The original post appeared on January 21, 2011 before I graciously deleted my blog. I’m re-posting items that I believe others might find useful. This was inspired by the following post from Mark Eric’s blog: From a Photographer’s Perspective, 5 Things That Could Cause a Photographer to Turn Down Your Wedding. Mark’s permission has been granted to borrow items from his post. Thanks Mark!!
Wedding photography is not just a monetary transaction. Personally, it is an investment in a relationship.
I have to say that every bride, and every client, I’ve worked with has been absolutely wonderful. I still keep in touch with many and I am happy to have them return to me for maternity, newborn and family portraits! How awesome is that?!
You may ask, why haven’t you worked with a “bridezilla”?
There is a getting-to-know-you process I go through before booking any wedding. I want to learn about your relationship, see how you interact, and understand your needs. We will be spending a lot of time together before, on and after your wedding day, so I want you to be comfortable with my personality and love my images!
I have turned down clients in the past, for a number of reasons. My goal is for every couple I meet to find the photographer that best suits their needs. Many brides assume that if a photographer has a date open that said photographer will book their wedding.
For good photographers, this isn’t the case. Here’s why:
This is easy. I may be booked. Even if I am booked, I always offer a list of other trusted photographers who I may suggest for your day. There are only so many weddings/weekends per year that I am willing to shoot, so dates fill quickly.
*Keep in mind that good photographers book fast. When you find a photographer you like, who is open for your date, don’t drag out the booking process. They may have received other inquiries for your date and may be booked before you make the decision to pay the retainer.
We need to be comfortable together. If your focus is on budget, time and checklists then we won’t be a good fit. I shoot professionally, artistically, and from lots of experience – not from an online questionnaire.
I always like to meet the couples who inquire. I want to know who you are, your story together and what your wedding day means to you. This is how I capture the real images and document your day.
*The way you interact with your photographer may make the decision process easy for him or her. Many good photographers know that if one couple isn’t a good fit, another couple, who is, will come along for that date.
3. Time Invested
Mark talks about investing time in the relationship with clients and how much is too much. I have to agree, that at a certain point a photographer realizes that they cannot afford to invest more time in answering questions, in phone conversations, or meeting every member of the family.
When I’ve spent more time answering questions than I would have on the wedding day, I realize that the couple may not be comfortable with me and I suggest that we move on.
I’ve realized over time that I had a choice whether to schedule my days and invest time with amazing or not-so-amazing people. I choose the amazing ones!
*Weddings are a relationship built on trust between photographer and bride. Good photographers will know when it’s time to move on, so that they may give more of their attention to actual paying clients who are comfortable with their work and style.
“Photographers should be upfront with all of their pricing and package information,” Mark says. I completely agree. I like to meet with clients to get to know them better, but I allow them the time to look at my pricing information before we meet. If there are any other fees involved, I am honest about it ahead of time.
I understand that I may not fit into everyone’s budget, and that’s okay. I usually help brides find other photographers who fit their budget when asked.
Unfortunately, some brides believe that photographers are open to negotiation. Maybe it’s because we are not a store like Target, where the price, is the price, is the price. If you want a $200 iPod, you wouldn’t go to the cashier and ask for it for $100. Don’t do the same to your photographer.
*I, and other photographers, may be able to customize a package to fit your needs, but asking us to reduce our pricing for you individually is a huge insult. Every photographer charges what they do for a reason (equipment, insurance, taxes, family income, employees, etc…). If asked to reduce my prices without reducing anything else, I suggest other photographers and move on.
5. Photographer Shopping
I’ve been shopped many times by brides interested in knowing what I charge for coverage and a DVD or even the media card right from the camera! Sometimes, I’ve even been a part of a mass email to several photographers. If they are not interested in who I am, I am happy to let them find someone else to work with.
*Simply asking your photographer for the price of coverage + dvd, or telling your photographer you are shopping around is an easy way for a good photographer to rule you out.
“There is no reason to get into a bidding war,” Mark writes. I want clients who hire me for my talent, experience and personality. For this same reason, I have never participated in a bridal show or paid for advertising. I want a real connection, not a financial one.
Word of mouth is my marketing tool, which means I grow when my clients are happy.
I spoke a lot about hiring a good photographer, not just any photographer. There is a difference and hopefully you’ll find out before your wedding, not after.
If you are serious about your wedding photography, I hope these tips adapted from Mark’s blog help you. Maybe you’ll avoid some of the issues that raise a flag in the photographer’s mind you’d love to meet and hire.
*Wedding photography should be based on personality matches and a level of trust. Having someone with you that you can lean on, smile and relax with, are important. I’ve had many brides who were completely nervous or had no idea where to go or what to do the day of. You photographer is an expert you want helping you, not making you feel uncomfortable.
And that is what I try to provide on such an important day! I’ve sewed dresses, I’ve fixed hair and make-up, and Chris has put on countless corsages 🙂
Find a photographer that suits you, whether that’s a larger company or an individual. I don’t book weddings on a factory scale, which allows me to be prideful in giving my wedding couples their images within two weeks of their wedding and their album within a month’s time.
To me, getting you amazing images quickly is important. No one should have to wait a year.
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