(Closed) What to ask prospective photographers?

posted 9 years ago in Photos/Videos
Post # 3
Member
997 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2010 - The Pierre Hotel

Here are some things I asked when meeting with photographers:

1. I asked to see a full album – I know this has been mentioned before, but this really provides a good way for you to see how they shoot all aspects of one wedding.  A lot of sites only show the “best of” shots from multiple weddings, so it’s hard to get a clear picture of what one wedding would look like.

2. Balance between candids and posed? Are they open to doing more of one or the other? This is important to make sure that their vision is aligned with yours.

3. Black and white vs. color vs. sepia vs. effects?  

4. Copy of all negatives with a right to print? My fiance and I were looking for this specifically; we’re planning on making our own albums at a later date.

5. What was the most challenging wedding he or she ever shot? I asked this question to see what they viewed as challenges and how they worked with the situation.

6. How long after the wedding can we expect to see our photographs?

Hope this helps! Good luck!

Post # 4
Member
2342 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

I asked:

-What are the payment plans and when are they due?

-If we have the rights to the negatives?

-How many photographers will be used?

-If we can see a finished album?

-Referrals? 

-How many pictures and when?

-If we can give a list of “must-have shots” 

Also, be aware of the personality and if you guys mesh well together!  I think thats the most important part!  Hope this helps and good luck with your meetings!

Post # 5
Member
3 posts
Wannabee

As a wedding photogrpaher I normally get asked many different questions….some make sense and some dont. Below are my thoughts on how to hire a professional wedding photogpraher

Hiring a wedding photographer may seem like a simple task, but choosing someone to capture all the moments and details of that special day can be much more difficult than most couples realize. The professional you select will create a photographic record that will be treasured by your family for generations, and making this decision is a critical step in the wedding-planning process.  In some instances, hiring the wrong person might not only result in poor wedding photos, but could also have a negative effect on your entire wedding day (for example, imagine a sloppy-looking photographer running around, blocking the guests’ view and constantly distracting you from enjoying your day).

One of the most common and unfortunate mistakes couples make is hiring a family friend or an enthusiastic relative to photograph the day.  Some may even ask guests to take as many photos as possible with the hope of piecing together an album composed of candid shots, most of which are unusable.  Keep in mind that even with the proper equipment, photographing a wedding properly is a daunting task requiring significant experience, the finesse’ to be virtually invisible, and most importantly the talent and artistic vision to capture the memorable details and emotions of your wedding day. It is certainly not a job for the faint of heart.  

How, then, does one choose an accomplished, professional wedding photographer? The key items to consider are your personal preferences in photography, your budget for the event, and the professional relationship and chemistry you have (or don’t have) with the photographer.

Wedding photography is usually classified as traditional, photojournalistic (candid), and artistic.  There is a wealth of information online regarding these categories, if you would like more explanation of each.  Although some photographers may declare that they are “hardcore photojournalists” (the current buzz-word in the wedding photo industry), I believe that a good wedding photographer must be able to do all the styles equally well. It is important to review a good selection of the photographer’s work, and you should love most (if not everything) you see.  You should insist on viewing complete wedding albums to see how your final album could look.  If you don’t feel an emotional connection with the photos, you need to interview another photographer.

Couples also either under-budget for their wedding photography, or they try to shop around for the cheapest package, forsaking quality. As with any creative service, with most photographers you normally “get what you pay for.” If you see an all-inclusive package with albums under $2000.00, the quality of all the products and services is usually poor. If the package is above $5000.00, you should expect 2 photographers present, at least 8 hours of coverage, and high-end wedding albums (along with some extra items, such as proofs or parent copies).  Make sure you compare apples to apples when reviewing various wedding packages, since they can be confusing.  In most cases a typical wedding photography budget would be in the $3000.00 – $6000.00 range. Don’t treat your wedding photography as an afterthought – photographs are the most enduring and viewed remembrance of your wedding day (more so, even,  than a video recording).

Make sure you feel a personal connection with your photographer.  Some of the best photos of the day are usually taken “behind the scenes” as the wedding party prepares for the day, when you will be interacting with your family and friends. You should feel comfortable inviting the photographer “backstage.” As a wedding photographer, I regularly get invited to see the most intimate parts of the wedding day that are normally not visible to most guests or even family. Your photographer should be calm and assertive and have a positive energy about them.  Make sure he or she shows a genuine interest in you and your family. Do not hire a photographer that makes you feel that your wedding day is just another job for them.  Your photos would certainly reflect that.  

Post # 6
Member
2634 posts
Sugar bee

Honestly?  I think 10 is too many.  I’d REALLY try to narrow it down further than that – under five at most.

If you go to the Real Simple website – they have a bunch of checklists to ask various vendors and I found all of them very helpful.

Good luck!

Post # 7
Member
73 posts
Worker bee

Also a wedding photog here, and one thing I have to emphasize more than anything else is…. Go with your gut feeling! You can ask all the questions in the world, but personalities need to click, because your wedding photog is there for so much of your day, if you guys can’t click, your communication won’t be as good, and your photographer is less likely to “get” you. To be honest, the kinds of people with whom I worked best were the people who were most like me!

Find a photographer who has that similar vision, passion, and thought as you do about your wedding. You should probably narrow down to 3 or 4 photogs, you can maybe do an initial screen by talking to them over the phone and see how they interact with you there, because more likely than not in the days leading up to your wedding, you’ll be doing more phone than in-person meetings.

As for shot lists or whatnot, I am of the camp where you’ll know it once they show you an entire wedding. Look to see if they capture the shots you wanted. If your photographers have a blog, read through the blogs and see what other people have commented on and responded to, where their strengths are. If you are not 100% happy with their photos, don’t go with them thinking that maybe they’ll get it and improve by the time your wedding comes around, that’s a risk you shouldn’t be taking. 

Ultimately, focus on the photographs, make sure you know who is taking your photos. Albums, extras, inclusions, that can be all added and taken away, but if the photograph is not good, you can’t dress it up any better with an album. Ask them to show you how much they process the photos before it goes to print. Ask for a sample contract so you can see exactly what kinds of terms, payment plans, etc., you’d be signing. Get everything in writing – for your sake, and the photographer’s sake. 

Good luck! If you need any clarifications on what photogs tell you, feel free to PM me.

Post # 8
Member
250 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

I agree on the personalities needing to click! I reached out to 5 photogs via email once my Fiance and I had narrowed them down. 2 never emailed me back at all (boo), 1 emailed me back after 2 weeks and didn’t answer my question about my dates availability (why should we waste our time if he’s already booked?).

Of the 2 that emailed me back same day, the first just didn’t suit my tastes. He did beautiful work, but I felt like I was being talked down to the whole time. He was the artist and there was no budging in what he did. I respect his honesty and the feedback he gave me, but I wasn’t comfortable.

Our photog that I booked is wonderful! We had a great hour meeting and she was responsive to all my questions. I had FUN talking to her. Just think, they are going to be dealing with your family and friends all night – if they’ve got a great personality they won’t be shy about getting great shots and people won’t be afraid to ask them to take pictures. I’m very happy with our choice.

Good luck!

Post # 9
Member
732 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2010 - The Tower Club

I recently picked my wedding photographer… after getting engaged it took me seven months to find the right one! I’m a photographer myself, so this was tough for me. What it came down to was:

– Talent. I should look at their portfolios and be moved, every time. They should make me laugh, or cry, or say, “Aw, how cute!” or something. I have to feel something. Anyone who didn’t meet this criteria, I eliminated… and, surprisingly, I eliminated a couple of “magazine worthy” photographers, because while their photos were beautiful, they were devoid of feeling.

– Style. Which style do you want? Other posts have described this one pretty well. For me, I wanted someone who did a great job shooting in natural light, used prime lenses and other technical stuff. I also don’t like excessive photoshop or gimmicks (tilt shifts etc.) so those were out.

– Ethic. I eliminated several who charged $1000+ for digital negatives and required lots of albums. I don’t do business myself that way, I don’t want but one or two albums. I believe in shared copyrights (the right to print) and wanted someone who felt the same.

– Personality. I’m going to spend 8-10 hours (plus two portrait sessions) with this person. I need to like him *instantly* and feel very comfortable being with them in various emotional states and in different states of undress. Plus, the better you *click* with the photographer, the better job he’ll do for you… it’s just easier to shoot someone you like. Look at the photographer’s work; how comfortable do his clients look? That tells you a lot about his ability to connect with them.

– Cost. Although photography was priority #1 for me, I did have to give up our “dream” photographer because his prices were so high above average that it was between having him and having a wedding at all. Ha!

I would say to decide what you want first. Also think about your wedding. Which photographers shoot in a style that goes with your wedding? My photographer would have been different if I were having my wedding in a chic loft or a country club.

Think about how you want your photos to look, think about how you want to be photographed on that day (and in your portraits) and what kind of albums, features & extras you want. Even 5 photographers is too many to interview and meet, so when you decide these things it will eliminate some right away.

 

Post # 11
Member
216 posts
Helper bee

I really go through their website as a starting point and then narrowing down the list to three is possible.     Websites can tell you so much!     Photographers have FAQS list, Pricing ect.  and the site can answer SO MANY questions !     

It’s great the you want to gel with the person and are willing to take your time to meet in person,    but with 10 ….. that’s only a 10% chance of each person getting work of the meeting.      I’d encourage you to save yourselves and the prospective photographers time by using the web to narrow a bit more.

Amanda Bowers Photography

http://www.bayarea-wedding-photography.com

^ No travel fee on many package for wedding in the Western U.S. !    

Post # 12
Member
216 posts
Helper bee

If you can see ENTIRE WEDDINGS online –  do so ahead of time !    It may weed out some photographers !     My site has full weddings on it and many of my photographer friends are always willing to show full weddings right away.

http://www.bayarea-wedding-photography.com

Post # 13
Member
987 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

How many pictures are included in your package.

We just got totally screwed by not asking this.  Thankfully it was only our rehearsal BBQ and not the wedding.  Our contract included 2 photographers for 2-3 hours and a dvd with all edited images.  “All edited images” turned out to be a whopping 64 photos- 13 of which were just black & white versions of color photos.  They didn’t even capture 1/3 of the guests but felt they satisfied their contract because they got “a majority”.  Still kicking myself over that oversight!

Post # 14
Member
4382 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2010 - Ceremony - First United Methodist Church; Reception - My parents' house!

Here’s our WHOLE list that we asked. It was a compilation we made from all of the wedding books, mags, and websites I’d saved. There may be some repeats or random stuff in it, but here’s a good, and big start. :p

Where did you go to school?
Why did you decide to do wedding photography? What draws you to it?
Artist statement
How long have you been doing photography and/or wedding photography?
What style of photography do you prefer? (i.e. photojournalistic or posed)
How independent is the photographer? Do you prefer that that we describe exactly what we want, or would you rather be given free rein to capture the festivities on film in the way you see it?
Do you shoot film, digital, or both?
What kind of equipment do you use?
Do you shoot in black and white, color, or mix?
What sort of flash do you use? (Diffuse, scatter, bounce)
Do you bring an assistant, second shooter, or both?
What will the assistant do?
Back-up plan? (Illness, equipment breaking, time constraints, etc.)
Is the full day open? (Rehearsal dinner avail, etc.)
How many hours are included in the package?
What is the rate for extra hours?
Is there a limit to the number of photos that you take?
How many pictures can I expect to see?
Do you shoot in RAW or JPG?
Processing? How much editing/photoshopping? How do you go about editing, process, etc? (Actions, each done, etc.)
Do we get digital negatives?
Is film included in the price, and is it limited to a certain number of rolls?
Is film processing included in the price
How soon after the wedding will we get proofs?
Are proofs part of the package or do they cost extra?
Will the proofs be posted online, delivered, or do we pick them up?
Is an album included? How many photos are included as part of the package?
How much do prints cost? How much do additional prints cost?
Watermarks?
What do you focus on in the wedding? Bride and groom? Wedding party? Everybody in the wedding? Location?
What is your philosophy when shooting the wedding?
Do you do formal portraits? (aka some traditional)
Are you willing to follow a shot list?
Are the prints on archival quality paper?
Will there be a way to share photos online?
Will guests be able to order prints directly?
Will you stand by the quoted fees, even if you raise your rates before the wedding?
Do you bring lighting?
How many photographers do you think we need for the wedding?
What are the album choices?
Who owns the copyright to the photos? How long do you keep the negatives?
Will you visit the ceremony and reception sites beforehand?
Who gets the photography guidelines from the church?
Ask for a couple of references
Engagement stuff?
Is there a minimum order for prints?
Packages?
How do you determine price?
How much of a deposit is required to hold the date?
When is the balance due?
What is the cancellation policy?

Post # 15
Member
44 posts
Newbee

Grace:    That doesn’t seem like enough photos for 2-3 hours.     Only 64 TOTAL?   

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