It’s wedding season – that blissful time of year when tens of thousands of brides across the country are committing their lives to their significant others. When a future bride says “I do,” they’re also saying yes to months of planning, which includes hiring a wedding planner, a caterer, and a photographer, just to get to make it to the altar.
You’ll want to allocate a generous portion of your wedding budget for hiring the perfect wedding photographer to capture your special day. With the right photographer, you’ll be able to relive the best day of your life for years to come. Before you make a definitive choice on who will be taking all of your beautiful wedding pictures, you should ask your photographer the following important questions.
Ask to see examples of the photographer’s work
Anyone who owns a camera can take a photo, but a professional photographer will be trained to shoot in all types of lighting and capture moments of a lifetime whether it’s still-life or motion photography.
To verify that your photographer is up to your standards, you’ll want to request some examples of the photographer’s work. If you don’t like what you see, you may not like how your own photos turn out.
To make sure that you hire a photographer with compatible styles, you can even request before-and-after shots to show their filter preferences, editing techniques, etc. Any professional and/or qualified photographer should have a full portfolio or album at ready access to show their potential clients.
Ask about wedding photography packages
Most wedding photographers offer a package option. Some will offer bridal, engagement, and wedding day photos bundled into one. Others will do candid shots of the rehearsal the night before the wedding, as well as candids on your wedding day. Then there are photographers who will only agree to shoot wedding day shots at the ceremony location.
On occasion, you might be able to purchase all the “proofs” as part of the package deal so that you can use the digital photo disks to reproduce your own copies for friends and family. You can also use these proofs to restore your photos in the event that a flood or other disaster destroys your physical copies. Whether it’s a photography package that bundles engagements and day-of photos or packages that include proofs, costs for said packages will vary, so be sure to ask your photographer for a quote before signing a contract.
Ask If they deliver raw photos or digitally-enhanced pictures
Some photographers will only give you untouched (or raw) photographs as part of your package. These raw photos are completely unedited.
You may end up with some really spectacular images without any digital enhancement, but a lot of brides will want the digitally-enhanced photos to remove skin blemishes, brighten the photo, add contrast, or add a glowing effect to the bride’s and bridesmaids’ complexions.
Ask your photographers about their editing methods beforehand. You wouldn’t want to discover hidden fees after you’ve already received your wedding shots. Depending on your needs and preferences, you’ll want to verify that your wedding package includes both raw images and edited images prior to purchase.
Ask if “drive time” is included
Some photographers will charge extra to drive distances greater than thirty miles one way. Your photographer may also request compensation for gas expenses when driving distances between 50-100 miles for “on-location” photos outdoors.
Besides covering gas expenses, these drive-time charges compensate the photographer for their time and effort to load and unload their equipment, transport it, and lug it around the on-site location. For the most part, this “drive time” fee is actually a fairly reasonable charge if you’re going to travel between several photo locations or if you’re hosting a destination wedding that’s hundreds of miles from their home base.
Ask about their cameras and equipment
In an era of wedding guests snapping photos and shooting entire wedding ceremonies with their smartphones, you’ll want to be sure your professional photographer is equipped with the necessary photography equipment: tripods, lenses, photographic lighting booms, etc.
You don’t need the photographers to launch into a full-blown sales pitch to gain a better understanding of their equipment. All you’ll need is a quick summary of the brands and types of cameras that will be used on-site to better grasp their level of commitment, professionalism, and experience.
Ask about videographer services
A lot of wedding photographers now offer videography services. Photographers who are trained in videography are especially convenient, given the fact that you won’t have to hire a separate service to record video footage of your wedding ceremony and reception. Usually, there is an added fee for videographer services, but some photographers (like those at Convey Studios) may bundle the package for a lower price. When it comes to weddings, you won’t want to deal with any unnecessary expenses that can overwhelm your bank account, especially when a large percentage of couples will dedicate tens of thousands of dollars to their wedding celebration.
Ask about special contingencies
In the world of weddings, you’ll want to prepare for the unexpected. Sometimes, unexpected weather conditions can interfere with your wedding plans. If an unforeseen thunderstorm strikes, you won’t want to put your guests in harm’s way. In preparation for the unexpected, you’ll want to develop a contingency plan.
Whether it’s a stained dress, a missing shoe, a windstorm on-the-rise, or a no-show photographer, it can be uncomfortable to list the worst-case-scenarios that can potentially disrupt your big day, but it’s worse if you hire professionals that won’t refund your deposits and/or payments for any reason—even in the case of extreme weather.
Before hiring your photographer, ask him or her if they have any special contingency clauses and what specific circumstances need to be reached before you receive a refund. If you don’t clarify the conditions of their contingency clauses, you may have to wave goodbye to thousands of dollars.
Ask for references
Wedding photographers will have to undergo an informal interview before they land the job. Prior to this consultation, you should prepare a list of questions. One question should be: Do you have a list of references?
After requesting their references, follow-up, and check-in with former customers for their assessments of the photographer. You won’t want to find out that your photography service wasn’t worth hiring during your wedding ceremony, simply because you neglected to scroll through former/current clients’ reviews or contact their references directly via phone call or email.
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