Feb 11, 2020

What to Ask Your Photographer

Advice from 10 Top New Orleans Wedding Photograpers

This is likely the most valuable piece of content that we have ever brought to you. I reached out to 10 of the top New Orleans based wedding photographers and asked them what questions they wished you (their potential clients) would ask during the initial interview. From the group’s answers, I wrote this blog which will tell you the most important questions to ask when hiring a wedding photographer.

Common Concern

I’m writing to address a common concern I hear from both clients and photographers about what questions really need to be answered during an initial interview.

From you guys (the people actually planning weddings) I hear that you don’t really know what to ask. So you use lists from places like theknot.com, weddingwire.com, and brides.com. Ultimately you aren’t sure if those questions will really give you the answer to whether this is the right photographer for your wedding.

From photographers, I hear that you (their potential clients) ask many questions that do not actually help you find the best photographer. I’ve even heard that some clients miss out on valuable guidance because they are busy asking the wrong questions.

Market Relevant Info

Most wedding professionals agree that they would like you (their potential clients) to have factual information that is relevant to this market. This way you can make informed decisions that you’ll will be 100 % satisfied with!

And that is why these 10 busy rock-star photographers stopped and gave their input on what you should ask in your photography interview.

Let’s jump right in to what they really want you to ask.

Xistence Photography


Brandon Xuereb, Xistence Photography

Brandon Xuereb, Xistence Photography

We will start with Brandon Xuereb, of Xistence Photography. Brandon suggests that rather than focusing on what questions to ask, instead take note of whether the photographer is asking the right questions and whether they are using the correct language. He says “It’s our job to guide (you) our clients through the process and to the meat of the conversation.”

He did give me one of his favorite questions which is this:

What makes you different from other photographers?

 

Gabby Chapin Photography


Gabby Chapin Photography

Gabby Chapin Photography

Next I’ll share advice from Gabby Chapin Cowsert with Gabby Chapin Photography. She says to always ask:

What kind of editing is included?

She shared that “most professional wedding photographers have a streamlined process that includes standard editing adjustments like white balance, exposure, cropping for composition and color temperature, and black & white conversions. You may want to ask:

Is there is an additional fee for the removal of distracting elements and other fine tune touch ups like blemish or tattoo removal and even eye opening for shots that catch a blinker?

“These kinds of edits are more labor intensive and often carry an additional fee, it’s important to find out the details.”

Brocato Photography Collective


Brocato Photography Collective

Brocato Photography Collective

Angelena Brocato and her husband Lyle created the Brocato Photography Collective. Angelena told me that “most people know some of the basic business questions to ask like how long until we have the proofs, how many photographers, etc.” But she says “most people skip the (questions about )passion + purpose b/c they are so busy … trying to check things off the list.” She suggests these questions:

What moves you about what you do?

What’s your favorite part of the wedding day?

If you could give us one bit of advice that we could carry with us into our wedding day what would that be?

Angelena suggests that these might be good questions to ask any of your wedding professionals. I agree 100%.

Theresa Elizabeth Photography


Theresa Elizabeth Photography

Theresa Elizabeth Photography

Now I’ll tell you the advice of Theresa Elizabeth of Theresa Elizabeth Photography. I want to credit Theresa with the motivation to finally create this blog. We met up the first time at a networking event and immediately got to talking about the shortage of valuable information to clients that is relevant to their actual wedding market.

Theresa has a super important question for you, get a pen and write this one down on a sticky note!

What is your process for backing up photographs?

She says “Any professional wedding photographer should be able to walk you through the steps on how they protect your photographs from the time they are shooting up until photo delivery day. Your photographer should be backing up all photographs by shooting on two cards the night of your wedding in case one card is corrupted. As soon as they arrive home from the wedding they should be saving them in 3-4 different places to ensure those precious moments are not lost. The only thing that could be worse than not loving your photographs is not seeing them at all because your photographer lost the photos.

Now you may be thinking, “oh but what are the chances?” Y’all just this year, I learned to surf and it included photography (of the pics when I actually got on the board!). Guess what? All my pictures were taken on a corrupted card and they were all lost. I honestly had never even heard of that till then. No worries they took me out on the waves the next day and I still got my surf shots. You can’t really do that for a wedding.

Theresa also reminds you to always ask:

Do you have insurance?

Emily Green Photography


Emily Green Photography

Emily Green Photography

Emily Green of Emily Green Photography shared her advice on lighting. She says to ask:

What is your ideal lighting situation, and how comfortable are you with the lighting at [my venue]?

Emily advised that you “make photos a priority” when it comes to timing, location and lighting.

And she isn’t the only one of our photographers that brought up lighting!

 

Matthew Foster Photography


Matthew Foster Photography

Matthew Foster Photography

Matthew Foster of Matthew Foster Photography shared this “Nation-wide, wedding photos are bright and airy and I DO love that. BUT most New Orleans weddings are, at least partly, and sometimes entirely AT NIGHT.” He suggests this:

Ask to see a WHOLE wedding (gallery) from your venue or one similar.

Several of our photographers gave similar advice as to the importance of seeing a full gallery. Matthew goes on to say that “Shooting at night requires experience, skill, and special gear that not everyone possesses. If you have any part of your wedding that is at night or indoors, make sure you see some of that before booking.”

Matthew also gave this interesting insight:For some reason, its the posed photos that get WAY more likes than candid moments on Instagram, so that tends to be more of what I have on my Insta. It’s important to look at every photo that you fall in love with and think a second about how that shot was achieved. Was that a real moment? or was it posed? Are you okay being posed a little? are you not?”

He is sort of pointing you to think about the experience itself and not just the gallery. I am so with him on the importance of considering the wedding day experience as well as the gallery you receive several weeks later.

Mike Lirette Photography


Mike Lirette Photography

Mike Lirette Photography

Mike Lirette of Mike Lirette Photography shared a similar concern saying “Thinking about lighting and discussing it with your photographer is important.” I loved the example he gave where a client asked him whether a single chandelier would be enough light for their night-time photos. These are excellent concerns to bring up.

He also emphasized the importance of this question (which if course we heavily agree with):

Should we hire a planner (coordinator)?

Mike advised that “Far too often when there isn’t a wedding coordinator the photographer has to be the one setting up timelines and moving the day along – and that’s not what we should be focusing on.”

He also shared “I do think it’s a good idea to ask other wedding professionals their opinion on the team you select. They can give you first hand valuable input.”

Jen Menard Photography


Jen Menard Photography

Jen Menard Photography

Jen Menard, of Jen Menard Photography suggested seeing full galleries from weddings and also from engagement sessions. She says “This leaves no room for misguided expectations or disappointment.  You may see beautiful sunset portraits on their Instagram feed or blog, but what about all of the candid guest shots you’re hoping to receive, or their skills to be able to shoot in all different sorts of lighting situations?  Seeing full galleries is a great way to see if your potential photographer is able to handle photographing in a dark church or shooting with a flash during nighttime wedding receptions, etc.”

She also suggested this question:

What is your approach is for shooting on the wedding day? 

She elaborated with this saying “Are you looking for someone who is more of a quiet, fly on the wall, who photographs things peacefully as the day unfolds…or someone who will step up, stage things, and help run the day?  Maybe you’re even looking for a mix of both!  Everyone has different personalities and style preferences, so make sure to have them give you a run down of how they operate, to see if you’re on the same page.”

Josh Williams Photography

Josh Williams of Josh Williams Photography suggested these three questions:

Do I get full rights to the photos?

Do you give direction?

How long is the turn around time?

He and other photographers in this list including Stephanie Bishop with Starling and Sage said that this isn’t discussed enough.  That expectations are sometimes not in line with how long it actually takes.

 

Starling and Sage


Starling and Sage Photography

Starling and Sage Photography

Stephanie Goh Bishop of Starling and Sage Photography shared this last question. I’m so glad you read till the end, because this is one you can’t miss! It’s about deciding what time you should set your ceremony and reception.

Stephanie suggested this question:

What do I need to do during a wedding day timeline to give you the best opportunity to capture the best images?

“So many times we’re hired and we’re expected to deliver what you see on our website in very tight / tough situations, sometimes impossible due to timing. Unfortunately we usually broach this topic when the certain time sensitive elements like the ceremony time are set in stone and we can’t change anything so we have to work with what we can and do our best. I would love to be able to set the proper expectations from the beginning!”

Bonus Questions

We have just 2 more bonus questions just for the blog, can’t find them on our video content. Sandra O’Clare, of Eau Claire Photographics sent us a couple more questions that we just HAVE to include! Here they are:

Ask about the photographer’s experience, and how this relates to the wedding day.

She saws to specifically ask how their experience helps on the wedding day. She also suggests asking”:

What products do I get?

She shares that is beneficial to meet in person to see the exact end products, since albums can vary greatly. Albums and products vary greatly when it comes to quality.

Now I’ve go to stop and thank this expert team of photographers for sharing such valuable information. Check them out on Instagram, handles listed below. I hope you found their advice as valuable as I do. This is a one of a kind list of questions to ask your wedding photographer!

Thanks so much for reading, catch you here again next week, until then Happy Wedding Planning.

Photographer Contributor Instagram Handle List:

Xistence Photography @xistencephotography
Gabby Chapin Photography @gabbychapin_photography
Brocato Photography Collective @brocatophotography
Theresa Elizabeth Photography @theresaelizabethphoto
Emily Green Photography @emilygreenphoto
Matthew Foster Photography @matthewfoster_photography
Mike Lirette Photography @mike_lirette_photography
Jen Menard Photography @jenmenardphoto
Josh Williams Photography @jbwphotography
Starling and Sage Photography @starlingandsage
Eau Claire Photographics @eauphoto

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