12 Things Wedding Photographers Want To Tell You, But Can't
Most wedding publications will give you a list of questions to ask a wedding photographer. Questions like: "How would you describe your style? Whats your insurance policy? What equipment do you shoot with?"
Ok now let's be real: Those questions are boring. And you probably don't actually care about the answers anyway.
So I interviewed some brides and event-planners and put together a list of all those questions you really want to ask, and all those things we really want you to know.
12 Questions To Ask a Wedding Photographer
1. How do I pick the best photographer when there are hundreds listed in my area?
First, look for a forum or blog that appeals to your style. Make a list of your top 10.
Once you've got a few favorite photographers, narrow it down to a handful of favorites, and set up a time to meet them. Make sure you're meeting with the person who will be wielding the camera at your wedding, not a sales consultant or studio owner. You have to, like, trust and get along with your photographer — that way you can leave the magic of photo making in the photographer's hands. Not only should you like their images, you should also like them! You'll be spending many hours with them during your wedding day and maybe pre shoots.
2. How many photos do I get?
It is standard for wedding photographers to deliver 50-100 photos for every hour of coverage provided. 800 photos may seem like a lot, but your wedding photographer is preserving all those little details and special moments you missed while you were mingling.
3. I love those photos with the blurry backgrounds. How do you get that look?
You're talking about shallow depth of field. Photographers get that look by using professional lenses that are able to focus tightly on the subject.
4. I found one photographer whose images look soft and pastel, one whose images look clean, and one whose images look like they were shot on old film. What's the deal?
Every photographer has a different way of editing their images using computer software (the high-tech version of a darkroom). This is called "Post-Processing." Most photographers do some basic lighting and color adjustments, but you can also use editing software to create a unique look. Three popular styles right now are:
- Clean: lightly processed to appear natural
- Matte: a low-contrast look with muted pastel colors, similar to vintage film
- High Contrast: a vibrant look with rich colors that pop
It doesn't matter which style you go with, as long as you love it!
5. Why is wedding photography so freakin' expensive?
This is the question I see most from brides on the internet. Wedding photography seems like easy money — work for one day and rake in the cash, right? But most full-time wedding photographers I know carry over $15,000 worth of wedding gear and often work 60-hour weeks. (Remember those 800 images from question #2? It takes several full days just to edit those.)
Add insurance, taxes, software, advertising, albums, repair, shipping, and studio expenses, and many photographers end up making less than minimum wage for the first few years of their career.
6. How can I make sure I look good in my photos?
The truth is, sometimes people wind up hating their wedding photos. While there's nothing you can do about it after the job is done... kidding!
Relax. Trust your wedding photographer.
If you're relaxed, it'll show through in your photos.
Leave some breathing room in your schedule so you don't feel rushed — I recommend a minimum 30 minutes for family and wedding party photos, and 1 hour for the couple portraits.
Oh, and get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water the night before.
Take it easy at the rehearsal dinner. Wedding-day hangovers are not fun.
7. Who's responsible for printing wedding photos?
Digital file delivery is standard may be important to you, but find a full-service photographer who will edit the images and print reference proofs before handing over the digis.
Now please, don't let the digitals rot on your hard drive. As a photographer, I want you to proudly display your wedding photos. It makes me sad when I think of all the photos that never get printed. Don't hide your wedding photos! I tell my clients to hang up a canvas or 2 — when you're having a crappy day, it's great to look up in your living room and see a photo of an awesome day.
8. Should we do a "first look"? And, um, what the hell is a "first look"?
If you're not already a sucker for a sappy, tearful, heart-smooshing first looks, we're gearing up to make you one...
The first look is a chance for wedding couples to see each other privately before the ceremony. Two-thirds of my clients currently opt to do a first look. It's a great chance to get the wedding jitters out and spend a few minutes alone together. I find that first look photos tend to be some of my favorites. It's a real moment with real emotions.
Honestly, it's also a great way to avoid stress on your wedding day. (Some of my couples even choose to get ready together!) And many of my couples get to enjoy their whole cocktail hour because they got all of the photos out of the way before the wedding.
9. Do I really need a second photographer?
No one needs a second photographer, but they can provide you with more images and a different perspective. Many of the top photographers only work with assistants who carry gear and help with professional lighting. The best thing is to ask your wedding photographer to see how they prefer to work. You can get good results either way.
10. How far in advance should I book a wedding photographer?
Many in-demand wedding photographers book weddings at over a year out. As it gets closer to your wedding date, it will be harder to book your first-choice photographer.
If your favorite photographer is unavailable on your date, don't panic. Ask them for recommendations — they may know someone with a similar style and a lighter schedule.
11. You can Photoshop that, right?
It depends. As a photographer, I want to get everything as perfect as possible in camera. Posing, location scouting, and camera settings can "fix" most things before I even click the shutter. If your crazy uncle photobombs you, I'm going to retake the photo — it's much easier to get the photo right than to fix it with Photoshop. Many photographers charge for extensive editing in Photoshop, because it can be very time-consuming.
12. Should I tip my photographer?
I get asked this a bit. For photographers, "Tips are never expected but are always appreciated."
Hopefully, this clears up some burning questions about wedding photography — and makes it a little bit easier to find the best photographer for your wedding day.