Since you set up a meeting with them, I’m assuming that you have seen their work and love their photos. As others have said, make sure that you LOVE their photos & stalk as many as you can! You will live with these photos for the rest of your life, so base your choice on your love of their photos, not the love of their price.
The photographer will probably start out by getting to know you by asking questions about how the two of your met, how he proposed, about your wedding, etc. A good photographer will be invested in you as a couple, so make sure they are friendly and make a connection with you: if they care about you, they will make sure to go above & beyond to serve you well. I would be worried if a photographer didn’t ask questions about the two of you: that would make me think they care more about a paycheck than capturing your story. Since you will be working with them A LOT both before and after their wedding, make sure you get a good “vibe” with them and feel comfortable with them on both a professional and friendly level. You want to be able to communicate with them easily.
The photographer will probably show you more of their work; I’m a wedding photographer myself and bring both a slideshow on my computer as well as printed albums. I would make sure that you see a printed album so you can see the quality of their work in prints: it’s one thing to make pictures look good on a screen, but it’s really important to see their work printed as well. It’s also important to see an album that shows an entire wedding day (not just a collection of their favorite photos from different weddings) so you can get a sense for how the photographer captures the full day and get an idea for the types of photos you will receive from start to finish.
If there are tangible items included in your package (albums, prints, etc.) make sure to ask to see samples of these items so you know exactly what you are getting so there are no surprises come receiving the items after your wedding. If a disc of photos is included, make sure to clarify (and get in writing) that the images on the disc are in HIGH-RESOLUTION, watermark/branding free, and a signed personal copyright release. High-resolution files are referred to as 300 ppi or dpi…make sure the signed contract refers to the size of the high-resolution files (300 ppi or dpi).
If you haven’t already, ask if your photographer can email over a list of their different packages/collections and a-la-cart options. This way you can get an idea of prices & are more prepared with questions you may have about things included in the packages or if they are flexible changing the package to suit your needs.
Come prepared with a list of questions! I love when couples bring a list of questions because I know that they are serious about getting a great photographer. Some questions to ask are:
*Any questions you have regarding items included in a package or clarification of what something is (Who do you use as a second photographer? Who decides the wedding day photography timeline? How long is the estimated wait time to see all edited photos?)
*How long have you been a professional wedding photographer? (weddings are a whooooole different area of photography, so make sure they have ample wedding experience, not just any kind of photography experience)
*Do you have backups for your camera gear & computer hard drive?
*Do you have business liability insurance? (some venues require this so it’s best to make sure your photographer has this from the start so there aren’t mishaps come wedding day…it also helps determine if they are a true professional)
*Ask to see an entire wedding to get an idea for ALL of the edited photos you will receive (make sure you love all of them, not just the best 20 photos!). Personally, I give each wedding client a password protected online gallery that shows all of their edited photos. I also ask couples permission to give their gallery password to prospective clients if they ask to see a full gallery…most couples love the opportunity to show off their wedding!
*Get to know them as well! Ask why they love weddings, what their favorite thing is to capture at a wedding, etc.
This may be obvious, but make sure to sign a contract before paying a dime. Make sure the contract states:
*The date of the wedding
*The list of items included in your package (hours of coverage, second photographer, albums, prints, disc, engagement session, etc.)
*A plan for if the photographer is ill/unable to photograph the wedding or unable to deliver photos or goods (we DON’T want to think of any of that happening, but make sure it’s written that you can receive a refund if the photographer can’t shoot the wedding or doesn’t deliver goods as listed due to equipment failure, etc.)
*The file size of digital files received on a disc
*The final package total, as well as the dates each payment is due
*Refund policy (most photographers don’t allow refunds unless they are unable to fulfill their duty, but make sure you see the refund policy here for your own information – it’s a good idea to make sure to state that you can receive a refund if they fail to show up at your wedding or lose your images due to equipment failure or neglect to back up the images…kind of a repeat of what I said above, but it’s good to have in writing!)
*How long it will take to receive and/or view your edited photos
*How long the photographer will keep the images on file if you decide to order additional prints or an album at a later date (most photographers keep the images on file for 6-12 months after the wedding)
*Make sure any and all of their promises are in the signed contract; if you decide to alter your collection or change anything after the contract is signed, have a new contract signed, don’t rely on your emails or spoken conversations.
*Make sure they sign the contract as well as you
My policy with clients is that 25% of the package total & a signed contract is due at booking. Once the retainer is paid & their portion of the contract is signed, I sign the contract as well to solidify my portion of the agreement. All photographers differ on the deposit required, but usually once you pay the deposit/retainer and sign the contract they will then sign their end.
Finding a photographer is fun! It’s like a whole new relationship. Don’t feel pressured to book them on the spot! Even if you love them and their work, sleep on it so you can be totally sure about them. Your photos are kind of like your hubby…they will be with you forever!