Let me start by saying,
Meet with your vendors outside of email! I know it might be overwhelming and nerve wracking for some, but I promise you it is important. Schedule a phone call, a video chat or a face to face meeting (hello people from the future, I hope COVID-19 is a thing of the past and vendors can go back to buying clients coffee.)
Ok so you scheduled your meeting now what...
"What questions do I ask a potential wedding photographer??"
Here are a 5 important questions to ask during your meeting to make sure they are the right fit for you:
#1. Can you walk me through the process from start to finish?
Ask them to give you a run down of their booking, shooting and delivery process. By the end of the meeting you should know exactly what the next 6-18 months are going to look like for you. For example,
Client consultation -> proposal sent within 24 hours -> contract signed/ deposit paid to reserve your date -> check in with clients 8 weeks before the wedding -> finalize timeline 4 weeks before the wedding -> wedding day -> sneak peeks delivered within 48 hours -> full gallery delivered within 8 weeks -> album designed and delivered.
Knowing your photographer's plan of action is very important. It is also important to take note of whether or not they even have a set plan of action. Do they not know their turn around times? Do they not mention when and how they will stay in touch with you? Make sure your photographer is confident in their process and can clearly explain it to you. "We sign the contract and then I show up on the wedding day" is not a sufficient answer.
#2. What is your rescheduling and cancellation policy?
This question is more important than ever right now with a global pandemic going on. Ask your photographer how they handle rescheduling weddings -- is there a fee? Do they return deposits if they rebook the date of a cancelled wedding? How have they been flexible for past clients during the COVID-19 crisis? I cannot say that there are any right or wrong answers here because every photographer runs their business in their own way. As long as you know exactly what their policies are up-front, you can make the decision of whether or not that policy works for you.
#3. How do you ensure that you won't lose a client's images?
This is a very important question. There isn't one specific answer that is correct as there are several ways to handle file management. However, the goal is to find out that your photographer does, in fact, have good file management. Here are some good key phrases to look for,
"I shoot with two cameras", "dual card slots", "cloud backup", "multiple hard drives/ SSDs", "I backup images the night of the wedding", "change out my cards frequently".
If they stumble on this answer and/or don't have a plan of action for backing up files, that is a red flag. Every photographer should have their images backed up in a least two locations at all times. Shooting with dual card slots on the wedding day is also very important. I've had SD cards fail me in the middle of a wedding, and if I had not been writing to a backup card as well, I would have lost all of those images.
#4. Can I see a full gallery?
If your photographer doesn't have full galleries already on display, I would ask to see one or two. This will give you a good idea of how they shoot a wedding from start to finish and it will also display their shooting style in a way that a curated feed cannot.
#5. (ask yourself) Did we click?
Hiring a wedding photographer is more than a business transaction. This person will be with you and by you during your entire wedding. Did they make you laugh? Were they reassuring and kind? Did your personalities mix well? A professional, experienced photographer knows that this is important and they want to connect with their clients. They should be making the conversation fun during your consultation and they should be excited to hear all about your wedding plans!