Over the years, there is one thing I have always found in talking with people about their wedding photographs. Most are happy, however there is a lot of newlyweds and no so newlyweds that are disappointed in their photos. In talking with them, over the years I have found 6 common mistakes and what you should do to avoid them.
1. We used a “friend or relative” to do our wedding photographs.
Even though your friends, or your relatives might take great photographs, photographing your wedding should be that last thing you even consider letting them do as your source of wedding photography. Even the seasoned photographers will tell you that shooting weddings is tough work and making sure you get all the shots takes years of practice, skill, and and understanding of how weddings flow- and how each are uniquely different.
If your friend or relative misses the most important photos you will cherish for a lifetime, chances are you are not going to be very happy. And they do miss a lot. There is a lot more to photographing your wedding than simply showing up with a camera and a flash and taking a few photographs. Most started as assistants or “second shooters” before the ventured out on their own. You can’t beat that experience when it comes to great photographers. It can even get to the point where that friendship or family relationship can get strained or worse- ended.
2. We hired based on price and the lowest won.
Great wedding photography doesn’t usually happen cheaply. Far too often I see brides spend $2-3,000 for the DJ and scrimp on the photography. If you want great photos, you are going to need a true Professional and his services, skill, expertise, and passion is what will make your photos turn out great. It’s not the “camera” or “gear”, but how it’s used. Great photographs seldom happen by accident but are planned, posed, and lit in a way to show the elegance and passion of your wedding day. Few “cheap price” photographers are going to deliver that.
After your wedding is over, chances are you won’t remember many of the songs played, the food served, or the flowers you had. But with great wedding photos, you can remember it all instantly the very moment you look at your photos.
3. We hired him without meeting him or talking with more than one photographer.
Do you REALLY want to hire someone with just an email? I mean really?
Do you want your wedding cake perfect and yummy? Did you meet with your dress shop owner- or several dress shops? How about your catering? Or any number of vendors you will be using. So go meet prospective photographers too. Perhaps in SOME cases you can’t due to distance, but in most every case, you must meet face to face.
Go meet with at least 3 photographers. See their work online or in their portfolios. See if they have a method of photographing your wedding or are they “shooting from the hip”. See if your personality and theirs mesh and are they willing to work with your ideas or theme. Also see if their “style” matches your vision of your photographs.
I would rather turn down a wedding photography job because I know I can’t match their expectations and I don’t feel badly if that happens. Not every wedding photographer is the RIGHT photographer for you. And every client is not always the right one for every photographer either. You want great photos and I want to deliver those and in some cases, you would be better served with another photographer.
Also ask if they color correct and edit their photos. There are a TON of “shoot and burn” photographers that just photograph your wedding and burn you a DVD and nothing more. Usually these are “part-timers” and offer nothing close to true professional photography. It takes hours to turn your photos into the final product and great editing makes all the difference in the world.
4. We didn’t budget enough for our photography.
I met a new bride and her vision of her dress cost her $10,000. She bought it. It was beautiful and she looked great in it.
Her vision of FANTASTIC wedding photography was a budget of $500. Her wedding photography needs were for 8-9 hours of services and she wanted a leather album and a huge wall portrait. She was sadly disappointed when she discovered that the album package and portrait were going to be over $3500 for a good professional photographer.
Her memories were less than pleasant as she “settled” for a cousin who had a brand new DSLR and he barely knew how to use it. Fortunately she has SOME usable photos, but no where near the memories she could have had if she had budgeted more for her photography- which she discovered was far more important than she realized when she only got a DVD with less than quality work.
5. Failing to book the photographer soon enough.
Every bride puts far too many things in order of importance when planning her wedding- the dress, the DJ, the caterer, and the flowers. Truthfully, all of those CAN wait until you have the “biggies” taken care of and your photographer should be near the top of the list. Once you have your date set and your venue reserved, you should immediately find your photographer.
Good wedding photographers are usually booked 9-12 months in advance. What’s left sometimes can be that disappointment you discover 2-3 weeks after your wedding and you see your photographs. Far too many brides consider the photography until the last moment, only to discover that few are left that are available. Even if you change your mind on your dress, your flowers, your colors, and anything else that comes along, once your photographer is booked for your date, you have perhaps the most important part of your wedding day set.
6. My DVD is no longer usable and the photographer doesn’t archive his photos.
Here is a reality few seem to consider when it comes to the final product for their wedding photos. “Back in the day” when digital photography first started, many stored their photos on a “floppy disk” or several of them. So when was the last time you saw a computer with one of those even in the computer? How about “tape drives” which had fantastic storage capabilities but were very slow? Now we have thumb drives and DVDs.
Here is a fact about DVD’s. Depending on the inner layer metal that is sandwiched between 2 pieces of acrylic, their life is usually only 5-7 years. They deteriorate and sooner or later, become unusable or the files corrupt just from atmosphere or even writing on them. Add to it, in a few short years, some new storage media will be developed and your computer won’t even have a DVD drive. What about in 20 years or longer? There is one fact about digital media- the technology WILL change and you need some “archival” way of viewing your photos as the years go by.
Either order a ton of prints or get your photos in a professionally produced album. Why a professional album or prints? Many of your “1 hour” photo labs use inks and paper that fade or discolor over the years and professional labs offer longer lasting inks and paper that rarely fade or discolor over time. Most have 100 year coatings that prevent degrading of your photos as well. Sure they cost a bit more, but they are well worth in the long run.
It is also a great idea to ask your photographer if he or she offers Album services, print services through a Pro lab, and online Galleries for your photographs. A “full service” Professional not only offers that, but wants you to have the best possible products and services for your wedding photographs.
So now that you know the mistakes you should avoid, hopefully you are better prepared to make this one big decision. You will be able to relax and not worry on your wedding day, knowing that your memories will be there forever. There is nothing more joyous than a husband and wife looking through their wedding photographs in 20 years and remembering that day as if it happened yesterday. Let’s hope you can do the same!