If you only ask your Photographer One Question: Make it this one
The best question to ask your photographer.
All the “list of questions to ask your photographer” that you see out there, to be honest, are not very useful. Whether you bring them up or not, every photographer will answer the basic questions in the first meeting. (It’s still good to have a list, to make sure they covered all the bases!)
These questions don’t get to the meat of why you want to hire someone anyway. Anyone could fumble through these questions. There are thousands of blogs out there telling photographers HOW to answer these exact questions!
– How many photos do you give?
– What do you do if it rains?
– What equipment do you use? Do you have backups?
Not to be an alarmist, as this almost never happens, but there are stories of people who scam couples, by stealing other photographer’s photographs, pretending to be a wedding professional, learning how to ace an interview, take a deposit, and disappear.
Luckily there is a question that addresses all these concerns, and will help you to separate the Mice from the Men.
“Can you show me a fully edited wedding that you have delivered to your clients?”
A portfolio is a cherry picked collection of a Photographer’s best images, across several weddings. They choose exactly what they want to show, and not show.
But the product you receive will be from a single wedding. This means you will never get a wedding that looks like a photographer’s portfolio. This is why it is so important to see what a photographer actually delivers, so you can check for these areas:
Warning Signs you Should look for
Not Having a Wedding on hand to show you
Has this question never come up? Have they not thought about this before? Most photographers use online digital proofing galleries. Getting you an example is as simple as sending a text to one of their recent brides, asking for permission. 90% of the time, the first couple I asked says yes, and near 100% by the second person.
When I first got into weddings, and I only had 4-5 weddings under my belt, I was unprepared for this question, and was often left scrambling through my weddings to figure out which one had the least amount of bad images in it.
If they are reluctant to show you a full wedding, it is a strong sign that the portfolio might not represent their actual delivered work.
This doesn’t make them a bad photographer!
It just means that they are not confident, or not properly prepared to show you the product they deliver.
With this step alone, it can weed out any scam artists out there, as they can’t just take a few images and call it a wedding.
Variety of Posed Shots
While I am a big proponent of quality over quantity, if you don’t see a lot of posed shots, it might be a sign that they are not good at consistently getting awesome shots. In one hour, we can get a LOT of great images, and each shot should be different. If every photo is the same pose, or the same composition, or everyone just staring at the camera smiling, it might mean that they are not versatile in different situations.
Ability to shoot in Mixed Lighting Conditions
What you want to look for, is not how they shoot in the best lighting conditions, but how do they shoot in the worst. Dark Reception halls, cramped hotel rooms. The best camera in the world, in dark settings, looks bad unless used with proper technique.
Number of Photos Delivered
This might be a bit nit picky, but if they say they deliver between 200-500 images per wedding, and you only see 80-100…. This might be a sign they are hiding something. Ask about it!
Seeing a full wedding will show you the style of a photographer more so than their 20 best images. A wedding album is a story of the wedding day. The photos, and the order you put them in, should show you how a photographer tells that story. What details they think are important to include, and what details don’t matter.
Overly Defensive/ Unconfident
A photographer shouldn’t be making excuses, or over explaining why a photo is as it is. When going through the photos, they should be excited to be sharing with you the work that they are proud to show you.
Don’t get me wrong. Your photographer SHOULD cover all of the standard questions you see on those lists out there. No question is beneath a photographer! In fact, I absolutely love every question, and explaining even simple ones. But this one question is the one that will tell you more about the photographer you are dealing with, and give you some real good tools to make your choice.