How To Become A Professional Wedding Photographer

Questions To Ask Your Wedding Photographer

I’ve already written a blog post about how to go about choosing your wedding photographer, as it can be one of the HARDEST parts of planning your big day! But I wanted to also write a more narrowed down post about what questions you should be asking when talking to different photographers you’ve inquired with, because SO often, a bride tells me, “My friend told me to ask these questions,” or “I didn’t know what to ask, so my mom gave me a list.” And don’t get me wrong – that’s fine! But I wanted to give you questions from a photographer’s point of view so that you really understand WHAT you’re asking and WHY you should be asking it!

How far do you travel? What are your travel fees?

Photographers should be open with you about why they charge what they do for travel fees. They shouldn’t be taking advantage and trying to charge you more than they would really need for a trip, but they also need to take into account not only flights/gas but lodging, food, and transportation – which can add up fast!

What rights will we have to our photos?

Wedding photographers do NOT usually give out copyright to photos, but make sure you know what rights you have to print + share your photos!

How many photos will we receive?

Photographers will typically have an estimated number of photos they deliver per hour of coverage.

Are you able to help us with vendor recommendations (e.g. makeup artists, florists, etc.) if needed?

Don’t stress if you don’t know any awesome vendors to reach out to! Photographers typically have lists of wedding vendors that they love & t trust to refer to couples.

If we want a second photographer, do you have a specific one you’d bring with you? Or do we choose?

Some photographers have specific photographers they reach out to to second shoot for them, and others sometimes have couples choose. It’s important you know what to expect if you want a second photographer! (Need help deciding if you want to hire one or not?

 

What Is Your Working Style?

Different photographers shoot in different ways. Some are very active and animated throughout the day, and some refuse to say a word unless spoken to.

There’s nothing wrong with any of the different shooting styles photographers have, as long as it’s what you’re looking for!

If you’re looking for guidance on being posed or help being reminded throughout the day and sticking to a timeline, a “fly on the wall” type of photographer probably isn’t for you. But if the idea of a photographer capturing only candid moments with no interactions sounds like a breath of fresh air, a documentary working style sounds perfect!

Ultimately, it comes down to making sure your photographer’s working style aligns with what you want for your wedding day. If you’re unsure, ask why they like to shoot that way, and you’ll know if it’s something you want!

Are You Insured?

Ask this question, and the amount of people that say no may surprise you.  Insurance costs money, but it’s a very important part of making sure your photographer is prepared.

Whether it’s a tipsy groomsman accidentally breaking photography equipment (it’s happened before!), or an assistant getting injured on the day of, you should be sure your photographer has the proper equipment and liability insurance.

Most venues are actually requiring a certificate of these insurances now, because the last thing you want is to deal with a legal battle that you shouldn’t even be a part of because the photographer wasn’t insured.  Make sure your photographer is prepared with the proper insurance!

 

How long have you been working as a wedding photographer?

The skills needed to be a successful wedding photographer are not easily gained. There are few photographic environments that are quite as busy, or indeed hectic, and stamina sapping. So, your wedding photographer needs not only to have the photographic skills to take both the standard and informal shots but be able to confidently and authoritatively handle people.

This really can only be mastered by experience, so unless you are on a very tight budget make sure that your wedding photographer has enough experience working in the wedding industry.

How many weddings do you shoot each year?

Between 8 and 20 is not an unreasonable answer. Very few photographers just exist doing weddings alone, as they are very hard work if they are to do them right, and the last thing you want is a photographer that does 50 plus and just goes through the wedding in auto-pilot.

Another point to consider is that editing your photos is a very time consuming process, so your wedding photographer must have the time available to send you your images back promptly and retouched where necessary to your satisfaction.

Can we review some of your albums/galleries that cover the whole wedding?

A wedding photographer’s style can easily be assessed from their website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds, however, these will only include their greatest hits.

Therefore, you will want to look through a recent whole album/gallery, and maybe more that one. This will show how the wedding photographer has coped with the whole day end-to-end, with varying lighting conditions, indoors and out and with the different personalities amongst the guests. It will also show you how well they have maintained their style and not just for themselves but that of the second photographer if it is included in the package.

Some additional things that you can look for are; is the composition good and consistent, are the important incidental shots captured (like the groom’s first glimpse of the bride), are the faces clear with the eyes sharp and the image background not distracting from the subjects, do the photographs flatter the subjects with them look relaxed, and is there a good mixture of formal shots of portraits and group with casual informal shots?

Have you worked at the venue we have chosen?

Knowing a venue is an important bit of photographic preparation, it allows the photographer to know where to set up the shots, know how to judge the lighting, be aware of any restrictions and indeed know how to move around the place.  If a photographer has worked at your venue before they will have experience of the lighting and the venue layout.

If your wedding photographer is not familiar with the venue you should get a commitment from them that they will do a reconnaissance visit of the venue beforehand.

 

What Information Do You Require To Know Before The Wedding Day?

Essentially the wedding photographer cannot function if they do not know the timetable/schedule/running order of the day – this is not just the exact time and place of the ceremony. For example if they are doing the bride and groom getting prepared, then they will need to know where these will take place, they may need to know the departure and arrival timing of the wedding transport, when speeches are scheduled, when the cake will be cut, and not only when the first dance will take place but what the lighting will be like.

What is your photography style?

You can break down the photographic disciplines used during the wedding day into three:

  • Reporting – This is the candid unposed shots that provides a documentary of your day.
  • Formal – Which focuses on the posed shots and group photos, essentially what everybody considers the classic wedding shots.
  • Editorial – That provides an air of contemporary glossy magazine.

While you will rightly expect that your wedding photographer should be able to master these elements, it is equally important that they do so with a consistent style or “look”.

So if you have selected a wedding photographer who matches your visual expectations, be it in highly-posed or natural and relaxed, make sure they can continue this across all the elements that will be used to capture the story of your wedding.

 

How Many Hours Do You Need To Book Your Wedding Photographer For?

When you’re in the middle of planning your wedding, you’re sure to come across many questions you never even thought to ask. From working how much to budget, which colours are on-trend, which signature cocktail to include on your bar menu … there are so many things you suddenly need to know, and it can get a little confusing.

I wanted to write a post for you to be able to refer to when you find yourself asking, “how many hours do we need to book our photographer for?” Most photographers offer multiple options for wedding photography coverage, and it can be difficult to work out what you need when you haven’t got everything worked out just yet.

One of the first things to consider is how you will structure your day – there plenty of options. You could take more the traditional option and have your ceremony before your bridal photos, or maybe a little less traditional and have a first look together with your bridal portraits before your ceremony.

6 Hours of Wedding Day Coverage

This is usually the least expensive package offered by some photographers, but that doesn’t mean it is only for couples with tight budgets! Six hours of coverage is plenty for smaller weddings and elopements.

Things to consider

  • Only works logistically if the ceremony and reception are in the same location or very close to each other.
  • Most likely means that there will not be much (or any) time for photos of you getting ready
  • All of the important moments (portraits, ceremony, family photos, first dance, cake cutting) should be able to be covered
  • The end of the night comes early with just 6 hours of coverage, so your timeline should be properly thought out.

8 Hours of Wedding Day Coverage

An 8-hour package is usually enough time for an average-size wedding, and the extra coverage will allow the photographer to capture the final part of getting ready, some detail shots of the reception space, and the start of the dance party.

Things to consider

  • Even though 8 hours seems like a lot of time, this works best for weddings where the ceremony and reception are at the same location.
  • Try to arrange the bride and groom getting ready locations to be fairly close to one another to avoid losing time in travelling between the two.
  • Longer coverage provides a time buffer should your timeline end up being pushed out on the day.
  • Remember to leave 20-30 minutes around golden hour to sneak out for some extra couple portraits.

10 Hours of Wedding Day Coverage

If you don’t want to feel rushed to get all of the most beautiful shots of your wedding day, then at least 10 hours of coverage is the way to go. It will allow your photographer enough time to get all of prep and detail shots, plus plenty of time for a first look or full sunset shoot (if you want to do one). Plus you won’t have to rush through any of the wedding party and family portraits before getting to eat, drink and dance.

Things to consider

  • At least 10 hours of coverage is recommended if your ceremony and reception are taking place in different locations. This allows your photographer enough time to travel between locations
  • If you want a longer bridal portrait session, or to go off-site for photos then 10 hours of coverage will allow this.
  • Longer coverage provides a time buffer should your timeline end up being pushed out on the day.