Wedding photography is a funny thing to research and buy - most people only buy it once. People such as parents who might be able to offer sage advice on all sorts of things now find their advice on this topic is 30 years out of date!
Photographers don't make it easy as everyone has different offerings, packages and pricing which makes it very difficult to do a fair comparison between them.
Our advice is to look carefully at a photographers work either online, at a wedding fair or at their studio and see if you like their style and you can picture yourself appearing in that style of photograph.
Do you actually warm to and like the photographer? They will spend a lot of time close to you on the day and you don't want someone who is going to get on your nerves.
Other excellent questions to ask:
Is the photographer you meet actually going to be the person who turns up at your wedding?
Will there be just the one photographer, one photographer with an assistant, or two experienced photographers present to photograph your wedding?
When will they arrive and when will they leave? Is it a set number of hours? What happens if there's a problem at the venue and everything is delayed by 2 hours?
Have they photographed a wedding at your venue before? If not, how are they going to plan out the best locations for the photographs on the day?
Does the photographer carry spare equipment (camera bodies, lenses, flashes, batteries, memory cards, etc) in case of equipment failure on the day?
Are they insured - not just equipment insurance but public liability insurance in case of an accident involving the venue or a guest?
Do they offer a pre-wedding / engagement shoot so you can see how they work prior to the wedding day?
How do they back up the images on the day and after the day to make sure none of your precious wedding memories are lost?
What exactly is covered in their packages? Do they include albums?
Do their prices include VAT? If they are registered for VAT then it should be included in their prices. You don't want to agree to a £2,000 package and then get an invoice for £2,400!
What happens if they are ill on the day?
It's an important job interview - treat it as one
Before I became a full time photographer, I worked for a fast growing services company where I had to interview and hire a lot of people in a short time. One of the best pieces of advice I received as to always ask for examples of how someone had dealt with a situation. For example, don't ask "Can you deal with difficult people?" instead ask "Can you give me an example of a difficult person you had to work with and how did you resolve the situation?"
So in this way, you should ask questions such as
"When it last rained all day at a wedding, what did you do?"
"Have you ever had equipment go wrong at a wedding and how did you cope with it?"
"Have you ever had a bride who lost it on the day and what did you do to get her back in the right frame of mind?.
"What was the last complaint you had from a bride and how do you deal with it?"
Anyone who says they've never had a complaint is either lying, has not shot enough weddings, or been extremely lucky. Everyone whose job involves working with people knows there is always someone who will find something to complain about! :-)
If you have any comments or suggestions for good questions for photographers or how to choose the best one for you, then please let us know.
I'll follow up this article with another post very soon on things we seen or heard going wrong at weddings so you can watch out for them.