How do you Choose a Wedding Photographer?
What Questions do you ask?
I'll apologize right now that this might sound a little preachy, but, here goes!
Aside from all the basics you should ask your Wedding Photographer before you hire them like... How much? How many photos? What will you photograph? The list goes on and on... there are some serious questions you should know the answers to before you hand over good money.
It's about professionalism. If you're paying them a thousand, two thousand or more dollars to photograph your wedding, and there's only one chance to get it right, don't you want an actual Professional and not just the textbook definition, someone who takes pride in their work, their behavior and their appearance?
- When will you arrive for my wedding?
There are a variety of answers that are acceptable here, but what I suggest is that they work with you to decide what will be photographed and when, so this question isn't really a question at all but a choice made by you and your Photographer based on what you hired them for and what is best for your wedding. Also, I show up 30-60 minutes before that time, since... traffic, it's a thing.
- How will you be dressed for my wedding?
So many times I hear other vendors talking about how a photographer recently dressed at a wedding. I'm not saying a full suit is necessary, but please, no jeans, T-shirts, shorts or sneakers. They should wear dark colors, and for men, dress pants and shoes, maybe a button down shirt. For ladies, skip the heels, and no mini-skirts, they aren't there to attract attention, they are photographers. I wear dress pants and shoes, a vest, sometimes long sleeve shirts with a tie (if it's cold) and many times a black short sleeved shirt. It gets hot in Florida. Derica will wear pants a lot, or leggings with a dress or skirt over them.
- Are you going to direct us for family photos? Cake Cutting?
I can't tell you how many times I hear that photographers don't know how to direct cake cutting and even family portraits! Shooting a wedding requires a lot of skills, and many of them are related to people. Word to the wise, if your photographer can't or won't direct these photos... keep looking. They're not qualified to photograph your wedding. Harsh? Maybe. True? Definitely.
- We are having an open bar... do you normally drink at weddings?
This one irks me to no end. I've watched Coordinators, Bands, and DJ's all happily drinking away at weddings, and I know a lot of photographers that do it too. Completely unacceptable. I never have, and I never will. I am not your guest. As much as it's harsh, I'm not your friend (not yet, but maybe after the wedding is over!). I was hired to do a job, and that job requires me to be alert and ready. To me, even having one drink is completely unprofessional. Do you drink at work? Neither should your photographer.
- Should we feed you?
In most cases, for weddings over 4 hours, we do ask that we are fed. I don't mean a sandwich and chips either. Most wedding days are pretty long, and it's nice to have a hot meal. Do we need a table with your guests? Not really, but it's nice when it happens. We eat quickly and get back to work, but it's nice to talk with your guests too during a meal. We also want to eat about the same time you do, so we're not missing anything. If we're not served until all the guests are done... well, we won't be eating, since there are photographs to be taken. But... while they are eating, there's not much else for us to do most times.
- Are you registered with your state/county/etc to be a legal business? Do you have Insurance?
This one is super important too. If they didn't take the time or effort to become "legal", what makes you think they care about your wedding? I mean... they didn't care about their business, right? Insurance is becoming more commonly asked for with venues, but... even if your venue doesn't require it, make sure your photographer has it anyway. It's liability in case they break something, hurt someone, or any of a million things that aren't your fault, and so shouldn't be your problem, but could be if your photographer isn't insured!
Well... there you go. A few extra questions to ask your prospective Wedding Photographer. Based on their answers to these questions, it might help you avoid a wanna-be and instead hire a real professional.