You’re engaged! You’ve set a date, booked your venue, and now you’re hunting for the perfect wedding photographer.
What should you be looking for, and when you find a few wedding photographer contenders, what should you ask them to help narrow down your quest to find and hire the right one for you?
Hey there! I'm Sonya, a Bay Area native and wedding photographer. I love to play with my goldendoodle pup, Sequoia, travel the world with my fun-loving and surfer husband, and my favorite comfort food is a steaming hot bowl of pho!
Photo by Bojana Korach Photography
I've been photographing weddings for over a decade and with all those years of experience, I always like to make sure my couples get the information they need from me to feel comfortable and confident before their wedding day. That way they can just relax and be married when the day comes. The photos come out better that way too!
If you can trust in your wedding photographer, then you can just enjoy your wedding day and know that you hired an awesome vendor!
Since this might be your first time hiring a professional photographer, it can be hard to know what you don't know. It’s not always obvious what to ask them or what to look for in a wedding photographer and their services.
With that in mind, I put together a list of questions to help get into the specifics with any photographer you choose. I included some answers about my business so you know what details to look for when you meet a new photographer.
You should feel confident in your decision of who you hire because your photographer is one of the most important vendors at your wedding.
Check out my guide below.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
“Are you available on my wedding date?”
The first question to always ask, since your photographer might already be booked!
“How do we book you?”
Once you have had a conversation over email, video chat, or in person, your photographer should find the best wedding package for you. I send my clients a contract to sign, and I also collect a retainer. Once the contract is signed and the retainer is received, I lock your wedding date to my calendar!
“Would you be willing to provide references?”
To feel more comfortable in understanding your photographer’s experience, chatting with a past client or two can give you some great insights and confidence in your booking decision. I’m happy to provide references, however, to respect my past clients’ privacy, I will ask them first before sharing their contact information with you.
“Do you have insurance?”
A truly professional photographer should carry insurance! I carry policies for both my equipment and liability. It’s possible, though not common, that your wedding venue will request proof of liability insurance from me, in advance of your wedding date.
“What kind of equipment do you use?”
Professional grade Canon cameras, lenses, and flashes. I also have some film cameras, including a medium format Hasselblad camera.
BACKGROUND & PERSONALITY
“How long have you been photographing weddings?”
Hiring an experienced professional on your wedding day is key! Is your photographer a full-time wedding photographer, and for how many years?
After receiving my bachelor’s degree in Communication at UC Santa Barbara, I came to San Francisco to attend the Academy of Art University in 2004. While in my first semester studying photography, I was super honored when one of my professor’s asked me to photograph her intimate backyard wedding on Mt. Tamalpais. I haven’t stopped shooting weddings since!
“How would you describe your style?”
If you are not a photographer, it can be tricky to know what kind of photography style you want for your wedding. It can help to look around on a few wedding blogs or Pinterest, to understand what look appeals to you. Styles can range from classic and traditional, to a more candid and documentary look.
After photographing weddings for over a decade, I have found my style to be a blend of documentary, classic, and fine art. The majority of photos I take are candid, in-the-moment, natural and un-posed. Some of my photos that day will be classic portraits with beautiful light. As an artist, I like to look for the unexpected and unique moments, so when you receive your photos there might be a few surprises in there!
“How would you describe your demeanor on the day of the wedding?”
Wedding days are dynamic and can be fast-paced in their timelines. It’s important to find a photographer that understands this flow and is able to adapt and work with flexibility, while still having a smile on their face!
I’ve had some past clients describe me as a photo ninja! I do my best to be discreet and unobtrusive, and it’s truly the best way to capture all those great candid moments! The only time you’ll notice me is when I direct your portraits. But otherwise it’s your day and I do my best to keep a low-profile, while still fluidly capturing your wedding day.
“Will you take special requests for photos? (ex. I really want a picture of us hanging off a cliff, would you do that?)”
Definitely be open with your photographer if you have a certain vision in mind, and if you have some “must-have” photos.
And while that particular request of hanging off a cliff hasn’t happened yet, yes! I definitely will take special requests! I love to hear how you envision your wedding day.
VENUE & PLANNING
“Have you been to our venue or photographed a wedding at a similar venue?”
Your chosen venue will play a large role in the look and feel of your wedding photos. If you have your venue already booked, check with your photographer if they have been there or photographed a wedding there.
So definitely share with me your wedding venue, and I’ll share with you images from weddings I’ve photographed at your venue, or images from a similar style venue.
“How do you manage different kind of lighting?”
One of the great skills an experienced wedding photographer should posses is the ability to photograph in almost any kind of lighting situation!
Knowing my equipment as if it was an extension of me is part of being a seasoned professional.
My years of photographing hundreds of weddings has given me the skills to work in all kinds of lighting scenarios. I do my best to photograph using the existing natural light in your venue, and only use flash when necessary.
“Will you travel to my venue?”
Some photographers stay within their local region, others are happy to travel near and far!
While I love the beauty of the San Francisco Bay Area and our nearby Wine Country, I also love to travel and I photograph destination weddings outside of the San Francisco Bay Area! I have photographed weddings in LA, Las Vegas, New York, Hawaii, and Mexico.
“Will you get in touch with our planner?”
The most successful weddings are those in which your vendors work as a cohesive team!
Once we have completed your booking, please share your planners contact info and I would love to get in contact with them.
“What do you need from me before the wedding day?”
In other words, what happens after you book your wedding photographer? Be sure to ask them what the next steps are.
After your wedding booking, I’ll be in touch with you and/or your wedding planner with a couple of resources to help you with your wedding day planning. I’ll send a sample wedding day timeline as it pertains to the key photographic moments, and I will also ask you to fill out a family portrait guide.
PACKAGES & SERVICES
“What services do you offer?”
Packages and services will differ with every photographer. I like to connect with a client first, discuss their vision and then find the best package that will fit their needs. Weddings are not one-size-fits-all — this approach allows me to ensure our expectations are aligned and each couple is getting the experience they are looking for.
These are some standard questions that’ll help you get aligned with the photographer you choose:
What are your packages and what do they include? For example:
- engagement session
- rehearsal dinner
- second shooter
- photo rights
How long will you be at our wedding?
How long will it take to get my photos after our wedding?
What will we receive after our wedding?
The best question to ask yourself before hiring your wedding photographer is do you feel connected and comfortable with them, and also excited to have them document one of the most special days in your life?