The bride and groom pose in front of a vintage car in Buffalo, NY.

You are happily engaged, planning your wedding, and like every couple, you need to find a wedding photographer. Finding the right wedding photographer for your wedding can be a stressful process. How in the world are you supposed to interview someone for a very important job if you don’t know much about the industry?

The internet is filled with incredible wedding images from all over the world. Every photographer shows of their best work, so how do you know who to choose? Here are a few questions you can ask a photographer that will hopefully help you choose the perfect person for your job!

  1. How long have you been photographing weddings? It’s important to find a photographer with many wedding under his or her belt. After hundreds of weddings, I still learn something new at each event! It’s also important to find a photographer who specializes in weddings. If you see a photographer offering newborn, family, car, pet, seniors, real estate, and drone photos, chances are they don’t have much wedding experience. Any photographer can take pictures at your wedding, but not all photographers have the knowledge to capture real moments…often in tricky lighting situations.
  2. Why do you photograph weddings? Your photographer should be able to answer this questions without pause. If you detect a photographer doesn’t have a passion for weddings, I would turn the other direction.
  3. What are your policies? Every photographer has a list of policies in place to insure everyone gets the results they want. Does your photographer have a cancellation policy? It’s important to know these facts before you sign a wedding photography contract.
  4. Are you insured? A professional wedding photographer will have at least $1,000,000 in liability insurance, and additional insurance for equipment. What happens if grandma trips on a light stand? Who pays for her bills? Insurance is critically important.
  5. What brand and type of equipment do you use? While the answer to this question may not mean much to you, it’s important that your photographer has a professional level camera (such as those by Nikon, Canon, and Sony) and professional grade lenses. A good photographer will also have off-camera lighting. (On camera lighting is the flash that sits on top of the camera…while, you guessed it, off camera lighting are the lights not attached to a camera). Off camera lighting provides the best quality of light. On camera lighting can give the red-eyed-deer-in-headlights look. (This is not the look you want in wedding photos!)
  6. Do you have backup equipment? Every good wedding photographer has two (or three) of everything. I’ve broken gear at weddings…which is why everything has a backup in my car. If your photographer says they only have one camera, I would run.
  7. Does you camera have two card slots? Modern digital cameras use memory cards to record their images. An amateur camera has one card slot, meaning all photos get recorded on a single card. What happens if this card breaks? You will loose all of your photos. (I’ve heard of this happening to couples!). Imagine getting that phone call! All professional level cameras now are equipped with TWO card slots, meaning it can hold two memory cards at the same time. Images the camera takes are written to both cards at the same time. This way, if one card fails, there is a backup.
  8. How do you backup your wedding photos? Professional photographers should have a thorough backup plan with their precious wedding files. A copy should be stored in studio (or on their computer), a copy should be stored off site (in case if fire or theft), and a copy should be stored in the cloud online.
  9. Do you charge sales tax? Photographers who bill you for a service are not required to collect sales tax. So if I photograph your wedding for $2000, I do not collect any sales tax (saving you hundreds of dollars). If a wedding package includes an album, CD, thumb-drive, then sales tax must be collected. If you photographer gives you a tangible object, and doesn’t charge sales tax, you could be responsible for paying up if the photographer gets audited by the state. Imagine getting that phone call years after your wedding….oh by the way, you owe the state $500. Please make sure you photographer is well versed in the local tax laws.
  10. Tell me about your style! Every professional photographer with years of experience has a ‘method of operation.’ Do you want a photographer who is loud a bossy? Do you want one who will stay of out the way? What about a photographer who will pose every picture? Or one that doesn’t pose any? Ask you photographer to describe his or her approach to the wedding day so you aren’t surprised on the big day.

I really hope this information helps you in your search for a photographer. These are all questions I wish I would have asked my own wedding photographer. Happy planning!