Your Wedding Photographer- The Most Important Vendor Decision You Will Make

Wedding Photographre Jacksonville FlSure, I admit it.

I am a Professional Wedding Photographer. It’s a great thing to be one as you get to share in that First Chapter together in a couples life. You get to be the one capturing the images for their story. You get to be a part of the emotions, the fun, and the hilarious events of that day. You get to do what you love doing- capturing images that bring those things into the lives of everyone that couple shares them with.

More often that not, you find that the photographer is expensive. Yes, yes it is. I’ll be the first to agree with you. You often are thinking “$2000 for 7 hours of work. Pretty good gig if you can find it”. So I know where you are coming from. Now I’m not going to try to justify that price, because you probably don’t care about the $20,000 worth of equipment it takes to photograph your wedding or the 10,000 or so hours it takes to perfect the craft so you get images that make you laugh and cry. Nor am I going to talk about the 100 or so hours after your wedding culling, editing, and perfecting your images either.

You just want the cheapest and “best you can find for the money you have” wedding photographer.

Honestly, if that’s all you want, and don’t value the memories of this awesome day, then there’s always Craigslist. It’s filled with “wanna-be” photographers without all that expensive equipment or hours needed to actually photograph your wedding! Face it, “you only need a good camera that takes great pictures”, right? Nor does it matter much that the only prerequisite for being a professional photographer is that “you call yourself one”. Not that important is it?

“But those things ARE Important to Us!”

Great! Now we are getting someplace where hopefully you are better able to make an informed decision that was made by every smart couple who has great wedding photographs that were taken by a Professional Photographer.

A Day in the Life of…..

No vendor you hire is going to be as close and intimate with you on your wedding day than your photographer. He or she is going to be with you close to every moment of your wedding day.

Experience makes a difference. So does personality. You should genuinely like your photographer and also know that they have the experience needed to do the job you are paying them to do. Rarely does a “newbie” have the skills to understand the ebb and flow of your wedding day. Moments happen fast, and having someone with experience assures that none of the important moments are missed in your photographs. There is a big difference in having someone confident in knowing they are going to “get the shot” versus hiring someone afraid they will miss it.

“Let me Text or Email them and get Prices”…..

According to “The Knot”, the average price for a true Professional Wedding photographer is around $2700. So for a moment, let’s forget prices. It won’t matter much if you get a $600 wedding photographer or a $6000 wedding photographer if you text or email them for prices. You usually have no idea what is being offered and rarely can you determine if they are a good fit for you.

So what DO you do?

Call them. Set up a face to face meeting and sit down and talk. Ask to see a complete wedding- preferably in an album or book. You won’t see anything but “their best work” on their website. If they ask questions about you and your plans, great! If it’s “all about them” and how great they are, well, better consider that it’s not about them, but about YOU and YOUR day.

Often times, you get a far better VALUE for your photography than you realize by sitting down and talking. You get to see their personality and does it “fit” with yours. You’re NOT going to know by text or email any of these things, so please, don’t try to “text it in”. Sure the technology is great, but not so much in hiring photographers.

You Gotta have a Plan….

Great wedding photos don’t happen by accident. Nor can “unplanned” moments happen without a plan either! Sounds weird to hear that I’m sure.

Great wedding photographs happen, not because the photographer “staged the moment” but because he was setting the stage for the moment to happen. That tear in Mom’s eye, that look in Dad’s when he sees you for the first time. All of those moments need to have a plan of when and where it happens. All of that rarely happens with your “cheap” wedding photographer or one with less experience.

A good wedding photographer is going to plan every moment of their day based around the events of yours. Instinctively they know where to be and the plan tells them when to be there. That great photographer that wants $2000 is going to visit your venue, walk through the events of your day, and help create a timeline of events. When you pay less you almost always get less in return. Ask any couple who didn’t use the “smart way” of finding their photographer.

You Gotta have a Licensed and Insured Photographer or…..

Now I told you all the equipment and hours of perfecting the craft weren’t important. Well, not as important as this is.

Far too often those “cheap” photographers aren’t even licensed in the State to operate a business. Probably close to 80%. Maybe less, maybe more. Without being a “legitimate” business, are you ready to plop down several hundred dollars and NOT be sure they are a legitimate business? If you are willing to take that risk, then go for it. Just be prepared to not have the best of endings should something happen and they not show up. Or you need to go to court when you don’t get what you paid for or any images whatsoever.

So what about this insurance you mentioned? Every Professional Photographer, that operates a legitimate business will carry Liability insurance. Without it, if one of your guests trips over a piece of their gear, YOU could be held legally liable. Not a very pleasant thing when that lawsuit comes. An Insured photographer will be able to prevent you from having to “pay” since their insurance covers these things.

What about if one of your guests has a bit too much “fun” and knocks one of the photographers cameras to the floor and it breaks? An insured photographers carries coverage for those types of things. Or what if something breaks in the photographers camera and no images are stored on their card? Do they carry any coverage for that?

You Gotta Have a Contract….

Last week I was contacted by a couple who had hired one of those “cheap” photographers. They were very upset since their “hired photographer” had cancelled on them. So it looked like “no photos for you” was about to happen. My first question was “did you have a contract”. Answer- “no, he said it wasn’t necessary”. Next question- “did you get a refund?” Answer- “No, and we don’t know what to do about it since there wasn’t a contract”.

Come to find out, this “photographer” had no business license, gave them no address, and basically, took their money and ran. Sure, they got a business card with their name on it and a phone number, but nothing to really track them down for any reimbursement for their deposit they paid.

A couple of months ago, similar situation. This couples wedding photographer and her husband were in a fatal car accident. There was no deposit to be refunded from the photographers estate since there wasn’t any contract.

A contract spells out the details and what happens when unforeseeable things happen. They protect you. They also protect the photographer too. Everyone knows what to expect and what expectations will be delivered. Just avoid like the plague any photographer who doesn’t use one or doesn’t offer one.

“Winner Winner! Chicken Dinner!”….

In about a month after your wedding, you will be seeing your photographs. If you followed the advise above, you’ll be a WINNER! You’ll be laughing and crying and remembering the day as if it was today. You’ll be seeing things you didn’t see or remember happening too. You’ll be sitting down with your photographer and selecting images for your album too!

Or will you be like one of the brides that has lost her third DVD? Which was “put in a desk drawer, someplace, and I can’t find it anywhere now that we moved”. Or how about the couple who put all their wedding photos on MySpace six years ago? Oops. Bad idea.

Here is a fact- technology is always changing. That DVD or USB drive you have today is going to either be obsolete OR crash and burn. So will the technology be available that is needed to see them from that media in 20 years? Books and albums are never obsolete- no technology needed to see them. And your kids won’t be on Facebook either. Or Instagram, or Snapchat. And “The Cloud” will be something we once had too.

“ALL those things you say- It’s NOT Really True, is it?”….

Well, if you think it’s not, just ask someone who failed to do these things. Then ask one of the “smart couples” who did and have 100% of everything they wanted and even got a whole lot more.

It’s still “your money” and I hope you invest it wisely in your wedding. Having great images, professional made and cared for, will be more valuable tomorrow than the money you spent today.

Ask your Grandma.


Hi, I’m Mike Yost who happens to be a Wedding Photographer in Jacksonville, Fl and have been photographing weddings for many years for lots and lots of happy couples. I own a very old miniature dachshund named Heidi, a beautiful wife, Debra, and love making unforgetable images of fun loving couples on their wedding day.

Want to know more about how we can help you? Got something unique in mind you want to discuss further?

Let me know what you have in mind.

I will even send you a Wedding Planning Guide to help you along the way so you don’t miss the important things of your wedding day- a $25 value absolutely free!

Or you can call or text me at 904-707-0875 and I’ll get right back with you.

Hiring a Wedding Photographer? A Disturbing “Trend” Brides MUST Beware of, the “Vendor-Photographer”!!

As a long time wedding photographer, I have had to deal with any number of “issues” that happen on wedding days. From the “little too tipsy” Uncle Charlie to the Bride and Groom having an “after the ceremony” little flair up. Either way, as a photographer, you are prepared for it or your not.

One disturbing “trend” that you as a Bride need to be aware of is “vendor-photographers”. So what exactly IS a “vendor-photographer’? I mean you’re hiring a vendor of photography services, so why should “this” concern you?

Recently, vendors of wedding services like your florist, DJ, venue or even your caterer are now either hiring or bringing their own “professional photographer” to document you using their services on your wedding day. In most every case, you had no clue that was going to happen. Your florist decides they want photos of you and your bouquet and your bridesmaids bouquet with all of you holding them. So they bring their OWN photographer to document every minute of that happening. Or perhaps it’s the caterer or even your Wedding Planner.

No matter how it happens, in most cases you are put right in the middle of what they are doing- creating a massive advertising campaign with YOU and their services as the “spotlight” for use in flyers, ads, Social media- you name it!

You spent perhaps days or weeks choosing the ONE person to document your wedding day- your photographer. You checked him or her out, viewed countless images, and found someone you could relate to and liked. You hired them. Paid them a lot of money.

Now, your wedding day arrives and you find 2 or 3 OTHER “photographers” all trying to take photographs. And you find your HIRED photographer is frustrated, perplexed, and ready to leave. They may have come to believe you hired more than one photographer when the reality is, you don’t have a clue who they are or why they are even there!

In many cases, these “other photographers” are obnoxious, rude, and demanding that “they have every right to take photos” and that the images they take ALL belong to them. WOW! So what is a Bride supposed to do or say here?

You have just encountered your “vendor-photographer”! He or she is there working FOR your vendor(s) and are going to exploit your wedding day to it’s fullest for their own promotional work. Hey, this is YOUR WEDDING, not theirs so what do you do? Do you say something? Or will your HIRED photographer help you out here?

This is another very important reason you MAKE SURE you have a photographer that offers a CONTRACT. In that contract you may find an “Exclusivity Clause”. In that clause, you are giving your photographer the exclusive right to photograph your wedding. He or she has the very first priority above all over “photographers” that are there. Face it, you PAID THEM to make sure your day was documented and captured for your memories forever. And if your photographer knows what they are doing, they are going to tell the “vendor-photographers” they need to leave.

So now it’s probably going to get “not so pretty” and in some cases, pretty ugly. You can bet these photographers are going to INSIST that “they have a right to be there” and will take photos of whatever they want to take. So let’s see HOW you as a Bride, can make SURE you have something to protect yourself from this happening.

  1. READ other vendors contracts. If they have ANY provision for “vendor-photographer” either ask them to remove that clause or don’t hire them. It’s your wedding and you can determine who takes photos or who doesn’t.
  2. ASK your other vendors if they have ANY plans to do still photography, videography or any other “image capture” of your wedding. If they DO, ask them what they plan to do SPECIFICALLY. If you can agree to it and understand a few images is fine, then you want that CONTRACTUALLY in writing. If your florist brings a camera to shoot your table displays or your other flowers, fine. BUT to bring or hire a photographer to document the wedding, is another issue all together.
  3. ASK your potential photographer how they would handle this situation if it arose. There is ONLY one correct answer- he or she asks them to leave.
  4. READ your photographers contract. Make sure you give the “exclusive rights” to be the ONLY professional photographer taking images of your wedding. This doesn’t exclude a guest or family member from taking a few photos, but DOES restrict those “vendor-photographers” from being there, taking photos, and ruining your wedding day.
  5. If you are hiring a photographer and they don’t have a contract, run. Without one, you have no “ammunition” or someone in your corner to help you overcome this practice AND to be “on your side”.

How “dastardly” are these “vendor-photographers”? One recent lawsuit OF a fellow wedding photographer BY another “vendor-photographer” resulted in a counter claim and LARGE award by the court to a couples “real” photographer. They are using what I call “Ninja” tactics and using YOUR wedding day with impunity and images without your permission in many cases. They also will “weave” these little clauses into their contracts and you never know its happening.

So what does this all mean FOR YOU?

If you aren’t properly warned AND prepared, it COULD ruin your entire wedding day.

Is it happening here?

Yes, and starting to be an issue all over the country. I have SEEN “vendor-photographers” at weddings and had to deal with them in a nice and gentle way. SO FAR, they are cooperative, but in some parts of the country, not so much.

So what might happen if  you did sign a contract with another vendor and they interfere with your HIRED photographer?

In some cases, your photographer MAY include a clause in their contract that allows them to basically LEAVE if you did indeed allow these “vendor-photographers” to show up and create havoc. Add to it, YOU are out what you paid and you may get no images either! These “vendor-photographers” are basically “interfering” with the photographers ability to fulfill the Contract WITH YOU and photographer’s ability to perform their job. It’s call tortious interference and is actionable in the courts.

So you decide to “sue” your photographer in court! You can bet that the legal battle is going to be uphill and the chances are, you lose and your photographer will sue the “vendor-photographer” for being there and you for violating the “exclusivity’ you gave your photographer. In the link to the article below, you can read what happened to ONE “vendor-photographer” who made a real stinker of one wedding and how much it cost this “vendor-photographer”. I doubt you want to be party to that.

In closing, I hope you take this seriously and don’t think “it can’t happen to me”. It can. And probably will to someone reading this. Most importantly, HIRE A TRUE, LICENSED and INSURED professional photographer. AND I recommend hiring a PPA Professional. Our commitment to YOU, the client, is foremost in what we do.

We KNOW how to handle these issues and do so to assure you 100% of what we promise.

A very special Thank You to a friend and fellow photographer for pointing this out for all to learn from. If you want to read her entire blog post, you can find it here- .


3 Things Your Wedding Needs To Get Your Friends to Say……

Jackonville Wedding Photography
Why Make it Dull and Boring? Unique is where it’s at.

“This was the BEST WEDDING EVER!”

Many brides today are after more than just the traditional wedding day your Mom had. They have their own ideas and their own goals on their wedding day. So let’s explore how you can make that day better and bigger so you and your friends enjoy it more than any they have ever attended!

Church Weddings Out. Great Venues In.

Nearly every bride wants something unique and festive. Perhaps it is in your color selection or your decor. Either way, it’s got to be unique to you. So how can you get that?

Simple! First, define “who am I”? Is your style more festive and perhaps a bit on the wild side? Then definitely you want different. Thought about where that might be? How about a beach wedding where your ceremony lasts 10-15 minutes and then off to the Party! Or how about something along the river where you can create your own color scheme to match the earthiness of your location? Maybe even the more traditional venue with less tradition!

Brides today are all seeking something unique to them and their groom so they can display their own individualistic styles and show who they really are! But it’s about wowing your guests too! So whatever route you go, make sure you give them something that DOES want them staying longer.

Engage them and Share it all!

So many “fun photos” are what keeps your special, one-of-a-kind wedding day alive forever. But making sure your guests are engaged and talking about your wedding for weeks to come is going to be a huge hit with friends as you enjoy your honeymoon. So let’s make it one where you can do that!

Photobooths are fun times, so why not consider one at your wedding! And even the garter toss or bouquet toss doesn’t have to be something boring and old fashioned! One wedding I was recently photographing used a “football” theme to toss the garter! And the bride used a bouquet she tossed that was themed around her favorite football team too- all in their School colors! Most of her guests were fans as well, so that memory of the day went home with 2 happy people.

The possibilities here are endless, so see what you can come up with the will define your wedding day and have more and more engagement and sharing the images of the day!

Collaborate with your vendors to make it FUN!

Far too many vendors have it pretty well “set in stone” how they think your wedding day should go.

WRONG! That is if they want you to hire them that is.

Finding those who will work WITH your ideas and turn them into YOUR reality is whats going to work best for you. How about something totally off the wall in a photograph? Or a song you love but with a wrinkle only YOU can define? All of your ideas coming to life is what will make your wedding day unique and “totally you”!

As a photographer, I love it when brides bring me their Pinterst board of ideas? Why? Because it helps me better understand who they are and the little things that make them tick! And it helps me work with you in creating ideas that are completely unique TO YOU! Why have a super great wedding planned and the same dull and boring photos?

I also want to be sure that the images I create are the ones your friends not only share with their friends, but that your friends do say “WOW! This was the GREATEST WEDDING EVER!” and share everything over and over!

So what if you want grits and red beans for your wedding meal as your side dishes? If you love them, that’s GREAT! But if you want Asiago cheese dinner rolls with whipped butter, that is what you deserve and want. Make sure your vendors are on the same page you are and will work with you to get you the things YOU want and not what “they want to deliver”.

So how is the easiest way to do this? Perhaps this is the time to have a phone conversation over a text or email. Definitely you’ll want to meet with them, but do take a few minutes to talk to several and see where THEY are coming from and if they are asking about the “real you” versus what THEY will deliver!

Make it Easy to Share it with Everyone!

The last thing you want is a day where no one really knows what happened and tells your unique story. So how is that possible to be able to share it with everyone you know?

Apps baby, Apps! As a photographer, I want you to have way to share your wedding day with all your friends and family and do so with a specially designed App just for you! And it’s one your friends can get and use as well.

How can I do that? Because I can. And because I want to. It’s YOUR day and I want YOU to share it over and over so I found a way to make it happen. You can send it to friends and family, post to Social media and do all kinds of neat things with it too!

But what does it cost? Nothing. Nada. Not one red cent. It comes with the package you select and I do all the work in getting your images ready and uploaded for you to share. That way everyone can be a part of your special wedding day and tell everyone how great it was and how much fun they had too.


Want to know more about how we can help you? Got something unique in mind you want to discuss further?

Let me know what you have in mind.

I will even send you a Wedding Planning Guide to help you along the way so you don’t miss the important things of your wedding day- a $25 value absolutely free!

Or you can call or text me at 904-707-0875 and I’ll get right back with you.


“Your Wedding Photos are Ready!” What Kind of “tears” Will You Shed When You See Them?

Renae was beyond tired. Her entire day had been filled with photo albums and portfolio’s from other photographers. Her wedding day was only 3 months off and she put this task off as the last thing she needed to do. After all, “how hard can it be to find someone to snap a few pictures?” she reminded herself. “whoever is the cheapest is who I am hiring”.


Four months have passed since that day that Tom was hired and today was the “big day” for Renae to see her wedding photos. Little did she know what would await her and Kevin.

As Tom, her photographer, opened his laptop and started the slide show, Renae began to tear up. 20 minutes later, the gusher began. Continue reading ““Your Wedding Photos are Ready!” What Kind of “tears” Will You Shed When You See Them?”

“Mommy, why are you crying?” asked little Molly

Molly, their usually charming 8 year old, pigtails and blue eyes always gleaming rays of sunshine in everyone’s life walked into the room. “Mommy, why are you crying?” she sadly asked.

Three tear soaked tissues laid on the bed. Andrea had spent the last 20 minutes in tears.

“These are my pictures from the day your Daddy and I got married Molly. I always cry when I see this”. Continue reading ““Mommy, why are you crying?” asked little Molly”

10 Things Your “Cheap” Wedding Photographer Won’t Tell You

The $600 wedding photographer is EXPENSIVE, right?

You only need them for a “couple of hours” to give you a “few pictures” to remember your wedding day. So that $150 an hour is a lot of money for those four hours and honestly, you wish you could make that kind of dough. They are only “snapping a few pictures” and you only want a “disc of images”, right?

So you are opting for one of two things for your wedding photographs: Continue reading “10 Things Your “Cheap” Wedding Photographer Won’t Tell You”

“How much for just a disc of our pictures”?

Do you want to know the one question I fear the most?

“How much is it for just a disc of the images?”

Don’t think you are alone in asking me this question. I get it all the time.

Now, I have tried as hard as I can to come up with some manner to politely say “I don’t offer that”, but in spite of my best efforts, I seem to have failed to find one. If I had one, you would probably walk away and then I know you are going to suffer disappointment, even though you might think you are getting a “good deal” someplace else. Continue reading ““How much for just a disc of our pictures”?”

Planning a Millennial’s Wedding: Avoiding the Mistakes Many Are Making

Wedding Photography Jacksonville, Fl
Wedding Photography Jacksonville, Fl

I have to admit, I love this Millennial Generation!

They are some of the most tech savvy of all and they use it constantly in most activities in their life.

But it can also be one of the most dangerous things when it comes to making solid and lasting decisions when planning a wedding, and expecting results they can love rather than just “like”. I see this in almost every single couple I meet with in discussing their photography needs and thankfully, a few have listened and didn’t regret their decisions. Others haven’t and I also hear about those too- long after the wedding is over.

Some of the things I do hear, and usually about the time for that first Family Portrait- “I wish we had better wedding photographs”. Often I get the “can you look at our wedding photos and see if you can fix them and make them any better?” Sadly, I have to be honest and tell them truthfully that I can’t. It’s really sad to see some of the things people are calling “Wedding pictures” because they aren’t much better than Iphone pictures.

The REALLY sad part is, they paid someone for what they do have.

I often ask, “how much was your photographer” and invariably, the answer is “well, he/she was cheap, so we tried to save money by hiring them”. I also have found several things they did that could have avoided these disastrous results too. Hopefully you will take these into account as you plan your wedding day and avoid that “nasty surprise” a few weeks after your wedding.

“We Hired our Photographer based on the Lowest Bid”

There is a general rule of thumb that more than applies to photographers. The more experienced and the more qualified your photographer, the more it will cost you. “Cheap” Photography comes with a price- they are more likely than not, learning to be a photographer and not really well versed in the demands of a wedding and capturing the moments in images you will love. Because they own the latest, hottest DSLR camera and a couple of lenses doesn’t make them a “professional photographer”! The camera doesn’t take the photograph, the person behind the lens does and if they aren’t well schooled in composition, lighting, and exposure then your results may vary- as in maybe you get lucky and maybe you don’t.

You will find way too many “photographers” out there advertising that $495 wedding package and you get wedding photographs that aren’t worth $95. This mistake CAN be avoided and the next section tells you exactly how!

“We never met the person who photographed our wedding until that day”

Oh how I wish I could tell this Millennial Generation to use your phones for more than text messages! I see far too many couples who want to “text it in” and hire their photographer that way. Their entire communication process from start to finish is “text me” your prices or “send me a sample” or some other use of technology you have in your possession at all times. I see them scouring the internet with their phones, looking at websites and making a choice of photographers that way.

Here is the BEST advise I can give you- CALL your prospective photographers, go MEET THEM FACE TO FACE and discuss your wedding plans. See what they offer in terms of packages, products, and qualifications. To be honest with you, I refuse to book a wedding for a couple I have NOT met face to face. If all they want is to “text it in”, then there is no possible way I can do their wedding photographs justice. One of the major factors in capturing the images you are going to want is for ME to get to know YOU in a personal way so that I CAN capture your love for one another in those moments you might find are missed otherwise.

Can you imagine “texting” in your wedding dress? So why do you think for one moment you should try that for anything else in planning your wedding? It is important that you have a good feeling about your photographer as any thing you do since they are going to be spending the entire day WITH YOU and not only taking photographs, but helping you as your day progresses. If you never met them, texted it in, and they show up on your wedding day, you’re going to be sorely disappointed in the results. Don’t get me wrong, a text message for a quick question is fine, but NOT to use to hire your photographer! Same goes for emails! Go see your prospective photographers. I promise, it will be worth the time.

“We Only Want Digital Images. We aren’t interested in anything else”

This is the middle of May, 2015. This year I have had 2 requests from past clients who “only wanted digital images” for their wedding photographs. One of them has “lost their disc” and the other one “had the disc get left in the car and it won’t work anymore”. Both are from weddings I photographed a few years back.

Over the many years, I have also made a LOT of wedding albums for couples too- more albums than “digital only” wedding photographs. In these years, I have only had to re-make one album and that was due to a fire while the couple was out of town. I also have had brides from years ago bring me their albums to show me how perfect they still are and to brag about how wonderful their images still are to this day.

Now I can tell you this that digital images are one of the greatest ways to capture and edit images. They are perhaps the worst way to “archive” them. So much so, I have totally stopped offering “digital images on a disc only” wedding packages. And it has NOTHING to do with the fact I “make more money” either, but has everything to do with the fact that I know that wedding albums are NOT going to be lost, damaged in the heat, and will last a lifetime and more. Unless I am providing you a product that is lasting and dear to your heart and providing images that you cry when you see them- no matter how often- then YOU wasted a lot of money.

So you hired that “cheap” photographer and you get your images “on a disc”. Now what will you do when in a few years when your disc is damaged, or the technology changes (as it has CONSTANTLY) and you can’t find your photographer to replace it? Or you perhaps DID save your files to your computer and it crashes and burns? Or you replace your computer and didn’t transfer your files? I rarely have EVER seen (or heard of) a couple misplace or lose their wedding album.

“We didn’t check to see if he/she was a legitimate business”

Did you know that a large percentage of “professional photographers”- or those who claim to be one- are NOT properly licensed to operate a business? They don’t have a business license, haven’t registered their business in the State, and do not collect or remit sales taxes as the law provides they must. Add to it, many only “photograph weddings” as a part-time thing.

So if you have an issue with your end results, and there is no legal business with which you have issue, how are you going to be affected if something goes wrong? Any photographer who is a genuine professional, has a legal business and operates 100% as such. There is no harm in finding out BEFORE you commit to hiring them and you should! Otherwise, you could be victim to many of those who will “take your money” and never provide a final product. And if they are “flying under the radar” so to speak, how will you find them?

Do they belong to any of the Professional Photographers Associations or their Local Photographers Guild? Membership in most of these require that you produce proper certification that you are a legitimate business, so you should ALWAYS ask if they belong to one of these and also VERIFY that they do. Even if they are part-time, membership in one of these tells you they are committed to excellence in their work.

If you do hire a “part time” photographer, make sure they are a legitimate business. Also find out if they offer products like albums and prints. “Digital only” photographers are generally only there for the “fast buck” and don’t want to spend the time needed to produce a quality final product. You are wanting excellence since there is really only ONE CHANCE to get these photographs “right” the first time. Being a legitimate business doesn’t totally guarantee it, but it sure does mean that the person you hire IS COMMITTED to their craft- even part time! And it also means you don’t have to chase down someone if things DO happen- they are going to stand behind what they do.


So there you have it- the 4 things I see the Millennial Generation doing that often leads to a far less “happy” outcome and how you can avoid making these mistakes. These are things I have discovered by talking to other Millennials and what you as one can learn from their mistakes. I do hope you take this to heart and consider your options as you plan your wedding day.


As a long time wedding photographer in Jacksonville, Fl, should you want to learn more about the various options I offer, feel free to drop me a note or call me! I would love to spend a few minutes over your favorite beverage and discuss the ways your wedding photographs can be not just good, but the spectacular images you dream about having!

I Met “Digital Dan”, Professional Photographer, the Other Day

I bet you know “Digital Dan” Professional Photographer (or perhaps it’s Danielle), too!

They are constantly found on Facebook, Craigslist, Groupon to name a few, and they are always looking for “new clients”. You can spot their advertising quite easily!

“Family (or Wedding, or Newborn, or Maternity) photos CHEAP! Session fee and 25 digital images for $65. Call today to reserve your spot”.

Now don’t misunderstand me when I say this- I really love the “Digital Dans” of the world. I really do.

They make me appreciate the fact that I take the time to help people and I get to be a part of a small slice of their life and offer them images that they not only love when they see them, but cherish them as heirlooms for their family. I love watching them see their wall art for the first time and helping them display them on their walls and watching their reaction when they see their new baby’s album for the very first time. I love the tears new wives (and husbands too) shed when that ONE photograph is seen in their heirloom masterpiece I created for them. I love watching the memories of that day be relived over and over.

Now “Digital Dan”, well, his approach is probably a bit different. He isn’t that much “into it” when it comes to helping you select your images or helping you find a perfect location for your disc to hang on your wall. Nor is he much into helping you select a proper frame for that disc either. Now, he honestly isn’t going to be much help either when you decide you want a print and probably doesn’t care much if your prints are off in color or printed on some cheap printer that you can get down at “Puter’s-r-Us” and that you really don’t have any photo paper in a size you really want to print it on.

And “Digital Dan” doesn’t use any “Pro Lab” that he can offer you prints either! After all, he doesn’t want to “rip you off” with high quality, professionally printed, archival quality images that require him to properly prepare his files for outstanding quality you are HOPING you get from your “1 hour” lab! I mean, why offer that to clients since they can get those $.27 prints and as many as they want! Who really cares if they fade and discolor in a couple of years. Nor do you really care if that 8×10 has the top Dad’s head cropped off or Sally’s arm too.

And when “Digital Dan” is finished, he just doesn’t seem to spend that much time before handing you that disc since his editing skills aren’t really THAT great, but “good enough” for what little he charges. Does having the best editing REALLY make that much difference since all you are getting is a disc? But  “Digital Dan” is pretty cheap and he IS calling himself a “professional photographer”!

And those harsh shadows on your face? Well, “Digital Dan” is one of those “natural light” photographers and “those things happen” when you photograph someone at noon outdoors. And “Digital Dan” really doesn’t like to use “artificial light” to fill in those shadows. To him, “that’s not what I do”. (in other words, he either doesn’t own any or doesn’t know HOW to use it…yet!). And he also does “studio work” with “all natural light” too.

Now if you are getting married soon and want “wedding pictures”, “Digital Dan” is THE MAN! He will photograph your wedding and put your images on a disc for you to “cherish for a lifetime” and promise you get them in a week! What a great DEAL for $400! It really doesn’t matter THAT much that your Reception and Cake Cutting images seem, well, DARK since it was a bit dark inside your reception hall. Nor does it matter much that your outdoor beach wedding was at 3pm and they also have those really HARSH shadows across the brides face! You DID get a “few” really good shots you can show to people.

And since “Digital Dan” isn’t that much into album design, you can find one of those “Online, design your own album” companies and get them DIRT CHEAP! You get to do all the work from selecting your images, to figuring out your layout and them uploading the images and HOPEFULLY “Digital Dan’s” images print a bit better than they look on the screen. Think of ALL that money you saved! And when you get that album back, you can honestly say, “we cried” when we saw it! But chances are, those are going to be tears of disappointment, not tears of joy. But hey, “Digital Dan” was cheap and we “had to cut back someplace”, right?

You see, “Digital Dan” just really isn’t into being involved in what being a Professional Photographer is supposed to be. He really doesn’t like to “meddle” in your decisions or help you in any way when it comes to what products you want to order. He isn’t much into designing your album either because if he had to do that, he would probably have to charge you a LOT more. “Digital Dan” is probably going to do a little as possible too when it comes to getting to know you, finding out what you like and dislike, what you feel is your best feature and also what you consider your worst feature too. And he probably isn’t going to be much assistance in clothing selections or suggestions for makeup or hair either since these might effect your images in a really positive way. He is just going to show up, take your picture, hand you a disc for you to view the best way you can, and take your money! Now that he’s done with you, he has to move on to the next person and also offer that same level of service he just gave you.

But he was cheap.

Why Handing You a “Disk of Images” is the REAL Rip-off

A friend of mine used to be a Manager at McDonalds. He was part of a layoff and took a job there basically because it was all he could find and moved into Management pretty fast. As one of the managers, he was privy to a lot of “inside information” that few had access to.

One of the things he showed me was the “cost sheet” that every store manager used to place their daily order from their Distribution Centers. Now I don’t eat there often (WAY too many calories for this growing body), but occasionally I do love a Big Mac Value Meal. Lately, that has been around a $7 meal here locally- and higher in other parts of the country.

Now the cost of the ingredients needed to make that Big Mac is around $.74. Yes, $.74 cents. And they sell a LOT of them everyday. And add the fries and a drink, and it’s still under a buck cost to the store. So tell me, have you stood in line and argued with them that their $7 meal is a “rip-off”? And why is it that they are “marking up” their prices so much? Continue reading “Why Handing You a “Disk of Images” is the REAL Rip-off”