Over the years, I have encountered people who have expressed their dissatisfaction after having bad photography experiences. I have been asked to re-shoot certain weddings images when the images they received were not what they expected. I have been hired to re-shoot portraits sessions when clients were not happy with their experience. I have had more than a few people confess that they let price rather than skill, expertise and vision determine who they would hire to capture an important event in their lives.
What other facet of life do you only use price to determine which product/service you will buy? Medical services? Cosmetic/beauty services? Housing? Child care? Why would you let price be the determining factor for who will document such an important piece of your family’s legacy? Clients must make sure that a photographer will meet their expectations before the investment has been made. There are certain milestones in life that can’t be redone.
If you think hiring a professional photographer is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur.
Below are some excerpts of questions and answers to some of the conversations I’ve had over the years:
After working with two separate photographers prior to your wedding, explain why you didn’t use either to shoot your wedding day? One said she would edit several things out of the photos that she took and when I finally received the photos through email those items weren’t edited out. One of the photos was supposed to reflect me through the mirror but instead it reflected other people that were in the room. She said she had taken 200 photos and only sent me 25 photos and half of them were the exact same pictures just in a different filter. There were even photos with my eyes completely closed I didn’t get to take half the pictures that she said that we could do. Then when I called her to ask if she sent the correct photos she became very angry calling me names and said she had never even wanted to be my photographer.
What was the most unprofessional thing you experienced in working with each of the photographers you worked with? The first photographer arrived late and said she was going to have to leave early because she had to pick her daughter up from school. She also picked the hottest part of the day to do the photos which were taken outside. She also kept telling me that she could edit every single photo to blur objects or take things out. Before she decided that she couldn’t do my photos for the wedding day at all she told me that she would not do the wedding rehearsal after all because her daughter had a softball game that Friday and Saturday. And she was going to make at least one of the games and it would be the Friday game. Also, the first photographer was going to bring a lady to help take pictures on my wedding day who didn’t have any experience with photography.
The second photographer also mentioned that she didn’t know how long she would be able to stay at the wedding because she would probably be tired. She also would get very aggravated when we had to wait for somebody that was supposed to be in a certain photo. For example we couldn’t find my parents for a family photo because they were dealing with issues with the wedding and she kept complaining and would say we could just take the photos later. She knew the pictures were going to be dark when evening time came around but instead of asking if there was an overhead light that she could turn on she just took the pictures in the dark. Also, on some of the pictures that she gave me some of the faces were twisted and distorted. I also didn’t get to take any of the photos that I had planned to take.
Why did you choose the photographer you did? I didn’t budget properly for good photography. I didn’t know any better. And, the truth is, I just couldn’t afford you—and now, I can see your prices are in line with other photographers of the same skill. I had to choose what I could afford at the time and I’m not happy about what I had to pick. The photographer I chose was more along the lines of an amateur and that was reflected in all of our images. They were not posed well, they were not lit well, and they were not edited well. We were not even offered any product… just handed over a disk and there they still sit… a year later. They say hindsight is 20/20 and I won’t be making that mistake again. We will be better prepared for college graduation, I can promise you that.
What did you like about your photography experience? Uhm. Nothing. I thought my senior pictures would turn out great. Someone offered to do my portraits who shoots a lot of great sports photos. I thought they must be a great all-around photographer. When we arrived for the session everything was just awkward. No instruction was given for clothing or jewelry. I had to pose myself. I had to suggest the different places to shoot. When I got my disk of images, there were ugly shadows on my face. My poses were weird. I wasn’t happy with the results but it was too late to book anyone else. What I had pictured in my head and the pictures I actually had in my hand were two completely different birds. Just because someone is good at one type of photography, doesn’t mean they’re good at another.
What Sets Professionals Apart
- Professionals will often have an official business entity (Corp., Inc., LLC, etc.)
- Professionals will carry insurance, pay sales tax and self-employment taxes
- Professionals will invest in their education to better their skill
- Professionals will have backup equipment and will also utilize second shooters and assistants
- Professionals will have a community of colleagues to network with and belong to professional organizations
- Professionals will offer to show you entire body of works rather than just portfolios
- Professionals will offer advice when they see flaws/possible improvements in your plan (timeline, wardrobe, location, etc.)
- Professionals will ask for a retainer and ask you to sign a written agreement
- Professionals will often reinvest in their business
- Professionals will work with pro-level labs and vendors not available to regular consumers
- Professionals will have samples of their products and urge you to print your images for preservation
- Professionals will respond to your communications in a timely manner (even while on vacation)
- Professionals will often specialize in certain genres of photography
There is no price point, gear list or hours of operation that is going to categorically set a hobbyist apart from an amateur apart from a professional. Each businessperson arrives at their prices based on their own unique bottom line. The centerpiece in choosing a photographer is to always make sure you like someone’s work more than you like their price. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Don’t lose a piece of your family’s legacy because you value something else more than you value photography.
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I am a professional wedding and senior photographer based in South Texas near San Antonio. I pride my business in offering a premier and personal service coupled with an unforgettable photography experience. I cater to clients who appreciate quality photography and help them to create family heirlooms that will last for generations. As a full-time professional photographer, my sole purpose is to provide amazing, memorable and full-service photography.
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.
When I’m not photographing a wedding, family or high school senior, I love to spend my spare time hiking, camping, cycling, reading, listening to Elvis and Prince. The most important things in life are for me to see my two daughters happy and to create a family history my grandparents would be proud of!
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