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Questions to Ask Your Photographer

Updated: Feb 21

When hiring a photographer for your wedding it's hard to know what to say in the phone "interview" or what questions to ask... There are TONS of links on Pinterest or the Knot/Wedding Wire telling you what you should ask, some really are great but some of the questions just don't really make sense and are dated or just not really necessary.

I created this list as a photographer with things that are important to know as well as some of the more common questions. There are also questions to ask yourself after your "interview" as well as a few red flags to look out for.

What’s your approach to capturing and posing a wedding day?

This question will help you understand how organized or unorganized the photographer is and will show their level of confidence in their job. I personally love capturing moments rather than doing a lot of posing. Obviously there are posed photos throughout the day but I take a much more candid approach. I like to have you look at your partner or your family members because it creates a candid laugh. I also very closely follow a timeline we have worked together on so I am sure to capture everything you are hoping for and keeping you on time for everything for your wedding.

What is one of the worst things that has happened to you on a wedding day and how did you handle it?

This will help you understand how your photographer works under pressure and see how they dealt with a specific issue. My personal worst was I dropped my camera and broke my flash and lens. THIS IS WHY WE HAVE BACKUP EQUIPMENT! I was eating dinner and had my camera off of my camera strap, when I went to reattach, as I had to get up to photograph toasts quickly, it I didn't do it properly and I dropped my camera to my side and it hit the ground instead of catch and hang there. I had a mild panic attack, might of cried in silence but regrouped, grabbed my extra flash and lens and moved on with my day. (Definitely called insurance the next day!)

What happens if you can't make it to my wedding?

Every photographer should have a backup plan. I have shot over 300 weddings and events and have never had an issue where I haven't been able to make it to a clients wedding. Your wedding day is all yours. I do not schedule anything else on your day because you never know what could happen. If I have to bow out, I have backup photographers in line just in case and they would take over for me.

How do you backup your images?

A good photographer has a solid backup plan to make sure that your photos are safe. I personally shoot on two memory cards throughout the day so if a card has potential to fail, there is a backup in the camera. When I get home I backup the wedding or event to my external hard drive and then to dropbox. The unedited files are only saved for 3 months after the wedding has been delivered and then the only backup left is the gallery you have received.

Do you create a photography timeline or do we do that?

Your photographer should help you to create this for your wedding day. For most people, this is your first wedding and you don't really have any idea how the day is supposed to flow. An experienced photographer will give you all of the tips you need to be sure to have a smooth day! I will send you a pretty lengthy shot list questionnaire that you will need to fill out. This will cover timeline information I need and you basically select the shots you are interested in having. Everything you can think to be photographed on a wedding day will be on this and you just choose what you want. Once that is completed I will create your photography timeline of the day. This will include I am showing up at whatever time, taking certain photos and we kind of go on throughout the day. You will have an overview of everything so you can see exactly what is happening throughout the day. I will create a check list on my phone from that and will check everything off throughout the day so we are sure to capture everything you want for your wedding day.

Do you have backup equipment?

Every single photographer should carry a backup camera body, multiple lenses and backup flashes. You never know what could happen during a wedding or your equipment can simply fail. I carry 3 camera bodies with me and two flashes to every wedding. I have multiple lenses (not duplicates as that isn't really necessary) as well as a ton of camera and flash batteries.

How and when will I receive my wedding photos?

This answer is going to be dependent on the photographer you select as no one really does the same thing here. My photos are delivered between 60-90 days (busy season weddings will be closer to 90) and you will receive sneak peek photos within 2 weeks of your wedding day. I have add on options of expedited delivery and such as well if you are interested in something like that. The photos will be delivered in an online gallery where you can order prints, download the high rest photos and share with your friends and family.

What type of editing is included?

This is also a photographer dependent answer. I personally do a basic edit on every photo, color and style is clearly plastered all over my website & social and I will do small edits like acne, something on your clothes and stuff like that. If you are wanting more extreme edits like body modifications or removing someone from a photo we can discuss that but there is no guarantee it will be doable. There will also be an additional fee for whatever that edit may be.

What is your cancellation policy?

If something has happened and you need to cancel or reschedule your wedding most photographers should have a plan for this. My plan has always and will always be that if you are planning to cancel the retainer fee is non-refundable and we sign a cancellation contract then you are free and clear. It is in your best interest that you cancel before your final payment is due with most everyone as, typically, that is not refundable either. If you are planning to reschedule there are no rescheduling fees but we will work together on your new date so that we can be sure I am free and we simply change the date.

Can we see a full wedding album?

Most photographers should be comfortable sharing a full gallery as they should be happy to stand behind their work. Typically, if they don't want to share one you might want to consider that a red flag as they either aren't confident in the full gallery or it will show something different than you see on social media and their website. I share a few on the bottom of my wedding info page :)

Will you be the one photographing our wedding or will it be someone else?

This is good to know because there are companies out there who farm out photography. When a company does this they typically hire photographers cheaply to shoot weddings and you may not get to choose your actual photographer. I personally do my own thing. Jackalope Photography is my business run by me and the photos are all shot by me. The only reason you will see someone different is if they are my second shooter accompanying me or I have had an unfortunate incident or am sick so I cannot attend.

Do you have insurance?

Most venues these days require a photographer to be insured. This covers our butts in case something goes down as well as the venue. I am insured.

If your style is mostly candid, will I still receive posed portraits of family formals and bridal party?

Every single wedding I photograph, even though I am a candid style photographer, has posed photos. It is just part of the day. Family formals are all posed, bridal party photos are posed to an extent and so are couples photos. I pose you so you look good. I will, however have you interact with each other more than stare at me which will create the candid look we are all hoping for.

Can we request certain photos to be taken or provide a Pinterest board?

YES! There are photographers who want to run the show their own way and that is their thing but I personally want to make sure that I capture everything you want on your wedding day. It is YOUR day and I want YOU to be happy. Please send me a Pin board! I love seeing what you are hoping for pose wise and the vibe you are looking for. It makes things run more smoothly for me during couples portraits because I know exactly what you want! Obviously, I can't completely re-create those photos... different people, different light, different locations... but as long as you know and understand that, we will be able to capture literally everything you want! I save your pin board to my home screen on my phone so I have access to it throughout the day along side your personal photo timeline.

Do you shoot on dual card slot cameras?

This may be complete gibberish to you but it is an important question that should be asked. A dual card slot camera means that it is a camera that shoots and saves to 2 memory cards. If one card were to fail or corrupt - which does happen - the other card will most likely be fine. Most newer cameras have this so it is likely your photographer will have this but if they don't, you might want to second guess them as there is always potential of something going wrong. I personally shoot on dual slot cameras only and upgrade my memory cards every few years.

Do I get the copyright to my photos?

This will be pretty standard with most photographers and the answer will be no. The reason behind that is because the photographer keeps the copyright because they are the artist and it gives them the right to share the photos for marketing purposes. The photos you receive are yours. I personally don't care what you do with them as they are your photos that you paid for but the only thing you can't do is sell the photos.

Can I have the RAW files?

This is another answer most photographers will agree on and it will be a no with most. Giving a RAW file is like a baker giving someone a half baked cake. The biggest reason photographers don't want to share these is because photography is an art and most are very proud of their own editing style that they have worked on for YEARS. The RAW files are the unedited, sometimes crappy, versions and they are HUGE files that not everyone can work with because you need specific software to even view them. I don't share these files personally and I don't know very many people who do.

A few questions to ask yourself after the phone call or meeting with your potential photographer:

  1. Do you have a connection with the photographer?

  2. Do you think you will work well together day of?

  3. Do you feel like the answers provided align with what you are hoping for with your own wedding?

  4. Do you feel like they are knowledgable and seem confident in their process and workflow for your wedding day?

  5. Did they communicate well and in a timely manner?

  6. Do you love their style?

A few red flags you should look out for:

  1. Priced extremely low. This is a red flag because it typically shows lack of experience. Experienced photographers know their worth and are typically competitive with others in the area.

  2. Lack of portfolio. This is a red flag because it could simply mean they don't have the photos because they have only shot 2 weddings or have only second shot weddings (assisting a main photographer). Everyone has to start somewhere, for sure, I was there before and so was every other photographer but it is something to consider.

  3. Lack of reviews. This is only kinda a red flag. Some people just aren't on the websites to gain reviews but you should definitely ask to see reviews if you don't see any anywhere as it gives you a good idea of how others like their work!

  4. Poor or super slow communication. This is probably the biggest one for me. If a photographer is slow to respond they could just be busy but this is their business and if they aren't committed to getting back to you, especially after an initial inquiry where they could potentially get a new gig, I'd bet money they won't be quick to do much else.

That pretty much does it for me! I really hope that this was helpful to you and that you got a list of questions lined up for your next "interview" with your photographer! If I am that person... I answered everything already so good luck coming up with some more ;)

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