Questions to ask your Wedding Photographer

January 17, 2018  •  1 Comment

Shrewsbury Wedding Photographer wishes she had practised what she now preaches!


Candid Wedding Photography ShrewsburyWedding Party PhotographyGrooms Wedding Photo





I made a big mistake booking my Wedding Photographer.  11 years on and it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  I booked him without meeting him.  I was in a blind panic to get things ticked off my Wedding list and I had seen a photograph in his Studio window that I liked. It seemed rational at the time!   If I had met him, trust me I wouldn't have hired him;  Rude, unprofessional and had a complete lack of interest in what he did. Secondly, he was greedy, he wanted payment up front for the total amount. I willingly handed him over the cash.  I cant believe at that point warning bells weren't ringing.  At the wedding he was scruffy, rude to guests and didn't take half the pictures I asked him too.  Worse was to come - our photos didn't appear and we had to issue a solicitor's letter to finally get them.  It was eight months of hell. Looking back I was very naive - my keenness to get everything tied up definitely robbed me of my senses.  


Wedding Photography is a big chunk of your wedding budget so choose carefully.   Hindsight is a funny thing and I wish I could have had words with my younger self to have avoided the whole nightmare.


So what advise would I give to my younger self? 


Book early

More people are getting married than every before.  If you live in a relatively small town like Shrewsbury, venues and good photographers are few and far between.   Unless you are getting married on a Tuesday in November get your photographer and venue booked early.  Lots of Wedding photographers have special offers if you book in January and February. 


Meet potential photographers

You have no doubt fallen in love with their style by looking at their website.  You have shortlisted and found out they are free by email.  Now meet them in person or by video chat if logistics are tricky.   You need to feel comfortable with them, especially for the bride if she is wanting the 'getting ready' photos.  Your photographer will be with you by your side for the day.  If you aren't feeling the love when meeting them don't book them.  Photographers should offer to meet you ideally at the venue to sell themselves to you.  Also, if you are comfortable with them and like them you will be more relaxed and they will get better shots. Win-Win.  Without sounding sexist if the bride is wanting the 'getting ready' photos book a female photographer - it saves the bride worrying about their modesty when getting into their dress.  



Candid Wedding PhotographyPhotographer putting the bride in her dress!Kate Kimber photographer putting the bride in to her dress                       (Kate Kimber putting a bride into her dress)


So you meet them, you get on well so now to ask some important questions;


How many weddings have you shot? What is your favourite part of a Wedding day?


As a Wedding photographer you are up against it with light, time and pressure.  You need to know that your photographer has the experience and expertise to handle it.  Lots of photographers don't like weddings for this reason.   You will tell if they like shooting weddings by their enthused response (or not!).  By answering what their favourite part of the day is you will get a sense of their personality, and see if he or she seems genuinely excited to share your wedding day with you.


What do you do about light?


A weird question you may think.  But this one will sieve out the cowboys from the professionals.   Light is crucial at a Wedding.  Light can be tricky in churches and flash often isn't allowed.  A professional will have the right gear and knowledge about how to allow more light into the photos.   It is really important for your photographer to take your 'posed photos' in the shade to avoid unflattering shadows. So by asking the question "what do you do about the photos if it is going to be a bright sunny day?" or "what happens if it is really dark at the church/wedding service?" -  they should be able to reassure you with expert answers, talking about moving you to a shaded spot, using flash to get rid of shadows and explaining how they shoot to let more light into their camera.


What is included in your packages?


When comparing fees, check what is included.  Do you have to pay extra to get downloads or prints?  This can alter the cost significantly.  It's not necessarily a bad thing if say, an album isn't included.  Good albums are expensive to produce and a popular option is to be able to download the photos from a private gallery or to be given USB stick.   What you dont want to find out too late is that the cost only included them shooting your wedding and you have to buy each photograph or download.  


How many hours of coverage do we get?  How much do you charge for overtime? 


Be sure to ask exactly how long them they will be with you.  I would recommend that you have a specific arrival time but agree they leave at a specific point of the wedding e.g.  End of speeches,  cutting of cake, or first dance.   Often Weddings can over run and you don't want them disappearing before an important part of the day just because you agreed a 6pm finish!  You may have booked them until the end of the speeches but you might change your mind after booking or on the day, check what the cost would be to stay on.  It might be an hourly rate or a add on price.


How do I pay? 


Don't pay all of it upfront.   I would be suspicious of anyone wanting the full amount prior to the day. (She says in Hindsight!)   Expect to pay a deposit and the rest on the day - either by BACS or cheque or cash.


How long after the Wedding do we get to see the photos?


I guarantee the day after your Wedding, you will have a shocking feeling in that neither of you will remember anything of the day and panic.   Did I speak to anyone?  Did we even cut the cake?  Was my friend who flew in from Australia there?    You will be desperate to see your photos.  Manage your expectations and find out when to expect them.  This varies with all photographers.  I always send a couple of photos over to the bride and groom the next day as a little memory to take on honeymoon. If the photographer says it will be 4-6 weeks and that seems like an eternity then you may want to look else where.  As a rule of thumb my turn around is 7-14 days but I always give the bride and groom an expected date when I leave, depending on my schedule the following week.


Have you ever shot at my venue(s) before?


It is always helpful if they have.   But any professional photographer will go to the venue near to the date, ideally with you to check out the light and the locations for photos.  As mentioned earlier, light is very important to wedding photography and photographers need to be aware of where the sun falls at any particular time of the day and know where the best place is for the right light/shade to avoid those shadows.  They should also key up with the Wedding co-ordinator to introduce them selves and take a look at the parts of the venue you are using.


How do you shoot and do I need to have group photos?


Relaxed group wedding photoWedding photography ShrewsburyGroup wedding photo


No doubt you have looked at their website, but if you have only gone on a friend's recommendations look at their website or ask to be sent some Wedding Photos from their portfolio.  You will then see their style - ask them what their style is and explain 'candid' or 'reportage'.


Many photographers will welcome a check list to ensure they get the specific pictures that you want.  You may not want group photos but trust me you will like to look back on them and it will really please your parents/grandparents who may like a more traditional style of photo.     


What are the restrictions for sharing photos on social Media? 


If you are a social media addict, not being allowed to share your wedding photos online maybe be a deciding factor.   


Will you be the one shooting my Wedding?


Be careful on this one.  A friend was shocked when on her wedding day, a very young photographer turned up (late) who she hadn't met or been told would be the photographer.  If the photographer is the owner of a big studio and employ other photographers, make sure you meet whoever will be shooting your wedding prior to the day.


Do you charge a travel fee?


Most photographers have a ratio outside of which they will charge a travel fee.  Over a certain distance you may be required to pay your photographer's lodging as well.


Can I see a contract?


If you think you are ready to book, ask to see a copy of their contract, read it carefully and follow up with any further questions you may have.


Ask for recommendations

Photographers will have worked with other people in the industry and we all know each other.  They may have good tips and recommendations on venues, food, hair, makeup and hen/stag party suppliers!


Shropshire wedding Photo Kate kimber photographyCandid wedding PhotographyBride and Groom Photo

(Kate Kimber is a professional Wedding Photographer based in Shrewsbury,  Photographing Weddings is her favourite part of her job and she feels it is a real privilege to be part of a bride and grooms' important day!  Tears are often shed!)


Andy (fiancée)(non-registered)
Just showed this to my girlfriend who was about to book a photographer on line with out talking to the photographer - common sense seems to have gone out the window !!! ;-) I’m in Dorset where we are getting married - do you travel ?
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These days photographers have to expand their business as much through Social Media as word of mouth.  Having recently moved counties I am trying to get tongues wagging in Shropshire and get social media savvy in order for my business to grow.  I am venturing into pastures new with starting a blog, an attempt to get google crawlers latched onto my website so Shropshire folk can see I'm here! I don't claim to be the next Caitlin Moran so bear with me and take it for what is - a few words of wisdom about life as a photographer. Life is short, you have to love what you do and I hope these few blogs portray that if nothing else.  I don't want to dominate the world, merely to get a photo in every frame in Shropshire.