Joyful, fine art wedding photography for real couples. Serving Chicago, Washington DC and beyond.
Based in South Bend, Indiana. Available for travel.

The Knot’s Top 20 Questions to ask a wedding photographer – Sarah Sage Photography

Today you have so many choices when it comes to vendors in every category. Do you hire a pro, amateur or friend? How do you se a budget for each vendor category and where you splurge and where do you tighten the purse strings? Once you finally narrow down your choices and start meeting with vendors, what questions should you ask?

The Knot put together the Top 20 questions you should be asking a wedding photographer before booking. I get asked these questions a lot as most brides look to The Knot for inspiration, guidance and budget assistance. So today I thought I’d kick off Wedding Wednesday with my answers to the Top 20 questions you should be asking a wedding photographer before booking. I hope this helps you on your quest for the right wedding photographer or just gives you more information about us. Enjoy!

  1. What style do you specialize in?

Our photography style is elegant, modern & natural. We are a clean-edit studio that preserves your wedding day the way it actually happen. You’ll never find filters or strange colors in our work. Your wedding should never be an instagram filter, it should look and feel like YOU. 

Elegant:  romantic & artistic portraiture

Modern: current posing & advanced lighting techniques

Natural: relaxed & playful styling to keep you completely comfortable in front of the camera

2. Will the photos be retouched and color balanced? Is that done before I see the proofs?

Your wedding images will be edited for color correction, lighting and exposure. All advanced retouching (like skin softening) is only done on the images in your album and any wall art you purchase after the wedding. The reason for this is, a wedding gallery can be 1000+ images and to retouch every single one would take months plus cost you more. You won’t print every single image (like the one of your best man doing the worm on the dance floor) so why wait longer to get your photos and pay more.

3. How many weddings have you shot, and how many do you do in a year? Also, what’s your favorite part of a wedding day, and time of year to shoot?

I have photographed 70+ weddings and shoot on average between 10-20 weddings a year. As SSP continues to grow, we plan on increasing our average to 25-30 weddings per year.

My favorite part of the wedding day is the creatives. Getting to spend about an hour with my couple, creating elegant and authentic moments with them that they can treasure for a lifetime. Each creative hour is different for every wedding which gives true variety and uniqueness to a couple’s imagery. The time of day is usually right around sunset or at least later in the day when the sun is lower in the sky, giving us some gorgeous horizon shots. Fall is my favorite season… love the color!

4. Do you shoot both digital and film?

I only shoot digital. Film is gorgeous but very expensive to produce and easier to damage.

5. If you shoot film, do you usually shot in both color and black and white? If you’ll do both, what percentage of each do you recommend?

I do not shoot film.

6. What exactly is included in your packages?

This all depends on what collection (package) you choose. Here is a list of what every collection has:

Wedding day coverage 6+ hours

Wedding album with 30 pages

Engagement session

30 day web gallery

  From there, the collections increase in hours, size of album, digital negatives, photo booth and much more. There is also a la carte options that you can add-on to your collection or create a custom collection from.

7. How many hours of coverage do we get? What is the charge for overtime?

The amount of hours of coverage depends on which collection you’ve chosen. I provide my couples with timeline templates so you have a pretty good idea of your needs at our first consultation. If later you find that you need more hours, we add them at the final consultation. Additional hours are $250 per hour and can also be requested on the actual day.

8. What is the deposit and total fee?

The deposit to book with SSP is only $500. The remaining balance is not due until 4 weeks before your wedding day. The total fee depends on the collection you chose and any additional factors, i.e. additional hours, overnight travel, etc…

9. Will you be my actual photographer, or will it be one of you associates?

I am your photographer from start to finish and even long past that. I do not hire out my weddings to associate photographers because for 1: I believe that’s a sneaky business move but for 2: my artistic vision is something I can’t pass on to other photographers. They would never be able to capture your day how I would nor create the kind of album I would create for you. Photography in all its forms is art and that can’t be replicated.

10. Do you have backup photographers who will shoot the wedding if you’re sick?

I get this question a lot and it’s totally understandable to be concerned about illness on a day that can’t be done over again. I will be at your wedding unless a true emergency or act of God happen. For example, I was in a terrible car accident, my husband fell deathly ill, or a tornado of unimaginable portions struck Michiana. Getting the flu, stomach cramps, or anything else would never stop me from being there. I even broke my foot 2 days before a wedding and still showed up, chunky black boot and all.

Let’s just say for a second though that the truly unthinkable did happen, what now? In that case, I would send a photographer of equal skill or refund you the full amount. Your choice. But again, let me reassure you… I will be there.

11. Will there be a second shooter or any assistants? Is there an additional fee for each?

I will always have my assistant with me the entire length of time I’m there. There is no charge for an assistant but there is a charge for a second shooter if you chose a collection that doesn’t have one and you added it on.

12. How long after the wedding do we get to see the photos?

Get ready for this awesomeness… 2 WEEKS! You heard right, you will get to see all of your wedding images in 2 weeks guaranteed. No waiting months and months to see your wedding photos, just 2 short weeks plus 10 images just 24 hours after your wedding.

13. How do you coordinate with my videographer? How do you envision working together?

If you’ve hired a videographer, especially if it’s one I’ve never worked with before, I will contact him/her before your wedding and discuss how we both will capture your day while aiding the other. So often a videographer is a last minute add-on and they don’t always know much about the couple, the day or who the other vendors are. By meeting a head of time, we can work together efficiently and never miss a thing.

14. How many weddings do you do a weekend?

I will never shoot more than 1 wedding a day however I am able to shoot all 3 days in a row. However, shooting all 3 days of the weekend is a rarity and 90% of the time it’s just the 1 wedding per weekend.

15. Have you ever shot at my venue before?

This question is hard to answer without knowing which venue of course, however, I have shot at most of the venues in the Michiana area. If I haven’t shot at your specific venue, I normally arrange to see the space before the wedding day. Sometimes this can be done at the rehearsal but if that’s not possible, I will take the time to contact the coordinator, ask questions and tour the space so that I am prepared for your wedding day.

16. Will you follow a shot list? Or do you prefer to have free rein to capture the festivities how you see fit?

Excellent question. The answer is actually yes to both. I have a shot list of must-have photos that never changes… cake, flowers, first kiss, dress, night shot, etc… and then I follow the flow of the day for the rest. I’ve found being too specific on a shot list only ends up causing more stress because some photos are just not possible at every wedding (weather, church rules, time constraints, etc…). By having this hybrid approach, I capture the absolutely necessary and then let the couple and the day provide inspiration for the rest. Much more fun and natural for the couple as well.


17. What type of paper will you use for the prints and album?

My prints come directly from a professional lab (only professional photographers can use this lab) that carries many different types of paper to best fit a particular photo and best fits my couple. Our albums are made in Italy and are all made by hand. The paper selection is unmatched in its quality and style. My couples get to choose their preferred paper at the viewing session. Each couple is different so their album and prints should reflect that.

18. What are the restrictions for sharing photos online or for publication? Do you own the copyright to the photos?

When it comes to sharing photos or submitting to publications, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind. You can not add filters or alter the photos in any way. You may share your images online but you can not give the digital image away to family, friends or to a third party, like a venue. Giving away means, giving someone your password so they can download your images onto their photo or computer or plugging your flash drive into their computer and them coping the images onto their hard drive. All of these actions are a violation of copyright law and will be prosecuted. I do own the copyright on the photos but you will have pricing and publishing rights. You can print your images wherever you like and you may publish them on social media outlets or submit to publications.

19. Do you bring your own lighting?

Yes, I do! I am not a natural light photographer… meaning, I don’t relieve on just the available light to capture your day. I bring additional lighting to ensure that you, your groom and your entire wedding day is captured in the best light possible. I also bring lighting for your night shot, which every couple gets at least 1, sometimes more. I believe it’s more professional to be knowledgeable about lighting and be prepared then simply just hoping that the sun will be shinning in just the right spot or that your venue is well lite, even at 10 o’clock at night.

20. What will you wear?

I always wear professional attire to your day. I will ask ahead of time if you have a preference on my dress. Some couples prefer the all-black look for their vendors while others are saying “I do!”, on a beach and would prefer I wear a sundress. Nine times out of ten, I’m wearing dress pants and a nice blouse that I usually put a blazer over for the ceremony.

Well there you have it… the Top 20 questions to ask a wedding photographer before you book them. I do hope this helps you understand more about myself and SSP and also gives you insight into what you should be looking for and asking for in your wedding photographer.


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