As a New Zealand wedding photographer, I do meet with many wedding clients in person, as well as online when they are not in the city. Many of my clients are also from Australia and abroad, so Skype conversations are a must.
Many couples do often come with questions, which is very understandable as this would be the first wedding for most.
There are the most common important questions to ask your wedding photographer - at least they were asked to me throughout my last 10 years of wedding coverage.
What is your wedding photography experience?
This is where you get to know just how well-versed the wedding photographers are when it comes to handling the fast pace environment of real weddings, where proceedings often cannot be interrupted, such as the wedding ceremony. Weddings are also very unpredictable at times, from the weather to the guests, as well as accidents and mishaps. Understanding your photographer experience can help you feel at ease, knowing that you have extra help at hand if required. Remember that your wedding photographer will be with you for a significant part of the day. Their expertise and guidance will be useful at times.
For my part, I have been doing wedding photography for over 10 years now and definitely consider myself a veteran, scary as it may be. I do love it though. There are not many jobs in the world where I get to laugh and have fun every single time, even in the blistering wind, torrential rain, or cold winter. With over 300 weddings across 4 continents, I am certainly pretty lucky to have celebrated with so many wedding clients around the world.
Can we see a sample wedding gallery?
Aside from the fact that you have a better feel of how the photographer works, you will also see his style of photography. Viewing complete wedding albums will show you the whole story of the wedding and not just a couple of shots that will captivate you. You should see pictures of the whole event, from getting ready, to walking down the aisle, to photos of the expressions and emotions of your family, guests, and friends. Avoid looking through their social media galleries because most of these are perfectly curated to show you the best photos and most of these lack full wedding albums. Once you see a full wedding album you will know what to expect for your own photos and if they are a good fit for you.
While looking at these wedding albums, you should see consistency all throughout. Consistency in shooting amazing photos, their style within the photos, and you should feel like you are reliving the wedding you are looking at. The album should show you a story made of moments throughout the day and ensure that each photo is perfectly captured.
What are the wedding packages you offer and what do they include?
The things you would want to know are how many hours of coverage are in the package, is there an engagement shoot included, what photos and how long it will take to receive them after the wedding, prints, and albums. All these can alter the cost significantly. If you are on a limited budget, it is best if you speak with your photographer and try to negotiate a price or deal. You should also ask if there are any additional extra fees and overtime.
Most photographers have set packages, but also be happy to create custom packages if required. This is especially true for elopement adventures, as well as large cultural weddings, such as those epic Indian weddings, that can last several days.
How important is it to have an engagement photoshoot to be included?
Upon your research, you will find that many photographers do include a complimentary engagement photoshoot, while others don't. The purpose of the engagement session is to allow the couple to have a chance to know what it's like to be in front of the camera, to get used to the style of communication and posing from the photographer, and of course to have beautiful photos to show off and be used for wedding invites.
With an experienced photographer, they will easily and quickly gel with any couple, even if they have not met in person previously. And thus, these photographers tend to sell the engagement service as an add-on, rather than being inclusive. Personally, this should not be a deciding factor, but a nice bonus to have.
Do we need to cover your travel fees or is that included in your packages?
Again, this is to make sure there aren’t any unforeseen costs. Additionally, you will want to ask if you will need for gas or for overnight accommodation, or for both. With the rising cost of petrol and what not, expect to pay for reasonable cost for out of town photographer.
Are there any hidden costs?
Most wedding photography packages are quite straightforward and clearly spelt out in the wedding contract. However, it is always safe to ask this question. Some extra costs would include travel and accommodation, overtime charge, and editing.
How much deposit do you require and when do you need it? Is the deposit refundable?
The deposit that you will pay will secure your spot on the calendar. A deposit is typically made upfront upon booking. Once you pay the deposit for your wedding photographer it can also help you budget for your wedding. Payments should be given in writing from your photographer - some photographers will require you to sign a contract upon booking.
Weddings are full of unexpected circumstances and sometimes unexpected things happen. In the event of something happening and you are forced to cancel your wedding - check if the contract states that the deposit is refundable or non-refundable - as any cancellation can cause the wedding photographer to lose income too. Also, if you choose to change the wedding date sadly there will also be additional fees for changing dates. If your wedding photographer is available for the changed date then you can negotiate if you can carry the deposit over. But understand that your photographer may have to turn other couples down.
This is a tricky one. Wedding photography deposit, similar for any other wedding vendors really, allow the wedding photographer to secure the date for the client. In another word, if any other enquiries come along on that same date, those wedding photography enquiries will be turned down because of the existing booking. This is why the deposits were typically non-refundable. I am sure that you would not want your photographer to offer the date after the contract is signed. If the photographer does not have a deposit policy in the contract, or even any contract at all, it is probably a bad sign in terms of how they conduct their business. It is important to find this out yourself to see how much the deposit would be, and if there are any refund policy or not.
How long will the wedding photography service last on the day?
It is always good to know how long the photographer will be there so you can plan the day accordingly. Most New Zealand wedding photographers, including myself, enjoy the full day cover where we get to have fun from when the boys get ready right up to the first dance at night. I know there are photographers who do offer even longer coverage, to document the super early part of the getting ready like when the boys go for their rounds of golf, up to the wee hour of the night amidst all the drinking and dancing and partying. My most popular wedding photography package is the 9 hours service which seems to strike a good balance.
How many images will I get from the wedding day?
I firmly believe in quality over quantity when it comes to the number of wedding images you can expect from a photographer. However, it is still always good to know ballpark figures. You should not use the answer to this question as a deciding factor when choosing between several wedding photographers. You want to book someone because of their creative skills, their artistic eyes, and their personality, not by how many images you can get from the wedding day. However, you would find that a typical 8-9 hours of coverage should give you at least 500 wedding images in most New Zealand wedding photography packages.
How long will it take to receive the wedding images?
Good things take time, please do remember that. For some of us professional wedding photographers, the summer can be extremely busy. We also have families, children, and other personal things that are as equally important. And then there are the issues of the thousands upon thousands of wedding images that need to process, up to the standard that we are proud enough to share with our clients and the world. On the other hand, we are living in the digital age where we want information now and right now. I know most brides are always eager to share their wedding images as soon as possible, and to relive the day as well.
You will find that most wedding packages and wedding contracts would say in excess of 8 working weeks. From a business point of view, I feel it is always important to underpromise and overdeliver. Sometimes I can deliver the wedding images within just a few days, while others, it could take up to 10 weeks, depending on the amount of work and what else is going on. The most important thing is communication so you, as the clients, always know what is going on.
What equipment will you bring, and do you have backup gear?
This is a question that is likely to be asked the techie-orientated clients, or those who have a passion for photography or just cool and high-tech gear. It is always fun to talk about gear, brand, and canon vs sony vs Nikon and whatnot. At the end of the day, photography gear is just a tool, just like a car, or a computer. The wedding images come from the visions of the wedding photographers. When you book, you trust that the photographers use the necessary gear to help them with their vision and their business goals to help you capture your day. This does not always mean the most expensive gear, or the most up-to-date, etc.
It is probably more important just to quickly ask and confirm if they have backup gear just in case something fails. Mind you, if the photographer is confident, they can still create something beautiful and unique with any camera or phone, or the weather really hits the fan.
How will you handle wet weather?
We crazy New Zealand wedding photographers love wet weather, and in fact, any kind of weather really. But the rain certainly does bring such a different and romantic mood to a wedding day. If you can cast your mind back to some of your favourite chick flicks and romantic movies, some of the best scenes were done in the rain.
We just all have to be careful with the hair and make-up, and this is where the umbrellas come in. At the end of the day, whether rain wedding photos will take place or not depend more on the attitude of the brides, than the wedding photographers. I have been lucky enough to have clients who want to push the boundary with me, and want beautiful and artistic wedding photos, no matter what. And it is always with this enthusiasm and attitude that when the best wedding photos will take place.
How will you handle bright sunny environments?
Bright sunny days are always nice for weddings, giving such a happy feel to the days. The harsh sun does bring some challenges to wedding photography with lots of harsh shadows everywhere. It is good to know how would the wedding photographer prefer to work in this situation. There are really no right and wrong answers. Some photographers would move you in the shade, while others would embrace the bright colour and richness of the scenes.
Who owns the copyright to the wedding images and what can I do with the images?
Many wedding clients don't know about these very important questions to ask your wedding photographer.
I would hope that most New Zealand wedding photographers understand the issues of copyright and operate as recommended by the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography, NZIPP. My wedding photography contract is based on that provided by the NZIPP, which, essentially, states that the copyright would remain with the photographer, who in turn, would provide a personal license to the wedding couples to use the wedding photographic work for personal use.
I know on my part, it means my clients can print, enlarge, share, and make their own wedding albums, as often as they want, without asking for permission from me. However, that original copyright to the wedding images will always stay with the creator.
What can I do with the wedding images?
As explained above, the standard NZIPP wedding contract allows for the personal use of the wedding images. We, wedding photographers, would certainly appreciate to be credited when the images are shared in the public domain. Most of my wedding clients do check-in if they are unsure of anything, such as if other vendors want to use our images, or magazines, etc.
What happens if you get sick?
In my 10+ years as a New Zealand wedding photographer, I have never been sick enough to not turn up to a wedding and have a blasting good time with my clients. This is one of the reasons why I love wedding photography so much. I survive the whole day on pure adrenaline, laughing and mingling with the brides and grooms, and all their awesome friends and families. Touch wood here.
However, as professional wedding photographers, we do often have a little network of fellow artists that we can call on if things are desparate. It is best to check with the photographer to be sure.
Do I need to feed you?
I think it is quite standard nowadays that photographers, and other vendors who happen to be around during the reception, do get fed. Videographers and musicians tend to be the only other two wedding vendors that do stay late into the night. Some vendors prefer to wait at the end before they get their food, while some would like to get fed early so they can get ready for the rest of the night.
Do you provide albums or prints?
Digital files are definitely the standard when it comes to wedding photography services and packages. Some photographers do provide a selection of prints in a beautiful box or display. A tiny portion would include wedding albums and/or prints as part of the wedding collections. I know on my part, wedding albums and prints are additional. I always tell my wedding clients, if you do have budget to consider wedding albums, why don't you look at wedding videography instead. With albums and prints, this can be done at any time in the future as you already have the wedding images. But for wedding videography, there is only one chance to create the memory. Most clients do choose the wedding videography instead, and never regret it.
What will you wear?
This may be odd to ask but is important nonetheless. Discuss with your photographer if they can blend in with the theme of your wedding - trust us, you wouldn’t want your photographer to turn up on your wedding day wearing jeans and a t-shirt while everyone else is wearing a tie. Your photographer should dress professionally, and wear something smart but very sophisticated.
I hope the above list of questions and answer give you some good ideas on your search for your wedding photographer. It is never an easy task. Some clients just know very quickly who they want to capture their wedding days, while others would visit hundreds of websites and talk to dozens of photographers before they are confident in their decision. At the end of the day, you will know when you have found your photographer. Its a pretty special day so go with your instinct and don't settle for anything less.
Will you be the one shooting our wedding? If not, can we meet the photographer that will be on-site?
This question is very crucial because you want to build a rapport with the one who will shoot your wedding. Establishing a connection makes you comfortable in your poses and their overall presence in one of the most important days of your life. If your photographer owns his or her business and does not have a studio that employs other photographers, then it is likely that they will be the one shooting your wedding day. If they own a larger studio who employs a number of photographers make sure that you are able to meet with your photographer before your wedding day and try to let them in this conversation. Meeting and talking with your wedding photographer is crucial in having stunning wedding photos - you will be able to discuss your plans and other details.
Do you have insurance?
Ask your photographer if they have both professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance. This is important especially in the event of an accident happening. Your photographer will more than likely have insurance for their equipment. And some wedding venues do require wedding photographers proof of their insurance before they are allowed to work on their premises. Be sure that your photographer has full insurance to avoid any disappointment.
Do you have great back-up photographers in the event that you cannot attend our wedding due to an unforeseen emergency?
Find out your photographer’s back up plan. This is to help ease your mind. An experienced photographer will have a backup plan ready, they will have a list of trusted photographers that they can call in the event that they cannot make it, by asking this you will feel more relaxed and be able to trust them even more. Although the chances of your photographer not showing up on your wedding day are slim, you will want to make sure that someone is there in their place.
Your wedding photographer should also have a backup plan for unforeseen weather emergencies such as a rainy or a windy day.
When will you arrive and finish shooting?
You should discuss with your wedding photographer whether or not you want them to start their work in your home or wherever you are staying or should they start shooting at the ceremony. But this will also depend on your budget, the package you chose, and how many hours you have paid for.
Extra bonus questions to ask your wedding photographer
We hope that our comprehensive guide to questions to ask your wedding photographer will be a valuable source of help as you try to find your perfect wedding photographer for your wedding. Here are some extra, and somewhat minor questions that you can consider to ask at your next appointment, or even after you have booked:
- Do they have any special dietary requirements for dinner?
- Would they like to sit with the guests for dinner?
- How would they handle the scene/environment, especially if it is an unusual venue, such as a very dark, or very bright venue, or a venue with a lot of glass surfaces?
- Any questions that they recommend you to ask? Every photographer operates their business differently. The helpful vendors will always have your best interest at heart, and will guide you with more questions if required.