I disagree with some of this advice, but I’ll go through point by point.
1.) YES! Definitely do this!
2.) Very nice if you can get them to give them to you, but honestly, a lot of photographers just don’t give references of past clients out of respect for their privacy, and you should be mindful of this. Someday it will be you after your wedding, and while you may be happy to give ONE glowing reference for your past photographer, you would NOT be happy if you were swamped with emails from every prospective client the photog has. For every one person we actually book, we get numerous inquiries wanting mulitiple references, so if you’re using clients from the previous year for references, that can add up to A LOT of referral requests per parst client and a VERY annoying photographer to deal with after your wedding. I personally don’t give references for this reason, but that’s also why I have TONS of reviews you can find online. I ask each client to write me ONE glowing review that other brides can find, and this is just as good as a reference because we have no control over what people write and can’t have online reviews changed if we don’t like them. Now if the photographer didnt have legitimate online reviews (not just ones they posted on their own website), then I’d definitely expect references.
3.) Delivery date yes, amount of photos no. Photographers can give a rough estimate sometimes, but if no one dances at your reception and people are eating the whole time (people get MAD when you take pictures of them eating) your photographer knows they probably wont have as many photos to give you, which is why we only have estimates.
4.) Absolutely NO. We will not, under any circumstances, book a client who is not willing to pay in full before the wedding and this is pretty standard for the industry. At the end of the day there are FAR more photographers who have been screwed over by clients than there are clients who have been screwed by their photogs when it comes to payments. Why? Because photographers have a business reputation to maintain and a bad review can end our business, whereas, apart from legal action there is NOTHING a photographer can do to coerce payment from an overdue client.
Also photography is extremely subjective, so clients want to try to use witholding the final payment until after viewing the photos as a sort of “satisfaction guarantee,” which is ridiculous when your photographer in reality is offering nothing of the sort. Any client for any reason can say they don’t like the photos (whether they do or not) and use that as excuse to not pay the final payment, and that’s not how we operate. All of the work on our end has already been done and that balance is due regardless. Be prepared to run into A LOT of photographers like us who will NOT book you under these terms, and keep in mind those who will are more likely to be less reputable photographers who are simply more desperate for your business.
5.) Wouldn’t be at the top of my list but sure you could expect this. I would say as long as your photographer is consistently responsive you should be okay.