Are You My Photographer? Part II: What to Ask

(Yes, I realize something I already said isn’t a big deal to me is consuming my life.)

Going into our meeting with the photographer below (you know, someone else who is not my photographer), I wanted to make sure I was ready with the right questions. People (who aren’t me) care really, really deeply about their photography, so there is no shortage of information there. So then I got overwhelmed by 60 different lists and nitpicky questions.

So obviously I made my own. (Yep, that’ll help with the information overload, universe!)


Photo by Jennifer Shaffer, found via Mrs. Unicycle’s recaps on the ‘Bee!

After reading up on it, we I decided that a studio* was probably not for us and we’d rather choose an independent photographer.

I consulted all of my various books/checklists/internet to make sure I knew the right questions to ask.

We’ll start with the questions I already knew answers to, but are good to include in case your photographer hasn’t already shared them.

The Basics (AKA, things you probably already know the answers to):

  • What are your rates? What does that include? (You could also ask if packages are flexible, but they probably are—questions like this make me feel silly, but it’s good to confirm.)
  • Can I see your portfolio? (It was on the website, so I already saw basically everyone’s.)
  • How many images will you provide? Will all of them be edited? (Lots, all of which will be edited because I pick the best ones for you because I’m a pro. And honestly, you probably could do with less than you’ll get.)
  • How many hours will you shoot? (This was probably covered in the part about packages.)
  • Do we have usage rights for our photos? (Yep, probably.) How are they provided? (website, USB, or DVD most likely)
  • Do you have backup equipment? What if you are sick/get in a car crash/are abducted by aliens? (Yes, they have another camera; yes, they know other photographers; they’ve never missed a wedding, but if the unthinkable were to happen they have it covered.)

Extra Credit:

  • What kind of camera do you use? (I wouldn’t understand the answer, but ask away if you would. Our camera is of the kind “blue.” It has a screen on the back and the GPS feature is finicky. Your camera would therefore be of the kind “better than mine.” See?)
  • Do you shoot digital or film? (I’m pretty sure everyone is mostly digital, but, again, I would barely understand your answer—I trust your pro-photog judgment.)

Actual Questions:

  • Do you have a second shooter? Who? Can I see their portfolio? Who will do what?
  • Do you have an assistant? (This is different than a second shooter, apparently.)
  • When will I receive my proofs? My album?
  • How will I have access to the pictures? (I’ve seen DVDs, online galleries, and flash drives.)
  • May I see an entire wedding? (This was great not just to see the whole catalog of shots from one wedding, but also to see what the interface we would use is like—User friendly? Clean and uncomplicated? We really liked the system she uses for client ordering and proof viewing.)
  • Have you shot at my venue before? (You may know this from their website, but nice to ask how familiar they are. My church has a LOT of restrictions and our reception venue isn’t as well known, so familiarity would be a plus.)
  • What is the payment policy? Deposit? Cancellation?
  • How much do prints cost? Are there any discounts for large orders?
  • How long have you been in business? How many weddings have you shot? How many weddings do you do a year? What is your training/background?
  • How will we determine what shots are taken? Locations? Will you scout those or should I?
  • What was the most challenging wedding you ever shot? (Shamelessly stolen from the source below!)

This helped me out a lot in compiling this list of questions.

We went in all prepared, had a great meeting, and”¦she was already booked for our date. It sucked. We really liked her. We were sad. But, I pulled it together and asked on Facebook as well (and then my sister did too), and I added even MORE people to my spreadsheet (now with an impressive FIFTY SEVEN Chicago photographers), and we are meeting with someone else next week. Who, PLEASE GOD, will be our photographer and I will be done with all this. Although I’m currently trying to schedule a backup just in case because I played this game once already and I need this thing done before I go back to work in less than two weeks.

How did you find your photographer? Do you actually know what people are talking about with lenses and bodies and all??

*It looks like they charge low prices and assign you a photographer based on your viewing of several portfolios (but without you meeting the photographers). Some people have awesome experiences, some people have terrible ones—and you deal with a salesperson a lot. Sounds pushy.

Mrs. Clover

Wedding Date:
June 2014
Gallery of the Day: January 3, 2014
DIY SKILLZ: Making Kaylee's Parasol
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  1. Member
    girlygirl885 350 posts, Helper bee @ 9:55 am

    Any chance you could send me your spread sheet of photogs? We just started planning our Chicago wedding and would love some help!

  2. Member
    lindylu 1193 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:13 am

    Same here! I would love to have your spreadsheet if you are willing to share 🙂

  3. pyramid Bee
    Mrs. Pyramid 104 posts, Blushing bee @ 10:22 am

    Haha, I just got a DSLR for Christmas so I know the world’s teensiest bit of info about exposure and lighting. My photographer (back in the spring) was describing how they shot in low lighting situations without a flash and was using some terms for me that I didn’t understand. But I loved how the pictures turned out, and she of course knew what she was talking about so I was impressed that she was so passionate and detailed about the way they shot pictures, so that was good enough for me!

  4. Member
    LAB 238 posts, Helper bee @ 12:24 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing. I’m most nervous about choosing the right photog for our wedding.

  5. msfilly Bee
    Mrs. Filly 85 posts, Worker bee @ 6:26 am

    So bummed that your first choice photographer is booked – good luck with your search!!

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    JennyEmm, Guest @ 8:08 am

    I basically stalked my photographers Facebook page for like 2 yrs (and other photographers… I’m not a weirdo lol) so I got a good grip on her style and even some of her “training” ( not sure if that was really it, but she was a second shooter for this really stellar photog at some point) and when one of my friends got married, she used that photog so I got to see a good portion of a wedding…. But I’m not gonna lie my questions were basically packages price availability and deposit. Most of the questions I really should’ve asked (like the ones posted above) were luckily in my contract ( another sign this lady knows what she’s doing) this is a GREAT set of questions though, thanks so much for making it, it is definitely one if the few question lists that make sense to me lol and I’m a photo obsessor. Good luck!

  7. msclover Bee
    Mrs. Clover 123 posts, Blushing bee @ 12:57 pm

    @girlygirl885: @LindyLu: Just PMed you both! Its a little rough, but you can probably get the general idea (and lots and lots of names).
    @LAB: Honestly I think as long as you like them, you’re fine. I’m just not a big picture person, and although I’m really happy with our photographer, I think there are tons of good options out there!
    @JennyEmm: Thanks! I was kind of the opposite, so I wanted to make sure I was prepared.

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    Erin Helgerson, Guest @ 8:13 pm

    OMG…it was SO HARD to pick a photographer! I feel confident in our decision, but with so many to choose from it is definitely a big deal.

    Can’t wait to get our wedding pics back and the wedding is still 8 months away, lol!

  9. Member
    annabat1 83 posts, Worker bee @ 5:22 pm

    Any chance you would be willing to share the spreadsheet with me too? I’m struggling with how to even start looking for a photog, florist, dj…ah! lol

  10. msbicycle Bee
    msbicycle 718 posts, Busy bee @ 6:08 am

    I guess living in a smaller city we don’t really have studios (or at least I don’t know about them). I can’t wait to see who you choose!

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