1. Ask the photographer to show one or two complete weddings – preferably the venue that they are getting married at. Typically this is 500-800 images from a single event. This should demonstrate how professional and consistent the photographer was throughout the wedding day. It’s important to not get caught up by the sales approach. If a couple is expecting to receive 500 images, they should not be disappointed after their wedding that only 50-100 images were acceptable to them. Since most all studios are digital, it shouldn’t be a problem asking to see complete weddings.
It’s also worth asking when the proofs are be ready after the wedding – Typically it’s 3-6 weeks.
2. Meeting a photographer at their studio doesn’t necessarily mean that person is to be the photographer who shows up on the wedding day. In the contract, I would recommend the name of the photographer be written in. Some studios have more than one photographer.
The photographer should have liability insurance. There are some venues that require this from their vendors. If anyone were to get injured by tripping on photo equipment, the couple and venue should not be held responsible. Also, it’s not unreasonable to ask how the photographer will be dressing the day of the wedding.
3. Meet with 3-6 photographers, and don’t be pressured to sign a contract. At the same time, don’t wait until that last minute to hire one. I recommend hiring a photographer 6 months to a year before their wedding. Also, it is perfectly acceptable for couples to contact the studio with any additional questions after their initial meeting.
On the wedding day, the photographer is probably going to be spending more time with the couple than any other hired person, so good communication is key.
4. The wedding day is one of the most important moments in a couples life. They should feel comfortable and be willing to discuss anything that’s concerns them with the photographer. Even with e-mailing being the most common form of communication, when important details need to be addressed, I recommend speaking over the phone. This is especially important when it comes to discussing the time-line and other details of the wedding day. I prefer meeting in person at the studio two weeks before the wedding. Once a time line has been made, I also recommend asking the photographer to send a copy by email. Emailing the itinerary is important so that there is no misunderstanding by either party on the wedding day.
Technically if a photographer captures images digitally which most all do, ask if the images are to be captured in the raw format. The Raw format is a much better way of working during the editing process. Once raw images are edited, they can be converted to jpegs. For more information, couples should do their own research on the web.
5. Lastly, referrals are always a good way of finding a photographer. If this is not possible, the Internet is a good way of seeing if the photographer is respected by the industry. Just because an individual owns a $5000 digital camera, doesn’t necessarily mean that they know how to use it.