Questions to ask your wedding photographer before booking

Recently I talked about how to choose your wedding photographer to make sure that you find the right fit for you and your wedding! If you missed that blog, you can find it HERE. It can feel a bit overwhelming to know what to ask photographers though, I get it! You probably know a bit of what you DO want, but aren’t sure what to ask to make sure you’re finding it. 

I have you covered! I have rounded up 20 questions that you should be asking any photographer that you are thinking of booking for your wedding. It’s a once in a lifetime day with your spouse and so it’s ok to be particular, especially in the selection process! Let’s dive in. 

1. What is your availability like? 

You want to make sure that the photographer you select is not only available for your wedding day but also isn’t overbooking themselves! You want to ensure that your photographer will have enough time in their schedule to communicate with you leading up to (and after) the wedding. Personally, I only book a certain amount of weddings per year so that I can prioritize an amazing experience for each of my clients! 

2. Can I see a full gallery? 

Here’s an industry fact: photographers will always put their best work on their website or Instagram feed. Of course that makes sense! However, it’s important to know that not EVERY photo you receive is going to be at golden hour. You want to see how photographers are able to handle and photograph all types of lighting situations, how they pose families for formal photos, and what all the parts of the wedding day look like in photos. 

3. What is your photography style? 

A photographer’s “style” extends beyond their editing! Think about posing, composition, lighting, vibes, editing, etc. Each photographer will have their own unique style and you want to make sure that you LOVE that style of photography! This is important in setting expectations so that you know what your own photos will likely look like. 

I would describe my personal style as warm, true to color edits with a little punch of contrast. For posing, I like to focus more on the natural moments because I’m not a fan of stiff awkward poses. I am a natural light photographer for the most part unless it is too dark (usually indoor or nighttime receptions) then I am fully confident in my ability to use flash!

4. What is your back up plan in the event your equipment malfunctions? 

Your wedding day only happens once and life can be unpredictable. You need to make sure your photographer has a backup plan just in case something were to go wrong! You should ask your photographer what their back up plans are for storing photos, if something were to happen to their camera, etc. 

Here is an example of my own set up and back up plan. At every wedding I bring 2 digital full frame cameras that have dual slots. Dual slots allow me to simultaneously capture images on two separate cards. Should something happen to one camera or one card, I have another one just in case! Additionally, I always bring 3 flashes and at least 4 different lenses with me. I have plenty of extra batteries and extra sd cards to make sure that I will be able to capture your entire day. 

 5. When will we receive our photos? 

You should know your photographer’s turnaround time for wedding galleries. You should also ask if they do sneak peeks and if so, when you can expect those! Some photographers have several months turnaround time on wedding galleries. 

My turnaround time for a full wedding gallery is 6-8 weeks (although I always aim to have them to you earlier). I know you’re dying to see some though, so I always send a mini sneak peek of your photos 48 hours after your wedding! That mini sneak peek typically has about 15-20 images and then you get a full sneak peek within 2 weeks, which includes about 100 photos! I do offer a rush fee of $1,000 to receive all your images within one week if you don’t want to wait! 

6. What if you can’t attend our wedding day? 

Again, life happens. Emergencies happen! It is crucial that your photographer has a plan in place in the event they can no longer make it. For example, what is their plan if they became pregnant after you booked them and they were due near your wedding date? Or if they had a medical injury that happened the week of your wedding?

In the unlikely event I can not attend your wedding day I have a large network of associate shooters that I fully trust to fill in for me. I would still be the one doing all the editing and communication. They will fill in just for the actual physical photography on your wedding day. Thankfully this situation has never happened but it’s great to have a plan as a backup. 

7 . Do you have insurance? 

Repeat after me: all professional photographers should have insurance! It’s honestly as simple as that. Please ask any photographer that you are considering if they have insurance.

I do have liability insurance! 

8. How will we receive our photos? 

After you’ve found out when you’ll receive your photos, make sure you know how you will receive them. Some photographers will send you photos on a flash drive and others will send them in an online gallery. You’ll probably be pretty hard pressed to find an “old school” photographer who only sends you prints and a CD, but nonetheless, just ask! I send all of my clients their galleries through an online gallery platform that is easy to use. 

9. Can you help us with planning? 

Wedding vendors will often be your biggest planning resource! They have attended more weddings than the average person and worked with such a wide array of other vendors. Your photographer should be able to help with some of that planning. For example, I provide my couples with vendor recommendations, timeline planning, outfit recommendations, location recommendations and so much more! 

10. Do you shoot digital or film? 

Most photographers are going to shoot digital images but film has become increasingly popular! I primarily shoot digital however I do offer a film add-on, which is perfect if you want to have a lot of images (digital) but also some of those dreamy film like photos (film). 

11. What is your retainer fee? 

In other words, how much does it cost to officially book your photographer. All photographers will likely vary on this one, so it’s helpful to ask! I currently require a 30% retainer and the remaining balance is due 1 month before your wedding date.

12. What do you edit out of images? 

It’s important to know what your photographer will or will not edit out of your images! I think it’s a common misconception that photographers = photoshop experts. Editing photos to a color style is different from heavy photoshop, so it’s helpful to have realistic expectations! 

I like to edit our basic things like pimples, stains on clothes, scratches, or general distractions (outlets, signs, etc). However, larger edits like editing out people require more attention and I hire those out to a photoshop professional for an additional fee to insure you get it back quicker. 

13. How many images should I expect to receive?  

This is a great question to ask! The industry standard is to receive about 50 images per hour. So if you hired a photographer for 8 hours, you could generally expect to receive 400 images. 

Every wedding is different and some may lend more photos than others. I try to provide 50-100 photos per hour of coverage!

14. If we hire you do we have to sign a contract? 

You should always know if you have a legally binding contract when hiring any vendor. A contract protects your wedding photographer AND you! Those contracts will typically state things like the minimum number of photos you’ll receive, how much your retainer is, etc. I send a contract to all of my clients with their invoice to officially book. A signed contract and paid retainer need to be completed to officially be one of my clients! 

15. Will you have a second shooter? 

Some photographers will have a second shooter come with them to weddings! They are amazing to have because they are capturing totally different angles and moments than the lead photographer. 

My top two packages include a second shooter. However if your package does not include one it is an additional $50 per hour of coverage to have a second shooter come! 

16. If my wedding goes longer than you are scheduled, will you stay? 

The truth is, most weddings will be running behind. You may not think it will take x amount of time to complete something, but before you know it, you could be nearing the end of your coverage and haven’t even cut the cake yet! If that happens, it’s important to know if your photographer will be able to stay. 

When you hire me I do not book or plan anything else for that entire day. If things are running behind or you need extra time on the day of, I will absolutely stay later. There is an additional fee of $450 per hour for this which I will invoice after your wedding! 

17. Can we schedule a call with you before booking?

A consultation call is one of the best ways to get to know your photographer! Psst, you can ask them a lot of the questions on this list! 

I do free consultation calls with everyone who inquires with me! I believe that having a connection with my clients is what helps me best serve them. This is the perfect time to get all your questions answered before officially booking someone. 

18. Can you provide reviews? 

It is so important to hear from your potential photographers past clients. Check out their Google Business reviews if they have them! If not, ask if they have some written reviews that they could share. 

You can read my reviews HERE!

19. Can we ask for specific photos or give you a shot list? 

A shot list is basically what it sounds like; a list of photographs (or shots) that you’d like to have taken! I have a general shot list I make sure to capture at every wedding (first kiss, the dress, getting ready, etc) so I won’t need a shot list for those images. However I always love to make sure my couple is getting exactly what they want! 

I love it when couples have a specific photo they are wanting to recreate! For example, if you really want a photo at a specific location at the venue, I’d love to know that! In addition to this, I will have my couples create a detailed family shot list for me as well so that we don’t miss any of those important photos! 

20. Can we order prints from you? 

You should definitely ask if your photographer offers professional printing! Walmart and other budget print shops don’t necessarily print colors correctly, so I always recommend going with a professional print shop for wedding images. 

I do offer professional printing for my couples! One of my favorite offers is a fine art wedding album. We’ll work together to weave a story and create an album design that you’re absolutely in love with. If you’re not sure where to start or simply can’t decide, I’ll be more than happy to help you pull it together and you can sign off on it! 

You’ve made it to the end! This may seem like a long list of questions, but it’s all with the intention to make sure that you hire the photographer who is truly the right fit for you. Especially when it comes to your wedding day, which will only happen once! If you have any other questions that you can think of, I would be happy to answer them!


Ashlynn Shelby

February 25, 2023

Hi! I'm Ashlynn. When you choose me as your photographer, I promise to extend everything I have into your experience and your photos. You deserve the best experience possible and that's what I plan on providing.
My blog is where I share love stories I've been a part of, and resources for couples planning their engagement , wedding or elopement. I hope you can find some helpful information here to help you plan your big day. 


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