When a wedding inquiry comes my way, every once in a while this question comes up. I’m always straight-forward as to whether or not I’ve shot at a specific venue. I also realized that a lot of times couple's simply ask certain questions because it's what they've seen on wedding blogs that list certain questions to ask your wedding photographer or cinematographer.
As a seasoned shooter, there are many benefits to hiring a wedding photographer or cinematographer that has not shot at your wedding venue ,just as much as there are benefits to one that has. Since my stance is hiring one that hasn't this advice is from that perspective. To keep it simple, just because a photographer or cinematographer hasn't shot at your venue doesn't make them less qualified to. In fact, there are many benefits to hiring a photographer or cinematographer that hasn't and here's why.
Professional photographers and cinematographers know how to adapt to any environment, even a new environment. In fact, the biggest benefit to hiring a photographer that hasn't shot at your venue location is a fresh eye. They will see things differently which will cause their creative juices to flow. The reason why this is easy for me to speak about is because a lot of my clients don't live in the state of Florida. Yes, that's right. They get married here, but they live out of state so that means that we are both headed to a new venue location (most of the time) to celebrate their love.Professional photographers and cinematographers also love shooting at new locations and because they've never shot at the venue location before they put into practice a method of planning called scouting. Scouting is when the photographer or cinematographer visits the location in advance. It is one of the best ways for them to see the location and find all of those amazing gems. At times, if a photographer and cinematographer can't scout a week or so in advance, they may arrive 2-3 hours before your actual day starts. Venue have rules and regulations and sometimes this is better than not being able to see the location at all.
One example that I like to use to illustrate not shooting at a location before is shooting at the home of a couple. A lot of times Bride's will get ready in the home of their parents house for many different reasons, but the point I'm illustrating here is that I've never been to their house before. I don't know the elements of the home. What lighting I'm woking with, etc. - so it allows me to use my skills to execute which is what we are doing all the time. If I was to go on vacation I wouldn't leave my camera home and not take any photos because I've never been there before.
One of the key secrets to handling this topic is to trust your photographer or cinematographer. This is a factor that should be of most importance whether or not the photographer or cinematographer has shot at your venue location. Trust makes for an amazing day. Trust makes for the taking of great images. Trust is why you hire your photographer or cinematographer in the first place.
Long story short, don’t automatically rule out photographers or cinematographers who haven’t shot at your venue before. If it still bothers you then maybe ask the photographer or cinematographer if you can see a wedding that was shot at a new location for them. It may not be your exact venue location (of course that's why you're asking), but what this does is it allows you to see consistency in their work.