Wedding Tips & Advice

Questions To Ask A Wedding Photographer Before You Hire Them

Questions to ask a wedding photographer

Got engaged? Thinking about what questions to ask a wedding photographer? Make sure to read this blog post and send me an email with your questions after reading through. A

If you are looking to book a wedding photographer, it’s probably your first time. So, what to ask a wedding photographer? If you’re like most people, you have no idea what questions what to ask a wedding photographer. You’re not alone. Here’s a list to help:


1. Do you have business insurance?

Many photographers overlook this basic business issue, and there are quite a few wedding venues that require each wedding vendor to possess it. Without the insurance, your photographer might not even be allowed to photograph on their premises.

2. How many photographs do you deliver?

This question often gets overlooked because brides assume they just get every photograph that the photographer captures.  Some photographers don’t provide any in their coverage rate. Others provide 500, and some provide every photo taken.  The most professional (in my opinion) will deliver enough to tell the story, but take the time to go through each image and delete the ones where the main subjects aren’t blinking, out of focus, etc.

3. Do you have backup equipment?

Some photographer’s don’t bring anything.  Others bring thousands of dollars worth of backups.  Make sure your photographer is bringing something to ensure a backup plan in case their primary gear happens to fail, even on accident. Personally, I wouldn’t hire a photographer who didn’t have backup equipment.

4. When do we receive photographs?

The answer to this differs greatly between most film vs digital photographers, but it’s great to know when to expect delivery.  Have your photographer put it in a contract, if it’s not already.  Personally, I deliver within 6 weeks of your wedding date. It’s super important to have this basic expectation set when making your decision on which photographer to hire for your wedding.

5. Do you provide an online gallery?

Your wedding day guests and those who were not able to attend will love to look back on the photographs at ease.  Rather than you having to take your time to send individual photographs, have your photographer create an online gallery to save you lots of time.  NOTE: Some photographers have different delivery methods.  Some choose to present your photographs in-person after your wedding date so you can also choose to order any prints/albums as you desire at that time.  Every photographer works a bit differently, so just ask and get on the same page so you know what to expect.

6. What resolution photographs will I be receiving?

Whereas the old days was all prints, the most common method of delivery in today’s world is digital photographs.  Some photographers deliver everything online, and others send you a flash drive or DVD with the images on them.  Make sure you are getting what you are wanting.  If your photographer is a film photographer, ask if you will also be receiving digital photographs, or only the prints.  If they are prints, make sure you know what dimensions and what quantity. If they are digital, the size will depend highly on if your photographer is giving you a print release with your photographs, or if they are wanting you to purchase high res digitals.  They might only be giving you low resolution photographs.  Make sure you get on the same page with whoever you choose prior to booking.

7. Do you edit your photographs? If so, how many?

Some photographers only edit a small number, others edit every single photograph.  Some edit none.  Make sure you know how many are edited, because the difference between a OOC (out-of-camera) and even a slightly edited photograph can make a huge difference.  Personally, every photograph you receive will be edited with global corrections (contrast, color, crop, exposure, etc).  I do not remove small imperfections with Photoshop within my given rates, but make that option available for an additional add-on on a per-image basis.

8. Do you offer an engagement session?

Engagement sessions can offer an opportunity to get to know your photographer better, see how he/she coaches you through posing, and you will see how efficiently he/she gets everything completed, from prep to post-production.  You can view it as a “practice” run for your wedding day, all while getting amazing photos.  Personally, at the time of writing this, I offer two different levels of engagement session – an adventurous session and an EPIC engagement session.  The two latter sessions are optional upgrades to be able to go to more amazing locations, have more time with me, and receive more photographs.

9. Do you offer album design?

Even if you are not wanting to spend extra money on a professionally designed photo album of your wedding day, it’s a great resource to know that your photographer has this additional experience should you want an album in the future.  Personally, I offer albums and album design.

10. Should we do a first look for our wedding?

This would rely on your religion as well as your personal preferences.  My recommendation – absolutely.  It provides for a more relaxing timeline of events on your wedding day and that translates to positive energy all day long. I highly recommend it to every couple I work with.

11. Do you have online galleries of full weddings we can look through?

Make sure you ask this question!  As far as websites go, photographers put their best work at the most forefront place of their marketing – their websites.  Make sure you have a look at their online galleries, as well.  The reason to look through their online galleries is to see both consistency within a wedding day, and consistency between different days.  That way, you know the photographer has a standard method of approach and will reproduce similar results for your wedding day.  Looking solely through their website will only give you a very brief snapshot over what type of images they can produce.  The online galleries will give you a much greater idea.

What do you think of the questions about what to ask a wedding photographer so far?  Thinking about some more? Keep reading.


12. Why is wedding photography so expensive?

The term “expensive” is subjective.  Personally, I don’t think it’s very expensive — especially when you consider how much the average couple spends on their venue, food and flowers.  Many weddings I have personally photographed are $10,000-20,000/day.  Many catering budgets are $7,500-15,000 for ONE MEAL.   So, when you are considering that the 750-1,000 (roughly) photographs that are delivered which will last a lifetime (and beyond), compared to spending $15,000 on food that you will have a difficult time remembering what it tasted like a month from your wedding day… the value of photography is not even comparable.  The fact that it’s only a small percentage when compared to the cost for a wedding venue and catering really puts it into perspective how “comparatively” affordable it is.

If you are spending $20,000 on your wedding and your photographer is $4,000, you are only spending 20% on your photography. And it’s the one thing that will truly last a lifetime. Every other element of your wedding day is short-lived and temporary. If your wedding budget is $40,000, that’s now only 10%. Think about the things you value the most and create your budget around those items.

If you are trying to save money and keep to a certain budget, maybe steer clear of that $15,000-20,000 venue space in downtown and get a $2,500-7,500 venue in a bit more of a rural location.  It’ll be more peaceful, it’ll be easier to park, easier to manage, less stressful, and you save thousands of dollars.  All of a sudden, you can afford your dream photographer, a more enjoyable honeymoon, or that down payment on the house you’ve been looking at.

Many professional wedding photographers do this full-time.  In the Pacific Northwest, it is also seasonal, which means the majority of photographers make 75% or more of their income in only 6 months.  In order to focus on your wedding day, (and the editing required from it), most professional wedding photographers at the high-end level have only this as their profession. It’s their sole source of income. The questions to ask a wedding photographer will help you navigate which photographers have more experience.

Professional wedding photographers also pay into business insurance, online advertising, print advertising, photography equipment and maintenance, website maintenance, assistants, office supplies, and much more.  The $15,000-30,000 worth of photography equipment, years of experience, and personal expenses all come from this full-time income.  Additionally, since wedding photographers are self-employed, they are not only paying business taxes on their net income, but they are also getting taxed on their personal income as well. Then, take into consideration that for an 8-hour traditional coverage time for the wedding day, it’s not unheard of for the photographer to spend a total of around 40 hours for the couple from start to finish (emails + meetings + phone calls + engagement session + travel time + wedding day coverage + more travel time + editing + delivery + misc).

As an example, let’s say a wedding photographer charges $5,000.  After paying taxes, their adjusted income is only $3,300.  Now, the photographer must take out a portion of that income for their fixed and variable costs.  That $3,300 (in many instances) then becomes closer to $2,200-2,500.

So, even though you might pay your photographer $5,000, your photographer really only walks home with closer to half that amount.

13. How do I make sure I look great in wedding photographs?

If you have all of your wedding planning figured out, the hard part is over.  Just make sure to get a couple great nights of sleep, drink plenty of water, eat your meals, and just have fun on your wedding day.  Have designated people run tasks for you on your wedding day and relax.  If you are relaxed and enjoying yourself (as you should be!), then you will look amazing in the photographs.  What really helps as well is hiring the best makeup artist and hair stylist that you can afford.  I have some really great recommendations for the best makeup artists in Seattle as well as the best hair stylists in Seattle for weddings.

14. Do you need a second photographer?

Yes and no.  The answer is dependent on the details of your wedding day, the number of details, and the number of hours of coverage you have allotted for your wedding photographer to shoot.  Personally, I tell all of the couples I work with to save their money by not hiring a second photographer unless you specifically want multiple angles of the same moment.  Most professional wedding photographers are running around so much on a wedding day, they are capturing every angle possible during a short amount of time – as conspicuously as possible.  If budget is no concern, go for it.  Absolutely. If your budget is tight, I personally recommend to hiring one AMAZING, highly talented professional photographer rather than one “good” one that is not as experienced, and then hiring a newbie, amateur second shooter.  If your budget isn’t a concern, you can always hiring two well-rounded and experienced lead photographers, but each will most likely charge $3,000-6,000+. If you ask this amongst the questions to ask a wedding photographer, you will no doubt get different responses on who you chat with. If you are speaking with a husband & wife duo team, they will no doubt try and sell you on why you need two photographers.

Personally, I have photographed 99.999% of weddings completely solo, and I maintain a 5-star review rating across the 100+ weddings I have photographed.

15.  How much are second shooters?

It really depends on experience.  A college student can be next to free (maybe a few hundred dollars).  A high-end professional second photographer in a major market can be thousands. It really depends on the quality you are searching for.  Most will fall between $600-800.

There you have it, that’s what questions to ask a wedding photographer.  If you have any additional questions (or you would like me to add to this list), you can always email me directly using the contact form on my website.  Let’s chat soon, or better yet, book me today!

Was my what questions to ask a wedding photographer blog post helpful? Do you have any more questions? Ask me directly and I’ll answer every question you have.

And of course, if these questions to ask a wedding photographer got your mind moving, shoot me an email right now using the contact form on my website. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

And while I have you here, you might also love these other blog posts on my website:

What questions to ask a wedding photographer