12 things wedding photographers want to tell you, but can't

Updated Mar 15 2021
Guest post by Mike Allebach  
Photos by: Mike Allebach
Wedding photographer secrets as seen on Offbeat Bride
All photos and tips that'll make you jump for joy are from Mike Allebach.

Most wedding magazines will give you a list of questions to ask a wedding photographer. Stuff like: "Can you describe your style? What equipment do you shoot with?"

Let's be real: Those questions are boring. And you probably don't actually care about the answers anyway.

So I surveyed some brides and photography-friends, and put together a list of all those questions you really want to ask, and all those things we really want you to know.

12 questions to ask a photographer

1. How do I pick a good photographer when there are hundreds listed in my area?

First, look for a forum or blog that appeals to your style. Obviously, if you're an Offbeat Bride, you're in the right place — I receive my best clients through the Offbeat Bride Vendor Guide. The photographers listed are both gay-friendly and accustomed to photographing offbeat weddings.

Once you've got a few favorite photographers, narrow it down to a handful of favorites, and set up a time to meet them. Make sure you're meeting with the person who will be wielding the camera at your wedding, not a sales consultant or studio owner. You have to, like, trust and get along with your photographer — that way you can leave the magic of photo making in the photographer's hands. Not only should you like their images, you should also like them! You'll be spending many hours with them during your wedding day.

2. How many photos do I get?

The wedding photographers I surveyed typically deliver 50-100 photos for every hour of coverage they provide. Four hundred photos may seem like a lot, but your wedding photographer is preserving all those little details and the moments you missed while you were mingling.

Wedding photographer secrets as seen on Offbeat Bride

3. I love those photos with the blurry backgrounds. How do you get that look?

You're talking about shallow depth of field. Photographers get that look by using professional lenses that are able to focus tightly on the subject.

4. I found one photographer whose images look soft and pastel, one whose images look clean, and one whose images look like they were shot on old film. What's the deal?

Every photographer has a different way of editing their images using computer software (the high-tech version of a darkroom). This is called "Post-Processing." Most photographers do some basic lighting and color adjustments, but you can also use editing software to create a unique look. Three popular styles right now are:

  • Clean: lightly processed to appear natural
  • Matte: a low-contrast look with muted pastel colors, similar to vintage film
  • High Contrast: a vibrant look with rich colors that pop

It doesn't matter which style you go with, as long as you love it!

Wedding photographer secrets as seen on Offbeat Bride

5. Why is wedding photography so freakin' expensive?

This is the question I see most from brides on the interwebs. Wedding photography seems like easy money — work for one day and rake in the cash, right? But most full-time wedding photographers I know carry over $15,000 worth of wedding gear and often work 60-hour weeks. (Remember those 800 images from question #2? It takes several full days just to edit those.)

Add insurance, taxes, software, advertising, albums, repair, shipping, and studio expenses, and many photographers end up making less than minimum wage for the first few years of their career.

Wedding photographer secrets as seen on Offbeat Bride

6. How can I make sure I look good in my photos?

Relax. Trust your wedding photographer.

If you're relaxed, it'll come through in your photos.

Leave some breathing room in your schedule so you don't feel rushed — I recommend a minimum 30 minutes for family and wedding party photos, and an hour for the couple portraits.

Oh, and get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water the night before.

Take it easy at the rehearsal dinner. Wedding-day hangovers are not fun.

7. I keep hearing about "shoot and burn" photography. Sounds painful. What is it?

Actually, yeah, it can be kind of painful. "Shoot and burn" is slang for photographing a wedding and burning it straight to CD without post-processing. It's usually super cheap — for a reason. Bad lighting isn't corrected, distracting elements aren't removed (hello, Speedo-clad photobomber!), and zits remain proudly on display.

Digital files may be important to you, but find a full-service photographer who will edit the images and print reference proofs before handing over the digis.

And please, don't let the digitals rot on your hard drive. As a photographer, I want you to proudly display your wedding photos. It makes me sad when I think of all the photos that never get printed. Don't hide your wedding photos! I tell my clients to hang up a large print or two — when you're having a crappy day, it's great to look up in your living room and see a photo of an awesome day.

Wedding photographer secrets as seen on Offbeat Bride

8. Should we do a "first look"? And, um, what the hell is a "first look"?

The first look is a chance for wedding couples to see each other privately before the ceremony. Two-thirds of my clients currently opt to do a first look. It's a great chance to get the wedding jitters out and spend a few minutes alone together. I find that first look photos tend to be some of my favorites. It's a real moment with real emotions.

Honestly, it's also a great way to avoid stress on your wedding day. (Some of my couples even choose to get ready together!) And many of my couples get to enjoy their whole cocktail hour because they got all of the photos out of the way before the wedding.

Wedding photographer secrets as seen on Offbeat Bride

9. Do I really need a second photographer?

No one needs a second photographer, but they can provide you with more images and a different perspective. Many of the top photographers only work with assistants who carry gear and help with professional lighting. The best thing is to ask your wedding photographer to see how they prefer to work. You can get good results either way.

10. How far in advance should I book a wedding photographer?

Many in-demand wedding photographers book weddings at over a year out. As it gets closer to your wedding date, it will be harder to book your first-choice photographer.

If your favorite photographer is unavailable on your date, don't panic. Ask them for recommendations — they may know someone with a similar style and a lighter schedule.

11. You can Photoshop that, right?

It depends. As a photographer, I want to get everything as perfect as possible in camera. Posing, location scouting, and camera settings can "fix" most things before I even click the shutter. If your uncle photobombs you, I'm going to retake the photo — it's much easier to get the photo right than to fix it with Photoshop. Many photographers charge for extensive editing in Photoshop, because it can be very time-consuming.

12. Should I tip my photographer?

I get asked this a lot. There was a great article about tipping on Offbeat Bride. For photographers, "Tips are never expected but are always appreciated."

Hopefully this clears up some burning questions about wedding photography — and makes it a little bit easier to find the perfect photographer for your wedding day.

Hey photographers, what did we forget to include? Now's the time to divulge all!


  1. Just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know how much I love your website and blog… as a photographer I often find that you SAY what I am either thinking, feeling or questioning!
    I look forward to continued reading!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I love your artical it's to the point and very helpful. Since after wedding day if you hate your pictures you can't do nothing you should consider engagement photoshoot. Its like a rehearsel for the wedding. And t his is also a great way to choose a newbie Photographer. And when I say newbies I mean the person should have some experience in second shooting a wedding, has done a couple portrait and so on. By all means do not hire a person who just picked up a camera.

    • Great post! Want to add that you can even judge a photographers' work by reading their reviews by real users, seeing some real wedding pictures where they are referred, shortlist them and ask them the questions mentioned above.

  2. Great article Mike! Definitely things we as Wedding Photographer would love to tell our Brides ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Great article! As a wedding photographer myself, most of my clients don't know to ask these things but I always bring up the majority of these topics in our first consultation meeting.
    Another thing I would add to that list, is if you're unsure how to set up the time-frame for your wedding day, don't hesitate to ask your wedding photographer for suggestions! They'll be able to bring up important points about the lighting and festivity lengths, etc. that the bride wouldn't have thought of to take into consideration.

  4. One things I've noticed a lot in my first couple years of taking wedding photos is girls who show me a photo they want to recreate or do something similar, but forget that a lot of photos they see are circumstantial. For instance, the background in a photo. I can recreate a pose, but that doesn't mean it will be what you were thinking because the background is so different. Sometimes the lighting is too different to get the same effect as a photo they like. If the photo they like was taken at sunset, it will not look the same if it's taken at 2:00 in the afternoon.

  5. Oooh, I love this article! One thing that can be hard to work around is just what Farren said- the "can you do this?" email with a link to a Pinterest board attached. It's exactly as Farren said- we don't know the circumstances behind that image, the relationship between the subjects, what the photographer may or may not have said to evoke such a response, or whether or not the subjects of the photograph are even a real couple (vs. paid models).

  6. I love this article! Thank you for answering a lot of questions my fiancรฉ and I have been wondering for a few months(on top of trying to narrow our search of photographers.) This is wonderfully written and very helpful. Thank you Mike and Offbeat Bride.:)

  7. THANK YOU. Pretty much sums it all up nicely – honestly, I always figured no one cared about what kind of camera you use and what your style is. Look at the portfolio, people! Do you like it? Good, then they are probably a match! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • *blush* I admit I asked these things, but that's only because I was a photography enthusiast at the time. (Right now I'm having a bit of an identity crisis when it comes to my photo work.) One of the reasons I selected the photographer I did for my wedding was rooted in finding out she used Nikon equipment. Her running with ideas my now-husband and I threw at her was kind of a bonus once I had that equipment info under my belt.

  8. Awesome post Offbeat Bride! Being a bride before I was a photographer, I learned a lot from BOTH ends. I was one of those brides who sent 20 questions to my photographer just because another website told me to. I think an additional point that is very important is to see what an entire gallery looks like (some photographers may hate me for saying this). The reason I suggest this is so that you can see various aspects of the wedding day that may not appear on a photographers blog or website.

  9. #5= amen! Amen, amen, amen, amen!!!!
    I totally understand how people don't realize the incredible amount of time and cost go into shooting a wedding and it's totally true; when all is said and done, photogs are lucky if they make minimum wage for the time they put into a wedding.

    Also love the point about meeting and choosing your photographer based on their personality too. I think it's safe to say most brides will spend more time with their photog on the day of the wedding than anyone else so it's kind of important that you get along ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I loved this! As a just-starting-out wedding photographer, THIIIIS to all 12.
    Although I think you need a number 13. "That's just what your face looks like".

  11. Oh this is absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for sharing. My strongest belief as a photographer; you must enjoy your photographer as a person as well as their work. You spend many hours with them on the most important day of your life.

  12. The smartest question a potential client asked me was "can I see the ENTIRE set of photographs you provided to a couple, not just the ones in your portfolio?" While every wedding is different, this did give them a much better sense of what they'd get.

    • I love showing clients through a full set, especially if it's from the venue they're booking. IT gives them great comfort and they're always surprised at how many family shots and candids there are, which of course never make it to the website.

  13. Second shooters are also some basic insurance against memory card failure. Even a great photographer who does everything right can have technology fail on them. Second shooter means you've got a whole 'nother set of images on different set of memory cards.

    My sister doesn't have any ceremony photos because of a memory card failure.

    If they don't have a second shooter, ask if they shoot with two bodies during the ceremony at least.

    • I had one experience of lost half wedding photo, because my (film)camera shutter (2nd curtain) was collapsed. That is all my fault, after that day, I have use 2-3 camera in all weddings and ask my 2nd photographer to do the same. That is the way to prevent lost pictures again. And this way can cover more with the different lenses.

      • Yes, I agree. Not always possible though. I carry my main camera and several memory cards. However, I make sure my back up camera is only as far away as my car. I can't carry 2 cameras at once, my main camera is heavy enough as it is!

  14. AWESOME ARTICLE! for reals! guess as a photographer only thing left out would be about unplugged weddings and how guests carrying ipads now can affect our photos especially during ceremony but already sharing away and sharing on our wedding blog page! un-jerseybride

  15. Please oh please oh please consult your photographer regarding your ceremony location of choice. I was approached once by a couple that was excited to be getting married by candlelight only. This makes the pictures turn out WAY different than if it was a standardly lit wedding. So let us know ahead of time so we can prepare ourselves AND you for the type of photos that will come out!

  16. Our photographer is awesome and made a few additional points:
    * Does your photographer expect to get fed at the reception? Ours was up front in the first meeting that he likes to be fed, even if he's hidden in some backroom at the venue. If they have to leave to grab dinner, the whole time they're missing potential shots.
    * What happens if they're sick/hit by the proverbial bus? Ours is part of a professional group who help each other out if one cant make a wedding they're due to shoot.
    * Assign someone to point out who is who to your photographer. Want photos with Aunt Bethyll? Your photographer wont know what she looks like! Have someone on call to round up people or point them out to the photographer.

    And one more point from me as a groom. Engagement shoots are totally worth it. Going in my partner was concerned about how she looks, she hates photos of herself. We have barely a handful of photos of us as a couple. She loved how our engagement shoot pics look, and how easy our photographer was to work with, and is now 200% more confident the wedding pics will look great. The value of this reassurance far outweighs the financial cost of the engagement shoot for us!

    • THIS to all, Hewey!

      1) the last wedding I went to as a guest, the photographers didn't eat at all. It's common here that the venue, if it comes with a catering, prepare them some snacks, moreover if the couple has had to pay extra to have the photographers there (some venues have their own photographers and you have to pay to have YOUR photographer instead). They were pissed off, but it didn't show during the wedding… the couple was told afterwards.

      2) YES to backup plans!

      3) My sisters and F's sister will be the ones to get the family for the pics. F and I won't do it and at least they KNOW everyone.

      And finally, the engagement shots were such a relief for me! I'm very insecure about how I look in pictures, I usually don't like it at all, and I was scared about me coming up in my wedding pictures with a weird face. My photographer took some absolutely stunning pictures in the engagement shots, we went around our city going to our favourite places (coffee library, comic shop, penthouse bar…) and I just love them. In fact, we used one of them for the invitations ๐Ÿ˜€

  17. Hi there, just wanted to comment on your "First Look" idea & say I would highly recommend it. Me & hubs stayed in a hotel together the night before our wedding, practiced our dancing, talked about our vows, checked the rings fitted etc. Then we went for a late-night walk & a drink in an old favourite bar of ours. There was no one I would have rather spent the night before my wedding with than the guy I was marrying in the morning. The pics our fabulous photographer took of us getting ready, him in his shirt & Jedi Knight boxers, me tying his bowtie and us in the taxi together heading down to the venue are some of my favourites. It's only one day, you want to spend as much of it enjoying things together as you can ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Great article – you did forget to mention though that wedding photographers work is also seasonal (although is expanding) and they give up many of their weekends. There is also work in keeping your website updated time and expense and skills related to that, admin – i.e. answering enquiries, managing bookings, meeting with bride and grooms, keeping up to date with locations (making sure they are building a new toilet block at your favourite park and its hindered by construction). Keeping up date with new software, industry trends, accredited etc is also a part of it… I am sure I could think of more ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Hello I see that question and i to dont know how as a photographer get that pastel colour look, i use a 40D Canon , i offen wonder if its the camera that gives that pastel look?
    would love your help . Rowan Newman from New Zealand

    Matte: a low-contrast look with muted pastel colors, similar to vintage film

    • Most photographers use Lightroom by Adobe or Photoshop by Adobe and custom design presets that give them the look they want. You can buy premade presets/actions with a quick google search of "buy LR presets" or "buy PS actions". Everything I do is my customized versions of presets.

    • I have my camera set to neutral so the photos come out untouched or changed by the camera. I do any changes in lightroom. I would advise against using effect settings in camera as a beginner and shoot RAW (or equivalent) and neutral.

  20. For what it's worth – I had a husband/wife photographer for our wedding & they were awesome. The wife was the second shooter & she got photos that were some of my favs that would have been missed otherwise… the husband was able to focus on the processional or the other items at the front while the wife was getting special shots toward the back or other angles of the ceremony… she snuck one shot through the windows at the back of the church – my dad & I were sitting together, waiting for the processional to go through & for it to be our turn… and we were both looking the same direction & smiling/laughing… it was a perfect profile shot of BOTH of us… better than any photo I have of my dad. ๐Ÿ™‚ But, we also got a good deal on the whole thing. The second shooter is not always a scam/swindle. ๐Ÿ™‚ Just wanted to let you know there are some great reasons out there. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I totally agree with this! While the primary photographer was getting the more standard photos of us coming down the aisle and reading vows, our second shooter was taking reaction shots from our friends and family. There are some truly brilliant photos that make me tear up every time I look at them because I don't have a single moment that I can recall looking out and seeing people faces. Totally worth every penny for our fairly large celebration.

      • Really depends Larissa. Many photographers start out as second shooters (that's what I did) so you often find they are working for nothing (students) or they are a husband/wife team so split the money evenly. In which case you shouldn't expect to pay extra for them. However, some second shooters are photographers in their own right (I often get asked to be a second shooter to support the main photographer at friends weddings) in which case you would expect to pay more. I am personally a single shooter so I cannot give you my prices. But I don't think it would be really unreasonable to expect to pay an extra 50-75% on top of the single shooter price.

  21. Great article, we had the best photographer, We looked high and low for one, as it was a joke on some area's, but we found the perfect one, He and his wife were amazing to work with treated the guests wonderful, lined up the normal pics that you have to have because " Mom said so moments" but then allowed guests to take one after he did, We rave about our photographer, Ben Michalski, loved him. We had a really off beat wedding if that is what it would be called, from guests dancing on tables, as the bride had a few to many drinks,

  22. I think it's important to ask about the way the photographer works and the process that goes into getting their pictures. At my friend's wedding last month, the photographer was pretty obnoxious. He was stopping us every five seconds as she was getting ready to look at him for a picture. He repositioned us a lot and said "do it again". He physically positioned all of us as if we were dolls. He even grabbed my friend by her cheeks, like you would a child, to position her face for a shot. He was very talkative and much too close throughout the day which was a kind of annoying. I assume that not every photographer works this way, but for my wedding, I want to know before I hire someone what I can expect. My friend said she loved his photos and thought he was really nice when they met, but she had no idea he was going to work like that. He told her he's a photojournalist and would take a lot of candids, but that's not what happened. Are there questions I can ask to avoid a photographer like this guy for my wedding?

    • I'm so sorry this was how the photographer treated the wedding couple. I don't touch my couples except for a giant hug at the end of the day.

      As for questions, I would ask "Do you ever touch your clients?"

      • It honestly depends. I find sometimes it helps to physically guide the person (or people!) to where you need them to be. However, I've also pinned on boutineers, bustled dresses, fixed hair and smoothed clothes. I think it depends on your client and how you're touching them. ALWAYS ALWAYS be gentle and respectful!!!

      • I have a strict "no touch" policy with clients, especially with children (I have a child protection policy). If I cannot describe how I want them to pose, I will demonstrate myself. LAST resort is touching but I always ask "do you mind if I…?" Unfortunately I haven't had the same amount of respect back sometimes, being a woman I often get drunk uncles hitting on me and several times my bum has been pinched! I always ask brides if there's anyone who gets embarrassing when drunk so I know to avoid them!

    • I think if you had asked an obvious direct question to that photographer, there's a chance he could fudge the answer, especially when it borders on a topic like touching.

      So I think you have to ask subtle questions. Like, you're looking through his albums and point to some portraits and ask, "That's beautiful! How do you get people to pose like that?" [He answers] "But what do you do when they don't get into the pose you want?" And see if he happens to mention how he sometimes has to physically put his hands on them. Then just encourage him to go on.

  23. This is a great article, and I think these questions are fantastic.

    As a wedding photographer, one thing that couples might want to let the photographer know about is any potential social issues. If certain people can't be photographed together, or cannot have their photo taken, for whatever reason, let us know. We are on your side!

    Also, if you are camera shy, let us know! It really helps to know when a person is nervous about being on camera. There are lots of things a photographer can do to make you feel more comfortable.

    • Omg! I never thought of this until it happened to me in some extended family portraits. I took a photo of a divorced couple with their grown children (that they wanted) but the step parents hadn't been invited to the event. When I posted them on FB apparently one of the step parents went livid. Although they signed an agreement to let me post them I still felt bad about it and from now on always include the question "Are there any family dynamics I should know about prior to the event? Divorces, disabilities, etc."

  24. Thanks for the great article! I would love some advice as a bride-to-be, from photographers and offbeat readers at large.
    Whenever I attend weddings I am annoyed by the photographers getting in the way, being a distraction, and generally being the ones running the show without thought beyond their photos. I get that folks want great pictures, but it just frustrates me trying to find a solution for my own wedding where I won't get annoyed. What can I do to keep myself sane but still have my groom and family happy with pictures? How can I make the downtime while everyone is waiting for us fun and entertaining? Thanks folks!

    • If u get married in a woodsy area,photographers can kinda hide. I went to wedding where u didn't see photogs much cuz they were shooting from behind bushes, lilacs etc. they alsi wore all black. You can ask the photographer what they wear too.

      • I've seen photographers push brides and grooms too much. What I tell brides & grooms is you have the obligation to communicate with me. I am very good at reading body language, but not perfect.

        To combat this feeling, I try and let couples spend time with each other in a photogenic location, that way I can stand back and take natural photos of them being them.

        Every photographer is different. My two suggestions are be clear in your communication (if things need to speed up or be done let your photographer know) and choose a spot that is photogenic for photos. This way your photograph can stand back and get natural unobtrusive photos.

        I promise every bride I will be an addition to your day. I won't push you on your wedding day to get perfect photos, I want you to have a good time. If you are up for lots of photos, we'll do them. If you want a good deal of cocktail hour, we'll get there for that.

        Scheduling a first look, helps with all of these expectations.

    • Aurora, this is exactly what the photographer was doing at my friend's wedding, but you said it better than I did. It was like he was running the show and only cared about getting his pictures. My friend kept getting annoyed, especially when she was getting ready, because he kept making us stop to pose for pictures when all she wanted to do was finish getting ready. He made us late for the ceremony because of it and that made everything else late. It seems like he was working against the wedding planner too because I remember a couple of times being told by her to do one thing and then he would tell us to do the opposite. Who are you supposed to listen to at that point? It was very confusing for all of us in the bridal party. By the end of the night, my friend was totally fed up with him. I really want to avoid this aggravation on my wedding day. Is there a way to wrangle in this type of photographer? Obviously we should talk about it at the appointment, but are there questions we can to ask to find out if we're hiring one of these photographers?

      • Always ask for recent references and call them. You can find out a lot from past brides. Ask if the photographer was more of photojournalistic or if they were doing a lot of posing. Find out how their guest felt about them.

        Once you get the references, check the photographers facebook & blog to see if they shot within the last year to 18 months. If at least 1 or 2 of them are not within that time frame, it would give me reason to wonder why they are not using more current wedding couples in their references.

  25. Great article!

    On the point of second shooters, I would advise brides to find out what sort of experience the second has. Husband and wife teams often make the best type of dual-shooter situation. I shoot alone most of the time because I find most photographers who are worth their salt are a) already shooting a gig on a prime Saturday date or b) are going to cost the couple quite a bit extra. I know a lot of photographers sell a second shooter option and bring in people who are completely inexperienced. I would rather shoot alone than have a hack there shadowing me. Also, two photographers will be more of a presence and can lend a paparazzi-type feel to an event, especially smaller, more intimate affairs. The obtrusiveness of the situation is something to consider!

  26. On our wedding day a few years back, one of our biggest frustrations was when our photographer decided to change plans at the last minute. Because it was a particularly hot afternoon, she chose to delay the wedding party shots until later in the evening, during the reception. About 90 minutes into the reception, after our meal and first dances, she rounded up my wife and I, along with our bridesmaids and groomsmen, and took us outside for a few shots. First we did group shots, and then shots of just the two of us. By the time we got back to the reception, at least half of our guests had left! Our leaving the building had disrupted the momentum of the reception, and we felt like we had lost part of the evening that we could never get back.

    This bothered us for a long time, but eventually we found the silver lining: one of our favorite shots of the day came from when we left the reception. It was a candid shot of us and our friends that could not have been possible at any other time. It's one of the few photos that made it to a frame and onto our wall. Still, at the time, leaving during the reception midway was too disruptive, and we felt like our photographer had overstepped her bounds in altering our schedule at the last minute. So, the moral of the story that I always try to pass on is to be assertive with your photographer when it comes to your wants and needs. While their expertise should be trusted, it's also important to stand your ground with the plans you've agreed to. Except for the one great shot, the photos we got from that evening were not worth the time we missed with our families and friends. Plus, with half the guests gone by the time we got back, the dollar dance was much less lucrative!

    Anyway, thanks for the great post! I'm always on the look out for helpful articles like these to pass on to soon-to-be newlyweds to help them learn from our own mistakes, so I'll be sure to file this one away for later. Here's another one that I often reference: http://www.iwenexposures.com/blog/how-to-hire-the-perfect-wedding-photographer/ Similar to the questions in the post above, it includes some additional questions to ask prospective wedding photographers to get an idea of their experience and professionalism — very helpful for when you get to the "interview" stage of your search.

    • Sounds like your photographer did the right thing. The "particularly hot afternoon" would have made for even worse pictures than you think. Sweaty faces, squinty eyes, pit stains, the list goes on. In fact, I have been in situations during hot days where my equipment overheats and back-up equipment has to be used.

  27. Edited to add the disclaimer that I am also a wedding photographer ๐Ÿ™‚

    This is a great article!!! And the comments are also great, especially Farren's point about recreating Pinterest photos.

    The best piece of advice I received while searching for my own wedding photographer was to look at photos from weddings with similar settings as my own.

    It's easy to be drawn to a photographer whose portfolio is full of beautiful outdoor wedding photos, but if your whole wedding will be inside, you should be sure to look for photos that are inside – if not at your same venue, then at a similar kind of venue. Country club, ballroom, churches… try to look at (at LEAST) one full set of delivered photos to a client from the last 6-12 months. The more recent, the better of an idea you'll get for how a finished set looks.

    Also, if you know any former clients of the photographer (ideally ones within the last year — businesses can evolve and improve drastically over time), don't be afraid to chat with them about their experience. This can help alleviate any concerns about rude/obtrusive photographers — or, at least, help you to avoid working with someone who might end up being a huge headache!

  28. Great article, I am also a wedding photographer and agree with a lot of what the others above have posted. I can add that a prospective client should always ask if their photographer has or will bring multiple camera bodies to the wedding. Having two bodies is just a must have in my opinion, in case there is any kind of mechanical failure in one of the two bodies. God forbid a camera breaks on the day of the wedding and he/she can't complete the job!

    Also, I can't express how important it is to feed your photographer. It's in my contract to have the time to sit down at some point (usually when everyone is having dinner) to eat myself. It's no fun shooting for 12 hours with no food, and honestly a little inhumane. Even if this means I scarf my food down in less than five minutes, nourishment to continue the evening is essential.

    @Aurora – I think you should ask prospective photographers how they work when you interview them. I always go over this during the initial consultation with clients. I make a point to tell them that I don't like to be the center of attention ESPECIALLY during the ceremony. There is a fine line between getting the shot and actually being a distraction. If I am in the aisle, I'm crouched down. If I'm walking around, I'm quiet and respectful. You might want to consider just one photographer as opposed to two if you are worried about it. A good way to keep your family and bridal party happy is to do the First Look and get the photos over with before the ceremony so that you are all free to enjoy cocktail hour when the time comes. I highly recommend it!

    I also agree that resourcing the right photographer through referrals from friends is a great way to go…they can tell you directly about their experience whether it be good or bad.

  29. Another thing I would recommend is Do Not offer throwaway cameras, and expect different photos. They will all be taking the same shots you offer them (just different angles). My step-daughter did this and was disappointed. I dunno what she expected; don't do it.

  30. Great article. However, the term "shoot and burner" is not really used as you described. When photogs refer to shoot and burners, it's generally used as a pejorative term to describe a newbie photog who is under cutting the competition by providing nothing more than time and a disk of images. The images are generally post processed. These photogs don't provide the full list of photographic services that true professionals provide…products such as prints, canvas, albums, knowledge and use of off camera lighting, the use of second photogs and assistants, professional websites, professional branding, etc. It might be true that some shoot and burners don't edit…but generally even the most newbie photog understands the need to post process…in fact, many newbies have a far advanced knowledge of Photoshop and Lightroom techniques than their full time counterparts.

  31. ahhhhhhhhhhhh it was pretty refreshing to read this…as a photog myself…and talking to many couples about their wants/needs….no one really asks me how easy/hard this life is to present and have emotion about the art i create and capture. It is always a pleasure to work with amazing peoples…and the few that have tipped me sent me over the moon with smiles! Really liked this post. ๐Ÿ™‚ You can never ask enough questions…and i love love love the tip about "who do you WANT to spend HOURS with on your day!!??!!"….i've met some serious downers in my life! If you can't have fun and laugh….ya might as well throw a dark cloud in the room…be sure to connect with someone on all levels that you desire! best of love to you all! <3 yay.

  32. Really great info. I love sharing articles like this that share more of a vendors point of view. The people who make those ridiculous wedding checklists should just use this as a resource.

    • I think that is wonderful. I love when couples offer me something at the end of the night. Again, I don't expect anything as I have already been paid, so a little extra is always awesome.

  33. Thanks for writing so many of the things that I want to tell potential clients and clients. And one that sticks out the most is, "You can just photoshop that." Ummmmmm ya, for a fee. Like you said, I like to get it right in camera, but when people want me to do this, that and the other using photoshop, I have to put my foot down. Btw, love you blog.

  34. I guess this is a little unusual, but there's a photographer in my family(-ish) who was doing a wedding for a family friend, so the couple and the photographer organised between them that a couple of guests who were the bride's close friends came to the photographer for a special lesson a week or so before the wedding, then acted as "seconds" for the photographer. I didn't go to the wedding but apparently they didn't get in the way, just took photos of the friends at certain sections of the evening, gave the photographer a break etc.

  35. Great tips. I frequently hear 'why is everyone so expensive' when this guy will do my wedding for a fraction of the cost. It's important to remember that there's a lot of pre and post production which is included in the price beyond the wedding. On top of this, professional photographers need to maintain and update their kit. But most of all it's the years of professional experience which help ensure clients' satisfaction. The budget operators just don't invest this sort of time or money and their clients can't expect the same sort of results.

  36. Good article and sure wedding photographers will help us & guide us, so don't hesitate to ask for suggestions in your main occasions.

  37. Very interesting article and I agree with pretty much all of it. Especially liking your photographer – it'd be a very long and even more emotional day if we hated each other!

  38. This is all very useful information, thank you Mike and the commenters!

    I was originally somewhat dismissive about having a "first look", and Groomy thought it a little odd to have photos of us as a couple before we were married. However, after hearing what you have said (esp re: missing part of your reception for photos!) I'm really warming to it. Plus, we're having a fairly bombastic processional, so it'd be nice to have a quieter, more emotional first look.

    Another two penneth worth on "liking your photographer". We nearly booked with a p'grapher who was local, reasonable fees and lovely pics. It was only when we were discussing the contract that we started to clash, and we discovered he was very rigid and humourless. We've since booked with another chap who simply *gets* us, embraces the offbeat aspects, and makes us laugh. We didn't know what was appropriate or usual for professional photographers! I'm so so pleased we didn't go ahead with the first chap, it would have been such a huge error.

  39. The 2nd to last photo? A friend of mine and his wife. She is stunningly beautiful like that ALL the time and they really are that much fun <3

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