A great starting place is to talk with people who loved their photographer and their wedding photos. They’ll be happy to share with you and you’ll have a head start with their recommendations about what to look for in a photographer. You’ll have a starting list of people whose websites you’ll want to check out.
Visit photographers’ websites
While you’re looking at websites, notice if any of them give you that “click,” that “We really love this,” feeling. Take a really close look at their portfolio. Look at the subjects and at the backgrounds and foregrounds. A good photographer will have lots of photographs posted and should also have entire weddings on their site. There should also be lots of recent work posted.
Try not to be influenced by their web design. Keep in mind that your photos won’t include their web graphics. It’s just about the photography.
Interview potential photographers on the phone or by email
From the list you’ve made of possible photographers, call or email each of them. Important initial information you can gather is his or her availability on your wedding day, their photographic specialties, for example, candid, traditional, photojournalism, combination, film or digital, and so on. Obtain a rough idea as to how much it will cost for what you want. Get a feel for the photographer’s personality. He or she will be an integral part of your wedding day so you’ll want to have someone you feel good about, someone with whom you get along with ease. Does he make you feel beautiful and relaxed?
Schedule in-person interviews with photographers
This is your chance to look carefully at their portfolios and ask questions. Lots of questions! It’s really true that there is no such thing as a dumb question! If in doubt, ask! This is the time to gather the information you need.
Ask each photographer to show you complete coverage of a single wedding. This will give you a much better idea as to what you can expect rather than a collection of the best shots from several different weddings. Consider whether the photographer successfully captures individual characteristics and personalities. Do the pictures capture people’s emotions or are they just pictures of people standing around looking self-conscious and stiff. Do people look natural?
And here’s a useful tip: you might want to ask the photographer to analyze your face and ask how he will achieve the most flattering images, your best angles, and so on.
Draw up a list of questions for the appointment and take notes while you’re there. Lots of information will fly by you and you’ll want to be able to review all that you learned after your meeting. You’ll especially want it when you compare photographers.
Both partners and their parents should go to this appointment as well as anyone who has a keen interest in the photographs—or even someone who might be paying for it.
Get the details! Here are some question you may want to ask.
What is your philosophy about wedding photography?
How will you make our wedding photos unique, representing who we truly are and what our wedding day was really like?
Which photographic styles do you offer, photojournalistic, traditional, mixed format?
Will you be shooting in film or digital format?
Will you take the photos yourself?
Do you have a backup photographer just in case?
Do you have assistants and what do they do?
How many photographers and assistants can we expect to be there?
How long have you been in business?
What guarantees are there for your services or photographs?
Do you also do engagement and save-the-date photo sessions?
Will we be dealing with you after the wedding?
How long after the wedding will it take to see the photos to choose from?
How many photos will we get to select our final photos?
How long can we take to choose which photos we want?
Will they be electronic, proofs, contact sheets, an online gallery?
Will you help you choose our final photos?
Will it be easy for our friends and family to see and order reprints?
Will the photographs fade?
What are the costs for your levels of wedding coverage?
How much will duplicates, albums, folios, enlargements, thank you cards, and so on cost?
What is your payment policy?
Do you charge for overtime and how much?
Do you charge for travel time?
Be ready to make a commitment
By now you’ve taken the time to ask good questions and you’ll know whether this photographer is for you. You’ve probably spent a good deal of time talking with your photographer. Keep in mind that photographers are trained professionals and that they deserve to be treated as such. Go to your meeting prepared to reserve the date make a deposit.
Before you do, however, you may want to assure yourself of a few more last-minute details. Ask about the photographer’s policy for wedding-date changes and what happens if he is not available on the alternate date. Ask about his policy in the event of an unforeseen cancellation. If the photographer is right for you, if the photographer is available, and if you’re convinced that it’s worth the price, then make the commitment and relax! This is undoubtedly one of the smartest and best decisions you’ll make in planning your wedding.
And summing it up
You can see from the list above that there is a huge number of questions you can ask your photographer. Most professional photographers will give you clear explanations about their services. Many of them have full packages that include a certain number of prints, digital files, enlargements, and so on, so that it will be very clear which level of service and which final products you can expect.
Most importantly, if you love the photographer’s work and know that you have a great connection, that’s your wedding photographer.