The Other EngagementQuestions to ask before engaging your wedding photographer
As a wedding photographer, let me tell you a secret – it doesn’t really matter if (or how many times) I have shot at a venue before. Unless it is the same season, the same time of day and the same weather, a good photographer is exploring the location’s light, not the location, and the light is going to change depending on all of these things.
Asking what gear a wedding photographer uses is like asking a physics PhD candidate about her thesis – as in, I’d be more than happy to tell you, but will it mean anything to you when I do? Anyone who would know enough about the gear to be sufficiently satisfied should also know that (outside of having reliable back ups in the event of equipment failure), the equipment doth not a wedding photographer make. Rather, it is knowledge of light, composition and exposure that makes beautiful wedding photography. And I’d be more than happy to talk to you about those – just ask me!
The usefulness of knowing the number of weddings that a photographer has shot is also limited. If they had shot 20 but they were all in beautiful surrounds with stunning, extroverted models at sunset – that’s not the same as experience. Instead, what matters is a wedding photographer’s education around and familiarity with lots of different situations – rain, darkness, tight spaces, less than ideal locations. Conversely, is the wedding photographer who has photographed hundreds of weddings still pushing themself? Do they still see every wedding as an opportunity to make something precious for a couple in love? These are things that a number is never going to describe.
You should be able to clearly see a wedding photographer’s style by their website and portfolio. If you can’t recognise a particular “look” that the photographer is aiming for and can replicate again and again, this photographer does not have a style, so there’s not much point in asking. This also goes for the plethora of photographers who call themselves documentary wedding photographers who “hate posing”, but display nothing but posed images in their portfolio. An image really does speak more than words.
The most important questions that need to be answered before you decide on the person you will spend your wedding day with; the person who will capture your wedding day for the two of you and future generations to enjoy, are questions that you should ask yourself.
Questions to ask (yourself) before making the second-biggest commitment
Do I like this wedding photographer?
Your wedding photographer is going to be with you the whole day. You may be able to get a pretty good idea of who they are from their website or social media interaction, or you may need to meet them in person to get a good feel. You want to know if they are going to be someone with whom you can get along. Are they are loud and loud gets on your nerves? Are they bossy and likely to interrupt the flow of your day? These things may not bother you, or they might, but you don’t want to be thinking about it for the first time on the day.
Can I spend one of the most important days of my life with this person?
As above. You don’t have to be best friends with your wedding photographer, but you don’t want to spend the day with someone who irritates you, either.
Do I trust this person: to show up, to know what they are doing, to tell our story, to deliver me an album of images that I can treasure?
Trust is a huge factor in deciding who you will bestow with this most important task. Scouring the photographer’s website for information about who they are and how they approach their job should give you some feel, and of course there’s nothing like reviews from past brides and grooms to give you a heads up about any potential issues.
Do I like this person’s wedding photography style?
If they do have a cohesive style, looking at the images that a photographer displays on their website should give you a really good idea of the kinds of images they like to take and what they will be aiming for on the day. Make sure that this is a style not only that you are in love with now, but that you are still likely to love far into the future. Remember that like mutton sleeves on a wedding dress, post-processing trends, photos of a headless bride and groom holding hands and graffiti walls may date.
So the only thing you really need to ask your wedding photographer is, are you available?
Okay, you legit may need to ask questions around payment of deposits and delivery timeframes, but even then a professional photographer will have an FAQ page that addresses those concerns. I know I do.