12 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Wedding Photographer
We meet with several engaged couples every week, and can only imagine how overwhelming it can feel with so many options available for your big day. How do you decide which photographer is right for you? Some couples find generic lists online of “What to Ask Your Wedding Photographer”. While these lists are a great starting point, some of the questions aren’t really relevant. An example would be, “Do you include RAW files?” or “What megapixel size is your camera?” Well, first of all, if I gave away RAW files, my brides and grooms wouldn’t be able to open the files, much less print them. We process those files and color correct them into JPEGs, which are universal files. And secondly, the megapixel size is an outdated question, as your Aunt Jo probably has a 18+ megapixel camera (they can come fairly cheap now). The sensor size and how well the camera produces images in low light should be the real question as to how professional the equipment being used is. We’re talking about the difference in a $500 amateur camera versus a $5000+ professional camera. But, we’ll talk more on sensor info in a minute.
While there is no such thing as a dumb question, we believe that asking the right questions will help you find the perfect fit for you and your day! We put together a little list of common questions we receive, as well as things to consider when searching for your photographer. Here they are!
1. What Should My Toledo Wedding Photography Budget Be?
While this question is ultimately up to you, you should be aware of what range of professionalism your budget will get you. If you’re looking to spend under $1000 for a full day wedding, then unfortunately you’ll be hiring a camera enthusiast without sufficient equipment or only has minimal experience. Professional photographers range in budgets depending on location. You might pay $5000+ for a minimal wedding package in New York City. For the Toledo area, couples average $2000-$3000 for their professional wedding photography. Our brides and grooms typically spend $2500 or more, but we do offer packages starting at $1500 for smaller weddings. With only one day to make the magic, you’ll want to trust your wedding to a true professional with the experience and equipment to capture your dream day. The lack of experience that comes with low budget photographers is a big risk for your special day!
2. Do You Have Backup Equipment?
Just because someone takes “good” pictures doesn’t mean that they are prepared for wedding photography. Wedding photographers have ONE chance at capturing your big day. That means they need to be prepared in case their main camera, flash, lens, or equipment fails. Equipment is mechanical, which unfortunately means it’s prone to give out without notice. Your photographer should have a backup of EVERYTHING. What if they trip over grandma’s cane and drop the camera? Or the flash dies and no amount of new batteries or praying to the-god-of-weddings makes it come back to life? Or the card reader malfunctions right in the middle of your vows? Your photographer should be able to pick up a backup and continue on without a hitch. Believe me, this stuff really happens! We have sent in a number of flashes, lenses, and camera bodies to be repaired… and that’s with top-of-the-line equipment. Luckily we had plenty of backup equipment so we did not miss a moment of the wedding. Quality backup equipment is important, too. We use only Canon brand and professional grade cameras, lenses, speedlites, flash accessories, batteries, software, etc. Our cameras range from 18-23 megapixels, and were specifically purchased for our business because they have highly sensitive sensors. They work amazing wonders with low light (such as inside churches or reception halls) to create crisp and sharp color detail with every image.
With that said, we also shoot primarily on a dual-card camera. What is that? Professional grade cameras include two memory card slots so that 2 copies of every image taken is being saved. Memory cards unfortunately have the reputation for as much as 1 in every 3 going bad. We use higher-end cards, so this is much less. But shooting with a dual-card camera just gives that extra security in case one malfunctions. After the wedding, we also backup the images 4 more times onto external hard drives and at a secure online storage. That way, should our computers get corrupted or stolen, we still have an off-site copy. Your day is THAT important to us! 🙂
3. How Many Weddings Have You Shot?
This is always a great question, as answers can vary a lot! A photographer might post that they have 5 years of experience shooting weddings, but it’s irrelevant if they only shoot 1-2 weddings a year. Another great question to consider along this line is if the photographer has shot a similar wedding style to yours. Is it a stylish wedding in a downtown urban area, an upscale country club ceremony, or outside at a family farm? We’ve captured 70+ weddings of all styles and personalities. Each one is unique and fun, which is why we love our job! No two weddings are ever the same. I love to capture the unique love between a man and his bride, and all the little details that make their day special!
4. Are You a Natural Light Photographer, Studio Light Photographer, or Both?
This is the portion of the photographer’s style. When you first saw their work, what did you like about it? Was it the even skin tones, variety of lighting, or the soft outdoor images that caught your eye? A natural light photographer means that they are unfortunately restricted to the sun as their only light source. What if your wedding day is cloudy or rainy? If they are a studio light photographer, their style is more creative with lighting. The answer to this trick question should really be both. Your photographer should be able to capture those stunning light-filtering outdoor portraits, as well as be prepared for off-camera studio light that is useful for dark venues. Studio light photographers tend to have more rounded knowledge of how to be creative with light. With our studio, we shoot a variety of natural light portraits, as well as use studio lighting. We even use studio lighting outdoors which, when used at a minimal flash setting, creates beautiful even skin tones. Outdoor flash also enhances the sky, which can be ‘blown out’ in natural light portraits that are over-compensating a bright sky to expose for their couples in the foreground.
5. Do You Offer the Digital Files?
There are 2 things that make me really sad. The first is hearing stories of wedding days ruined by inexperienced photographers, and the other is hearing of couples who just keep their images on a disc. Eeek! Why would a couple spend thousands of dollars on their wedding photography, only to just receive the digital files and never print them. Or worse, loose the disc! There are 2 kinds of photographers where this question falls. One set offers the digital files, but be sure to ask if it’s the high resolution images. Some photographers only offer a 5×7 resolution disc, so that all larger wall portraits have to be professionally printed through them. Then there is the other group of photographers that do not offer the files at all (or at an additional price). Here’s the deal. A photographer’s worst fear is that their hard work is going to be poorly reproduced by generic print labs, which is why we package our service with a high-quality print lab that we have tested extensively. With our business on the line, we want to ensure that every image is reproduced without flaws, looking its very best for our clients. JH Photography offers the best of both worlds. We include the high resolution image disc with all of our full-day wedding collections. AND we also include print credit with every collection. In fact, our collections include anywhere from $300 to $2000 in print credit! This is like a gift card to purchase prints, albums, or canvases from our studio for free! Couples love to use the print credit for those larger wall portraits or canvases that they want to display in their home. Or leather-bound albums for their coffee table. Printing through our studio ensures that your prints will not only be calibrated to their truest color from our professional printing lab, but that they are guaranteed against fading for life!
6. Do You Offer a 2nd Photographer?
We always recommend having a 2nd photographer for cathedral weddings, restricted timelines, or simply for the couples wanting that extra coverage. We won’t go into much detail here, but a second photographer brings a completely different perspective to your wedding day. They can capture your mother’s expression as the main photographer gets the portraits of the father giving the bride away. Or the back of your gown as you walk down the aisle. Unfortunately, the main photographer can’t be in both places at once (even though I’ve been called a ninja photographer!). Plus, if you’re getting married inside a church with long pews or aisles, a second photographer is really a bonus for getting a variety of images from different angles of the sanctuary as you say your vows to one another.
So, yes! We do offer a 2nd photographer for your day! And the best part? Our 2nd photographer is just a flat-rate fee, regardless how many hours you book for your main photographer. In the image below, I captured the couple exiting the church as the new Mr & Mrs. Acampa, while my second photographer captured this stunning perspective of them sneaking a quick kiss before climbing in the car.
7. What Time Would Start and End Your Photography Services on My Day?
You’ll want to know when to expect them and how long they’ll be staying through your reception. We don’t leave this to chance. We actually sit down with each couple during the initial consultation to discuss a tentative timeline. We know this can change over the next few months, but it’ll give everyone an idea of where to start! You get to choose your wedding collection based on the hourly coverage you need, and we want to make sure you get all the events you want covered. No surprises! You wouldn’t want your formal portrait time cut in half because the photographer didn’t realize that your receiving line after the ceremony would take 30 minutes. Our timeline that we’ll guide you through includes just about every scenario that we’ve encountered over the past 10 years!
8. Do You Require a First Look?
Even though this new concept has been around for over many years now, many couples aren’t familiar with what it really is. The traditional way for the groom to see his bride for the first time is as she walks down the aisle. Many couples are choosing to opt for a First Look, which is a privately captured moment of the couple seeing each other before the ceremony begins. The photographer will help select a private location and then standoff at a distance as the groom and bride see each other for the first time in their formal attire. And let me tell you, it’s magical! Grooms may not show too much emotion while in a room full of people during the ceremony, but with a First Look, we get to capture the expressive excitement, the laughter, and the joyful tears. First Looks also are popular with couples who want to narrow the time between the ceremony and the reception for their guests. The bride and groom portraits and the wedding party are typically photographed after the 5 minute mini-session, saving portrait time after the ceremony. After reviewing your timeline, we may suggest this option to you, but the decision is always your choice!
9. If My Day Runs Behind Schedule, Are You Available to Stay Longer?
It does happen. The flowers didn’t arrive on time, the tuxes were still at the store getting altered, or the uncle’s dinner toast went really LONG. Is your photographer willing to stay later? We are! And we are more than happy to. The last thing we want is our couples stressing about their timeline, so this has been a priority to offer when the day’s schedule runs behind. No worries! We have a flat hourly rate in 1/2 hour increments that can just be paid when we meet after your honeymoon to view your fabulous images.
10. Do You Have Insurance?
Some venues won’t even allow photographers or videographers through their door without proof of insurance. Why? They don’t want to be held liable in case Aunt Jo trips over the photographer’s camera bag and hurts herself. This also will help prove if they are serious about their business (and consequently, your wedding!), as all business owners should have insurance for potential mishaps. It’s like car insurance, you never know what could happen even if you are the world’s best driver.
11. How Long Before I Receive My Wedding Images?
Luckily, the days of waiting a year before getting your images is nearly over! You should still ask this question in case you were expecting to get your images within weeks, and the studio takes several months. The average wedding image turn-around for photographers is 6 weeks, although some take up to 6 months. It also depends on what products you purchased with your wedding package. Did you purchase an album? Is there an online gallery? Are you also getting the digital images? We pride ourselves as one of the quickest image turnarounds for northwest Ohio. The expected turn-around time for our studio can be calculated as this:
- 2-3 days after the ceremony: Online Sneak Peak Image
- 14 days after the ceremony: Digital files have been processed and an appointment is set up with the couple to view their images with the photographer and place an order with their print credit. Their online gallery (top 300 images) is posted via password to share with friends and family.
- Up to 7-10 business days: Prints, Image Disc
- Up to 4 weeks: Canvases
- Up to 6 weeks: Wedding albums
12. What Sets You Apart From Other Toledo Photographers?
This question can really help you determine the photographer you want to hire for your wedding day. Is there something that really clicks for you? Do they seem flexible with your wedding style? Do they have active professional memberships? Is their personality a good match for you? We offer our couples amazing benefits with their wedding collections, as well as superior customer service! The top 11 answers above can give you an idea of how we approach our business. We strive to make a personal connection with each client. Our photography is extraordinary, because we are skilled with creative poses and lighting techniques that are guaranteed to make you look your absolute best! We are members of Professional Photographers of America and Professional Photographers of Ohio, which help us stay up-to-date with the latest trends in our little corner of the world. Plus, we work with some of Toledo’s top wedding vendors! We love to recommend the ones that we know will make your dream wedding come true. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary consultation and see if we are the wedding studio for you!