The Most Important Question You Need To Ask A Wedding Photographer
If you’re planning a wedding right now, I’m going to let you in on a secret. Wedding photographers really don’t like being asked questions from a certain “list”. You know the list, it came with your wedding planning binder and it’s all over Pinterest. It has questions such as
1. What kind of camera gear do you use?
2. Have you ever shot at my venue before?
3. How long have you been in business?
Most people have no idea what we’re talking about when we list off our gear, and that’s ok. But you don’t really need to know that information.
We shoot at new venues all the time! (-: It really shouldn’t matter if a photographer has photographed your venue before. If it makes you uneasy, just ask us to do a walk through, we’re always happy to do so!
Everyone starts somewhere, but a lot of times, a photographer will have worked under a seasoned pro for a while before branching out on their own. Length of business ownership is not the most important thing – however, the longer they’ve been doing weddings the more knowledge, expertise & experience they have and that CAN matter.
Now don’t get me wrong, some of the questions on these lists are great to ask just to educate yourself, such as
1. Do you take a shot list?
2. About how long does it take to receive my images?
3. About how many images will I receive?
First, this is a great question because every photographer is different. Personally, we don’t accept shot lists for anything other important group photos because we feel like recreating someone else wedding day images takes away from creating unique ones of your own.
Some photographers take up to 8 months to deliver…you WANT to know this so you aren’t surprised after the wedding. Don’t worry…our turn around time is 4 weeks!
The amount of images you get is always an average. Every photographer is different and it also depends on your detail amount, if you do a first look, how many hours you hired them for and how large your family is. Some photographers are also very aggressive in narrowing down the photos because do you REALLY need 12 images of your wedding shoes? No. 3 photos is enough.
So, what is the one question you need to ask your potential wedding photographer before you book them?
Can I see a full wedding gallery?
Yep. That’s it.
The problem that I see with all of these lists that are floating on the internet is that they don’t ask that question.
Well, they kind of sort of ask it. They’ll tell you to ask your potential wedding photographer to show you their portfolio of recent images.
This is an ok question to ask in my opinion. Of course you want to see pretty photos, and they SHOULD be recent to see their current style of editing and shooting…but here’s another secret.
Photographers only show perfect and pretty photos in their portfolios.
Your entire gallery will NOT LOOK LIKE THAT. If you go to our wedding portfolio right now, you’ll see images that reflect our brand – candid moments, romantic & happy portraits, and colorful details in light that I got to choose. And they’re all very pretty. The light is perfect, the emotion is there. Its meant to attract you! But a whole gallery doesn’t look like that.
Here’s the thing about weddings – moments will ALWAYS trump perfection for us. Weddings are super fast paced. If I’m shooting in one direction and have my camera set for THAT light, and I turn around and notice a sweet moment where the light is VASTLY different but Im about to miss it, I will still shoot it. But it won’t look as great compared to the photo my camera was set correctly for. But I’m still going to put it in the couples gallery and fix it to the best of my ability when I edit so that they can have that moment saved forever. But it will NOT look like the photos in my online portfolio and it will NOT show its face on my website.
Heres a great real world example: I had just finished up shooting some bridal portraits of Jodi after she put on her dress. My camera was set up for this particular lighting situation (the color photo). We were about to walk out the bedroom door to set up her first look with her dad in the living room when he came INTO the room! I flung myself onto the bed behind me and snapped away as they greeted each other because THIS was now their first look.
There is no do over. It happened so fast I had no time to reset my settings. In color, this photo looks bad (below is the unedited color version). Everything is off about it. Buuuut turn it black and white, fix the severe grain, and brighten it up a LOT, and boom! Saved memory. Moments over perfect camera settings! This special memory for Jodi is still beautiful even if the lighting is not perfect.
Also, here’s another scary thing to watch out for – some “photographers” are thieves. They steal the works of other well established photographers and put those photos on their own website and act like they took it. So when you go on their site, see those amazing photos, pay them your hard earned dollars, and get a gallery full of blurry, poorly lit, horribly posed images you’ll wonder why they didn’t turn out the way the photos on the photographers website looked. These are the photographers you hear about on the 5:00 news.
So by asking to see a full wedding gallery you can:
1. See if the photographers work is consistent throughout the day
2. See their not so perfect images of perfect moments
3. Ensure that this is a LEGIT photographer
4. Get a sense of how they shoot details, portraits, the ceremony, etc.
5. Get a rough idea of how many images you’ll get
After seeing a full wedding gallery and meeting/talking with these potential wedding photographers, you have to ask YOURSELF a few questions too:
1. Did I connect with this photographer? Do I want to spend my entire wedding day with this person?
2. Do their images speak to me? Is their editing and shooting style what I envision looking at for the next 50 years?
3. Will this photographer listen to my concerns about the wedding photos?
Not everyone will agree with my point of view, but Im always so happy when an inquiring couple asks to see an entire gallery, not just our pretty portfolio! (-:
Katie + Jay of Catherine Ann Photography are Charleston SC Based Wedding & Elopement Photographers specializing in candid & fun wedding photos that feel like you!
Ready to book your VENUE wedding with us? Get in touch here!