The first thing you need to do when choosing a wedding photographer is narrow down a shortlist – handily, we’ve got eight easy ways to choose your photographer to doing just that you can follow, and a list of questions to ask your wedding photographer.
You’ll want to meet with your potential wedding photographer to discuss what you want, find out more about their work, and decide whether you gel with them. "A telephone, video or face-to-face meeting is recommended, because we'll be spending all day with each other!" Advises wedding photographer Sally Rawlins.
To help, we’ve come up with a list of 29 questions you should consider asking a wedding photographer which will help you determine if they’re right before you book.
You’ll see at the end we have a section of questions to ask yourself. That’s because they’ll be spending 8+ hours with you on one of the most important days of your life so how well you get along and communicate with them is paramount. Your first meeting with your photographer is as much about personality as it is expertise.
Here are the questions to ask your photographer will which ensure you find the perfect one. We’ve turned them into a PDF you can print out to take with you to meetings with potential photographers too.
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1. Do You Have My Date Available?
An obvious question, you’d think, but photographers can get booked up 12-18 months in advance. Ask in your initial enquiry email if the date is available and double check when you see them that someone hasn’t reserved that date. Check with them how far in advance you’d need to secure them with a deposit.
2. How Many Weddings Do You Shoot a Year?
This isn't to determine how established they are, but rather to assess their availability. "Some photographers are also primary care givers (like myself, with a young daughter)," explains Sally Rawlins, "I have lots of experience but I am more limited to how many weddings I shoot."
Don’t dismiss a photographer if it’s not what they do full-time, but be aware that editing your photos is a long process, so you might not get your images back as quickly or the date you want might get filled by another couple if they do a limited amount per year.
A very experienced photographer might be more selective with their weddings as they’re in high demand, so you might need to consider being flexible with your wedding date if the photographer you love only shoots a limited number of weddings a year.
3. Can I See Some Full Wedding Albums? Are All the Images Yours? How Recent Are They?
You’ll get a feel for their style from looking at the portfolio on their website, but these will only be a highlight reel. To really see if you like a photographer’s work, you’ll want to look through a whole album.
This will tell you if they capture the story of the day, if you like how they take photos in different lighting conditions, and if they’re consistent with their quality and style. You’ll want the albums to be recent and to be seeing the photos your photographer took, not someone from the same agency as them, for example.
4. Have You Worked at Our Venue Before? If Not, Will You Visit Beforehand?
Again, not a deal breaker, but if a photographer has worked at your venue before they’ll have experience of the lighting and the venue layout. They’ll already have scouted out where is best to take you off for your couple photos and the best spots to take photos when the night draws in. Even better, you’ll be able to see a whole albums worth of pictures they’ve taken there before!
Your photographer might consider visiting the venue beforehand if they haven’t shot there before. Your venue coordinator can arrange this with them. You could potentially look at arranging your engagement shoot there if it works with your wedding venue and your photographer.
5. What's Included in the Wedding Packages You Offer?
If you can't find pricing or package information on the photographer's website, you'll need to ask this to understand if you'll get want you want, and how it will fit with your wedding budget.
According to our National Wedding Survey, couples in 2021 spent £1,200 on their wedding photography - you can see the average cost of a wedding breakdown here, but be mindful that it's just the average. Wedding photography pricing and packages will vary from photographer to photographer and there will be a number of reasons for their price and package structure, so make sure you discuss it with them so you understand what's involved.
The general things you’ll want to know are how many hours the photographer will be with you on the day, what photos you'll get and in what form you’ll get them back, whether there’s an engagement shoot (see below for why that’s important) and if there’s a second shooter. Get in writing what is included in your package so both sides have a clear understanding of expectations.
If your budget is tight, discuss this with your photographer – they might have some options that will make it more affordable for you, such as being with you for a shorter time period, or delivering fewer photos.
6. What Information Do You Need from Us Before the Wedding Day?
Before the day, the photographer will need to know all the logistics: the exact time and place of your ceremony and reception; where you’re getting ready and what time you’re leaving on the morning; when the speeches and cake cutting will be; what time the first dance is and what the lighting will be like. The more information they have, the better.
7. How Would You Describe Your Photography Style?
There are three main types of photography style, which you can find out more about in our photography glossary. Briefly, they’re reportage, which is candid and tells the story of your day; traditional, which focuses on formal, posed group photos and classic shots; and contemporary, which is more fashion-led and editorial.
Ask your photographer to show you their favourite wedding photo and you’ll get a good understanding of their vision and style.
8. Where Can I Read Testimonials?
Do they have reviews readily available and are they consistent across a number of sites? Look at reviews on their Hitched listing, on Google and on Facebook to see what former clients have to say - and how they respond!
9. Will I Be Able to Give You a List of Specific Shots We’d Like?
A shot list is a list a couple gives to their photographer with the absolute must-have photos they need them to capture, like a special photo with your Grandma and Grandad. Most photographer should accept this no problem, although don’t request too many or it can take time away from capturing the candid moments of the day.
Most photographers will know exactly what photos to shoot though, as they do it for a living, so don't get too hung up on a list.
10. Do You Offer an Engagement Shoot as Part of Your Package?
An engagement shoot is a brilliant way to get comfortable in front of the camera and get to know your photographer. You’ll get used to being directed and perfect your winning smile. If an engagement shoot isn’t included with your package, it’s worth negotiating one in or paying extra for one.
On the Day
11. What Time Will You Arrive at the Venue?
Get it in your contract whether your photographer will be there while you’re getting ready or they’ll meet you at the ceremony. Most couples will want the prep and journey to the venue captured as it’s such a special part of the day, but it can be cheaper if you’re on a strict budget to cut down on the photographer’s hours and not include these.
12. Do We Need to Provide You with Food?
It’s completely up to you whether you provide your photographer with food, but it’s the polite thing to do. They’ll be working 10+ hours for you and will need sustenance.
Ask your photographer what they’d like: you can arrange for them to have a plate and sit at one of the tables or somewhere else, or you can put money behind the bar or give them a meal allowance if they’d prefer to cater for themselves. They’re unlikely to be taking lots of photos during the meal anyway as no one wants the moment they stuffed half a chicken supreme in their mouth caught on camera.
13. Do I Need to Cover Travel Costs?
All this information should be clearly laid out in your contract to avoid unexpected charges. You’ll want to know if petrol or overnight accommodation need to be covered by you. Always expect that a destination photographer will require you to pay for travel and accommodation.
14. Will You Be the Primary Photographer on the Day?
National agencies have multiple photographers on their books so you want to know the person you’re talking to is the photographer you’ll get. Even if they are at the wedding in a second shooter capacity, make sure you meet the primary shooter in person before you pay a deposit.
15. What Time Will You Stay Until?
Weddings can be seriously long and your photographer is only human. It’s a huge ask to suggest they work from when you get your hair done at 7am to the last dance at midnight. Most photographers will leave after the cake has been cut and the first dance done, and will make their time scale clear in the contract.
16. Can We Pay an Extra Fee If We Require You to Stay Longer?
It’s always worth finding out how much it would cost for a bit more of the photographer’s time, if you want to capture a late evening sparkler send-off, for example, or just because the day runs over.
17. How Much is a Second Shooter?
More expensive wedding packages will often include a second shooter as standard. This is another photographer who is there to supplement the photos of the first, usually by capturing different angles or being in places they can’t, like the drinks reception while the group shots are happening. A second shooter is essential for a large wedding, and also means the morning preparations of both halves of the couple can be captured.
18. Will Other People Be Able to Take Photos While You Are?
There’s so many benefits to an unplugged wedding where phones are banned. Even if you’re happy for people to take photos during the day, you might like to request that guests don’t during the ceremony. No one wants their walk down the aisle blocked by Uncle Bob taking photos on his giant iPad.
19. What Is Your Back-up Plan If You Can’t Attend on the Day?
People get ill and family emergencies happen. Your photographer will likely have a network of fellow professionals they can call upon if circumstances change unexpectedly. Despite the best laid plans, it’s always recommended you get wedding insurance to cover for any last-minute disasters. Listen to your gut if they ignore the question – you’re only going to have one chance at this day and you need to trust they have you covered.
20. Do You Have Insurance?
A professional wedding photographer should have both professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance. Compensation cover should be between £2 million and £5 million, and they should be happy to show you their insurance documents if asked.
Packages and Payment
21. How Much is the Deposit and When Do You Need It By?
Much like the final payment, knowing when the deposit is due will help you budget for your wedding and secure your photographer for your date. All due dates for payment instalments should be given in writing.
22. How Will We Receive Our Photos?
Most photographers shoot with digital, not film, so you can expect a full set of edited digital copies of your photos as standard in wedding packages (the number you'll receive will depend - speak to your photographer to determine how many images they usually supply).
"After your photos have been edited, for a full day wedding you can typically expect to receive anywhere in the region of 650-850 photos, unless your photographer has specified something different," explains professional wedding photographer Sally Rawlins.
"Do bear in mind that there are many factors that affect how many photos you receive, and to check with your photographer how many they typically deliver before booking. Most wedding photographers will give you as many high quality photos as possible, and any blurry or unflattering ones will be deleted."
23. Can We Share the Photos Online?
"Check your contract to make sure you can share your images online," advises Sally. "Your contract should include permission from the photographer to share and print the images (a personal use copyright), you just can't sell them to a glossy magazine!
"Some good etiquette when sharing photos includes crediting or tagging your photographer where appropriate - they will love you forever for doing that."
If you want to be featured as a real wedding, check that your photographer is happy to supply the images or is happy for you to do so on their behalf.
24. Do You Offer a Printing and/or Album Service?
An album of photos may be included in more expensive packages. Otherwise enquire as to how much this might cost and ask to see samples. As you’ll have a license to print photos yourself, you might be able to create something more personal and in your style by printing them at a shop yourself.
25. Is Retouching Included in the Price?
Basic editing and retouching of your photos to remove shadows or strands of hair, etc. is usually included, but it’s worth checking. If you want to go beyond this – for example, editing two group shoots together to make big one of your family – this will cost you extra.
26. Can We Create a Bespoke Package?
For most photographers this shouldn’t be a problem and they’re happy to negotiate. If you’re going through a national agency, creating a bespoke package can be more difficult.
27. How Long Will the Pictures Take to Arrive?
Nowadays your photographs will likely arrive in an online gallery typically anywhere between two and six weeks after the wedding - "But this can vary so check with your photographer before booking," recommends Sally.
"Some photographers may send a small selection of edited images (called sneak peeks/highlights/previews) to you in the ensuing days after your wedding, so you get a flavour for how they look, which is very exciting!"
Expect to wait longer for your photos during busy periods - your photographer will give you a good indication of how long the process should take, and many share their edit queues regularly on Instagram so you can see their pacing.
28. When Will We Need to Make the Final Payment?
Knowing how many instalments you need to pay and your final deadline can help you budget for your wedding. Remember that most photographers are independent small businesses and they need to pay the rent so avoid any delays. You may find that if you can pay your photographer upfront in one go when you book, they can give you a discount or throw something in for free – no harm in asking.
29. Tell Me About Yourself!
Perhaps the most important question - you need to get to know your photographer to make sure they're the right person to be around you on your wedding day. "We are humans who have personal lives and interests like everyone else, and it's good to get to know each other a little outside of the wedding sphere," says Sally.
There are just a few questions you might want to ask yourself before you confirm your booking and pay a deposit:
- Do we have a good rapport with the photographer?
- Do we trust them to take the best pictures of our day?
- Will we feel comfortable with this photographer?
- Is the price and the level of service what we expect?
If your answer to these questions is yes then it’s likely you have found your wedding photographer. Now it’s time to take a look at our ultimate wedding photo checklist.