Googling “questions to ask a wedding photographer” produces the same advice again and again: questions like “How long have you been in business?” “What’s your style?” or “What happens if you become ill?” These are all good questions, and you should plan on asking them (go to PPA.com/WeddingPhotoQuestions to see more). But in today’s world, with so many photographers to choose from, it’s more important than ever that you click with the photographer you choose. Here, some guidelines.
Clicking with your photographer means you like their style of photography. This is important because you don’t want to have to ask them to emulate someone else’s style. It also means you feel safe—confident he or she will give you great results — you like talking to each other, you understand each other and neither of you will need constant clarification. Clicking means that you sense that your photographer wants to do a good job on your wedding day and if something goes wrong, you’ll feel confident that he will make it right.
One of the best ways to tell if you click with someone you might hire is by contrast. Plan to meet with at least five photographers. Don’t worry about the details — albums, timelines, deposits. Save them for later. Be open to digital meetings, using Skype or FaceTime to save time and eliminate unnecessary travel. When you meet, there are only two key things you need to know. First, “is this person able and willing to give me what I want?” And second, “do I sense that, as people, we click?” Once you’ve met with enough photographers, those who feel right will be clear. Use these opportunities to see how well you communicate with each other as you narrow the field.
Ask your potential photographers to show you images from an entire wedding they’ve shot. It helps clarify their ability and gives a more complete sense of their style. But just seeing isn’t enough. You should discuss the photographs. Ask each pro to talk about some images and to explain the context, the choices they made, and what they like and don’t like. Express your opinion and weigh each response. Does it feel right? If you felt eager for the meeting to end, you probably weren’t clicking and it probably doesn’t matter how good their photography was for another couple.
Be aware that there are two categories of photographer: art-oriented and customer-service oriented. There are incredible photographers in both categories and the two categories are not mutually exclusive. What matters is what resonates with you. An art-oriented photographer might take longer on your wedding day and cause schedule delays in order to get the perfect shot or the right light. But couples that click with them will treasure the results. A customer-service oriented photographer, on the other hand, will be prompt and have a streamlined process that helps your big day run smoothly. There is a chance, however, that a great photo can be missed for the greater good. There is no right or wrong here, there is only what feels right to you. As you review potential photographers’ wedding portfolios, asking about the logistics and backstories behind select shots will reveal which way your photographer leans. Ask yourself: Which would be better on your wedding day?
Once you’ve met with enough photographers, the one who feels right should be a clear standout: You like his or her photo style, the photographer makes you feel comfortable and confident and you’re communicating with ease in anticipation of your beautiful day. Congratulations — you’re clicking!
￼Photographer William Petruzzo is based in the Washington, D.C. area and is a member of PPA, Professional Photographers of America. He serves as owner and creative director for Petruzzo Photography, LLC, petruzzo.com.