In today’s market, literally anyone can claim to be a wedding photographer. All you need is an entry-level DSLR and a Facebook business page.
Just this past week over dinner, I was talking about this issue with photographer friends. One admitted that even price can’t differentiate between good and bad photographers any more. He admitted that he’s personally received phone calls on the day of someone else’s wedding asking for off-camera flash advice… minutes before the grand entrance! This was not a $500 wedding photographer! This photographer regularly books weddings for $4,000!
Once again, I see a story making headlines about a upset bride who received subpar wedding images. This particular bride paid $250 to receive 100 images of her wedding. Natalie admits that she was on a budget, but that she had been planning her wedding since she was a little girl. She had to have a small wedding, but wanted everyone to see her pink wedding gown. I’m guessing she paid more for her gown than she did for her wedding images.
How did Natalie get in this dilemma? How could she have prevented this from happening? (Natalie is not pictured in this blog.)
How to Avoid Wedding Photographer Regret
First things first… how did this happen to her?
- Natalie probably shopped on price alone.
- Natalie didn’t ask her friends for a referral.
- Natalie wanted great pictures but didn’t want to pay for them.
- Natalie did not properly research the photographer whom she hired.
- Natalie placed a higher priority on other things and did not place a value on the photographs until AFTER the wedding.
How could she have prevented this?
- Natalie could have asked friends, co-workers and other professionals (her dental hygienist, florist, or nail tech) for a referral. People love to help other people out and are willing to share information!
- Natalie could have educated herself about the real cost of great wedding images. There’s so much more that goes into this, but basically, properly covering an eight-hour wedding is 40 or more hours of work. If someone is willing to do that for $250 or $6 an hour, then you should expect $6/hour quality. (That’s less than the pay to flip burgers!) And, don’t forget this $6 has to pay the photographer a salary plus run a business.
- Natalie could have asked the photographer to see entire wedding coverages—not just taken into account her wedding portfolio, which I believe, turned out to not even belong to the photographer. Had she researched her photographer more thoroughly, she would have easily discovered her actual work did not match that in her portfolio. She may have also discovered that Natalie had illegally obtained and used those photos to promote her business. Ideally, you want to see entire wedding coverages from the same venue you’ll be having your wedding in. However, it is sometimes as equally beneficial to hire a photographer who has never shot at that venue before. This usually inspires creativity. At the very, very least, you want to see a photographer’s ability to cover a complete wedding from beginning to end whether or not they’ve shot at your specific venue.
- Natalie could have planned ahead for great wedding photography! Many photographers will offer an interest-free payment plan. A photographer charging $5,000 for a wedding package paid out over 18 months will only cost you $278 per month. You probably spend that easily on eating out, drinks, mani/pedi trips, or clothes.
- Natalie could have prioritized better. I believe that when you are planning your wedding, you need to prioritize and pay the most for what you value the most. If it’s most important to you that you have a really high-end, beautiful cake, then that’s where you should increase your budget. If it’s more important to you that everyone have plenty of alcoholic drinks, then that’s where you should splurge. However, you must also keep in mind that the only real way to preserve all the things you design your day around is with your photos and videos. A $25,000 photographer can make your $1,000 wedding look like it cost $25,000. A $1,000 photographer can make your $25,000 wedding look like it cost $1,000.
Clients just assume that because we are a photographer that we know how to perform all the tasks required to do a good job and that we are diligent with all those tasks. But, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Is there any profession where every single professional is fully and equally qualified?
Singers? Nope, there was Milli Vanilli.
Investment advisors? Nope, there was Bernie Madoff.
Movie moguls? Nope, there was Harvey Weinstein.
Photographers? Nope, there was Queen Bee Photography.
**The images contained in this blog post were shot under the direction and for assignment of Sara Griffin Photography. The images are copyrighted but used herein with permission.
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I am a San Antonio-based wedding photographer and I cater to outdoor-loving couples who prefer to have all the realness captured on their wedding days. I am the wedding photographer for the outdoor adventurers, the romantics, the laid back, the snugglers, and those who wish to capture all their realness.
I am absolutely in love with capturing the kinds of weddings where there are more hugs than handshakes, the dance floor rumbles all night long, and chairs are pretty much rendered useless after dinner. Whiskey bottles are passed around, most of the wedding party has been best-best friends since kindergarten, Grams is likely to lose her shoes and your partner is much more emotional than you are. These kinds of weddings are my jam!
I started Ata-Girl Photography Co., LLC in 2010. I firmly believe that the unique set of circumstances I have faced in life has prepared me to take a personal and genuine interest in my photography clients. I enjoy documenting the important milestones and captivating moments in people’s lives. I love being a part of people’s journey and consider myself privileged to document their legacies.
I am a WPPI-C certified professional, full-time wedding photographer. I specialize in a 10-day image delivery, same-day prints, same-day slideshows, Italian handcrafted wedding albums and I have a mobile meeting space.
When I’m not behind my camera, you can find me hiking, cycling, backpacking, camping, enjoying water sports, listening to music (Elvis and Prince), hunting for arrowheads, reading audiobooks, occasionally eating a few glazed donuts (my only weakness to sweets) and then re-starting my keto diet about every 10 days. The most important things in life are for me to see my two daughters happy and to create a family history my grandparents and grandson would be proud of.
The post, Don’t be a Natalie: How to Avoid Wedding Photographer Regret, first appeared on Ata-Girl Photography Co.’s website and blog. Please feel free to comment here, or share this post with your friends via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Please email me if you have any questions about this article or want to share a neat idea for a future blog post with me.