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The Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer (and 5 you should NOT!) // Tonie Christine Photography // Seattle Wedding Photographer

May 7, 2019

WELCOME!!! Are you planning your wedding or hoping to start that process soon?? You are in the right place! I have conducted over 300 client consults over the past years and I am definitely a pro at knowing the concerns my potential clients have and I usually get worried when they DONT ask a question or two! So, here are 5 questions you totally need to ask the photographer you are talking to about booking for your wedding and if you last to the end, there are 5 bonus questions you should NOT ask your photographer too 😉 I am an open book, so please feel free to reach out and ask me anything! -Tonie
1. “Can I see a full gallery of images, not just your blog or Instagram?”
As photographers, we put out our best and favorite work on our Instagrams. (DUH! we want to pull you in!) BUT you NEED to ask to see at least 1 full gallery of a recent wedding so that you can check and look through a gallery for the following things:
– Is their work consistent? Meaning: do the colors and editing look consistent throughout the day? If you are drawn to their website, instagram and everything, then you want to make sure that the rest of the day is adequately covered and that you love the photos from all parts of the day! Many photographers may not know how to handle tough lighting situations such as bright middle of the day sun, or dimly lit reception areas. Make sure you are confident that they are a professional and can handle ANYTHING that could possibly be throwing at them ;).
2. “How long have you been shooting full time?”
It may not seem like a very important question, but when you ask it, listen to their response and also compare their price to how long they have been in the industry. It would not be wise to hire a photographer who has been in business 6 months and is charging a high end price point. While this is not ALWAYS the case, you want to be confident that the person you are investing in has past experience to back it up. I love telling my clients I have been shooting for over 10 years and 6 of that being a FULL TIME wedding photographer!  The photographer you choose might have a lot of beautiful “wedding” images you have seen but they may be “styled shoots” or otherwise known as fake shoots that they put together in ideal situations and many times these newer photographers will not know how to manage a timeline during a chaotic wedding day, or shoot in tougher lighting situations to make the best possible images!
3. “Do you have your license and are you insured?”
You may be thinking… wait, why would I ask that? You might be surprised at how many “photographers” who are drumming up business for themselves are just doing so in “hobby-land” to make some extra cash. The reality is, that a professional photographer will make ALL the difference in your day and making sure they have a business license and insurance is just one good way to protect yourself against any crazy circumstance that might come up!
4. “Am I getting a second shooter or is the other photographer learning or an assistant to you?”
Many photographers offer a “second photographer” or a “second shooter” in their wedding packages. You need to make sure to directly ask if this other photographer is just learning, is at the wedding to build their portfolio or is acting as an assistant by carrying cameras and running errands during the day. I always want my clients to have the peace of mind that the second Photographer that I am bringing with me could actually shoot the FULL wedding on their own in case anything ever happened to me. They are trained in my own style and to execute a wedding the same way I do. Not only should that bring you peace of mind, but it should also help you look at the gallery you have seen with new eyes! I produce images of the client walking down the aisle from the front, while my other photographer is getting the angle from behind! It’s pretty magical to get more candid photos and a considerable amount of different angles delivered to you in your finished gallery!
5. “D0 I have a print release to my photos?”
The answer should be ABSOLUTELY! (Unless you are hiring a photographer who specifically sells you products after the wedding. Just make sure to understand if you are allowed to print your photos on your own or not before you book). Let me also make it clear that you own the images. JUST the images. NOT the copyright. This means you can print them as wallpaper for your home, or you can put your happy faces right on a throw blanket… and it means that we retain the rights to our art. As photographers, we use our images on our websites, our portfolios and printed work. Since this is our product we retain the copyright as there is not a reason you would need that. SO, just be sure to check with your photographer that you will get high resolution images delivered to you so that you can enjoy them for years to come!
BONUS: Five questions to pass on asking your photographer:
1. “Can I have the copyright to the images?”– Nope! Covered that up above. It’s not something you actually need 😉 If you simply don’t want your photos posted out and about on the photographers social media etc, feel free to ask them if you can pay a “Loss of Marketing” fee so that they will keep them fully private.
2. “I googled a list of ‘Must Have’ Photos, can I send it to you?” – Nope! Here’s the thing, you have searched high and low and most likely received recommendations from friends or seen the photographers work. We want you to have the utmost confidence in our style and how we approach a wedding day. I will ALWAYS send you a questionnaire to fill out prior to the wedding that will ask for any “unusual” or “surprise” elements that you want photographed, but leave the rest up to us! We got you!!
3. “Can I have the RAW photos so that I can edit them?” Nope! You don’t need these. Likely, you saw on one of those said lists, that you should ask for these. You will just need to confirm that you are receiving the high resolution printable photos. RAW files are for extensive editing and most general computer software won’t even show you a thumbnail of the image or load the image in RAW format. Again, it’s why you hired a pro!
4. “Do you give discounts?” Nope! I’ll say this…..while you might be respectfully asking for a discount, try to take into consideration ALL the ways other people run their businesses and reach out to photographers you feel are worth every penny! They will POUR over your images and perfect them. They are licensed, insured, paying taxes and providing for their family. So, if you cant afford the DREAM photographer you just reached out to, instead of asking for a discount, try asking if they might consider creating a specialty package that might work within your budget. This may include less hours of coverage or something similar.
5. “I really love your style, but you are priced way to high, can you send me a referral of someone with your exact style?” Nope! I just cringed a little! Folks, if you LOOOVE our work so much that you are trying to find a cheaper version of us, then you are crushing our little creative photographer hearts! We want to give you the BEST experience possible and with our price point comes our own skill set, our own artistic eye and our own unique experience that we provide to our clients. I think I speak for MANY photographers when I say, it’s ok to have a smaller photography budget, but just make sure you really think through what is LASTING from your wedding. 1. (the biggest and most important thing) Your Marriage and 2. the MEMORIES of that day. These photos will literally help SHAPE the way you remember your day. So if you find that perfect photographer, maybe consider finding wiggle room in your budget in other areas!
I hope you find this article helpful in researching and finding your PERFECT match of a photographer for you wedding.

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