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.