13 Interview Questions to Ask Any Wedding Photographer
1. What information do you need from us (the couple) before the wedding day?
In order to provide you with the best service, the photographer often has to know as much information as the wedding planner, and as soon as possible. Such information may include the prep locations for the couple, the ceremony, & the reception, a shoot list, the theme of the wedding, the type of wedding (outdoor vs. indoor), the updated schedule, as well as the name and contact information of the wedding coordinator (if there is one).
Nicole Gugliotta Photography will send the couple a questionnaire for most of the information we need to know. Also, it's important the wedding couple keep us up to date on any changes to the schedule. (There will be many changes to the schedule between the time you book our services and the day of the wedding as the details are ironed out.) We are happy to sit down with the couple to write the schedule, which will ensure ample time is given for each event throughout the day.
2. Ask the photographer what type of equipment they use in low light conditions.
I'm not talking about brand - Nikon, Canon, Sony. The brand doesn't matter. I'm talking about what the camera is capable of achieving.
When wedding venues are located indoors, outside under a pavilion, or at night, low light conditions will be an inevitable challenge for the photographer during the wedding day. Unfortunately, not all types of cameras are equipped for low light conditions - not even cell phone cameras.
Amateur photographers may try to solve this issue by simply using the built-in flash on their DSLR cameras or cell phone camera. However, one or two results will occur: (1) the light in the photograph will seem harsh and unnatural (which makes the photograph look like it was taken by an amateur), or (2) the photograph will appear dark, out-of-focus, and motion will appear blurry due to an insufficient amount of light reaching the camera sensor, which often occurs when cell phone cameras are used.
In other words, the type of photography equipment used by the photography in a low light situation will make a difference in the final product.
You may be asking yourself, "what type of photography equipment should I expect a photographer to have?" Unless all photos are taken outside on a bright sunny day, a professional wedding photographer who uses a digital camera should have the following:
(1) A full-frame DSLR camera.
Why? A full-frame camera has a significantly larger sensor than other types of digital cameras. A larger sensor means a better photograph can be taken using natural light, without the need for flashes, LED lights, etc.
(2) Lenses capable of attaining large aperture sizes (an f-stop of f/2.8 or lower). Larger apertures allow more natural light to reach the camera sensor than smaller apertures. This enables the photographer to take natural light photographs in low light conditions (e.g. a day-time wedding inside a religious building where flash may not be permitted).
(3) Light modifiers for times when the photographer is permitted to add their own lighting to the situation. The photographer may choose to add some light to the room during the bridal prep, formal photographs, and especially the reception when the lights are brought down low). Examples of light modifiers include flashes on stands (referred to as "off-camera flash"), video lighting, soft boxes, & white umbrellas.
Nicole Gugliotta Photography has experience taking photographs in low light conditions. We always use full-frame cameras and lenses capable of attaining large aperture sizes. We also use extra lighting equipment, such as flashes, light boxes, and continuous light sources, when natural light alone is not an option.
3. Do you have a second shooter?
A second shooter is a second photographer provided by the photography company for taking photographs of groomsmen, bridal party, details, and guests, when the primary shooter is taking photographs of other aspects of the wedding. The second shooter also may assistant the photographer with equipment set-up. (The second shoot is not the same as photographer's assistant.) While there are photographers who choose to cover a wedding without the assistance of a second shooter, there are also many photographers who find the assistance of a second shooter for long or large weddings to be necessary to ensure all details and events of the day have been captured. Photographers also often rely on the second shooter to take their place if an emergency situation occurs and the first photographer is unable to attend the wedding.
Nicole Gugliotta Photography typically uses one shooter (Nicole) for small-scale weddings (including couple's prep time) lasting less than four (4) hours. However, Nicole may choose to hire a second shooter for a small wedding, depending on the circumstances. Any weddings which are expected to last longer than four hours will have at least two shooters present. The a la carte cost of a second shooter is $500.
4. Do you shoot digital, film, or both?
There are pros and cons to both these types of camera systems. Some photographers will show a sneak peak slide show of the ceremony photos for guests to enjoy during the cocktail hour or reception, which is only possible if a digital camera was used. Additionally, digital photography allows for drastic changes to be made during post-editing. Film photography does not allow for editing beyond the adjustment of shadows and light. On the other hand, some people prefer the look of the final product that film provides. It's a matter of taste.
Nicole Gugliotta Photography primarily uses digital cameras, but have film cameras ready to go for back-up purposes. We will always have back-up equipment ready because...well, Murphy's Law happens and we like to be prepared when it does.
5. Are you insured?
As a professional, a photographer should always have insurance in case the equipment breaks, is stolen, or an accident occurs. There also may be an occasion in which the photographer inadvertently damages someone else's property.
Nicole Gugliotta Photography has equipment and liability insurance coverage.
6. Can I see a contract?
It's important to know what you are legally agreeing to before committing to any photographer. All professional photographers use contracts. If the photographer never asks you to sign a contract before the wedding day, then they are not a professional and you should run far away from them! Legal contracts do not just protect the photographer, they also legally protect the customers.
The contracts must include the following:
(a) the day and times you expect the photographer(s) from the company to be present and taking photographs,
(b) the price,
(c) items included in the price,
(d) when payment is due from the customer,
(e) when the final product is expected to be delivered,
(f) if the event goes past the scheduled time, should the photographer continue shooting, and does the client agree to the extra fee,
(g) if an emergency arises, whether the photography company is responsible for finding a replacement photographer or the customer is responsible for finding a replacement.
A separate print release form should be given to the client, usually after the wedding, giving permission for the customer to re-print the photos, share the photos on social media, and explaining to the customer that the photographer owns the copyright license for all photographs, which means the customer can not change the photographs (no cropping, post-editing, etc.) without the photographer's permission.
The photographer may also request the client(s) sign a model release form. Most photographers consider this to be optional. A model release form gives the photographer permission to use the photographs for their own marketing purposes. Look at how the photographer uses photographs in their marketing. This legal form would give the photography company permission to use similar types of images from your wedding for future marketing. You are not required to sign this form. If you do not want any photos from your wedding to be used by the photographer for marketing (social media, brochures, sample albums, etc.), be sure to inform the photographer ASAP. Most photographers will be happy to comply with your request. If the photographer puts pressure on you to sign the model release form or requires you to sign the form, then you should shop for another photographer.
Nicole Gugliotta Photography uses contracts for all weddings and we would be happy to show you a copy of the legal contracts we use. We always give our clients the choice to opt out of signing a model release form.
7. What exactly is in your packages?
Know what you want, how much it costs, and whether the photographer offers such services. Some photographers offer photo booths and some don't. Some photographers only deliver the final product as digital images on a jump drive or an online gallery, and some offer more (prints, albums, etc.). If you have your heart set on certain items, such a photo booth, a large album, a videographer, or a minimum number of images, be sure you know what services the photographer offers and the price for each before you sign any of the contracts mentioned above.
Keep in mind here are also boutique companies which offer only photo booths or videography services. Simply because a photographer does not offer these services does not mean you should not hire the photographer. It simply means you should consider hiring a separate company for those other items, in addition to a wedding photographer.
Nicole Gugliotta Photography offers packages and a la carte items. Our wedding packages are discussed in more detail on our pricing website. We subcontract videographers and rent photo booth equipment or subcontract photo booth companies for the larger wedding packages containing these items. A la carte items are also available, although not explicitly listed on our pricing page. We are are happy to sit down with you to talk about the details of our services and prices.
8. What is the deposit and when is it due?
Most photographers require a non-refundable deposit (i.e. retainer or booking fee) in order for the couple to reserve the photographer's services for the wedding day. This fee is usually half the cost expected and should be paid as soon as possible because a wedding photographer's schedule books up quickly. Every photographer does this their own way, so be sure to ask. Most photographers will not reserve the date on their calendars until this fee is paid. Keep in mind most photographers start booking clients 4 - 6 months in advance, so don't wait until the month of the wedding to hire the photographer.
Nicole Gugliotta Photography requires a non-refundable deposit (a retainer) for half the cost of the requested wedding package at the time of booking.
9. How would you describe your working style?
Some photographers work like a fly on the wall, taking photos from a distance using a telephoto lens or wide angle shots. Other photographers are close up through out the ceremony and reception. Some photographers pose the couple during formal shots, while others simply allow the couple to act natural without any additional instruction. Most wedding photographers do a little bit of all of the above, at different parts of the wedding day.
For Nicole Gugliotta Photography, the photographer will ask for the bridal party and family/friends to pose for formal shots. However, the remainder of the day, we will be documenting your special day as it naturally unfolds. We may occasionally bring an extra light source for dark corners, but overall we have a photojournalistic approach, like a fly on the wall, documenting the reception and ceremony...unless we are given instructions otherwise from the couple. There are times when guests will ask us to take a photograph of them posing for the camera, and we are happy to oblige. We use a combination of normal and telephoto lenses through out the day to capture both posed and candid shots.
10. Is it okay if other people take photos while you take photos?
Of course it's understandable that family members wish to take photos with their own cameras, smart phones, etc. However, there are times when guests of the wedding interfere with the ability of the photographer to do their job, and the result is the photographer may not be able to capture a photograph of an important part of the wedding the couple wanted (e.g. one or both people coming down the aisle, cake cutting, etc.). Additionally, there are times when a guest will use flash when taking a photograph, and that flash interferes with the setting the professional photographer had planned. It's important to talk to your photographer about how to avoid these situations, while still allowing your guests to capture their own memories.
Nicole Gugliotta Photography will be happy to sit down with the couple to discuss the couple's list of preferred photos ("shoot list"), as well as steps that can be taken to by the couple, the photographer, and the videographer, to ensure the photographer and videographer are able to do their jobs and guests are able to take the photographs they want, too. Everyone can get the pictures they want as long as we all plan ahead.
11. If the event lasts longer than expected, will you stay? Is there an additional charge?
Even though there is a schedule everyone tries to keep to on a wedding day, Murphy's law seems to inevitably arise. In fact, schedules are rarely kept past the reception start time, which results in the main events of the reception occurring later than planned, and photographers are often asked asked to stay longer than the originally time agreed upon. It is important to ask the photographer what their policy is for such situations, if they charge for working longer hours, and how much they charge per hour over the original agreement.
Nicole Gugliotta Photography is willing to keep at least one photographer on site taking photographs until the venue closes and the reception officially closes. However, the photographer will not continue to take photographs for any after parties outside the reception location. We charge $100 for every hour extra.
12. Do you accept payment installations?
This is important because you need to know how soon each vendor must be paid. As you see the numbers in your bank account drop dramatically as you pay booking fees for venues, caterers, hair stylist, dress, tuxedos, DJ/band, photographer, flowers, minister, you may start to feel stressed and wonder how you are going to pay your other bills too. Some photographers offer installment plans for their services and keepsake items. A photographer who is willing to accept payments in installments may help relieve the couple's stress over money, so it's always good to ask the photographer what their policy is.
Nicole Gugliotta Photography is happy to sit down and discuss payment plans at any time.
13. What do you think distinguishes your work from that of other photographers?
Many other wedding photographers prefer the "light and airy" style, which appears like a white haze over the entire photograph. It is also quite common to see other wedding photographers leave the background sky as a large blank white space covering the top half of the photo. That's lovely, but it's not our style.
Our images are sharp, with a classic black and white elegance and/or bold colors with clean edges. Our services are friendly, flexible, and affordable.
We provide sharp, bold, beautiful wedding images at an affordable price!