March 25, 2017

Questions to ask your wedding photographer – and what the answers really mean!

Let’s be honest. Most of these “100 questions to ask your wedding photographer” lists that are put out by the wedding blogs, magazines, vendors and just about everybody else in the wedding industry aren’t all that great.

At best, they are a starting point. At worst, they give you a long list of questions to ask and hardly ever tell you what the answers truly mean. So I’m going to do things a little differently. This blog post will try to list all the questions you really should ask a wedding photographer and what the answers actually mean so you can understand them. Some of these questions may be important to you and others may not. And that’s cool. Ready? Grab a coffee because here we go:

What kind of lighting do you use?
If your wedding photographer says “2 Nikon SB-910 AF Speedlights triggered by Pocket Wizards” (this is the actual name) or ”3 Yongnuo YN685 Wireless TTL Speedlites”, would you know what it meant? Probably not but that’s ok! You want to find out how experienced your wedding photographer is. This question is less about the actual equipment used but aims at finding out how good your photographer actually is: a great wedding photographer should be flexible in every situation – lighting or otherwise. Light is light, whether it’s natural or flash. If your family photos and/or ceremony have to be moved to a dark indoor location because it just started pouring down, you need to be 100% sure that your wedding photographer can handle this (you also want to make sure that your wedding photographer always stores a plethora of umbrellas in the trunk of her car. Year Round.) 🙂

Plenty of Vermont wedding photographers call themselves “natural light photographers”. There’s nothing wrong with that if you’re a let’s say family photographer who can schedule or cancel sessions when the weather doesn’t comply, but it’s really just a way of masking the fact that they have

If your photographer uses one little pop up flash , doesn’t know how to bounce a flash, or worse, tells you “that they don’t like flash because it looks unnatural”, RUN, not walk the other direction. While we’d all love to photograph outdoor weddings on an overcast day; sometimes that just doesn’t happen. Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of a field with the sun behind the couple for the duration of the ceremony. Without flash, you have two options:
– two dark silhouettes against a perfectly exposed background
– two perfectly exposed people in front of a washout out, almost white background.
If you use flash, you get this – a perfectly exposed couple in front of a perfectly exposed background:

an outdoor summer wedding ceremony in the heart of Vermont's NEK

Additionally, if your wedding photographer knows how to use multiple, off-camera flashes properly, you’ll definitely get more creative wedding reception photos and super cool “after dark” shots.

What type of camera do you use and do you have backup equipment?
If this answer to this is “Canon Rebel”, RUN the other way. This one is a bit of a joke among professional wedding photographers as most amateur wedding photographers use exactly that camera: A Canon Rebel with the kit lens it came with. Again, the question aims at finding out how professional your wedding photographer is.

A good wedding photographer will have two full frame camera bodies (Think Nikon D4, D4s or D5 or Canon’s Mark III or IV) and a couple of backup bodies as well as a variety of lenses and flashes. Our main cameras will have two memory cards, meaning whenever they take a photo, this photo will be recorded on two memory cards at the same time. If one of those cards fails, the moment will still be captured on the other card. This is one of the cases where less is not more. Equipment can and will fail so redundancy is key and more is … well, more.

Can I see a couple of full weddings from last (this) year?
This is a must ask question! I host all of my couples’ weddings online and am always happy to share these galleries. No professional wedding photographer should ever be hesitant to share at least one full wedding gallery with you – how else do you know what to expect? You can also ask to see weddings at the same or similar venue (farm wedding, resort wedding) or a similar wedding style (small elopement, DIY wedding at a private residence).

Are the photos on your website similar to the quality of the wedding photos we’ll be getting?
There “editing” and there’s “editing”. By “Editing”, we mean enhancements such as color correction, white balance correction as well as removing the occasional zit. This is part of every good photographer’s workflow and applied to every photo of the wedding collection. And then there’s “heavy editing” or “photoshopping”. This is the time consuming part – it can include swapping out skies that weren’t dramatic enough, “liquifying” – the magical tool that makes everybody look 20lbs lighter and so forth. However, this type of editing is time consuming and therefore expensive. It is fairly easy to photoshop one or two images for a portfolio vs. spending the amount of time (and money) on every single image of the entire wedding day. This also goes back to the question above – make sure to see entire weddings, not just “the best of the best”. Make sure you know what you’re getting.

Are all the photos on your website from real weddings?
Styled Shoots are super popular right now. Different wedding vendors get together to showcase their talents (cake, hair, make-up, decor, flowers, tablecloths), hire models dressed as the bride and groom and create an awesome set of photos. Those photos, however, have very little to do with a real wedding. No styled shoot and resulting images compare to an actual wedding that has time constraints, guests and a bunch of other factors (emotions, family members). Definitely be sure to ask the photographer you’re looking at if the people in her portfolio are real brides and grooms on their actual wedding day vs. professional models or “day after” shoots.

Do you love dogs?
If you plan on having your dog be part of your wedding, make sure your wedding photographer loves dogs. Some people are dog people and others are not. That’s ok. But if your pup is part of your family, you want to make sure your photographer is more than just comfortable around dogs and knows exactly how much our furkids mean to us.

find a dog friendly wedding photographer in Vermont

This is it for today – I’m preparing more blog posts with more questions you definitely want to ask your wedding photographer and can’t wait to share them with you.

For now, have a fantastic weekend and happy wedding planning!

Added: The 2nd installment of our series is now live as well – check it out.

Kat – Kat Mooney Photography
your Vermont destination wedding photographer

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