Camp Westwind Wedding Photos


15 questions

to ask your wedding photographer

Whenever I meet a perspective client for the first time, I always ask if they have any specific questions or concerns that they’d like to go over first.  In my experience, most clients initially care about two things: The cost and what they are getting for their money.  Of course this makes sense, but beyond that, clients are often not sure of what they should be asking potential wedding photographers.  In some instances, they’ll even ask me what questions they should be asking.  With that said, here are 15 important questions you might consider asking your potential wedding photographer:

#1. Why are you a wedding photographer?

(Or why do you love shooting weddings?)

Engagement shoot, Temescal Canyon, pacific palisades, Beloved Portfolio

Some photographers don’t address this on their websites, so I think it’s always good measure to get a verbal response for two reasons. First, it’s a great way to quickly break the ice with your photographer and second, you’ll get a great sense of how much the photographer values what they do. You would be surprised at how many photographers cannot put into words why they have chosen to photograph weddings. Honestly I’m not sure I would hire a photographer who doesn’t know why they do what they do.

#2. Can we view a full gallery of any (or specific) wedding?

Hint: The answer should always be yes...

All wedding photographers (including myself) feature our very best work in our galleries hoping to attract clients who are looking for a similar aesthetic for their wedding, but at the end of the day, you’re not just getting a few really fantastic images, you’re receiving a series of images that tells the story of an eight hour day from beginning to end. It’s important to see examples of this when hiring a photographer so you can have a much better idea of what you can expect. Bonus points if the photographer can show you an example of a full wedding at your venue. If the photographer gives you any hesitation about sharing a full gallery, I would suggest moving on to the next one.

#3. What was your favorite wedding to shoot and why?

This question will help further break the ice and you get a sense of what the photographer is looking for in a couple. It will also help you determine whether or not you are a good match.

#4. Can I customize a package to fit my needs?

Photographers will generally be able to customize a collection of coverage time, albums and other deliverables beyond their set packages, so don’t hesitate to tell your photographer exactly what you would like.

#5. Have you ever shot at my wedding venue?

If it is important to see examples of how a wedding was shot at your venue, then this question is certainly worth asking. If your photographer has not photographed a wedding at your venue, don’t immediately write that person off as most photographers (including myself) are happy to a venue beforehand to find the best possible spots for portraits and family photos.

#6. How long have they been in business and how many weddings do they shoot in a year?

(bigger isn't necessarily better...)

While it may look good on paper to see that your photographer is well-established and has 10+ years of experience, this isn’t always necessarily a good thing. Photographers who shoot 30 – 40 weddings per year with a team of associates might not want to invest the time in to delivering the best possible experience for you. Stylistically, they might get lazy and set in their ways, assuming you won’t notice the difference or even worse, they might not genuinely care that they’re not giving you 100% because they have 20 other weddings booked the same year and perhaps your opinion won’t make a difference. Ego is real people. Watch out for it. Use your own judgement on this. If your potential photographer has been in the business for many years, ask what has kept them motivated and inspired?

Also, be aware that while younger, less experienced photographers may come off more ambitious and charge less, they might miss something due to lack of experience. In this scenario, ask them what their goals are. Do they want to pursue wedding photography full time or is this just a side thing while they pursue their real passions?

Ideally, you should work with a photographer who covers no more than 15 weddings per year. This way, you’ll know they are investing the time and dedication into giving you the best possible results!

#7. Will we have the rights to the images?

It depends on the photographer...

Most photographers (myself included) will retain the rights to their own photographs and will license the work out to you for virtually any personal usage online or by print, or on any of the social media networks. The photographer will also likely reserve the right to use their images on their own website as well as on any social media outlet. Usually any further usage would require permission from either the clients or the photographer.

8. Do we have a say on which photos we can use for our album?

Again, depends on the photographer...

Some photographers insist on selecting photos, creating the layout and delivering the final product straight to the client. Other photographers may ask for your input. Ask this question so you know how involved you will be when putting together your wedding album. Personally, I think collaboration is awesome!

#9. Will we receive the negatives and/or high resolution digital images?

Hint: The answer should always be yes...

While it is uncommon, some photographers do still withhold high-resolution files hoping you will either pay a fee for them or purchase prints from their online gallery. This approach is largely based on a pre-digital business model where the photographer would retain the physical negatives (now jpeg files) and the clients would select images to be printed from a proof sheet (now an online gallery). Back in the day, this is how wedding photographers used to make most of their money, on selling prints.

To keep your life simple, I would strongly recommend just going with a photographer who will share the images with you for a single rate. Ultimately, you shouldn’t be forced to pay more just to access your wedding photos after all is said and done.

#10. Do you carry backup equipment?

While it is very rare for equipment to malfunction, it does happen so it is good to ask for a little peace of mind. Definitely worth asking.

#11. What is your refund or cancellation policy?

Photographers generally won’t refund your deposit unless there is an emergency per their agreement. Ask to see a sample agreement for details.

#12. Can we request a list of specific shots we would like?

Most photographers will request a list of family members that you would like photographed for family portraits.

13. What is the backup plan if you are unable to shoot my wedding for an unexpected reason?


Life is unpredictable. Accidents and emergencies can happen that might prevent your photographer from being present at your wedding. Make sure your photographer has a section in the contract that ensures you will at the very least get a full refund should something happen. While your photographer should try to arrange an alternative shooter if possible, you must accept that in some cases that might not always be a possibility.

14. Will you be posting about our wedding on your website and social media or to magazines and blogs?

Most photographers will...


Most photographers will retain ownership of all images taken. As such, they reserve the right to publish on their websites, social media accounts as well as magazines and wedding blogs. They depend on these marketing outlets to grow their businesses. If you prefer discretion and want your wedding photos to be kept private for the world, the photographer may either walk away or charge you an additional fee to impose a restriction like this.

#15. Are you insured and can you provide a COI (certificate of insurance) for my specify venue?

Most venues require a COI for all vendors, so this is something you should also be asking your potential photographer.


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