What are good questions to ask a photographer?
While these questions are important ones to ask any accomplished photographer you meet, they are also good questions to consider when thinking about a photographer whose work you are interested in, even if you might never meet them. The answers to these questions will teach you a great deal about what it is that makes a master photographer just such a master.
So let me explain the questions, and give you my answers:
How do you get the person, place or thing that is in front of the camera onto the film, chip or paper in just the way you want?
Every photographer develops their own shooting strategy in their own unique way, be that interning, apprenticing, assisting, graduate school, on the job training, etc. Understanding how each photographer develops their particular style is important in figuring out your own approach to photographing. I refer to the joke about getting to Carnegie Hall by “practice, practice, practice!” I have refined my skill as a photographer by taking thousands and thousands of pictures (possibly millions) over the years. I have developed my eye for making and critiquing images by listening to the frequently-critical input of the many talented photographers I have worked with over the decades. I also strive to photograph only those things I know I can photograph well, and those things I am interested in photographing.
Is my wedding date available?
Will you be the one shooting my wedding? If not, can I meet the photographer who will be on-site?
Pro tip: If your photographer is the owner of his or her business, and does not have a studio with other photographers in it, they will be the person shooting your wedding. If they are the owner of a larger studio and employ other photographers, make sure you meet whoever will be shooting your wedding before your wedding day—and try to have them included in the rest of this conversation.
How many other weddings will you photograph that weekend?
Will you have any assistants with you on our wedding day?
Pro tip: Some photographers always work with an assistant, while others determine if they need one based on the size of your event. If they do not always work with an assistant, adding an assistant or second photographer to your contract will most likely incur an additional fee.
Pricing and Packages
What is included in your standard package? What add-ons do the more expensive packages include?
Can I customize a package to fit my needs?
Pro tip: Many photographers offer add-ons, from engagement sessions to albums, that will allow you to get the coverage that works best for you.
Do you include engagement photos in your packages? What about pre-wedding events like rehearsal dinners?
How many hours are included in each package? How much do extra hours cost?
Pro tip: If your photographer’s base package is six hours, you may want to add some extra time so they can capture getting ready shots, or stay until after dinner to get some pictures of everyone dancing before they go home.
Can You Tell Me About Your Method Or Process?
This is your chance to get a look behind the curtain. Any professional – no matter who – should have distilled their work into some semblance of a system. This is especially important of photographers. They should be able to articulate how they do what they do. How do they get consistent, high-quality results for
There’s no concrete answer to listen for and there’s no ‘right’ answer. You want to know whether or not their work stems from a carefully considered, reliable system that informs their decisions and moves the whole session along with clarity and ease. If they can’t point you to a precise system he or she has developed
over time, then at the very least they should be willing to dive in and explore the concept with you to the best of their ability.
You’ve worked with many people from vulnerable communities.
How do you develop a relationship with your subjects so they trust you and aren’t afraid of the camera during their weakest moments?
You have to simply build up a relationship. Make them trust you and relax. Don’t be afraid to be the photographer but be subtle at the same time, showing you’re there to tell their story to the world. If you are making someone uncomfortable, then you have to work on the relationship and show they are in a safe space.
What does manual mode mean and do I have to learn it?
Manual mode puts the photographer in complete control of how the photo will turn out. You have to manually set both the aperture, ISO, and the shutter speed. You can take this a few steps further and control the white balance, too. The camera will not make any automatic changes to the exposure. Your camera will still guide you to the best exposure with its built in meter.
For example, the following two images were taken at the same time. These are merely snapshots taken to demonstrate the power of manual mode. The first was taken in full auto mode and the second was taken in full manual mode. As you can see, the manual mode is better exposed and more pleasing to the eye. The image taken in auto is out of focus because the camera chose a slow shutter speed in attempt to expose it properly. Both of these images are straight out of camera.