This might be my favorite post for photography week.  This post is full of such good advice, even I can’t stand it!  (This is a mega post though, so stay with me because it is worth it, I promise!)

Now that you know how many photographers you should interview, I bet you are wondering what you should ask them.  Well, fear not, we have you covered!  We polled the wedding photographer community in DC, Maryland and Virginia and asked them to give us one question (some gave more) that every couple should ask a photographer before hiring them for their wedding.

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Photo Credit:  Michelle Lindsay Photography

Sure enough, the DC-area wedding pros delivered!  They came up with some really great and thoughtful questions.  Questions that will help you hire the right person for your wedding day.  Here are the top questions that you should ask your wedding photographer  (in no particular order):

1.  What is your style and approach? I know that we went over photography style before, but now it is time to get down to details.  You want to know how the photographer is going to act on your wedding day.  Do they hang back or jump into the mix?  Are they a fly on the wall, or out there directing traffic?

  How much time is it really going to take them for those post-ceremony portraits?

Direct from the pros:  “I think every couple should ask a photographer how they approach the wedding day.  Do they shoot candidly?  Do you strictly work from a shot list?  This will affect the way their whole wedding will flow,” says Katelyn James.

2.  Do you have back up equipment in case something fails? Do you have back up photographers in case you get sick or have an emergency on the day of my wedding? Definitely not the fun questions to ask, but necessary.

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Photo Credit:  Paired Images Photography

3.  How much experience do you have? How many weddings have you photographed on your own?  Asking about a photographer’s experience will tell you right away if this is a hobby, or a business and passion.

  There is absolutely nothing wrong with photography as a hobby, it might be the right fit for you and your budget.  You will want to know in advance what you are getting.  Photographers with more experience will be able to deal any situation thrown at them on your wedding day.

Direct from the pros:  “It is most important to ask about the photographer’s experience and ability to shoot in low-light situations,” says Jennifer Domenick.

4.  May I see three entire weddings that you’ve photographed? Photographers show only the best of the best images on their website.  When you see a whole wedding – from the start of getting ready to the last bits of the reception – you will get a clear picture of what is in store for your wedding.  Also, you can ask to see any products, like albums, that they have made for past clients.

Direct from the pros:  “’I would like to see a complete wedding you have delivered to a client, preferably with conditions similar to mine (e.g., an outdoor ceremony with tented reception).’ Because there are so many variables involved, we don’t feel it’s necessary to see weddings from the exact venue.  Things will almost always look different.  The goal is to get a good sense of the photographer’s style by seeing how they approach a real wedding and what the client can expect to receive for their own wedding,” recommends Anne and Bill Holland.

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Photo Credit:  Mary Kate McKenna

5.  Have you worked at my venue before? Have you worked with the vendors that I’ve already hired?  It can only help you if your photographer has a good working relationship with your other wedding vendors.  If they have shot a wedding at your venue before, they will know the in’s and out’s and can spend more time photographing and less time finding their way around.

Direct from the pros:  “Would you do a site visit with us?  I love doing walk throughs with clients because it really allows me to get a sense of what the couple has in mind for their wedding.  I can also give them my thoughts on what will work the best in terms of lighting,” says Katie Stoops.

6.  What sets you apart and makes you different from other photographers? This is a fun question and an ice-breaker.  It is  a chance to get to know the photographer as a person.  Most photographers are really passionate about what they do and will love to share.

Direct from the pros:  “Why are you a wedding photographer and do you love it?  I find that I am a very emotional shooter.  The fact that I love shooting weddings and have so much fun comes out in my photography.  Since photography provokes emotion, photographers need passion,”  says Kristi Odom.

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Photo Credit:  Susan Hornyak Photography

7.  How long will you have our images archived after our wedding? You just never know what will happen.  Plus, technology changes and you are going to want to know that your photos will truly be around for as long as you want to enjoy them.

Direct from the pros:  “How do you archive my images and how many locations are they archived in?  Any less than two locations means there is no archive,” says Michael Connor.

8.  May we talk to some of your past clients? Sure, photographers have testimonials on their website, or reviews on Wedding Wire, but a quick e-mail to a past client or two might help to set your mind at ease.

9.  Do you carry liability insurance? This is an important question from the protection standpoint, but also to find out if they are legally in business.  Again, there is the big difference between photography as a hobby and photography as a professional business.

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Photo Credit:  egomedia photography

10.  What exactly is included in your prices? How many hours will you be shooting on our wedding day?  Is there a second shooter?  Does it include prints?  Is there an album?  Do I get the digital files and are the digital files full resolution?  Watermarked?  Fully edited?

Direct from the pros:  “How many images do you shoot for a typical wedding and how many do you deliver to your clients?  This will help you know whether the photographer just dumps their memory cards onto a disc for you, or if you truly get the best collection of edited and finished images,” says Jennifer McMenamin.

That is a pretty good list to get you started, right?  I told you it was a mega list of questions to ask!  If you get through half of these questions in your first meeting with your wedding photographer, then consider that a great meeting.  Use your interview as a chance to really get to know the person.  Their portfolio only shows what their camera produces.  So much of what a photographer does comes from behind the camera.

Be sure to come for more photography week with the pros!

* Love Life Images, Kristi Odom and Susan Hornyak are some of our fabulous sponsors.  For information on our editorial policies, please click here.

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