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- http://www.katforder.com/2015/09/02/vendor-photographers-are-a-new-trend-in-event-photography/ .

 

“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”

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.

The 5 Mistakes Brides Can Make In Hiring Their Photographer and How to Avoid Them

As a soon to be bride and groom, with your wedding planning in full swing, no doubt you have discovered that there is a lot more to this “getting married” thing than just walking down the aisle and saying “I do”. Yes, it will be just wonderful and your special day will be one I hope you never forget. The one way to assure you don’t ever forget is to find that photographer to capture your day in photographic memories you will cherish and cry over 10, 20, 30 years from now. As a wedding photographer, I have discovered that there are 2 types of brides who are trying to hire their photographer- those who do the things needed to get the RIGHT photographer and the other who makes the mistake of not.

So let’s get right to it and see what common mistakes I see almost daily that brides (and often grooms) make in hiring their photographer. Avoiding these will assure you get the great photographs you not only desire, but should demand. After all, you are only going to get one chance to get this one right, so let’s talk about making sure it’s perfect for you. Continue reading “The 5 Mistakes Brides Can Make In Hiring Their Photographer and How to Avoid Them”

The Most Photographed Generation Will Have No Pictures in 10 Years!

Cameras.

They’re everywhere. In your phone, on your tablet, you have your point-n-shoot, and maybe even a DSLR. A few might even own a film camera. You can’t escape the selfies, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. People are deluged with photographs. And today, people are taking more pictures than ever before. It’s been estimated that in the past 5 years, more photos have been taken than all the prior years combined.

The sad part is that few of these photographs will survive beyond a year. To many people, a “picture” is only good for the moment. Moms and Dads want to snap every little movement of that new baby. Grandma wants to see everyone one of those too. When you want to show off the new puppy, you pull out the phone. And in a week, none of them have any real meaning and might even get “deleted” just to make room for more pictures that have little meaning as well inside of a couple of weeks. Continue reading “The Most Photographed Generation Will Have No Pictures in 10 Years!”

The Latest Trend in Weddings. It’s Not What You Expect

If you came here looking for the latest wedding dress trend, or the hot new way to decorate and have a fabulous venue, then you are going to be disappointed. But if you want to avoid one of the biggest mistakes you could ever make in planning your wedding, then read on!

No, the latest trend in weddings has nothing to do with the wedding day or the music or food or anything else that you are planning on, but has a LOT to do with having your wedding day memories captured in the photographs you cherish. Every month, I have inquiries from couples who what to know if I can “fix” their wedding photographs or can offer them something better than what they have. Or perhaps they want me to design an album or provide them with quality prints. Sadly, 99% of the time, I pass totally once I see their images.

So what IS the latest “hot trend” in weddings these days?

FRAUDOGRAPHY.

So exactly what is that? It is usually someone with their brand new Digital Camera whose Grandma told them they take “better pictures” than they do down at Sears or Penny’s so they should become a “professional” photographer! So they get themselves one of those “Free” websites, borrow (illegally) a few images from other photographers websites, or buy a few “stock images” that they call their own and VIOLA’- they are “in business” as wedding photographers.

AND, they hope that their current job doesn’t call them into work on a day they have a wedding booked! Not to mention, they have never taken a single class on photography, lighting, composition, or even mentored with another professional photographer.

Yes, you will find their ads all over Craigslist or perhaps they even have a listing on one of the Wedding Vendor websites. You see them everywhere- “Wedding Photography- $400”. And countless couples bite on these ads or proposals and find themselves victims of the fraud LONG AFTER it’s too late to do anything about it.

You see, these “Fraudographers” aren’t really Professional anything- except at luring you into giving them money, and then providing you images of that are nothing short of amateurish quality. Your photos are either poorly composed, poorly lit, grainy and noisy, out of focus, and so bad you wish you could find a better hiding place to keep them. And you probably are going to be in tears inside of 30 minutes because they are nothing like the representations you saw on their website.

One great quote that you should take to heart:

The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from memory
       — Aldo Gucci

So are you going to be the “victim” of the latest “Fraudographer” that offers you that cheap price and provides you images you absolutely despise? Or would you rather go ahead and hire that true professional photographer with his/her OWN images and body of work that allows you to get a feel for the quality images you desire?

Face it, if i offered you a brand new BMW for $1000 you would probably be suspicious that it was legitimate. You probably would laugh before you ran. So why are you going to NOT be suspect of that $400 “wedding photographer” when they offer their Fraudography services to you WITHOUT checking them out 100% totally? And what will you do when they have to work that Saturday your wedding day falls on and they don’t show up?

Suggestion- hire a true, reliable, and competent PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER and pay them what they are worth and you won’t find yourself looking for someone to “fix your wedding photographs” when they can’t be “fixed” because you hired a Fraudographer!