As a Professional Wedding Photographer, the one thing I hear from brides and grooms is that they want “wedding pictures”. Yet, after spending a few moments with them, I’ve discovered a lot more is really what they desire. They have seen photographs they love and a basic idea of what their wedding photography should look like.
Sometimes they will bring clippings from magazines or Pinterest and share those ideas they would like to incorporate into their own photographs. Often they have a theme they are using throughout their wedding and want to capture that in their photography. Either way, they have a vision of what their wedding photographs should look like when they see the final results. No doubt, you do to.True professional photographers will do everything they can to create that look or incorporate that theme into your photos. It takes planning and it takes great communication. And it takes a commitment to using a creative eye to capture those photographic memories that are unique and stunning that you will want to view over and over. But sometimes, an often regrettable mistake is discovered all too late to do anything about it.
So you are going to hire your photographer through a “Online Hiring Service” and base it on “lowest bidder”? Perhaps you can get it within your budget, or perhaps, you regret that decision later. So here are a few tips that can make hiring someone a lot simpler and leave you with few surprises when you get your wedding photos.
1. I’m Just Looking for the Lowest Bid.
If you look at the cars on the road, your going to find a multitude of makes and models. Bottom line, any will get you where you are going, but if you are in a Kia vs. a Lincoln, one might leave you cramped, little space for your luggage, and a need to take a break every hour or so. Whereas in the other, you get there comfortably, feel far more refreshed, and have more space than you need for your important things.
Unless you are speaking with several photographers, you might discover that the “low price” doesn’t include much. Far too many “shoot and burn you a DVD” prices leave you feeling pretty empty when you see what you got. One couple actually told me that their grandmother took better photos of their wedding than their photographer did. Unless you actually talk to several photographers and see what they offer, you MIGHT be missing a great VALUE for a price that is just a few dollars more. Bottom line- make a few phone calls!
2. Are You Hiring a Part-time “professional” Photographer or a True Professional Photographer?
Would you want a “part-time” surgeon doing that important procedure you must have done? You know, the surgeon that works someplace else as a stock broker during the week and does surgery on the weekends to “make a few extra dollars”?
Ask any couple you know to name the most important dates in their life, and their wedding day is going to be at the top. Would you really want to trust having your memories captured by that “part-time” photographer? Set a weekday meeting, during the day, and if they can’t meet until evening or weekend, you should question if they are a full-time Professional Photographer. True professionals work hard at their craft and their livelihood comes because of their talents, skills, and delivering a product that is outstanding. Like that world class surgeon, a true Professional photographer works hard to get to the top of their profession. We are constantly striving to learn new techniques and ways to capture your memories that are totally unique to you and your wedding.
3. You’re Hiring based totally on Price
Expanding on #1 above, price should not be your primary consideration in hiring your wedding photographer, but VALUE should be. Value can be set in any number of ways. Are you getting photos that have been edited for excellence? Does your photographer use an assistant? Does your photographer use back-up equipment? Does your photographer offer prints- online or otherwise? Can you get an album either now or later? Has your photographer shot a LOT of weddings? Does your potential photographer understand your theme or ideas?
Unless you get these questions answered to your satisfaction, you easily could discover that the “low price” doesn’t include a lot of value. I have actually heard of couples that discovered the nightmare on seeing their wedding photos and decided to hire another photographer and “re-do” their wedding photographs with someone that understood their desires and offered real value for the finished product.
Make a few phone calls, sit down and talk with them, and IF they tell you to go talk with other photographers before hiring, then they are offering a high value for their services. If a friend told you about a great, “low-priced” caterer they used, and you discover they only do barbeque and you HATE barbeque, would you hire them because of their “low price”? Unless you actually have that conversation, you might never know. Remember, YOU are hiring someone and YOU should do an interview process with more than one potential hire. Like any employer, you might have to pay them a bit more to get that experience and expertise you desire and that gives you a great product.
4. Your “Online Hiring Service” Doesn’t Necessarily Have 100% True Professionals.
Many times, you can find great value in some of the online referral services. It can connect you with people that perform the service you desire. However, it should come with investigation on your part once you get a range of “quotes” for the services you desire. If you are hiring based on the one with the lowest price, you MIGHT be getting that “part-time” surgeon too! Go though the same interview process and contact every single one that gives you a quote. If your wedding photographs are that important to you, spend the time and at LEAST make a phone call and ask a few questions as outlined above regardless of their “price”.
Some really great photographers use these services as do some that are striving to “get into the business”. What I have discovered is that many of the greatest photographers in the world actually started with other photographers as their assistant or intern and are taking their experience out on their own. Learning your craft from others is a great way to “get started” and unless you are doing an interview process, you will never know by hiring based on price alone. Then again, you might be hiring someone that was told by a family member that “he took good pictures” and has no real experience as a wedding photographer. If you don’t mind being a part of that steep learning curve, then go for it.
If you choose to go this route, and are using the service to get a “ball park” number for wedding photography costs, bear in mind that these services cost the vendors money. Unless you are actually going to hire someone, consider making a few phone calls instead or researching photographers websites for prices. Personally, I like these services and do use them, however, it order to keep costs low and prices affordable, you as a potential client should actually be serious about hiring. These services are free to you, but not to the vendors. As a courtesy to the vendors, at least give them a phone call and you both can determine if this is a good match for your wedding photography. Hiring based on price, without interviewing them all, could result in a disaster you really aren’t going to want or need.
5. Budget your Wedding Photography, but don’t be shocked if it’s not enough for what you want.
Let’s say you want a photographer to start your photography when you are getting ready, run through the ceremony and reception and it’s all going to last 8 hours. You want a leather bound, keepsake album and physical proofs to select your album from. You also want an engagement session and perhaps a bridal session in studio. Your budget is $500-600 and surely you can find someone to meet that with an online hiring service.
Here is the facts. It’s NOT going to happen the way you envision it. Perhaps you saw a “photobook” online for $39.95 and a “portrait session” for $59 and a “wedding photographer” for $395. And you can get 4×6 prints for 9 cents, so you figure you can get it all for around your budget. Imagine the WORST CAR you have ever seen and you are going to be taking a cross-country trip in it. You’ve got to live with your wedding photographs for the rest of your life and that should be something you cherish and would want to last your lifetime.
A professionally designed, leather-bound, keepsake album can cost upwards of $1500. A true professional photographer is going to pour over your photographs for hours, perfecting them and making them unique to you. Pro print labs are going to cost considerably more to produce prints and last 10 times longer and be color correct and outstanding in quality. One professional studio light can cost upwards of $5-700 and he or she has 4-5 of them. One professional camera can cost over $5,000 for one without a lens. If you desire the quality of photography these things can give you, then you should expect the prices to be higher. That Kia might get you to California from Maine, but the Lincoln will feel much better once you get there.
So what is the bottom line here? Don’t choose your photographer based totally on PRICE, but base it on VALUE for your budget. You might pay a bit more for better value and your ride with your photographs will be much more pleasant. Call every single photographer who offers a quote and do the interview process both by phone and in person if you feel you want to know more from him or her.
Everyone likes things that are totally Free, and to get a Free copy of my “Wedding Planning Tips for Perfect Picture Photography”, simply fill out the form below and you will get your very own copy to make your planning just that much easier!