Before you commit to hiring a photographer, you really must ask these 5 important wedding photographer questions. These days, with photo SD memory cards so easily lost, damaged or corrupted, it’s scary how many wedding photographers lose images. I’ve had at least a handful of dear friends never receive their wedding images at all. The photographer either lost the files, or they were scamming them. (This was common for a while, about a decade ago.) I even know of one photographer who left their SD cards and equipment in their car, and had everything stolen. However it happens, it’s so sad.
The very best thing you can do when beginning to look for a photographer is read as many reviews as you can find. And check out multiple platforms. A professional photographer will have tons of different platforms with reviews on them. Read everything from Facebook to Instagram, Google to Yelp, The Knot to Wedding Wire. It’s really easy to do your research and find authentic photographer reviews.
So here are the most important topics I discuss with my clients during an initial consult. Because, let’s be honest – you don’t throw large events or weddings every weekend. But we sure do. Most of my couples say, “I wouldn’t have even thought about that,” after all the educating I do.
(Hands down the most important question.)
A photographer’s answer should be something like this:
For me at Jana Marie Photography, we only shoot on cameras that allow 2 SD card slots. We also record images onto two cards at once. (That’s one backup.) I typically keep one of the cards from my camera, and one belonging to my assistant. And they do the same. That way, we have one set of images with me and one with them. So, if something happens like a theft, or a burst water pipe, images are not lost. No matter what may happen, we have two locations of backup. (That’s a second backup.)
In addition to that, the moment I get home, I back up both the raw files and jpg files of images to my online backup system, SmugMug. This is one of the only systems in the world that allows you to back up the full large raw files online. (That’s a third backup.) After one of the largest projects I ever did, my hard drives failed. And let me tell you, this online backup system saved me.
Lastly, I back up everything on the external hard drives I edit them on. And I don’t write over the SD cards with other event photos until I’ve finished this job. (That’s a fourth and a fifth backup.) So, we can almost always guarantee that our files will end up in your hands, and you’ll get the beautiful wedding photos you deserve.
Again, this is one of the most vital wedding photographer questions. I’ve had so many of my friends go through the mess of never receiving their professional photos. They end up with only their friends’ iPhone photos. I would never wish for anyone else to go through that.
If a professional photographer does not have a similar answer, then consider it a red flag. You absolutely do not want to take the risk of losing your wedding photos. And definitely do not hire them if they don’t have dual card slots to save the images. It’s very common for an SD card to fail.
Try to get a feel for how they’ll interact with you and your guests. And when you first meet, you should get a sense that they’re making an effort to connect with you. Every professional photographer is an individual, and we’re only human, so there’s not really a wrong answer here. The right answer for you will be whatever resonates with you personally. Do you like a photographer who’s more interactive and directs and poses you a lot? Or do you like a photographer who’s more of a fly on the wall, documenting the day as it unfolds, with less staging?
Also, will your photographer spend hours taking your posed portraits? Or just 15 minutes? What would YOU prefer? You should be able to see the results of how the photographer interacts with their clients when you look through their portfolio. Again, this answer can only be right or wrong depending on how it makes you feel.
If someone told me it’ll take six months or longer to receive my images, that would be a big red flag for me. But it does depend on their situation. Do they work full-time as a teacher and only do professional photography on the side? This will dictate the amount of time they have to spend editing your images and how soon you’ll receive them. If this is a full-time job for them, they most likely will be able to get them back to you sometime within two to four months. Any longer, and you might want to reconsider.
This is another super-important wedding photographer question. After the years of COVID, we all know anything can happen at any time and without warning. For my business, we always have a backup photographer or associate/assistant who’s been trained by me and shoots and interacts in a way that’s similar to me.
And thank goodness for our community of professional photographers in Kansas City. We communicate all the time. On one occasion, I found out I had COVID on the morning of a wedding. People around me were getting it, so I got tested and got the test results while I was driving to the event. Luckily, I’d been in communication all week with a photographer who’s very reputable and close to my style. So they were ready to step in right away.
If your photographer does not have a backup plan, or people who can fill in for them, I’d be a little skeptical. The topic of not showing up should also be stated in their contract very clearly, including information about refunds.
This again depends on a photographer’s personality. A lot of this wisdom, knowledge, grace and patience come with experience. Newer photographers might not have lived through many tough situations at events or weddings yet, or don’t know how to diffuse or redirect before they happen. There are lots of professional photographers who feel like they’re in charge of the day, don’t work well with the other professionals, and don’t know how to vocalize respectfully. A photographer can either lighten the air and be a calming presence in what can be a very stressful environment, or bring a heavy cloud with them and make everyone feel more tense and worried.
An experienced photographer knows how to handle stressful situations with grace and dignity, rather than pride. The team at Jana Marie Photography always wants to assure you that everything is ok and that we’ll work through any issue to make the event incredible for our clients.
You may want to include in your wedding photographer questions if they’ve had experiences with tough family matters, or tense situations in the past. How they answer will tell you a lot about their level of experience and professionalism.
One of my favorite lines to tell engaged clients is, “When all is said and done, you really only get your spouse and your wedding photographs, so you better hope they’re both good.”
I hope these wedding photographer questions gave you some wonderful insights to consider when interviewing to hire. And if you have any other questions, check out our FAQ page, or just reach out to me. I’d love to talk to you about your special day.