A helpful list of questions to get you started when researching photographers

Researching wedding vendors can be daunting when you are just starting the wedding planning process. This is probably your very first time planning a wedding and mostly like your first time hiring vendors. I have put together a list of some common and not so common but important questions to ask because price is not the only thing that matters! So what does matter? ALOT!

I have been a wedding photographer for 9 years and have worked in the Baltimore/DC Metro area since 2012. Over the years I have worked with some incredible vendors and also some not so wonderful vendors who just didn’t have it together and even though it isn’t my wedding, I really care about your day and how you will remember it and your team. Below you’ll find a list of important questions to ask any wedding photographer when you chat with them. As a little bonus, this blog post includes all my answers to these questions. Aside from the below questions, the one thing I tell all potential clients is that you really need to hit it off with your photographer. In most cases, your photographer is the one vendor that you’ll spend the most time interacting with throughout the planning process especially on wedding day. Make sure you dont have any second thoughts or doubts about whether or not they will rock your day!

Wedding planning tips, questions to ask before booking your wedding photographer, baltimore wedding photographer, baltimore engagement photographer, maryland wedding photographer, Bantry house wedding, ireland wedding

How far in advance do we need to book?

There is no right answer to this question. However, I recommend booking your photographer about 12-18 months in advance especially if you are getting married May-November. While this may seem extreme, this will ensure you have the access to your top picks! Once you lock in your date and venue its a great idea to get high priority vendors like photo and video also locked in. In the DC area, Saturdays in May, June, August (surprisingly), September and October book the fastest followed closely by Fridays especially on holiday weekends.

Have you ever shot at our wedding venue?

This is a great question to ask however, if the photographer you are interested in has not shot at the venue, dont let this be the deciding factor in hiring them or not. There are so many venues out there and so many that are very similar so chances are they have shot at one that has a similar feel as yours and can likely provide sample work. As a true professional photographer, they should have the experience to handle any lighting requirement or space. You could also request they attend one of your venue walk throughs or schedule a walk through with them directly around their availability.

What happens if it rains?

Ensure your photographer has adequate skills in all lighting situations to accommodate indoor portraits should there be a need. Ask them to see specific examples of indoor couple portraits, family portraits, ceremonies etc. This day only happens once and your photographer should be able to provide you with beautiful portraits even if you cannot do them outside.

On another note, in the off change it does rain and we are unable to do portraits outside I am more then willing to come back to your venue based on my availability and the venues to do a portrait session of you two if you’re willing to get dressed back up!

Do you offer different packages?

Yes, I offer 3 “All Inclusive” packages for couples to choose from with the option to create a custom package to better fit the needs of my clients. When I receive an inquiry I like to schedule a phone call with the couple so we can all discuss what you are looking for, whats important to you in wedding photography, what questions you have (like this list) but also broadly chat about your timeline, how many hour you may need and how long photos may take for your day specifically. By the end, I am usually able to provide the best option package wise for your day.

What is an “all inclusive” package?

An all inclusive package is just that, its inclusive of everything you need for the best photography experience. All packages come with a minimum of 8 hours on wedding day, a 2nd photographer, an engagement session for us to get to know each other and practice being in front of the camera, digital images, an online gallery for viewing and sharing (USB’s available upon client request), print and download right of your images and a bonus gift from me in the form of a print credit (i.e. free money to buy prints of your photos post wedding!). Albums and additional hours are available as well.

Starting in 2020, I introduced a truly all inclusive weekend photography package for couples. This is a WONDERFUL way to document the entire wedding weekend.

We have a large bridal party, can you handle that?

YES! I love large bridal parties. While it can be like herding cats at times ( i mean you know its true), they can super fun and always make for really great photos. Being assertive and to the point is the best way to handle large groups of friends and I definitely have this quality which comes in really handy on a wedding day!

How long have you been working as a professional photographer?

I have been a professional wedding photographer since 2011 and became a full time wedding photographer in 2017! From 2011-2017 I worked a full time job and ran by business. Crazy right? I would do as much as I could during lunch and on breaks and then hustle my butt off when I got home at night. I made the leap to full time and haven’t looked back since. Being a business owner is tough, and not as glorious as some people make it out to be but its by far the most rewarding job i have ever had and I love my clients!

How would you describe your photography style?

My style of photography is very hybrid if you will. I thrive on being in the moment but also providing couples with classic portraiture. I offer a mix of candid and posed photography which you’ll see looking through my work. If I had so sum it up in 3 words it would be timeless, romantic and fun!

My style is something that I have built over the years and it’s always evolving. While I can most often be flexible in getting more or less posed photos its super important that you like my style of photography. I am always down to hear or see what your vision is and will be as transparent with you as possible if i dont think we are the best fit style wise.

Do you have a portfolio we can review?

The blog and my Instagram account! I am also more than happy to share full client galleries with you so feel free to ask! When creating my blog posts, i try to pull from every part of the day to give a well rounded view as to what you can expect in a your gallery. This also allows you to see my work in different lighting situations, different venues, different weather scenario etc.

As far as your blog, are the images yours, and is the work recent?

I am currently working to update my blog with all of 2018 & 2019 weddings. Since I try to blog all parts of the day, a few of the photos you’ll see on my website most likely came from my 2nd photographer (best example groom prep photos). Its important to me that the 2nd photographer’s images fit seamlessly in with my style – this is why I usually hire the same 5 people for every wedding. All of the photos on my website and instagram are mine, and 98% precent of the images on the blog were shot by me.

Can you share some recent testimonials?

Sure! For the most up to date and full length reviews, you can head to The Knot

What type of equipment do you use?

I come to every wedding with 3 profession camera bodies: 2 Canon 5D MK4 and 1 Canon 5D MK3. Each camera has dual card slots (CF & SD) which I use one as a primary card and the other is used as a backup duplicate copy of every photo I take (because technology! And you can’t be too safe).  In additional to profession camera bodies, I use professional grade camera lenses – each with its own purpose for different parts of the day (Canon L lenses: 35 1.4, 50 1.2, 85 1.2, 100 2.8, 70-200 2.8). I addition to the lenses I also bring a Canon L 24-70 2.8 as a backup lens should any of my primary lenses malfunction or break during the day. Because lighting can be tricky at times, I also bring my own on and off camera flash (OCF) to every wedding. OCF may be used at any given time depends on the lighting of the event space or portraits area needs.

Are you shooting in digital or film?

Digital. I reserve film shooting for personal projects only.

Can we give you a list of specific shots we would like?

Each client is asked to provide a list of family grouping they wish to have taken along with any specific groups of people that are not family or extended family. Aside from this list, I ask that clients who hire me TRUST me and let me be the artist when it comes to portraits. Looking at a list of images provided for portrait time can really take away from my creativity and ability to be in the moment with each client.

If our wedding site is out of your area, do you charge a travel fee and what does that cover?

I do not charge a travel fee for venues within a 100 mile radius or 2 hour drive of Baltimore, MD. Anything beyond will be based on travel needs. Typically if the wedding is still local ish all I require is overnight accommodations. If you are wondering if your venue fits with in this please reach out and ask.

Will you be photographing other events on the same day as our wedding?

Nope! Im all yours!! When a wedding is booked I block out that entire day. I want to ensure my wedding clients have my full attention!

If our event lasts longer than expected, will you stay?

I ALWAYS say goodbye to my clients – If you want me to stay longer just ask! Yes, there is a fee associated with that but you do not need to worry about paying it then. I will make sure we take care of this after the wedding day when your back from your honeymoon. Now, in true wedding form, if something fell behind, and I needed to stay a few mins longer to ensure those moment we captured, I am flexible with time and will absolutely stay to get those last few special shots!

This is the perfect circumstance to pre discuss with your wedding planner (If you dont have one, hire one!). Let them know your wishes should things fall a little bit behind. Are you ok with adding an additional hour if it’s truly needed? This way, if things go past the planned timeline I can work with your wedding planner to handle the situation seamlessly without interrupting you.

Do you work with a second shooter?

I do. There is SO much added value when another photographer is there to help capture your day. Especially when you have a larger guest count, 150+.

Who owns the copyright of the photographs?

I own the copyright of all image i take however you are given print rights to the images to use as you wish for personal purposes.

How many photos will we receive from our wedding?

There is not “number” thats perfect for every wedding. Things that can make a big difference: hours of coverage, 4 person wedding party vs. 10+ person wedding party, 75 guests vs. 150 guests, cocktail hour or not, are you doing the a first look, first dance and parent dances, cake cutting, games, toasts, formal exit etc. But with all that said, the average 8 hour wedding day receives approx. 700-1000 photos.

What is the delivery time for the final images?

The actual time frame depends on the season you get married. Contractually, all galleries are to be delivered with in 12 weeks. JHP clients usually receive a small sneak peek of images with in the 1st week and their final gallery with in 6-8 weeks.

What is your social media policy?

I share images on IG, Facebook and my website. Sometime I also submit wedding images for publication in magazines and blogs. If you are private and don’t want to be on any social media, I will also honor that and respect your privacy. As far you sharing images on social media, GO FOR IT!!! Internet love in the form of tagging is always appreciated but certainly not required – Client referrals are huge for small businesses!

What is your refund/cancellation policy?

I require a 50% non refundable retainer to book your date. The remaining balance is divided into 2 additional payments and due 60 days before wedding date. If the wedding were to be called off before 60 days, you’ll receive your 2nd payment back. If the wedding is called off with in 60 days of your wedding date, you will not receive a refund. Due to the nature of this business, it is likely that i would not be able to rebook your date. In the event i am able to rebook, I am happy to chat about a refund less any services or fee we have accrued.

In the event that you are postponing your wedding date I will do everything in my power to work with you in finding a new date that works for both of us! Your retainer is transferable through the following calendar year.

What happens if you are ill, or there is an emergency?

This is a great question. I have yet to miss a wedding and I take extra precautions in my personal care to make sure I avoid illness when possible. However, if I were too ill, or I had an emergency come up there is an incredible network of photographers not just in Maryland but throughout the United States that I can pull from in order to make sure the added stress is not on your plate. Any photographer I would bring to you as a replacement would be in line with my style and skill set and I would still edit your images and handle the remainder of contractual needs. I can not plan for an act of God but will still do EVERYTHING in my power to be at your wedding and or get a replacement. Something else to note, one of the biggest reason I starting adding 2nd photographers to all of my wedding collections is – they are a built in back up system should something catastrophic happen to me on the way to your wedding.

I do have an ICE plan and additional steps i would happy to discuss in more detail over the phone or in person.

Do you have liability insurance?

Yes, I have a $2M liability policy. I am happy to provide a COI to you or to your venue. This is actually common practice for most venues so double check with ALL of your vendors.

Can we customize a package based on our needs?

ABSOLUTELY! Just ask, and let’s chat about what you want!

Do you include engagement photos in your packages?

I do! I love working with my clients before wedding day and getting to know them. Engagement photos are the perfect opportunity to practice for wedding day and get professional photos in non wedding attire.

Think of your engagement session as an adventure. Plan a date and let me come with you! Engagement sessions do not have to be awkward and weird. Nor do they have to be long and elaborate. Keep it simple and fun like a bike ride down your favorite path, a boat ride to go fishing, a picnic in the park, a walk on the beach with your pup or a night at the carnival. Whatever it is, make it an adventure and something that reflects who you and your fiancé are.

What type of album designs do you offer and do you design them?

I offer an heirloom quality album with your choice of cover options. I like to make things as simple as possible for my clients so when you receive you full gallery, I ask that you “favorite” at least 50 images that you MUST have in your album. Then I design the album based on the number of spreads you purchased and will send it to you for review.

All albums are custom designed and I take care of the full process! From start to finish a wedding album can take about 4-6 months to design, proof, order, build and deliver. I deliver all local albums in person since I only want to ship if absolutely needed for out of state clients. Feel free to read more about the beauty of Heirloom Wedding Albums HERE.

Do you provide retouching, color adjustment or other corrective services?

yes – I actually work with a private editor which allows me to maintain extremely quick turn around times for client galleries. Once I receive the images back from my editor, I go through each image by hand creating black and whites and doing and doing any retouching to skin, backgrounds etc. Once I ensure this process is complete galleries are delivered.

Will the images be viewable online?

Yes, your full gallery will be delivered in an online gallery where you can share with anyone you wish! This gallery will not expire you can take all the time you need to share and go through all your photos.

What is the ordering process and how long does it take?

Your online gallery is connected to a professional print lab so you can order prints, canvas, wall art and more directly from your gallery from my preferred vendor. These labs are selected to ensure the best quality in material, color and service! Albums however, need to be ordered directly through me.

Prints are generally delivered within a week but albums can take 6 weeks to build once ordered and a week to be shipped to me and inspected, photographed and packaged for delivery to you.

Will you give us the RAW digital images?

The short answer, no. I decided when i started my business that this would be the answer moving forward. RAW images require special software to read the image. It’s also my job as the professional to deliver the best of the best finished product to you. My curation or your gallery and editing of your images is part of why you are hiring me to tell the story of your wedding day.