You’re engaged! Yay! That’s so exciting.
How do you find a photographer? What do you even need to know to ask a photographer?
You googled Albuquerque wedding photographer and got 8 million listings for wedding photographers in our area. I know. I’m on page 4 or 5. It’s bananas!
There are so many. How do you narrow it down? I think you should start with thinking about your style. Are you into classic and timeless? Light and airy? Colorful? Dark and moody? Traditional? Photojournalistic? Artistic? A combination? If you’re like, “what does that even mean, though?”, just look through the galleries on our websites and make a list of photographers whose work you like best.
Next, personality. Do you want ultra professional and take charge or laid back and go with the flow? Somewhere in the middle? You can tell a lot about a photographer from their website. Poke around and see how they speak to you.
Alright. So you have narrowed it down a bit by combing through our websites and now you’re ready to talk to us. How? What do you ask?
Most photographers have a contact form on their website that links to their email or some management method. I have a contact form linked to a business management tool that keeps everything organized for me. I love to talk to people on the phone, but I prefer initial contact from this form so I can access your inquiry details quickly. If you prefer phone contact, you can also say that in your message. Easy.
10 things to ask us.
- Are you available on my date?
This is maybe obvious, but if they don’t have your date available, then you can go to the next one on your list. Some photographers will refer you to their friends with similar styles. We are mostly friendly with each other and we have a community over competition motto.
- How long have you been in business?
I think this is an important question to ask but I also think it’s important to not immediately rule out people who haven’t been in business as long. Length of time as a photographer doesn’t immediately translate to skill level. Some new photographer work will blow you away and some photographers who have been in the business forever are average. Do you like their work? Do you like their personality?
Technically, I’ve been in business 8ish years, but we’ve moved 3 times and I’ve started over each time in a new place. So I could say 8 years and not be lying, even though the number of weddings is smaller. Speaking of number of weddings …
- How many weddings have you photographed?
Ah. Here’s the one I don’t love. You should definitely ask it. Why would I tell you to ask a question I don’t like? It’s important to ask. Again…don’t immediately rule someone out who hasn’t done a certain number of weddings. Some photographers don’t book more than 10 a year. Some photographers book 50 or more a year and outsource editing or have a team to help. It depends on their business model. It’s a great question to ask.
I started out super cheap and photographing for friends or people asking for new photographers on craiglist and second shooting for other photographers. I rely on word of mouth and Google, mainly. I want to stay at around 10 weddings a year. I honestly don’t know how you lovely people find me, but I really do get the most awesome weddings with fun and relaxed people. This summer I had a private estate backyard style wedding with a dining experience catered by Dig and Serve. And a chill outdoorsy wedding at the Randall Davey Audubon Center in Santa Fe. And a vintage pinup style wedding with a mini car show in Montana. And a biker wedding in Montana. I had 4 weddings this season. It was my first season back here in New Mexico. I have been around 3-5 a year with relocating every few years. We’re here to stay, so the new goal is 10 a year, but not more. My number will always be smaller. It’s intentional. So it’s not my favorite question because it feels like people will immediately count me out, but it does weed out people looking for higher volume photographers, so I guess it’s helpful after all!
- Can I see full galleries?
I love this. LOVE it. There are two reasons. The first is that I don’t put everything on the website because it would be overwhelming for both of us. I try to curate the website like a little gallery. But I would love to show you full weddings. LOVE. haha “Oh, you want to see my work? OK!!”
Also, this is horrible, but with the internet being a place where people can grab images and pretend they did the work, you really do need to ask to see full galleries. There could be people who put their best edited work on their website and then deliver less than stellar work. I don’t know any personally, but I have read horror stories online. Photographers should be happy to show you their work. haha I don’t know if everyone gets as excited about it as I do. I can’t speak for anyone else.
- Are you insured?
Yep. Photographers should have liability insurance. In case your grandma trips over a light stand or some other kind of accident happens. Some venues require it. Your photographer should be able to produce insurance certification for your venue if it’s required.
- How many images will I get?
This varies wildly depending on the photographer. Some photographers shoot with intention and give a smaller amount of images that are all high quality. Some shoot like crazy and give nearly everything. Most photographers can give you an expected average shots per hour. Mine is 50-75.
- When do I get my images?
Again, this is one of those things that depends on the photographer. Some can turn their photos around super fast and some take a little longer, depending on their life and editing style. There are photographers who edit using presets (like a filter). There are photographers who edit by hand. There are photographers who outsource editing.
I cull first and toss images that are multiples, images where someone is blinking or making a really weird face (you’re welcome haha), anything that didn’t really work or if a flash didn’t fire…you get the idea. I don’t toss funny or sweet moments, even if I don’t like the composition or something. Then I use a preset I made that is edits I found myself doing to every single image, just to save some time. And then I go through and do adjustments to every image by hand. Some get more edits than others. I always say 4-6 weeks, even if I deliver sooner than that.
- How do I get my images?
A lot of photographers do online galleries where you can download images and purchase prints. I do this as well. But, I feel like I didn’t get to do my whole job with just an online gallery because I love making you pretty things and I love to be there when you see them for the first time. So I also offer larger prints and wall collages, several levels of albums, and several levels of image boxes. I use 3 professional labs because I like some products better at one or the other and 2 high end album companies because they offer different styles of books. I love to make things you can hold in your hands and experience with your senses.
- Why do you photograph weddings?
Most of us have great reasons why we do what we do. I love a day where everyone is wearing their hearts on their sleeves. It’s a rush of declarations of happy and lovey feels, intimate tears, and silly jokes, with beautiful decorations and a big party. I love photographing all of that, obviously, but on a deeper level, it makes me feel happy to see you so happy. I love being there for that and I don’t care if it sounds super cheesy. haha
- Finally…it’s such an important day for you and the photographer you choose is going to be there with you all day in some form or another. While you’re getting ready and maybe undressed, when your parents and family come in and get emotional about seeing you, asking you to do things or move into a different light, sometimes in your face with a lens, maybe shooing people if you need a minute, guarding you if you don’t want to be seen before the ceremony, posing you, herding your family, and just being everywhere to get the shots. Yes, you pay us, but you should also feel comfy and relaxed with us. It doesn’t have to be all business. Get to know us. What do we like to eat? What do we binge on TV late at night? Do we like whiskey? Ask away.
By the way, this is me when you ask to see a couple full wedding galleries…
You might notice I didn’t say anything about budget. It was intentional because budget could be an entire blog post on its own, but also, if you’re narrowing down a list of photographers and wondering what to ask, then you aren’t price shopping. You’re looking for the photographer who suits you the best. Budget is concrete for some people and a ballpark guess for others because they might not be sure how much they should expect to spend. Hard numbers on the lower end might require some management of expectations and choosing based on lower prices instead (which is also ok, by the way, even if I’m not your photographer), and less concrete numbers or ones on the higher end will sometimes go up if you find a photographer you love who charges more than you expected or delivers more things you want in a top collection. All of that to say…some people have strict budgets and some people expect to pay top prices. Photographers have to calculate their prices based on what they need to deliver quality images and for their business to thrive and stick to it. Anyway…budget really is its own post. Maybe next time.
Hopefully that’s helpful for narrowing down the list of photographers. I know it can be incredibly overwhelming.