Three Questions you NEED to ask your Wedding Photographer!
It’s that time of year when newly engaged couples are beginning to plan their wedding. The venue gets booked, you start to narrow down dress ideas and color combinations, and before long you’re posting to Facebook to ask who knows a good wedding photographer. There are so many things that go into finding the right photographer for your wedding day: you should get along, and actually LIKE them as a person, they should be able to make you laugh, they should give great hugs, and you should be obsessed with their previous wedding photographs.
Is that it? You love their work and you both like running, dogs and Taylor Swift, so you’re sold.
There are about a million questions that you should probably ask your photographer, but to me, these are the most important questions that you should ask.
1) Do you bring a second shooter when you photograph weddings?
You guys. This should probably be like, the number one or number two question that you ask your wedding photographer. I would even consider this more important than your price range and here’s why..
You hired a photographer and he/she’s great, and you guys like the same show on Netflix and you are both dog people and she inspires you because she does triathlons (wait am I describing myself?). You opted not to pay the extra money to have a second shooter because you’re trying really hard to stay under your budget, but you also really want that good champagne for the toasts. I TOTALLY GET IT.
Imagine this scenario…
You and your honey just finished your vows and you’re about to take that first sweet married kiss that is a MUST on your photography list. Everyone is cheering and the confetti is flying and he even did that cute thing where he raised his fist triumphantly in the air. It’s the perfect photography moment. You don’t know this, but your photographers camera just malfunctioned, or the shutter momentarily freezes, or the camera didn’t focus on you two kissing, it focused on the bridesmaids at your side. It happens. It’s happened to almost every photographer I know.
I’ve never had anything that extreme happen to me, but I have had my camera freeze during family formals, and I have had memory cards go corrupt on me, and I’ve lost images. So this is why I ALWAYS have a second shooter. I will not take a wedding without one. I know plenty of photographers who don’t have second shooters and that’s totally fine, but for me personally, I know that I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t have a back up.
2) How long does the photographer keep your wedding images?
OKAY, THIS IS CRAZY TO ME. I was reading a blog about a photographer who DELETED her wedding images after a year. You guys. That’s totally freaking insane. She said “I have fulfilled my end of the contract with my clients and I don’t need the images, they take up space on my hard drive.” ummmm… what?
Okay, I totally get it. I have files on files, and folders filled with more folders and files that I am probably never going to touch from dozens of gorgeous weddings. Regardless of how much space they take up, I would never in a million years delete an image from somebody else’s wedding. Yes, my clients get a digital gallery with the option to buy a USB. Yes, they should be responsible for their own wedding photos.
But here’s why I will never delete a wedding gallery: FIRE. DEATH. TODDLERS. Not in any specific order, but what happens if my clients’ home burns down? Their computer is gone, they only stored their “favorites” on the cloud. How terrible would it be for them to reach out to me and for me to say, I know your wedding was three years ago, but I deleted all of your wedding pictures six months after your wedding. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.
Let’s say you didn’t opt for the full gallery on USB; you’ve been married for 6 years and your husbands favorite grandmother passes away. You know how much he loved that picture of the two of them on your wedding day and you really want to get it framed as a surprise for him. You reach out to your photographer and she’s like “oh sorry, I delete all of my weddings after 12 months.” UM NO, just no.
Okay, so you bought the USB of all your wedding day photographs and you’re super responsible with it, but you have a toddler who gets into EVERYTHING. You hear him giggling from the bathroom, only to discover that your beautiful and sacred wedding photos are being flushed down the toilet, USB and all. You’re in tears and your partner is like, “Why don’t you just email the wedding photographer?” You do, and you booked ME and I’m like “SURE SIS! I know you got married 10 years ago, but I also totally understand that toddlers love to destroy all of the best things, I’ll drop a fresh USB in the mail for you by the end of the week!”
See the difference here? Not for nothing, but I have the first ever wedding that I ever photographed (as a back up, back up photographer - which was 10 years ago) stored on a hard drive and they weren’t even my clients! Even the weddings that I second shoot at, I never delete the RAW files, because maybe the main photographers house gets swept away in a tornado and her bride reaches out to her to order an album five years after her wedding.
Wedding photographs are the most sacred thing to me. I have a picture of my grandmother on her wedding day that is the most beautiful and inspiring photograph that I own. I keep it on my desk as a reminder that someday, some granddaughter is going to have a photograph that I took of her grandmother on her wedding day that speaks to her the same way my Mammie’s photo speaks to me. (Unrelated - I also have this picture of my grandparents on my desk as well.)
3) How many weddings have you been the lead photographer of?
Weddings are CRAZY, you guys. Like totally insane. If your photographer is like, “oh hey this is my first wedding of my entire life!” I would ask, “how do you handle crisis?” because seriously, I have been so stressed at the end of a wedding that I had hives all over my body when I got home. You want to hire a wedding professional, even though you’re going to pay more for them, you want a photographer who eats, breathes and sleeps weddings.
I try to relate it this way to my grooms, and it helps the most: You wouldn’t hire your next door neighbor to replace the engine on your one year old Tesla, would you? I mean unless he’s been a car mechanic his whole life and owns like three-hundred AutoZones. You would hire a professional person who has been working on cars forever, more importantly he should know how the heck Teslas work (I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT TESLAS OBVIOUSLY - they might not even have engines, maybe they run on magic and unicorn blood). You don’t hire an electrician to fix your plumbing - even if they both claim to be a “handyman” on their business card.
Your photographer should have first hand experience shooting weddings. Maybe this is their first solo wedding, but they’ve been second shooting for the last 18 months. But please don’t hire your aunt’s friend who just got a really nice camera. I can’t even tell you how many people have actually said to me “I wish we hired a professional photographer,” or “my photographer was terrible, we hated all of our pictures.” THIS BREAKS MY HEART. The absolute very last thing you should be worrying about on your wedding day is if your photographer knows what they’re doing.
Can you imagine how deflating it would feel to be so excited to open up your wedding gallery only to find out that you hate 95% of the photographs from your special day?
You don’t get to re-create it. You get one chance, one day, and your wedding day will go by so fast, do you really want someone who doesn’t know what they are doing?
The only physical item you get to keep from your wedding day are your photographs. You don’t keep the food, the flowers die, your bridesmaids go back to their lives, sprinkled all over the country and your wedding dress is ripped and stained.
The ONE tangible item that you get to keep forever are your pictures from your wedding day.
I’m not even saying you need to hire me, there are loads of wedding photographers who are better than I am. But please, take some time to get to know your photographer, and invest in this one thing that you can keep forever (unless your house burns down and your photographer doesn’t keep the files).