I recently had a pre-consult with a couple who came with a list of questions. It was pretty impressive, and I loved it. It showed me they truly cared about our meeting - finding out about me and my business. After all, that is what a pre-consult is. It's an interview for the couple and the photographer to get to know a little more about each other.
After meeting with them, this got me thinking - I should compile a list of the 10 things you SHOULD be asking your wedding photographer during your pre-consult. So here goes...
1. How do you handle photos when the weather doesn't cooperate?
It's always good to know if your photographer has a game plan for unexpected situations. Do they use the change of weather to their advantage - like get badass dancing in the rain photos, or do they put you against a wall inside?
2. If you get sick or an emergency arises, who will cover our day?
It's always good to know if your photographer has a backup plan if something were to happen and they are unable to be at your wedding. Do they have a group of photographers they can turn to that they trust? Do they edit the photos the other one takes? All this is very important to know and to set your mind at ease when it comes to your day.
3. Do you have proper business licenses and insurance?
Their answer should be YES - to both. If you're speaking with a true professional, they will have these items in place. If they are taking money and marketing as a business - they will have these things. The market is so saturated these days with people with cameras, how do you pick the serious professional photographers from the others? If they have all proper business licenses and insurance - that tells you they care about their business, themselves, and you as a client. If they tell you it's too expensive, I'd end the meeting right there honestly. Would you drive a car without any sort of insurance? Same concept. What does general liability insurance cover? If a guest were to trip over the photographer's bag and injure themselves, the photographer and your guest are covered. Some venues also require vendors to carry their own general liability insurance. Why is having a business license so important? Well, if you're running a business - you have to do it legally. Operating a business without the proper business license in a city/state that requires certain business licenses is illegal. If they don't have one - they are running an illegal business - simple as that!
4. How many other events will you photograph during the weekend of my wedding?
Every photographer is different. Some have a large group of associates and they book multiple weddings in a weekend. Some, like myself are a one-man show and can't do that. For myself, I won't schedule any other shoots on the day of your wedding. I don't want to put myself in a position of getting stuck somewhere due to car issues, traffic, etc. As the client, you make the best decision on what you feel comfortable with. There really is no wrong answer for this question. It's just something good to know.
5. As far as gear, do you have backup gear in case your main gear fails?
We all have experienced technology failing us as the most unfortunate times. If you're paying someone to capture your day, you want to make sure they have proper backup gear in case something were to go wrong. Ask how many camera bodies they will bring to the wedding to shoot with. For me, I have two camera bodies - my main shooting camera and my backup. This benefits me in a couple ways such as (a) being able to have different focal length lenses on each camera so I am not having to switch stuff around all the time, and (b) if my one of my camera bodies fails - I have a backup camera to shoot with. Again, there really is no wrong answer to this question, but it is nice to have the peace of mind that your photographer is properly equipped with back up gear.
6. How do you do shooting inside? Do you have lighting to help light inside events if needed?
If you're having an indoor wedding in any aspect (ceremony and/or reception), you want to make sure that your photographer knows how to properly light inside. If the wedding photographer advertises themselves as strictly a natural light photographer, chances are them knowing how to use flashes properly is slim.
7. How long after the event will I receive my gallery?
This should be outlined in a contract (if you don't sign a contract - you probably want to move on to someone else). I can't say what other photographers turnaround time is on images, but it seems the standard is anywhere from 6-9 weeks.
8. Can I see a finished wedding gallery?
We don't post full weddings online. The photos you see are typically the cream of the crop of the photos that a photographer wanted to showcase. It's a good idea to see a full wedding gallery - from start of the day to end of the day. This will give you an idea of how the whole day is captured by the photographer.
9. Do you have a 2nd shooter?
Some photographers choose to shoot solo/not offer a 2nd shooter add-on, some provide a 2nd as an add-on to your package, and some give no choice of not having a 2nd shooter (meaning there's a 2nd shooter). It's up to you ultimately. Benefits of having a 2nd? I personally feel you get better use of your time when you have a 2nd shooter - the main photographer isn't having to do quite as much running back and forth between locations/groups. It's kind of a "kill 2 birds with one stone" scenario. The 2nd can be shooting something/somewhere else while the main photographer is covering another aspect (i.e. 2nd shooter with the groom 30 minutes away from the bride is getting ready with the main photographer covering that). Also, having a 2nd allows more coverage/angles for you in the end. One is getting groom while bride is walking down the isle, while the other is getting the bride walking down the isle. Having a 2nd photographer is a huge win for you in the end!
10. How do you feel about guests taking photos during the ceremony?
This is a huge debate in the wedding photography community. Find out where your photographer stands on this, and listen to why or why not they are for it. Make your choice from there and make sure to voice your thoughts on it, too.
So there you have it - the 10 questions you should be asking! While these are just a few questions to ask, there are so many more out there! Remember, these are opinions on the "why" these should be asked.