Selecting a California wedding photographer can be hard, yet with this thorough list you will be a better educated bride and will end up choosing a photographer who will make your wedding photos as special as the wedding itself.
Listed below are the questions you should ask the chosen photographers who have made your short list, to guarantee that the one you ultimately choose is a good fit for you and your wedding.
Do you have my date available? NOTE: Obviously, if the answer is NO and you’re able or not willing to change your date, never mind asking the rest of these questions.
How far in advance do I have to book with you?
How long have you been in business?
How many weddings have you shot? Have you done many that resembled mine in size and style?
How would you define your photography style (e.g. traditional, photojournalistic, creative)?NOTE: It’s effective to know the differences between wedding photography styles to make sure that you can discuss your preferences with your photographer. For descriptions of the various styles, click here.
How would you illustrate your working style? NOTE: The answer should help you determine whether this is a photographer who blends into the background and shoots what unfolds naturally, or creates a more visible presence by taking charge and choreographing shots.
What do you think distinguishes your work from that of other photographers?
Do you have a portfolio I can review? Are all of the images yours, and is the work recent?
What sort of devices do you use?
Are you shooting in digital or film format or both? NOTE: The general consensus seems to be that either format yields excellent photos in the hands of an experienced professional, and that most people can’t tell the difference between film and digital images anyway. Film takes longer to process than digital.
Do you shoot in color and black & white? Infrared? NOTE: Photographers who shoot in a digital format can make black & white or sepia versions of color photos.
Can I give you a list of specific shots we would like?
Can you put together a slideshow of the engagement session (along with other photos the couple provides) and show it during the cocktail hour? What about an “instant” slideshow of the ceremony?
What information do you need from me before the wedding day?
Have you ever coordinated with my florist? DJ? Coordinator, etc? NOTE: Great working relationships between vendors can make things go more smoothly. It’s especially helpful if your videographer and photographer work well together.
May I have a list of referrals? NOTE: The photographer should not hesitate to provide this.
Are you the photographer who will shoot my wedding? NOTE: You should ask the questions on this list of whoever is going to be the primary photographer at your event, and that photographer’s name should be in your contract.
Do you have backup equipment? What about a backup plan if you (or my scheduled photographer) are unable to shoot my wedding for some reason?
If my wedding site is out of your area, do you charge a travel fee and what does that cover?
Are you photographing other events on the same day as mine?
How will you (and your assistants) be dressed? NOTE: The photographer and his/her staff should look professional and fit in with the style of your event.
Is it okay if other people take photos while you’re taking photos?
Have you ever worked at my wedding site before? If not, do you plan to take a look earlier? NOTE: Photographers who familiarize themselves with a location ahead of time will be prepared for any lighting issues or restrictions, and will know how best to incorporate the site’s architectural elements into the photos.
What time will you arrive at the site and for how long will you shoot?
If my event lasts longer than expected, will you stay? Is there an additional charge?
Prints, packages and proofs
What packages do you offer?
Can I customize a package based on my needs?
Do you include engagement photos in your packages?
What type of album designs do you offer? Do you provide any assistance in creating an album?
Do you provide retouching, color adjustment or other corrective services?
How long after the wedding will I get the proofs? Will they be viewable online? On a CD?
What is the ordering process?
How long after I order my photos/album will I get them?
Will you give me the negatives or the digital images, and is there a fee for that?
Policies and contracts
When will I receive a written contract? TIP: Don’t book a photographer– or any vendor– who.
won’t provide a written contract.
How much of a deposit do you require and when is it due?
Do you offer a payment plan?
What is your refund/cancellation policy?
Do you have liability insurance?
Questions to Ask Yourself:
Do I feel a connection with this photographer as well as his/her photos? Are our personalities a good match?
Am I comfortable with this person’s work and communication style?
Has this photographer listened well and addressed all my concerns?
Check references. Ask the photographer for about 5 references, ideally of couples whose weddings were similar to yours in size and/or style. Getting feedback from several people who have actually hired the photographer in question can really help you decide if that person is right for you. Be sure to check out the photographers in this book and on HereComesTheGuide.com. They’re some of the best in the business and have all been Certified By The Guide.