seven questions to ask before hiring a wedding photographer

So, you’ve narrowed down your selection of potential wedding photographers. You’ve now got to decide between two or three. You like their work and they have similar rates and packages. But you still aren’t sure who to hire. What else can you do to help make your decision? Contact the photographers who made it to your ‘short list’ and ask them some key questions…

The rates are important, yes and of course you’ll want to inquire about them. But once you’ve got a fairly clear idea of the amount you can expect to pay, there are several other things you should make sure of as well…

QUESTION ONE – THE CONSULTATION:

When you’re arranging meetings with potential photographers, be sure to ask if they give you a free consultation before your wedding date.

The answer to this should always be yes. Whether it’s in person or by telephone, at least a few days prior to your wedding, you and your photographer should have a one-on-one discussion about the kinds of photos you envision for your wedding day. This is makes sure everyone is clear about your vision and your needs for your wedding photography.

QUESTION TWO – THE SHOT-LIST:

Does the photographer provide you with a detailed shot-list to fill out prior to your wedding?

This list is invaluable for you and for your photographer. On this list, you’ll fill out the names of the wedding party and family members so your photographer knows who is who, without you having to take time from your wedding day to make extra introductions.

Then you fill out information about the various shots you want. Do you want photos of the wedding party getting ready? Bridal party and groom’s party? Family photos before and after the ceremony? Photos of the cake cutting and the signing of the legal documents? How much time are you allotting for each activity?

All of these details (and more) can be arranged with your photographer weeks or months in advance by filling out this shot list. This ensures you and your photographer both know what to expect and how much time you have for each location and activity.

QUESTION THREE – DELIVERY TIME:

This should definitely be a deciding factor in who you hire. Always ask your potential photographers how soon after your wedding can you expect to receive your photos? Anything within 90 days is reasonable. More than 90 days is not.

QUESTION FOUR – CONTRACTS:

A VERY important thing to make sure of before hiring any kind of service supplier for your wedding – including your photographer – is if they provide a contract and invoices and/or receipts.

Don’t hire anyone who doesn’t provide you with some form of documentation for your transactions. Contracts and invoices/receipts are for your benefit and protection just as much as they are for the tradespeople and service suppliers you hire.

Always, ALWAYS make sure you get a signed contract upon paying any deposit fee.

QUESTION FIVE – DEPOSITS:

Always ask your potential photographers if they require a booking fee/deposit. A professional photographer will require this, so expect them to say yes. The average professional photographer doesn’t tend to charge more than 30% for a deposit, often a bit less. This deposit guarantees the photographer’s availability for your date and time.

Make sure that the booking fee is refunded from the total sum agreed upon for your wedding photography contract.

QUESTION SIX – PAYMENT:

It’s important to know in advance, when you’re expected to pay the entire sum for your wedding photography. Some photographers will invoice you after your wedding, some require full payment by the day of. Either is acceptable, but more often than not, you’ll be expected to make the full payment on or before your wedding day. This applies to paying videographers as well.

QUESTION SEVEN – WHAT IS INCLUDED?

Many photographers will quote one rate for their actual photography coverage and then charge (often exorbitant) additional fees for things like your high resolution images and your image retouching. These are services that should be included; charging additional fees is a bit unscrupulous.

In this age of digital photography, Photoshop (or an equivalent program) is exactly like a darkroom. Contrast and color are corrected and adjusted. Blemishes are removed, focus is sharpened, effects can be added, images can be produced in black and white as well as color.

Making these adjustments to photos is all part of a professional photographer’s job and you should not be expected to pay extra money for it. If someone doesn’t include this service in their pricing, hire someone else who does.

(Custom photo-albums with prints however, are not standard and it’s completely reasonable to pay an additional amount if you should require this extra service.)

When you’ve asked these seven questions, it’s a lot easier to make your final decision about which photographer to hire.

Tamea Burd is an eco-friendly photographer based in Vancouver, BC. She specializes in portraits, headshots and wedding photography. Her website: Tamea Burd Photography

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