It's awesome that you know the importance of hiring a pro for your wedding! But not all photographers are created equal, and it can be hard to know exactly how well a photographer will cover your event without knowing what questions to ask. As a Maine wedding photographer with 17 years under my belt, I've heard loads of horror stories, and know first hand what it takes to cover a wedding perfectly from start to finish. Chances are this is your first time navigating the wedding industry. So I've put together a list of questions to ask a photographer before hiring them. Because at the end of the day, whether it's me or not... I truly want your wedding to be the best day of your life!
1. Do you have back up?
A true pro knows that wedding days can be crazy and unpredictable, and they know how to prepare for the worst. Back up equipment, and coverage is so important to have when shooting a wedding. I am fortunate enough to have back up gear, and am part of a big network of Maine wedding photographers who could cover me in the event of an emergency. I also prefer to shoot with a second photographer, not only do you get double the coverage on your wedding day, they help ensure that if anything where to happen to my photos/my equipment (*knock on wood*) you would still have coverage of your day, and photos from their memory cards.
2. Do they know off camera flash?
Now truth is, not every wedding calls of off camera flash, and it's okay if you don't know what that is....but your wedding photographer should. There are photographers who are great *natural light photographers* aka they don't use a flash. But not all weddings are perfectly lit throughout the whole day. If your venue is, a barn, a hall, has dark wood, no windows, or the reception is after dark, or you want the lights turned down super romantic like (or let's face it....nobody is going to drop it like it's hot on a fully lit dance floor, so most receptions are dark!) Your photographer is going to be shooting in less than ideal lighting, and not having a flash or the skills to use one, could lead to some very disappointing photographs.
3. Talk to me about an engagement session?
This it totally my own preference..... I love doing an engagement session, and there is many pros to doing one. First it gives us an opportunity to get you feeling a little more comfortable in front of the camera. 99% of the population does not enjoy being in front of the camera, it can feel awkward, and that's the last thing you want on your wedding day. So getting in front of the camera in a more relaxed setting than your wedding day, learning some poses, being able to look at them and see what ones you loved, what ones didn't work, and what ones need some tweaking, leads to GREAT photos on your wedding day.
Now a good photographer can show up on your wedding day and make you feel comfortable and beautiful even without the engagement session first, and sometimes it's just not possible to make one happen....and that's okay! The way we see ourselves is so subjective, it's awesome to be able to make the most of your wedding photos by knowing what you love! And knowing that...yes.... you are actually photogenic.
4. How would you describe your personality and shooting style?
You are going to spend almost all of your wedding day with your photographer, they need to not be annoying! lol. Not that anyone would say "yes I tend to be super annoying on your wedding day" but you still need to consider this, and try and get a feel for their personality before booking them. Planning a meeting, facetime, or phone call before booking is a great way to get an idea of how they interact with people. Also asking what their shooting style is can be helpful. Ask if they do a lot of posed photos or like to capture the day as it unfolds.
Decide what works for you, would you appreciate someone directing every moment of the day to get the best shot? Or would you prefer they capture the day with a fly on the wall mindset? Or a mixture of both? Either way it's important to not only love their work, but love the way they work.
5. What is your post wedding processing?
How long will you make it before you die of anticipation? haha. Everyone can't wait to see their photos after the big day, knowing what to expect for a turn around time can save you a lot of stress! Will there be a sneak peek, or blog post prior to receiving all the photos? Also knowing about how many photos you will be receiving, if they will all be edited and ready for printing, how you will be getting them, cd, thumb drive, online album? Will you be able to make prints yourself or will you have to order all prints through them?
All great questions to ask your photographer before hiring them, it can clue you in to how professional they are, not to say that every true photographer has the same process, but every pro photographer should be able to clearly tell you what their process is and what to expect.
Holly Kangas, mother, photographer, part time chef, and project runway winner wanna be!
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