Today’s post is a tip regarding wedding advice.
It’s for Brides (and Grooms) – why you should talk to your wedding photographer
What brought this about is a conversation I had at the weekend at the local Post Office.
I was mailing some wedding albums and USBs out to my clients. The lady behind the counter asked what was in them and then said “Wish I’d had you to take my wedding photographs“. We chatted as she weighed the parcels and I asked about her story.
She remarried 3 years ago in a pretty little Church around 8 miles away. She said that there were too many staged photos. Too posed. Too contrived. Hardly any documentary photos that captured the emotions and the fun of the wedding day. But her story didn’t end there. They chose the photos for their album but didn’t get any digital images. The photographer wanted to charge them extra for those. Well, as they weren’t particularly happy with the images he’d shot they decided not to pay out even more money to him. So their happy day was ruined by a photographer who didn’t shoot in the style that they liked and then wanted to maximise his profit by charging extra for the digital images.
Now you could argue that that the couple should have done a better job in choosing their photographer. That they should have checked out his style. Talked to him about what they wanted in terms of coverage and, very importantly, the “output”. So let’s look at these in more detail ….
How to choose a wedding photographer
It’s difficult choosing a wedding photographer – so many of us out there in “Google-land”. We’re all promising to capture your special day and provide you with memories that will last a lifetime. So how do you choose the right one for you?
Well, obviously the first step is to delve into “Google-land” and see what comes up. Look at the sites. Go beyond page 1 and look at pages 2,3,4 (and possibly further). Just because someone’s on page 1 it doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily the best. It just means that they understand how the search engines rank websites and therefore they “play the game” according to the rules of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Hence they get good rankings.
They may also have good reviews from clients. But not all clients want to put up a review. They may be over the moon with their wedding photographs, but they’re just not comfortable with putting their names out there onto the web, which is fair enough. Some of my clients don’t want me to post any photos at all from their day onto social media or use them in my advertising – they want to retain their privacy. Obviously, it’s disappointing for me when I can’t share some of these stunning images but I put my clients’ wishes first. Their wishes are my priority and I respect those wishes.
Anyway, I digress from the main point. Talk to friends and acquaintances and see if anyone has any recommendations.
Recommendations are by far the best method for choosing someone to work with, be it a photographer, a plumber, builder, electrician … the list goes on. The majority of weddings that I book are from recommendations, from couples whose weddings I’ve photographed or from friends and family who were there on the day.
Back to the websites. Take a look through their galleries, their blog posts.
Look at the “boring bits”, those wordy pages that talk about the style they shoot in, what they deliver, the costs involved.
Then make a shortlist and talk to them, either on the phone or, preferably, in person. Ask them to describe the way in which they shoot and what they enjoy shooting at weddings. Don’t tell them what you want and then ask them the question. Why? Because quite a lot of photographers will tailor their response to match what you’ve already said, to maximise their chances of getting a booking. This is, in my opinion, just plain wrong. To be totally honest, it’s deceiptful. Let me explain …….
I’ve met couples in the past who I’ve got on really well with but who I turn away. Why? Because they want a style of photography that I don’t provide naturally. They may want vintage, or heavily posed fashion-style shots. They may want something quirky. But that not what I “do”. Yes, with all of my years of experience in shooting weddings I could turn my hand to those and produce good results, but that’s not what I enjoy. That’s not my style that I’ve evolved over this years. I would rather turn a couple away, recommending them to someone who I know normally shoots in the style that they want, than take a booking and produce work that doesn’t match my strengths.
Hang on, I can hear one or two people saying “You’re a professional, shouldn’t you be able to produce anything that the client wants?“.
Well, let’s turn that challenge around. Would you rather employ a specialist, or someone who’s a “jack of all trades”? To me, it’s vital that couples chose a photographer whose work exactly matches the style that they ‘re looking for. Do you get on with the photographer? Do you feel comfortable in their company? You need to. They’ll be there for a long time on your wedding day! There’s nothing worse than choosing someone whose work you love and then finding out that they’re a real pain in the butt on your wedding day! Seriously!
A comment from one of my couples earlier this year comes to mind …. “ …. to be honest if you weren’t our wedding photographer we’d have invited you along as one of the guests because you’re such a nice guy“. That’s a real compliment.
Now, the subject of the “output”. What do you want as the tangible, physical product that you get from the photographer?
I’m not talking about the images themselves, but the medium in which they’re delivered. Do you want the digital images on a USB? Do you want prints? Do you want an album? Wall art to display in your home? All of these or a combination? Talk to the photographer. Find out what they deliver. Find out what costs are involved to have any “extras”. It’s crucial that you understand exactly what you’ll receive for your hard-earned money. To make sure that there’s no “grey” areas, where you could be disappointed. I’ve had couples ask me if friends can buy prints, to which I reply, “why would they?“. The couple will already have the digital images. I’m happy to let them have details of the printer that I use for all of my work, so they get quality prints. So they can share those images with their friends. I know that marketing people would say I’m missing out on an opportunity to make more money by not selling prints at a mark-up, but that’s not what I’m about. I want to give my clients the best possible value for money, unlike that photographer we talked about earlier in this blog post.
Aah, money. I mentioned that dreaded word. “How much?“, “You’ve got to be kidding!“, “For a day’s work?“. Yes, wedding photographers have heard it all before, many, many times! Yes, weddings are expensive. The venues. The food and drink. The dress and shoes. The entertainment. The list goes on. “I’m sure people add on a zero to the £ when a wedding’s involved“. “It’s just an excuse to make more money“. You see those comments on social media and on wedding blogs all the time. I have to admit that quality wedding photography doesn’t come cheap. It’s not “just” about the day, but all of the time that we, as wedding photographers, spend on the editing and post-production of the images. It’s about the skills that we’ve developed over years to produce high-quality images in whatever situations we find ourselves in on the day. The investment over the years in training and equipment. A plumber’s expensive. But his skills that he’s worked hard to develop are the ones that fix your boiler on a cold Winter’s day when the children are complaining that you have no heating or hot water. My solicitor’s expensive. But the training and expertise that they’ve worked on for years are crucial to them being able to deliver what I need. I asked my solicitor to handle probate this year when my wife died. It’s not cheap, but it’s saved me countless days or weeks of trying to work out what I should do in the really complex process that has implications if it’s not done correctly. My accountant’s expensive (I hope he’s not reading this!). But his skills at taking my book-keeping and producing my accounts means that I know HMRC won’t come after me demanding even more money!
What I’m trying to say is that expertise comes at a price. It’s just up to you to decide how much value you put on someone providing you with a particular service.
A service. That’s what wedding photography is. Not an expense, but a service. An investment. To provide you with images that will last not just for your lifetime, but which will live on for generations to come. So, the choice is yours. It’s not an easy one, but it’s probably one of those important ones you’ll make regarding your wedding day.
“Thank you so much, the photos are just brilliant, we can’t stop looking at them! Thank you for all your hard work on the day and after, it’s much appreciated. We are so glad we chose you to capture all the wonderful moments as you made it stress free and smooth running. We really did have the best day possible” – Sarah and Daniel (photo below)
Documentary wedding photography
If you’re considering a wedding in anywhere in Dorset or Hampshire (or further afield) then please get in touch to discuss your wedding photography requirements. I’m delighted to be a recommended photographer for a number of leading Dorset wedding venues and would love to hear about the plans for your special day. Get in touch with me now for a no-obligation chat.
Ian is one of Dorset’s leading wedding photographers. Based in Bournemouth and with over 20 years of experience photographing weddings across Dorset and Hampshire, Ian’s the perfect choice for couples who want unobtrusive, discreet wedding photography that captures the emotions of their special day. Read more about his own personal style of documentary wedding photography on this website.
Proud to be a recommended photographer for a number of leading Dorset wedding venues.
Blog post: Why you should talk to your wedding photographer