Essential Questions for Your Photographer

Stop photo disasters before they happen by making sure you've posed these query musts

Choosing your wedding photographer is a serious thing. We asked Leslie Barton, a longtime wedding photographer from Los Angeles, CA, to tell us what to ask when hiring a photographer.

Will it be you taking the pictures?

When you first go to photographers, they will show you a portfolio of their work. Find out if the book you are looking at belongs to the same person who will be taking the pictures. Make sure you meet the one who will be showing up on your wedding day, and that his or her name appears on the contract. Of course, the photographer can have an assistant helping, but he or she should be the one taking the shots. It's also wise to have a backup plan. Ask what happens if your photographer gets sick. Ask to see portfolios of other photographers who could be used in an emergency.

How many shots are candids, how many are posed?

Make sure you are clear with your photographer about what you want. Do you want mostly journalistic-style shots or all formal shots? Some photographers are better at one than the other, so ask about his strengths and background.

Do you know the place?

Your photographer should be familiar with your ceremony and reception site. He or she shouldn't be surprised by any weird lighting problems, or if photographers aren't allowed to use flash. A good photographer will take a trip to scout out the area before the big day and should also have some ideas about where to go for outdoor shots.

When do I put the deposit down, and when is the whole thing due?

Haggling over prices after the fact can get icky, so nail down all the prices ahead of time. Barton says, "Ask if there is a charge for overtime and travel costs, whether you can hold off payment until you get the proofs, and if you can buy the negatives."

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