A Wedding Photographer Checklist of Questions

Whether you are planning to spend a large portion of your wedding budget on photography or you are attempting to keep the photography budget on the low side, this wedding photographer checklist will help you make some decisions. In this first part I want to focus on the budget conscious bride and groom. My next post will deal with what to look for if your budget allows you to go beyond the basics.

Many brides study the wedding websites and magazines to get as much information as they can before approaching a photographer. They often put together a long list of wedding photographer questions that are thought to be helpful. But most photographers will be able to answer all of your wedding photographer questions making it not so easy to pick the right one. The following are the most important questions that should be on your wedding photographer checklist:

The first thing to remember when you contact a wedding photographer is to ask about their style of photography and talk a little about the images before you get around to asking about the price. The last thing you want to do is start out asking how much do you charge and then book a photographer strictly on what they charge. You will make them more interested in dealing with you as well. If they think that you are familiar with their work and are interested in it, they may even be more flexible in negotiating their fee downwards for you when you ask them to do so because of the tight economy.

Not every cheap photographer is bad, but if you are a on a tight budget, as so many brides are this year, be aware that finding a really good wedding photographer who will give you what you want for less than $1,500 -$1,800 requires that you really do your homework beforehand, have a great deal of luck, and be prepared to compromise on any of the extras you might be thinking about.

Let’s say you want to get at a minimum, a photographer who will give you at least six hours of coverage and all of the images on a disc with a release of copyright so you can go and get your own prints made yourself at a cheap lab. This will be a quest but doable if you keep a sharp eye out.

One of the next questions to ask when you meet with a prospective photographer who is offering to work in that price range is: how long they have been shooting weddings. If they show you a portfolio consisting of, at best, average photos and claim to have shot more than 100 weddings over the past five years, an alarm bell should be going off in you head.

The next step is asking them to see a web gallery or proof book of all the photos from just one wedding. If they refuse or are reluctant to produce one, then you have a good reason to move on to the next photographer on your list. Any photographer with that much experience should be confident enough to show you all of the photos from a recent wedding if you ask, not just a few select shots from a number of different weddings. See what they say when you ask to see a proof book or disc of a whole wedding. If they produce one for you and it is full of great images, then you have found the right photographer.

If the photos are not that great, just kind of average looking, you might still want to book with them. If they are young, they may just be starting out, are getting better with every wedding and are charging a budget price to get more experience. Maybe they are doing it part time or are still attending school and are learning photography. This is probably the best-case scenario for a budget photographer. Perhaps they have assisted someone a number of times and now feel confident to go out on their own. If so, with this scenario, they just might be able to give you what you are looking for at a low price.

The wedding photographers to avoid in the lower price range are the photographers who will show you lots of albums and proof books and have been working professionally for quite a long time, and all of their work looks average to poor quality. They will surely produce the same quality of images for you if you hire them. And you will deserve what you get if you do hire someone just on price.

There is an old quote by John Ruskin, a British art critic author, poet and artist that I am reminded of:

“I have no quarrel with the man whose prices are lower, for he knows better than anyone else in the world what his product is worth.”

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