The Top 10 Questions You MUST Ask Potential Wedding Photographers Before Hiring Them.
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Choosing a wedding photographer can seem like an overwhelming task...especially if you are starting completely from scratch and don’t even know where to begin. My list of the Top 10 Questions to ask a Photographer before you hire them is a great place to start and it will help you get your footing and better prepare you so you have a greater chance to find the right photographer for you!
Better Still...I have included my answers to all the questions to make your life even easier! So, without further adieu:
1. How long have you been in business? How long have you been photographing weddings specifically?
If there ever was a time to pick a veteran over an up-and-comer, this is it! When it comes to photography, experience is usually proportional to the quality of the product. A bright-eyed young photographer simply won't have the know-how or instincts to turn out the best photos possible for your wedding album. Consider selecting a more seasoned, if slightly more expensive, professional to get the results you crave. Also, someone who has been shooting graduation photos for 10 years and has just switched to photographing weddings will not have the experience necessary to know how to calm a bride down if she gets a smudge on her gown or which moments during a ceremony are crucial to capture.
Shawn Morrissey Photography has been around since 2006 and I've been photographing weddings since the beginning! I specialize in weddings and engagements and have photographed them all over the country in places like: here in ND, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Las Vegas, and Florida!
2. Should my event last longer than scheduled, will you stay? Is there an extra charge?
Knowing up front the photographers policy on overages is critical. You don’t want to be surprised when your wedding photographer asks for an additional $1,000 before they release your pictures to you. Even worse, you don’t want your wedding photographer to just pack up and leave when their time is up.
Shawn Morrissey Photography always consults with the bride before leaving the event to make sure I've captured everything she was hoping to have photographed. If needed, I will always stay later and there will be a 1 hour additional charge (Be sure to ask about hourly rates as they change).
3. After the wedding, when can we expect to see the photos?
Managing expectations is key to any successful vendor partnership in your wedding. Your photographer is going to need to take some time to edit your pictures, and you should get clear time frames for when and how you will receive your images so you are not wondering where your photos are!
The average time it takes Shawn Morrissey Photography to deliver your wedding package to you is normally 3 weeks. (If you purchase a package including a wedding album, the average is 6 weeks).
4. May I have a list of references?
Any stand-up photographer should easily be able to provide you with references. If they can’t, or won’t, that is a large “red flag” and you should err on the side of caution and continue your search for a wedding photographer elsewhere.
Shawn Morrissey Photography will gladly provide a list of references if asked, but to make it even easier...just take a look at my "TESTIMONIALS PAGE" to see what past couples say about me!
5. What if something happens to your camera? Do you have back-up equipment available?
Make sure your photographer will be prepared for an emergency. What if a lens cracks, or a camera body stops working, etc…? You’ll want to be sure that the photographer you plan to hire has prepared for all of these situations and carries similar professional quality back-up equipment on site the day of your wedding.
Shawn Morrissey Photography always carries at least 1 back up for every piece of equipment…in most cases, multiple back-ups.
6. Can other people take photos while the photographer is taking your formal photos?
Some photographers will not allow others to take photos at the same time they are. The other cameras’ flashes may affect the photographer’s photos or may distract the people in the photo to look another way. The answer to this question may be important to you if you want others to freely shoot photos during your formal session.
Shawn Morrissey Photography understands that family and friends all want to photograph the bride and groom as well. I usually ask the crowd of paparazzi to allow me to get my photo of each pose first, then I will allow everyone to get their shots before moving to the next pose. This arrangement seems to work wonderfully and everyone gets what they want. (Please keep in mind, this takes alot more time).
7. Do you have a portfolio I can review and/or some photos from one of your most recent events?
Most photographers have a portfolio online somewhere…on their website, blog, Facebook page, etc.
If samples of their work are nowhere to be found online, don’t hesitate to ask to see an “actual” portfolio. Also…ask to see some work from a recent wedding shoot. If they can show you last month's wedding photos from another wedding, its proof that they are busy and in demand.
Shawn Morrissey Photography has a website, blog, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook Fanpage. Each one has different content and plenty of work to review. My website has a full online portfolio. I am always willing to share photos from recent weddings and, if asked, can even provide actual physical prints.
8. Do you know how to use off camera flash? Do you bring your own lighting?
How amazing your photos turn out can rely heavily on how well your potential photographer knows how to use "Off Camera" lighting (lights & flashes that are not attached to the camera). This can be super important if you are having an indoor ceremony and/or reception. Some photographers label themselves as "Natural Light" photographers which mean they primarily shoot outdoors because the lighting outside gives them the best possible look they can achieve and it's very convenient. But...what happens when they can't photograph outside? What if your ceremony is in a church with intimate low lights and the reception is in a different venue with even dimmer lighting? Will a "Natural Light" Photographer have the technical know-how to give you professional quality photographs in these low light situations? Some churches have restrictions for using flashes during ceremonies, but reception venues are usually very dark and using the "pop-up" flash attached to a camera will give very unprofessional (and unflattering) pictures. This is something you must consider especially if your ceremony and/or reception is indoors.
Shawn Morrissey Photography has a deep knowledge of off camera flash/lighting...and I actually prefer to use it whenever possible. What other photographers say is bulky, inconvenient, and a hindrance, I say actually gives me an advantage and lends to my signature "BOLD and Dramatic" style! I bring my own lighting and have spent years streamlining my signature style so that I use minimal equipment and it won't be a big distraction on your wedding day.
9. What do you need from us before the wedding day?
Each photographer may ask you for certain things or information that may help him/her make sure things run smoothly on your wedding day. Most photographers will require a signed contract and a deposit to even book them for your wedding. On top of that, some may ask you to provide information on everyone in the bridal party, an organized shot list for family formal portraits, a timeline of events, a list of other vendors, etc. Helping them get what they need will make things go more smoothly on your wedding day which means less for you to stress out about! (TIP: Don't book a photographer—or any vendor—who won't provide a written contract).
Shawn Morrissey Photography requires a deposit and a signed contract to book for your wedding day. Upon meeting with the future bride and groom, I will work with them discussing their vision, and give the couple a clear game plan for making sure everything is captured the way they want it as closely as possible.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST...probably the most important of all:
10. Why should we choose YOU?
This is a crucial question. Here's a hypothetical situation: If you are choosing between 2 photographers and their abilities are equal, they use the same exact equipment, their photographs are equally stunning, and they are the same exact price...how do you choose between the two??
The choice should be the photographer who goes the extra mile to make sure YOU are taken care of through this entire process. Does the photographer you are thinking of hiring meet with you in person at no extra charge to address your concerns or answer your questions? Does he/she guide you through the process and make sure your fears and anxieties are melted away? Do you and your potential photographer "click" personality-wise (after all...they will be by your side the entire wedding day)? Do they listen to your ideas and visions or are they cramming all of their own ideas down your throat?
These are all factors you must consider on top of cost and quality of photos. The bottom line is: Who do you TRUST to be the one to not only capture amazing photos of your wedding, but also take care of you through the entire process and make sure the happiest day of your lives is fun and stress free?
I don't just show up on your wedding day and ask what I should start doing. Your wedding is the most important moment in your lives and that is how it is treated by me the entire time. From our first meeting until your photos are delivered...I will be by your side working with you and guiding you through every step! Every step of the way, I will be getting to know you as a couple...so by the time your wedding rolls around, I can better tell your unique love story!
After all, you DO want a photographer who knows how to capture everything that encompasses you as a unique couple...don't you?