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The web is full of great questions to ask you potential wedding photographer. And they really can help you decide who to pick. But, they’re also sometimes overly specific. And sometimes technical. For example, it’s a good idea to ask your potential wedding photographer whether he has backups of his important equipment, whether he’ll be making backups of your digital images, and how many weddings he’s done in the past. These will help to give you insight into whether your photographer is really up to the task of shooting your wedding.

But, there are many, many photographers who are qualified to shoot your wedding, but not all of them should.

Get to know your photographer a little bit more intimately before booking your wedding with them. Become confident that they’re not only a quality photographer, but a quality photographer that’s just right for your specific wedding. Try out these three simple, yet challenging questions.

Can I see a full set of images from a wedding you did recently?

When we meet with a client who’s considering using us for their wedding photography, we almost always have a full set of images from a recent wedding ready to show off. Even if the images aren’t our favorites, we’ll volunteer to let them take a look.  Not all photographers do this by default, but a great photographer, and a true professional, shouldn’t have any hesitation showing you a full set of images.

Many people forget to ask for this, but in today’s climate it’s crucial to see whether or not your potential photographer can really capture a full wedding with great quality, or whether the good images they do captured are just a few out of many, many mediocre or even bad ones.

Don’t be shy. Just ask. Their contract with their wedding clients may require them to get permission before showing you the images. But to win your business, this shouldn’t be too much to ask. Keep in mind, however, if you’re dealing with a photographer over email, they may be hesitant to show you these images right away. This may be a good question to ask when you feel good about a potential photographer and just want a little extra piece of mind. If, however, they say ‘no’ outright, you may just want to move on.

What are your favorite things to photograph at a wedding?

Not every photographer is right for every wedding. It’s happened more than a couple of times. After meeting, getting to know each other a bit and discussing their wedding, we’ve told a client that we’re probably not right for their wedding and made some other local recommendations for photographers who may be a better fit. Unfortunately, not every photographer will be this up front. Especially in a down economy.

So, rather than telling your potential photographer what kind of images you like, start by asking them what kind of images they like–ask what their favorite wedding photos are. You may find they have a very different slant than you do. If you’re mostly interested in hands-off candids, but your potential photographer mostly enjoys doing formals where there is a lot of control over the image, you may be at a mismatch.

Before booking, discuss with them what you think could be a mismatch and see what they have to say. You may find that they’re just not the right photographer for you and that’s okay. They will find a better match, and so will you.

Can I speak to a bride who’s wedding you shot recently?

When we work on a wedding for someone, there’s almost always a deeper, more personal bond that’s formed. They enjoy our presence and we enjoy theirs. This is why, when necessary, we won’t hesitate to offer a bride the chance to speak to one of our past clients.

If even just for peace of mind, ask your potential photographer if you can speak to one of the brides from a recent wedding. If he’s developing good relationships with his clients, he should be able to ask one of them if they would be willing to speak with you, and in most cases they will be more than happy to.

If you’re photographer can’t offer you anything like this, you may want to look more closely before booking.