Hands down, the photos of your wedding provide you with the most timeless and lasting memories of your big day. So, choosing your photographer is easily one of the most important things you will do while planning your wedding. Here are 6 questions to ask wedding photographers — and what they want YOU to know so that you have the best experience and the most beautiful photos ever!
What to Ask Wedding Photographers
- Do you shoot RAW or JPEG photos? While the final digital photos you receive WILL be usable JPEG files, this is an important question to ask. JPEG is a compressed file format and cameras don’t do well with this compression. The best way to create the JPEG is for the photographer upload the raw files to his/her computer and manually convert each file to the JPEG format after necessary edits or touchups have been performed. When photos are originally shot in JPEG format instead of RAW, highlights and shadows are lost when processing the photos. This means that the intricate details of your gown or bouquet can be diminished. Your snow white gown may appear to be ivory. The differences may be subtle, but there WILL be differences. This is why it is always best to hire a photographer who shoots RAW images and edits them before converting to JPEG.
- How will you compensate for lighting issues throughout the wedding? This is especially tricky in both brightly lit and dimly lit venues, or outdoor events. Ask your photographer to show you photos taken at similar times during the same seasons as when your wedding will take place. Look carefully to see if faces have shadows or rooms appear too bright or too dark. If a photographer tells you they can “only do so much,” don’t hire them!
- Can I see complete wedding galleries? It is very easy for photographers to simply put the best of their work into photo albums or on their websites. But good wedding photography requires consistency. Good photographers take great photos from the beginning of the day all the way through to the last dance or when the happy couple makes their exit from the reception. A full day’s worth of photos can be very revealing, and all of them should be properly exposed and emphasize the events of the day.
- Who is the primary photographer — or, who will be the photographer on my wedding day? Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily need two photographers to capture the best photos. BUT, you should be introduced to the person who will actually be taking your photos and you should request to see galleries of their work. If you love their photos, trust them to shoot your wedding even if they don’t use a second photographer.
- Why do you photograph weddings? This is not a trick question. Photography is hard work that requires long hours, patience with people’s emotions, and requires expensive, well-maintained equipment — not to mention the skill and artistry to deliver top-of-the line images. You should get to know your photographer and LIKE him/her — after all, you are going to be spending the bulk of your wedding day with each other! You may also have other photo shoots with this photographer, such as engagement photos or, after you are married, anniversaries, pregnancy, gender reveal, births, newborns, etc. You will want to know what drives your photographer to do what he/she does.
- Do you carry liability and equipment insurance? Your photographer should carry insurance to cover them in the case of any injuries or damages to their equipment during your event or photo shoot.
What Wedding Photographers Want You To Know ….
I recently had the pleasure of talking with three Cincinnati-area photographers to learn more about their services and their thoughts on current wedding photography trends. Here’s what I learned:
While each photographer said she does provide a photo checklist to their couples (the “must have” shots like family, friends, specific moments during the ceremony or reception), they all also agreed that they prefer the more candid photos. Molly Grosse of Molly Grosse Photography stated, “Every wedding is different and to have a list that is the same for each wouldn’t be fair to the client.”
When to Start Interviewing Wedding Photographers
You should begin scheduling interviews with photographers between 15 and 18 months before your wedding, making your final selection and entering into a contract around 12 months prior. Brenda Pottinger, owner of Pottinger Photography, advises, “You should find your photographer as soon as you book your venue. If you love a photographer, book them as soon as you can. At Pottinger Photography, we only book one wedding per day so available dates do book up very quickly. If you are looking at a holiday weekend or October wedding, you may even need to book as far out as two years.”
Prices & Payments
In the Dayton-Cincinnati, Ohio region, wedding photographers typically charge between $600.00 and $6,000.00 depending on the type of package you select. Most also require a retainer fee to hold the date, and offer payment plans. Every photographer’s packages and payment plans vary, so be sure to look over contracts carefully.
Digital or Prints?
In this day and age, wedding photographers will typically only provide digital files of your photos approximately 4 to 6 weeks following your event. However, most photographers will also provide you with websites or businesses where you can have your photos printed.
Current Photography Trends
Trends come and go, and it’s sometimes hard to keep up! Molly Grosse suggests that couples stay away from too many trendy wedding pictures. She stated, “The only thing that should date your wedding is the fashion. The idea of the wedding photograph is to show future generations the beginning of this part of history.” She goes on to say, “My style is classic; I capture the couple and their guests as they are.”
Lisa Wilsey of HEART Photography sees “unplugged ceremonies” as up and coming. She explained that unplugged means that “guests don’t take photos with cameras, phones or tablets. The happy couple has hired a professional and want their guests to be present in the moment instead of trying to capture their own photos. There’s nothing like seeing a photo from your photographer with Auntie’s hand clutching her cell phone!”
Brenda Pottinger agreed that she is seeing “many of our couples choosing to have an unplugged ceremony. It’s a great way for guests to be in the moment with the couple!”
What Wedding Photographers Would Like to Tell Your Guests
Be aware of the wedding day timeline. In other words, don’t take up a lot of time after the ceremony snapping your own photos and causing the hired photographer to be delayed in his/her job. Molly advises couples to “hire a wedding planner” to ensure that the events of the day happen when they are supposed to happen.
If guests are taking photos, be aware of where the hired photographer is located and stay out of the way. The couple is paying a good deal of money for the photographer and for some amazing photos that could easily be ruined by a guest leaning into the aisle or jumping in front of the cake to get the cake cutting photo. (Brenda suggested that guests should snap photos of the other guests’ reactions while the couple feed the cake to each other! This makes for great “behind the scenes” photos the couple will treasure!)
Brenda also stated that she is finding that couples “love having extra photos taken from the perspective of their family and friends,” so go ahead and let your guests snap away. But a word to your guests — if you see the photographer, then the photographer can see you too, so please step away out of the shot. Lisa advises, “Be present. There is a beautiful couple who invited you to witness them dedicating their lives to one another, so be a part of the day.”
Another great piece of advice for your guests who are snapping photos — turn off the flash! Be unobtrusive. When a photographer is taking “candid” shots of just the couple, they typically stand a distance away so that the couple can have an intimate and private time together, captured forever by the photographer’s lens.
Finally, don’t be afraid of rain! Brenda told me that some of her favorite photos have included umbrellas. A really great photographer will do anything to get an amazing photo for you — so just enjoy the ride!
About The Contributors
I would like to thank Lisa Wilsey, Molly Grosse and Brenda Pottinger for contributing to this article and providing such beautiful photographs to share. Below is more information about each of them.
With Tender Loving Care,
Lisa Wilsey is located in Mason, Ohio and has been in business for three years. Her website is www.heartphotography.com and she can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 513/479-8077. She is currently photographing just a handful of weddings each year but her business is growing.
Molly Grosse Photography
Molly Grosse is located in the Bridal District at 341 W. Benson Street in northern Cincinnati. She has been in business since 2008 but began photographing weddings in 2002. Her website is www.mollygrosse.photography and she can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 513/821-5051. She typically photographs between 25 and 30 weddings each year.
Brenda Pottinger is located in Newport, Kentucky. She has been in business since 2004 and began taking her very first photos at the age of 9. Her website is www.pottingerphoto.com and she can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 513/484-9709. Brenda is currently photographing around 20 weddings each year.
Lead-In Photo courtesy of Pottinger Photography.