So, you're planning a wedding? Great! That must mean you're an expert in photography and how to hire a wedding photographer, right? No? Never fear, we have a starter set of questions for you to use when planning your meeting with a photographer.
1. Are you available on my date? OR How far in advance do you usually book?
It seems obvious, but I've heard way too many stories of people falling in love with a photographer and then not booking him or her because they waited too long to pick a wedding date. There's nothing wrong with doing a little research before you pick a date, but ideally before you seriously meet with a photographer you should know the wedding date. If you aren't ready to sign on the dotted line, make sure you have a good idea of how much time you have before you have to make a decision.
2. Can you tell me about your work style and your photographic style?
Hopefully you'll be able to tell a little about the photographer's style from his or her portfolio, but listening to someone describe themselves can give you a good sense of their personality. Remember, this person will be with you ALL DAY on your wedding day, you want to like him or her. For "work style" listen to get an idea of whether this person considers himself a fly on the wall or likes to get involved in the proceedings, then think about how that works with your vision.
3. What is your backup plan in case there's an emergency?
As Eeyore said, "They're funny things, accidents- you never have them till you're having them." Your photographer may never have had a problem getting to a wedding or an equipment failure, but that doesn't mean it can't happen. One sign of a professional is that he or she has a backup plan in place.
4. What do you charge for overtime? Are you available longer on my wedding day?
Hopefully, your wedding will run without a hitch, but what if things get started 30 minutes late? Is your photographer available if you decide to have an impromptu "After Party" or does she have another commitment?
5. Can I talk to former clients? Can I see a complete album?
Any photographer will have a portfolio, but those could just be one great shot from each of 20 weddings. What if the other 499 photos he took that day were horrible (on average, a photographer takes about 500 pictures during a wedding). Asking to see a complete album will give you a better sense of how he or she works. Hopefully, you'll read reviews of the photographer's work on a site like GigMasters, but talking to former clients can give you an even better sense of the photographer's level of professionalism and behavior.