7 Questions You Should Ask Your Wedding Photographer Before Booking

Ask to see at least one full wedding gallery.

Anyone can take pretty photos in perfect lighting, But what about in colorful reception lighting? or outside in the dark? Most photographers’ portfolios are full of outdoor, perfectly lit photos. Honestly, we usually don’t show a lot of reception shots because we don’t think that’s what brides are wanting to see, but honestly it’s what you NEED to see. If a photographer can take wonderful reception shots, crisp sparkler exit photos, and in poorly lit areas, then you can bet they’ll be able to cover any lighting scenario.

Click this photo to see this sample gallery by Sheena Pendley

Click this photo to see this sample gallery by Sheena Pendley

How do they plan to light their photos?

I know this seems like you’re intruding, but you need to ask. If they say they’re a natural light photographer and do not use lighting or flash, if you’re wedding will go after dark or be inside then I’d suggest finding someone else. If they’re not using flash or any type of artificial light outside in the dark or inside in poorly lit areas, then chances are they’re just winging it and shooting what they see. Knowing how to work in all lighting scenarios take years to master. I’m in my 8th season of wedding photography and almost every wedding is challenging because lighting is always different. That’s what keeps it exciting! But you must hire someone who understands how light works and how to make the best of it to get the best photos possible. 

Example of how I light sparkler exit photos

Example of how I light sparkler exit photos

Do they have backup gear?

Any professional wedding photographer will have a minimum of 1 set of backup gear with them on the day of the wedding. The majority of the time our gear works flawlessly. But any electronic can fail without notice. That’s why it’s so important to have backups. During a ceremony if a camera were to fail, you need a backup on the spot. I always keep my second camera in my bag right next to me or sometimes even on my other shoulder during a ceremony. If it took 1 minute to run to another room to grab my backup that could mean I miss the first kiss or any other crucial moment.

How are my images preserved?

This is a question I’ve probably never been asked but I always bring it up to my potential brides. I only shoot with cameras that have 2 card slots so that every time I take a photo it’s saved to 2 camera cards simultaneously. Each time this pair of cards gets full, one goes in my pocket and one goes in my camera strap card holder. This way, if someone was to walk up and steal my camera, my camera bag, EVERYTHING, I still have a copy of the images on me. As soon as I get home I make a 3rd backup of the images on separate drives on my Mac. The images also stay on the original cards until the flash drive of images is delivered to the client. This ensures that I’ve taken every precaution possible to ensure that your images are safe. 

On the other hand, you’ll find that some photographers do not shoot on dual cards. This means that all of the images are being recorded to a single card. Should the card get lost, or malfunction and become unreadable, all of the images on that card are gone without backups. I’ve never been a bride, but when the day comes that I am, I myself and am not willing to risk my wedding photos being kept safely on a single card. 

I have had some couples ask how long I keep the photos on file. I promise to keep them for a minimum of 90 days, but the truth is that I have every wedding image backed up from the first wedding I ever photographed. This may not be important to some, but if their home were to burn down 20 years down the road, I would be so grateful that I held onto their files so we could reprint their memories as many times as needed. 

How do they handle a wedding if it rains?

Most of the time if it rains weddings are moved inside, but that’s not always the case. Last summer I photographed a wedding that rained almost the entire time. There was no inside location so we were out in the summer rain. Thankfully, I keep several clear umbrellas in the back of my car (and thankfully for me I also keep a couple pair of rain boots). The wedding party used the umbrellas, luckily there was a tent for the guests to sit under. 

Make sure your photographer is well prepared. We live in WV so the weather is unpredictable. Weatherproof gear is an absolute must! If I wouldn’t have had weather sealed gear and umbrellas for the wedding party that wedding day could have gone a WHOLE lot different.

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How will I receive my wedding photos?

Will you get a flash drive of edited images? Will you get a hard back printed album or printed photos? Will you get an online gallery or digital files to share on social media? You need to ask this, but first decide how YOU want to receive your wedding photos. Do you want a flash drive and then order prints yourself or do you want a finished album to pass down to your children someday? If you’re like me you’ll want ALL of it. There’s no value that can be put on having a backup of everything. 

Some photographers offer digital files only. You’ll want to know what’s included in your wedding collection/package. Some charge for their time and then the digital files are an additional fee. You’ll want to know for sure before you sign a contract (any professional will have all of this info clearly lined out in the contract).

Last, but not least: Can we meet for coffee?

I always suggest meeting in person before booking. Most of my brides have “met” me online and feel like they know me so most don’t request to meet in person much anymore, but I would highly recommend it! 

This is something most people don’t think about but its SOOO important.

You need to be sure that your photographer’s personality will mesh well with you, your wedding party, and your guests. You will be spending the majority of one of the most important, (and most expensive) days of your life. You want this to be a person who keeps things lighthearted, can cheer people up and get them to smile for the camera. 

As a photographer, we don’t just hold a camera all day and yell “say cheese!” If we did then anyone with a good eye and nice gear could be a wedding photographer. Over the past 8 years I’ve been a mediator, a seamstress, bow-tie fixer, pep talker, corsage pinner, dress holder, waitress, etc, the list goes on. And I LOVE it. 

By the time the ceremony comes I always get teary-eyed. I’ve made a promise that the day that I stop having those emotions I’ll pick a different career. At the end of the day when we say our good-byes and exchange hugs, I am so freaking happy. I’m addicted to that feeling you guys. You just shared one of the BIGGEST most important days of your life with me. Ugh. I know I went off topic, but WOW. This is the best job ever and I’m passionate. Find that person who’s full of passion and I promise you, you will not regret spending a bit extra. It will be SOOO worth it.

Have questions for me? Get in Touch!

Sheena Pendley is a WV Wedding & Portrait Photographer who loves capturing images you'll cherish for a lifetime. She's photographed weddings at countless venues including The Greenbrier Resort, The Four Fillies Lodge, Swift Level Farm, Doe Creek Farm and more. Based in Greenbrier County WV.

Sheena Pendley is a WV Wedding & Portrait Photographer who loves capturing images you'll cherish for a lifetime. She's photographed weddings at countless venues including The Greenbrier Resort, The Four Fillies Lodge, Swift Level Farm, Doe Creek Farm and more. Based in Greenbrier County WV.