A photographer is arguably one of the most important players in pulling off a great wedding. No matter how gorgeous the bride looked or how beautiful that day on the beach was, if a photographer fails to capture those moments, they will eventually fade from memory. That is why it is vital to make sure you have picked the perfect photographer for your big day. How do you know who to pick? To give yourself the greatest chance at booking the best in the business, ask each photographer you interview the following questions and pick the one who gives the most satisfactory answers.

How Long Have You Been Working Weddings?

Your wedding day will only happen once, so experience is one of the biggest considerations in choosing a photographer. A good photographer is going to cost money. That is because they will have the experience to justify their higher prices. To make sure you aren’t getting stiffed, ask for a list of references or reviews from past customers.

Is Photography Your Main Business?

Many photographers get their start on the side, performing small shoots here and there. When their experience and skill level increases, they are then often able to switch over to photography full time. This is mainly just an indicator of how much experience the vendor has and what they will be able to do at your wedding. You shouldn’t necessarily discount those who work part time, because they may be amazing photographers. Just decide what experience level you are most comfortable with and what fits in the budget, and go from there.

Have You Worked Our Venues Before?

Each venue has its own specific challenges and advantages. Having a photographer who has worked a venue before is a serious advantage. They may already be familiar with the lighting needs, certain points to avoid, and the overall layout. It is also a huge plus if the photographer knows the staff. If the photographer has not shot at that location, ask if they would be able to visit the venue before the wedding. They can take that time to plan and get familiar with the area.

Can We See a Completed Set of Proofs?

Anyone can give a few samples that look amazing. However, to get an idea of just what the photographer is going to provide you, ask to see an entire set of proofs from a recent booking. This will help you understand what the photographers look for, their individual styles, and whether or not they captured all of the points that are most important to you. Also, ask to see some prints. Prints do not hide the flaws that can often be masked online by subpar photographers, so seeing them is essential.

Will You Be My Photographer at the Wedding?

Although this may seem like an odd question, some larger studios do not initially book their appointments directly through the photographer. Instead, they use an agent or sales representative. Following a booking, you should ask for a follow-up meeting with the photographer who is assigned your event to make sure you are happy with the choice before you sign a contract.

Why Should We Pick You?

This is technically a job interview, so feel free to ask these job interview-type questions. If you don’t like the photographer’s answer, you may want to really consider just exactly why you are thinking of hiring them.

How Long Will It Be Before We See Our Photos?

Both the couple and the photographer should be reasonable with their time expectations. The editing process takes time, but photographers should be able to give you a clear indication of when you should expect to start seeing photos. Most photographers release the photos in stages. This often includes a teaser slideshow for social media, online proofs and then an actual proofbook. Some photographers even provide finished photo books. However, make sure all these are in the contract or you may be disappointed.

What Is Included In Your Packages?

Knowing exactly what you are going to get is essential to a good business deal and photography is no exception. Photography packages can vary drastically from business to business. Most include flat rates that cover a specific period of time. Any extras or additional time may be charged separately or at different package levels. Ultimately, understand exactly what you want and how much it is going to cost before you sign on the dotted line to avoid sticker shock after the fact.

When Is Payment Due?

A deposit is almost always required for a photographer to hold the date. This will be due by a specific date. Additionally, learn when the balance is due and the types of payments the photographer accepts. As with any business transaction, do not pay a dime without executing a written contract, and run from any vendor who tries to do business without one.

Choosing the photographer for your wedding should be a fun and exciting process, just like every other aspect of planning your big day. If you ask these simple questions, you may find that you discover the perfect photographer will much less effort than you ever imagined possible.

More About The Author: Bryan Passanisi is a blogger and content editor. He has had over 3 years  working within the wedding industry and has attended numerous bay area bridal shows. When he isn’t writing for Shutterfly, he enjoys reading and hiking.