1. Experience Level – Has this person photographed other weddings? Does he/she do this for a living or for fun? In this industry, photographers come and go daily. A brand new one may be pretty good, and everyone has to start somewhere, but do you want to trust your once in a lifetime event to a newcomer?
2. Photographic Style – Are the images that you are shown, what you would like to see? Can you picture yourself photographed the same way?
Is there a satisfactory mix in different styles? There are “buzz” words flying about everywhere about photojournalism, formal, classic contemporary, and so on. All colorful adjectives aside; do YOU like it?
3. Truth in Advertising – Is this the photographer that will be photographing your wedding or will they send in whom ever is available. Don’t be shocked, this happens more often than you can imagine. Be certain that you know which photographer is going to be there and see HIS/HER work and meet them.
4. Personality – Is the photographer that you meet someone that you can get along with? Is the “chemistry” there? People have walked away from hairstylists and tailors for less. This is a person that you are going to spend most of the day with; the most important day. Could you handle it? Does he or she seem service oriented?
5. Appearance – Ask the photographer how he/she intends to dress. The last thing that you want is a conflict at the wedding about the photographer wearing a sweatshirt and jeans with sneakers at your favorite country club. Is this person well groomed?
6. Price Range – Although, the last thing you want to do is shop by price, is this person within your budget? If not, is he or she worth the difference? A lot of times we tend to surpass our budget constraints to get what we really want. If you see and like it, you’ll find a way. In any case, make sure you understand what everything costs, including reorders.
7. Delivery – How long does it take to get your proofs back, your finished album, your bridal portrait, etc.? Go ahead and ask. Some photographers take months to deliver your proofs. Be sure of how long things take to turn around.
8. Offering – Whether it’s a la Carte or packages, do you understand what you get? Is there any room for changes and will it cost to do so? Sometimes the packages are fixed, sometimes they can be customized, in any case, ask. How much time will he spend? What if you need more time? Make sure that you know what’s coming.
9. Contract – Do you understand the contract. Is it fair? Is everything spelled out? When it comes down going to court, only what is WRITTEN really counts, not what was promised. Make sure that you have no doubts before signing. Read it ALL.
What about deposits and payments? What does it say about cancellations and the photographer not being there? If you are not sure, ask legal counsel to look it over. If the photographer protests, ask him why? This is one area NOT to take lightly. You could be disappointed for a long time.
10. References – A personal reference is always the best and people love to talk. Get a list of references from the photographer and check them out personally. A photographer who doesn’t have references or is afraid to give them to you may not be the person that you need to hire.
Check with the BBB and The Chamber of Commerce. Try the reception facilities and churches. They will be more than glad to tell you all about the people that have worked there. Find out if he or she is a member of any photographic organizations and what is required to join. The Professional Photographers of America is a well known, ethically bound organization, with chapters all over the country. Don’t be afraid to ask. Objection to questions of this kind is an indication of trouble ahead.