What questions to ask your Photographer?

Before booking a photographer for their wedding or elopement, couples will chat with a short list of photographers. So, what questions to ask your photographer?! Most couples will interview 2-4 photographers before choosing one they trust and connect with. The goal of the initial meeting is always to get to know each other and see if you click. When the conversation flows smoothly and you feel comfortable with each other’s answers, you’ve found the right one!

What NOT to ask a photographer

Sometimes a prospective client of mine will end up reading from a list of formal questions on our consult call. Questions like “how many couples have you photographed” and “what equipment do you use?”. I get it. You want to be assured you’re hiring an experienced professional. I think these questions are well intentioned, but miss the mark of getting to know each other. I fully stand by my answers (over 200 and Canon professional cameras, lenses, flashes etc). But it doesn’t tell you what you really needed to know:

  • Can this photographer photograph my wedding well?
  • Do I like all of their work?
  • Are they a professional, experienced business owner?

I don’t think the number of weddings I’ve shot is as important as the quality of the photographs I took at my most recent five weddings. After all, those are far more representative of my style than knowing that I shot weddings back in 2011. The camera is a tool that I use, but the brand shouldn’t and doesn’t matter to you, I promise! So please, put away the pinterest list of 30+ questions. Use these questions to ask your wedding photographer instead.

Here are Five Questions to ask your photographer

#1 Ask your photographer to show you a full gallery

This is THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION TO ASK YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER. It doesn’t matter if your budget is $1,000 or 10,000 for a photographer. You NEED to see a full gallery before booking. Seeing a full day, not a portfolio of greatest hits, not the sunset portraits where the lighting is perfect, and not a styled shoot or set up fake wedding, but everything that a past couple received – is ideal for setting the right expectations. Some photographers struggle with cramped rooms, or dark outdoor receptions. You will learn a lot about what your wedding photos could look like by checking out a full gallery. And it’s the best way to judge if a photographer is a seasoned professional – by their images, not the numbers. Anyone who won’t show you a full gallery is an amatuer and should be avoided!

Lucy’s answer: YES! I pride myself on photographing every part of the day well, with professional and flattering lighting even in dark spaces. I’d be happy to share a full gallery that matches your wedding, whether it’s the same venue, season, or altitude.

2. Question: What happens if my date or location changes?

It’s smart to ask all of your vendors what happens if you need to reschedule or move your location. When you sign our contracts, expect to be held to their terms. After all, that’s why we have contracts. So be sure you are ok with your photographers’ policies before you sign. A great contract is a sign of a seasoned pro. For those of us small businesses in the events industry, available dates are our inventory. So when we sell one to you, it often can’t be changed. Your retainer is used to exclusively reserve us for your date. We must turn away other couples who ask about it, so be empathetic with those vendors who can’t change dates once reserved.

3. Do I have to pay to download or print the photos after you take them?

MOST photographers these days will include the rights to print all your images with your photography package. But some photographers have a different business model. IPS or In-Person Sales involves selling you your favorite images after they’ve been taken. (So you only pay for the images you love.) This is an important distinction so you know what to expect after the photography is over. It would be an uncomfortable surprise if you thought you were getting to print your photos yourself, only to find you have to pay more for them!

Lucy’s answer: All shoots of any kind always include all the digital images for you to print and post. You get your image files. Do what you like with them!

4. Ask: What sets you apart from other photographers?

Your photographer might say “I take a lot of candid photos of guests.” And maybe that’s exactly what you’re looking for! Maybe they do really great night photos with stars. Maybe they direct you to read their online reviews from past clients. (Which you should read no matter what!) You might see that their customer service and client experience will have you feeling like you’re relaxing under a palm frond eating grapes. Every photographer is also a human with strengths and vices. And this is perhaps the greatest opportunity to connect with a prospective photographer.

Lucy’s Answer: I think my goofy personality sets me apart. I’m not afraid to be myself and that means you’ll never be the most dorky person in the room. I make it easy to feel comfortable in front of the camera, be yourself, and have as much fun as possible! You’ll also see bright colors and creative portraits throughout my work. Double exposures and tiny planets are my signature images.

#5 What ideas for photos do YOU have?

Come at me with your wedding photo ideas for sure. I LOVE to incorporate my client’s passions and personalities into their images, and getting to know you and listening to your desires is SO IMPORTANT! But I’ve also got a list of things I’m dying to shoot myself, like a hot air balloon engagement, a campfire wedding, a fog machine first dance, etc. All it takes is one question to see what new, creative and different ideas your photographer will have to make your wedding photos unlike any you’ve seen before. Who knows, you might love their ideas and really connect over a paddleboarding engagement session, or a gondola ride to your first look, or a top-down view of your grand entrance.

Lucy’s answer: Sometimes I plan images at my client’s weddings months or years in advance, depending on their location. I have so many ideas, it will be hard to choose! I always tell people “great photographs come from great moments, so we make sure there are a lot of those.” I am a hype woman for anything that makes my client’s day FUN. I’ve also got tips and tricks to make your wedding timeline run smoothly that I love to share, so we can focus on the fun part. And I’m still waiting for that couple to come my way with a fog machine..

What questions your photographer will ask you

I’ll also ask questions to get to know you. I like to ask how you met, what made you choose your location, and how you’re planning to personalize your wedding to make it reflect your own unique brand of weirdness. Interviewing a photographer is far more about connecting as humans than completing a checklist of questions. Placing your trust in your photographer helps us get the keys to your life for a day, so we can catch those authentic moments before they disappear. So read up on a photographer’s public reviews (not just the ones on their websites), view a full gallery, ask about their policies and backups, and then let’s just talk!

Why you shouldn’t ask a family friend to be your photographer

These questions are extra important if you are considering having anyone you know socially shoot your wedding. A family friend, a photography student, an up and coming amateur may all have a good enough camera, but you should absolutely check in on their credentials, experience, and body of work. Simply because.. if their photographs don’t meet your expectations, your relationship with that friend could be irreparably damaged.

About your elopement photographer

First of all please know that I don’t have it together. If you do have it together, please let me know how you do it.

I’m not a through hiker nor am I super interested in bagging summits. I love to explore and take my time. National Parks are awesome – and so are the lands outside of them. Let’s explore the next place together!

Worldwide elopement photographer Lucy Schultz is photographed here on assignment in New Zealand. She is wearing a backpack with 2 cameras, black clothes, and red shoes.

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