/11 not-so-obvious questions to ask your wedding photographer
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As you hunt for your wedding photographer, you will find several sites offering you “questions to ask” when it comes to your meetings. They serve as great guidelines but what you really want to focus on is how well you gel. If you get along with your creative pro, you will result in LOADS better results every time. They will enjoy themselves more and you will end up much happier.

So, I compiled a list of not-so-obvious questions to ask your wedding photographer. Enjoy!

11 Not-So-Obvious Questions to ask your Wedding Photographer - By DPNAK Weddings

Daniel Moyer doing his thing.

When it comes to finding the right wedding photographer, I recommend asking the standard questions as well as the following…

01.Will you be our photographer on our wedding day?

Some companies offer several different photographers that they can send out on a wedding day. I can not stress enough how important it is to have a good vibe with your wedding photographer PRIOR to your wedding day. If you’re not meeting with them initially, be sure to schedule time for that.

02.What will you wear on our wedding day?

This is important for several reasons. First, do you like their personal style? If they say they will wear cargo pants and t-shirt, does that work for you? It might, but it may not be ideal if you’re hosting a black-tie event. The more you ask, the less “unexpected” happenings can occur on the wedding day.

From the comments: NEPA photographer Bryan Shattuck of Icarus Image says “While this is important, don’t let this be anywhere near the front-runner of questions that decides your photographer for you. What your photographer wears doesn’t have much to do with how well they do their job or even how professionally they behave on a wedding day. My worst horror stories are related to how people act and what they do rather than them being under-dressed. Still, a valid question to ask if you have a strict dress-code or costume themed wedding.”

03.Do you have an assistant and/or second shooter?

First of all, there is a difference between an assistant and a second shooter. Typically, an assistant is there to assist the wedding photographer. They will help carry equipment, prep for portraits, etc. A second shooter will be a second photographer who will often be positioned at another angle to get the most from your photos. I’m a big fan of having second shooters. When possible, it’s great for the second shooter to get shots of the gents getting ready while the main photographer is getting the gals. You may have more angles of your first kiss, first look, first dance, etc. Plus, if something should happen to your main photographer, you’re not completely out of luck which brings me to…

From the comments: Another NEPA photographer Jeff Dietz adds to this point: “Ask them who the second photographer is or their process of how they select this photographer to work with. Are they full time on staff, or is it someone they just find two weeks before your wedding? It’s important that it is a not just a warm body with a second camera, but also someone that knows what they are doing at near the same level as the main photographer, or they are more just in the way then they are a help. Also expect that this could be and reasonably might be an add on cost. Think about that second photographer being paid. If they are ‘included’ at no extra cost, it may speak to their experience level or talent level.”

04.What happens if you become ill on our wedding day?

Life happens and unfortunately there are things that can happen that are outside of our control. A professional will almost always have a back up plan in the case of an illness or emergency.

05.How long after the wedding will we have to wait to see any photos?

In today’s world, many photographers do early sneak peeks that they post to Facebook or Instagram. This is a GREAT way to get a glimpse into the goodness (hopefully) that will follow. But it’s best to know beforehand approximately how long you can expect to wait before seeing the bulk of your photos. It may be 7 days, 7 weeks, 7 months; some photographers don’t show any photos until ONE YEAR after the wedding day. Personally, it’s not my preference but it’s something you want to be aware of before you book them.

06.Do you have any backup equipment?

Some sites will tell you to ask what TYPE of equipment they are using, but unless you know the difference between brands, the answer to that question won’t mean anything to you. What you do need to know is that they have a plan should something malfunction with their camera of choice (IT DOES HAPPEN).

07.What is your attitude normally like on a wedding day?

To me, this is HUGE. Do you want your wedding photographer to be negative, sour and complaining on your wedding day? Or do you want them to be excited, energetic and courteous to your family? They may not give you a straight answer, but this is a question they may not expect and I recommend seeing just how they answer. Does it seem sincere?

From the comments: Philly wedding photographer Daniel Moyer adds “Your photographer will spend most, if not all, of your day with you. They will be there through the quietness of private moments while a bride is getting ready to the grandness of the public moments like a couple’s first kiss and throughout their reception. So, couples should always seek a photograph whose photos they like, but then should be is this going to be a person I feel COMFORTABLE spending my entire day with and attitude will be a contributing factor. Comfort is of utmost importance on a wedding day. If the photographer has a bad attitude, no one will be happy during the day and it will come through in all your photographs.”

08.How many weddings/events do you photograph in one weekend?

A wedding photographer’s job is very laborious. It is physically demanding and not for the faint of heart. It’s important to know how busy they’ll be on your wedding weekend.

09.Do you allow other people (guests) to take photos while you are?

This is most common during family portraits. Some family members may want to take photos “over the photographers shoulder”. Some photographers don’t mind, but others will not allow it. Whichever your case, be sure you know in advance so “Uncle Bob” doesn’t get offended.

10.Is there any additional equipment that you set up during a wedding?

Some photographers shoot with large flashes, umbrellas, etc. that will be setup around your ceremony/reception room. Others do not, but if they do, you’ll want to be aware of it so it doesn’t conflict with any decor decisions.

11.Do you have any meal requirements on the wedding day?

This should be in the photographer’s contract, but be sure to ask if they have any special food concerns. Most photographers will now request (or even require) a HOT meal at the reception. Others will just request time to eat. Know in advance so you can tell your caterer/venue.

In closing…

Keep in mind, there are no “right” or “wrong” answers to any of these questions necessarily. BUT you should be in agreement with their answers. If not, there is nothing wrong with finding a photographer who does match your style and needs. Once again, it is extremely important that you gel with the person taking your photos all day. They will be your paparazzi’s for the day and you need to at least think they are a little bit cool.

From the comments: Anni of Anni Cee Photography also mentions a great point: “something that I think is important to note – spend a lot of time looking through your photographer’s wedding work (many of us will share full wedding galleries) and don’t assume that you’ll get something radically different from what you see. Each photographer has such a unique style, and too often I see couples choosing based on the best package/price even though they don’t love the style and/or personality of the photographer.”

Another great photographer, Abby Grace says “Another question I may add would be ‘How do you decide which couples you work with?’ Because as much as brides and grooms are interviewing me, I’m also interviewing them because I want them to have the PERFECT photography experience. If that’s not me for them, I don’t feel right booking their wedding.”

Finally, Daniel Moyer also suggested another great question to ask: “A question that might offer additional insight would be to ask what is their motivation during a wedding day. That is a question I ask myself, and have boiled it down to I just want to capture beautiful pictures for my couples and make them happy. That’s it!”

For the record, I LOVE these additional questions and so appreciate them coming from photographers that I admire so much.

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2017-01-11T17:36:51+00:00 November 7th, 2012|

19 Comments

  1. Bryan November 7, 2012 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    Great article! Good things to consider for sure.

    As a photographer, reading through this article brought up a lot of thoughts of my own. Here’s a quick response to each.

    #1) This is a scary question to have to ask. Working with someone who subcontracts your photographer is not someone who has a personal vested interest in the results. Recommendations from one vendor to another is one thing, but letting someone else choose for you is a serious gamble with your most important memories.

    #2) While this is important, don’t let this be anywhere near the front-runner of questions that decides your photographer for you. What your photographer wears doesn’t have much to do with how well they do their job or even how professionally they behave on a wedding day. My worst horror stories are related to how people act and what they do rather than them being under-dressed. Still, a valid question to ask if you have a strict dress-code or costume themed wedding.

    #3) Two good photographers is better than one. If you’re going to ask this one, you should also ask what the caliber of their second photographer is. Putting a pro camera in auto mode in the hands of a college student, relative, or spouse does not quite cut it as a second photographer.

    #4) A good question to ask as well. This information should be in the photographer’s contract. It protects both the couple and the photographer.

    #5) This should also be covered in the contract.

    #6) Also a scary question to have to ask. If the answer to this is ‘no’, you should walk away. Having backup equipment is 100% necessary as a professional vendor of any type. This includes your videographers, DJs and bands.

    #7) Absolutely huge, Danielle, great question! This is definitely a curve ball question though, and could potentially be answered dishonestly. This is a huge, huge reason why you should choose the same photographer for your engagement photos and wedding photos. You get a feel for how they behave with a camera, their creativity, their energy, and how confidently they interact with you.

    #8) Good to know as well. Most photographers know their own limits though and avoid overbooking themselves.

    #9) Most likely another point covered in the contract. This might be an indicator of a photographer that’s too uptight about their work. While it is definitely distracting and a time-waster to deal with “Uncle Bob” wanting a shot of everything, the day is primarily about the couple and their family celebrating. Putting a complete ban on other photos is a bit extreme. Most definitely though, This is a question that you want to ask if you know you have an over-zealous relative.

    #10) Never really thought of this one! A great, great question to ask. I’d tack onto this one that it’s probably more important to go over this with the DJ and Videographer. Their equipment can be equally, if not more, problematic. My personal pet peeve is trying to photograph a bride and groom who have a giant microphone between them during the ceremony!

    #11) In over 70 weddings, I’ve only had a couple issues with venues not being prepared to feed the vendors. If you’re not including your vendors in the seating arrangement, just double-check with the venue to make sure they have a plan. Feeding your photog is a guaranteed way to keep them happy.

    The #12 I’d add in to this article is this:

    How much time do we need to set aside for photos?

    This is more of a question that you want to ask once you’ve settled on a photographer. Hiring vendors for your wedding is an investment, and giving your photog ample time to work their magic is how you make the most of that investment – just don’t let them take over your day!

    • danielle November 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm - Reply

      This is awesome, Bryan! And I definitely agree.

      In response…

      01. Definitely scary, but one that is necessary when in the hands of the wrong company.
      02. Definitely not a deal breaker or one that should even matter, but some individuals assume something without ever clarifying it. I’ve seen many a bride go nuts over the smallest of things on wedding days not necessarily because the specific thing was a big deal, but more because they were not expecting it. Another reason why I say never to use relative terms.
      03. I agree. When I say photographer, I mean photographer. Not just someone with a camera in their hand. While all photographers start somewhere, their level of experience and skill should be clear from the beginning.
      04. and 05. Goes back to my point: always read the contracts!
      06. I agree on being scary, but again necessary.
      07. Couldn’t agree more. Using the same photographer for all of your shoots will not only keep things cohesive but will also give the huge opportunity to continue to build a relationship.
      08. I agree most do. This is again to make sure everyone has a clear understanding.
      09. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed a photographer call out a reasonable Uncle Bob because it was in their contract. It was unprofessional but it didn’t change the fact that there was hurt feelings.
      10. I always recommend asking the creative team in general (uplighting, too – cords, etc.) what they plan on setting up. What one pro does isn’t always the same as another.
      11. It depends on the vendor here. Some like eating with guests, some won’t, other just don’t care. Again asking questions is the easiest way to have a clear understanding.

      And I love your 12. That is something that is discussed later “down the road” but definitely a MUST-ASK question. Thanks again! :)

  2. Anni November 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    This is a great list, Danielle! I definitely agree your points, and love what you said at the top about making sure you click. I try to put a lot of my own personality into my website and emails for that very reason – the more excited I am about my clients, the more that I’m able to do my best work.

    Also, something that I think is important to note – spend a lot of time looking through your photographer’s wedding work (many of us will share full wedding galleries) and don’t assume that you’ll get something radically different from what you see. Each photographer has such a unique style, and too often I see couples choosing based on the best package/price even though they don’t love the style and/or personality of the photographer.

    • danielle November 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm - Reply

      Great points! Sometimes a photographer will just post their best images. A potential client should always ask to view an entire gallery of the same wedding. Thank you for the feedback!

  3. Jeff November 7, 2012 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    Nice list Danielle.
    I would just add to number 3 as somewhat stated. Ask them who the second photographer is or their process of how they select this photographer to work with. Are they full time on staff, or is it someone they just find two weeks before your wedding?

    It’s important that it is a not just a warm body with a second camera, but also someone that knows what they are doing at near the same level as the main photographer, or they are more just in the way then they are a help.

    Also expect that this could be and reasonably might be an add on cost. Think about that second photographer being paid. If they are ‘included’ at no extra cost, it may speak to their experience level or talent level.

    The big one for that me to add is to ask the question “Do you have insurance?” Not just back up equipment which they need to have as well, but actual insurance. Also does this insurance cover the second photographer if there is one. Many times since these seconds are last minute finds for some studios they are not covered under the photographers insurance plan as they are independent contractors.

    Photography is the only part of the day that you will have forever. If it is an important part of the day for you, pick wisely. You get the quality that you investment in, like many things in life.

    • danielle November 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm - Reply

      Very helpful Jeff and very important to know the difference too.

  4. Abby Grace November 7, 2012 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    Ooh, I really like this article. Sometimes these lists of questions to ask your photographer are cumbersome or nonsensical (good point: if you’re not familiar with the different types of camera equipment, then my answer won’t really make sense at all, right?), but this is all very practical. Another question I may add would be “How do you decide which couples you work with?” Because as much as brides and grooms are interviewing me, I’m also interviewing them because I want the to have the PERFECT photography experience. If that’s not me for them, I don’t feel right booking their wedding.

    • danielle November 7, 2012 at 4:55 pm - Reply

      Oh Abby! I LOVE that question!! If a photographer (or anyone) doesn’t care who they work with, their passion has died. Thank you!!

  5. Daniel Moyer November 7, 2012 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    Such a good list of questions, Danielle!

    The one that struck a chord with me is #7, the attitude question.

    Your photographer will spend most, if not all, of your day with you. They will be there through the quietness of private moments while a bride is getting ready to the grandness of the public moments like a couple’s first kiss and throughout their reception.

    So, couples should always seek a photograph whose photos they like, but then should be is this going to be a person I feel COMFORTABLE spending my entire day with and attitude will be a contributing factor. Comfort is of utmost importance on a wedding day. If the photographer has a bad attitude, no one will be happy during the day and it will come through in all your photographs.

    A question that might offer additional insight would be to ask what is their motivation during a wedding day. That is a question I ask myself, and have boiled it down to I just want to capture beautiful pictures for my couples and make them happy. That’s it!

    • danielle November 7, 2012 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      Oh my! Love that, Dan. Looks like I’ll be making some post-published edits :)

  6. ben hood November 8, 2012 at 9:06 am - Reply

    The second shooter question is pretty pertinent. Rebekah and I shoot every wedding together, and shoot weddings with other people- so when we shoot together it’s less of a main/second shooter and more like having two photographers. I also like the idea of asking what the photographer will wear to the wedding. We try and dress fashionably, but some brides may prefer that a photographer just wear black. Finally, the statement about the photographer being with you all day is so true. We’ve been a part of so many special intimate moments- In those moments, you need a photographer who can be there and get the shot, and not ruin the mood. You need someone who can be a friend if needed, or a fly on the wall- and the discernment to know the difference.
    Great article!

  7. Ron, Trev & Trai November 8, 2012 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    We loved your blogpost identifying these not so common questions. We re-posted and took the livery of answering for our potential clients on our blog!
    http://barnoneweddings.com/blog/2012/11/11-not-so-obvious-questions-for-your-wedding-photographer/

  8. Adi J November 9, 2012 at 1:26 am - Reply

    Yes, this is a really good article for me as a photographer, thanks for sharing, this is really useful :)

  9. Steph @ The Event Crashers November 14, 2012 at 1:18 am - Reply

    I think this is such an awesome post! A friend who is getting married who I am helping with plans asked me the same question recently – what do I ask in my photographer meeting? – and I sent her directly to this post!

    Thank you!

    • danielle November 14, 2012 at 7:50 am - Reply

      So sweet of you – thank you! Hope it was able to help her :)

  10. […] meeting with a photographer, you want to ask what’s included with your package (or these other not-so-obvious questions). If you’re meeting with a caterer, you want to ask if they offer menu tastings (very rarely […]

  11. Clay October 7, 2014 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    Jeff Dietz nails the response to the second shooter question. Don’t assume that just because a photographer has a second shooter, that they are any good. Too often I see people get wooed by the second shooter for the same price as a single shooter. While the bride is thinking they are getting better value, they are actually losing value because the first shooter isn’t good enough to be charging similar prices for just themselves and/or the second shooter isn’t worth paying much because their images can’t command more money.

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  13. […] Image of Daniel Moyer Photography via DPNACK Weddings […]

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