There has never been anything written that gives you, the bride, a true guideline as to how to select the one person who could supply you with a heart full of memories to last a lifetime. With that in mind, what are the right questions to ask the wedding photographer, to help select the right one for you? Think about them carefully and get answers before placing your trust and faith in someone who might later disappoint you with results that are less than what you had hoped. The following advice comes from a photographer with deep experience in the wedding industry - forty years and counting. He has been influencing wedding photography all over the world for the last twenty years through my seminars and publications and knows the business from the inside out!
First of all, undoubtedly the best way a bride has to pre-judge the competency of a wedding photographer is to have a recommendation from someone whose opinion she trusts. If she has more than one recommendation that is even better, especially if the same photographer’s name comes from different sources. Next, a phone call is appropriate. The conversation should begin with the availability of the studio to cover the wedding on the specific date. You should learn the name of the photographer who would be taking the actual pictures and at least a rough estimate of the costs involved. An appointment should be made to meet with the photographer who will be assigned to your wedding, see his work and discuss the details. Without doubt, this meeting should include the bride and groom as well as the bride’s parents, if feasible.
At the meeting, the first assessment you should make is whether you feel comfortable in the presence of the photographer. If you are going to spend a good part of the most important day of your life with this person, it should be someone with whom you know you will enjoy sharing that time. Then, you should see some of the photographer’s work. If you see a picture, or a series of pictures, that you really like, you should ask:
After all, it is one thing to see some beautiful pictures, but it is equally important to find out if the bride and groom ENJOYED working with this photographer. It is also a way of knowing that the photographs you are being shown were actually taken by the person with whom you are speaking. You want to be sure that the work you are admiring was made by the photographer who will be at your wedding. Another result of this meeting is to allow you and your photographer to begin a one-on-one relationship. In that way, neither of you would be strangers to each other on the day of the wedding and you will be more relaxed in front of the camera.
For the most part, when prospective clients come to a studio, their questions pertain to prices, sizes and numbers. Often that is because they have never thought to consider some of the more important questions, such as:
If you are still interested in the photographer’s services at this point, ask to see a complete coverage of a single wedding. That is a lot more important than seeing a selection of beautiful highlights from many different weddings. When looking through the album, evaluate the work by placing yourself in the position that this could have been YOUR wedding . Ask yourself if the photographer has actually considered the individual characteristics and personality of each of the persons in the photographs to come up with these pictures. Then, you might follow up with some of the following:
Now, let us get down to the nitty-gritty. Too often important details that you had never before considered come back to haunt you later:
Finally, let us consider a few topics of conversation that could/should help you make your decision.
By now, you have probably spent a good deal of time with the photographer. His/her time is money, the same as yours. Realize that in the long run someone has to pay for the hours each photographer spends as a consultant. Keep his/her (and your) expenses to a minimum by going to the meeting with the photographer prepared to leave a deposit to confirm the date. Before you do, however, you may want to assure yourself of a few more last-minute details. Find out the photographer’s policy if the date of your wedding is changed and he/she is not available on the alternate date. Find out, too, what the policy is for an unanticipated cancellation of the date. At this stage of the game, if you have really taken the time to get into some of the above questions, you HAVE to know whether this photographer is for you. If the photographer is for you, if the photographer is available and if you are convinced that it is worth the price...then make the commitment and rest assured that this is undoubtedly one of the best and most intelligent decisions you have make in planning your wedding!