great. Did they offer you plenty of ideas to address your needs/concerns? Or did they come across as disinterested?
5. Did They Communicate Well?
Every year, brides participate in surveys to share their experiences with their wedding photographers. What did they do well and what could they have done better. Poor communication is always a top concern for most brides.
Photographers weren't timely in responding to their questions, if they responded at all. Brides were frustrated when their emails, phone calls, and text messages went unanswered. A big part of being a great wedding photographer is being able to communicate effectively. Wedding photography is dependent on communication that's clear, timely, and helpful.