One of the blessings of being in this industry is that there are so many other photographers out there that have a way of expressing what could be considered sensitive subjects much clearer than I ever could. Last year, DrewB posted on her Mom*Tog Blog “The Do’s and Dont’s of Stealing Images From Your Photographer” which is a question I get asked so often! With her permission, I reposted it here, and encouraged my clients to please feel free to use images from the blog for things like facebook or your own personal blog, but DO give a link back, and please DON’T crop/edit the image, and please (please!) don’t try and print from the blog or facebook. You can check out that post again here.
This year Mark Eric is doing a series called “From a Photographers Perspective” and all of his posts have been dead on. His most recent post is “5 things that could cause a photographer to turn down your wedding” and I thought it was worth reposting. You can click here to check out his gorgeous blog and the original post.
First things first; i absolutely ADORE my clients and I firmly believe that I have been blessed with some of the greatest couples out there! This post is just to give engaged couples more of an idea of this side of the relationship so that you guys can book the absolute BEST photographer for YOU for your wedding day. There have been clients in the past that just didn’t seem like we would be a good fit, and I would much rather point them to another photographer that I trust (thats a key point- i won’t send them to just anyone!) than book the job anyway. I want them to be 100% happy with the photographer they hire on their wedding day, and if thats not me, I’m totally okay with that! I also truly believe that there is a photographer out there for every single bride, so to all the photographers out there that are reading this, it doesn’t matter if you charge $1,000 or $10,000 per wedding, there are brides out there that will love you and be so appreciative of YOUR photography! That all being said, here are a few things that would encourage me to recommend another photographer for your wedding day:
1) Availability: obviously if I’m already booked, as much as I might adore you, I’m not going to bail out on a previously contracted client to shoot your wedding. There are plenty of other super talented photographers out there that I’m happy to refer! Photographers tend to book up fairly quickly, especially for April-June and September-December. This past year I was completely booked and turned down so many weddings, but also portrait clients that wanted to book sessions by the end of the year. So if you find a photographer that you really like, don’t hesitate to book them if they’re available. Its happened a few times before that one client had inquired about a date, but before they could get a contract and deposit in someone else booked the date first. I absolutely HATE it when that happens, but I’ve also had clients that said they were going to book, so I reserved the date for them for months and turned down other clients for their day, then the first couple never ended up booking.
2) Personality: One of the things that I LOVE about my clients is that the majority of them turn into friends that I look forward to spending time with! It makes me sad to hear photographers who don’t have that kind of relationship with their couples. Not every couple is going to be a perfect match for me, and again I’m okay with that! I want you to have a photographer with you on your wedding day who you enjoy being around, feel 100% comfortable with, and trust unconditionally. I’ve met with couples where we sat down and they argued over every. tiny. detail. of their wedding photography, they were short with one another, and honestly didn’t even seem like they enjoyed being around each other! To be honest, as a photographer that is not a couple that I’m really excited to photograph. In my career I’ve only had one or two couples like that, but those were couples that I referred to a few other photographers. 99% of my couples are excited, in love, and I can’t WAIT to get them in front of my camera :0)
3) Trust: Like I said already, you should have a photographer that you trust completely and like them for THEIR style. There have been couples in the past that have wanted to book me, and in the mean time send me 100 pictures they have seen online and want me to duplicate for them. If there are one or two pictures you’ve seen online that you like, great, i’m happy to take something similar for you. In the situation where there are multiple pictures they want me to recreate, not only do I feel like I’m working off of a shot list, but that sends the message to me that the client doesn’t trust me and my eye to produce beautiful, unique images for them. On top of that, I feel like I’m stealing images from another photographer! Creativity in this business is something that photographers work really hard at achieving, and f you want to send me 50 pictures you love that another photographer took, perhaps they are the photographer for you. Going along with that, I say directly on my website that I do not work from a shot list. If there are specific unique details about your wedding that you want me to be aware of, please definitely let me know of those things before hand, I absolutely want to be aware! However most shot lists say things like “bride with parents, groom with parents, cake cutting, first dance, picture of flower girl/ring bearer” which are all things I would hope every photographer already knows to capture. Trust your photographer to do their job, if you’re hesitant at all that they won’t capture your day, then find someone else who will.
4) Budget: Photographers should always be up front with their pricing! I have my wedding package range right on my website, and my first email response back to you will contain all my detailed pricing information. I definitely understand that I’m not in everyones budget, and thats totally fine! That being said, my pricing is pretty much fixed and is not up for negotiation. Sure there can be small changes here and there, swapping some items out for others, to get you a package to fit what you need, but asking a photographer to reduce their price because of budget issues can be really insulting. Again I’m more than happy to recommend someone who doesn’t charge as much, but photographers invest more than people realize into their equipment, insurance, taxes, living expenses, travel expenses, and then some more into equipment! We work just as many hours if not more as a normal full time job, even though you may just see us for 8 hours at your wedding. When I was working with cheaper equipment, less advanced editing programs, using a cheaper print lab, and had less experience I charged less. But as a photographer learns and grows and advances in this industry, typically their prices will too.
5) Shopping Photographers: I get some new client inquiries that say something like “Please send your pricing info. Thanks.” and others that say “Hi Jessie! I’m friends with _____ and LOVED the photos from her wedding! I just got engaged and would love to know if you’re available for my date, and if so talk about your packages!”…. which one of those clients would you rather hang out with? When clients are excited about me, I get excited about them. I’d much rather photograph a couple who has seen my work, or seen me photograph a friends wedding, and want ME, instead of just wanting the cheapest photographer. There are plenty of photographers out there who are cheaper than I am, and while I definitely understand needing to be budget cautious, I would never want a couple to book me and then regret it or have it ruin their budget. This is one of the main reasons why I will never do a bridal show, because the majority of people there are just price shopping. I love getting to know my clients and building relationships, something that a bridal show doesn’t really allow you to do.
WHEW that was a lot of info! Hopefully that is helpful to some of you and gives you more clarity when booking your photographer! :0)