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.

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”

A Brides Dilemma- Cheap Disc Only Photos or that Professional Album?

Wedding Photos that RockAs you ponder your wedding plans, I am almost certain you are planning on your photography as well. So what are your choices and why one might be better suited for you than the other.

Far too many couples today are seeking a “cheap” photographer who will give them a disc of images with “rights” to print as many as they want. Sound really good, right?

I mean, you get all the images you want, and you cut your expenses, you get to do with your images as you please, and is well!

Could that be a HUGE mistake? Well, from a consumer standpoint, you are probably thinking NO, it’s not. However, I offer an alternative answer- it probably is. Continue reading “A Brides Dilemma- Cheap Disc Only Photos or that Professional Album?”

Who is Damien Symonds and Why His Photoshop Classes Rock

For many of us photographers, making Photoshop (PS from now on) work FOR us instead of the hard and difficult process it can be, is a task we seem to never be able to accomplish. PS is constantly changing and much is for the best. We only seek to bring out images to life, make edits that make sense for the composition, and output them for our printed images for clients.

Many, like me have gone online, watched hundreds of videos, taken courses, and worked at creating what the instructor created and not really understood the HOW or WHY he or she did things as they did. “Just do it this way” and it should work for you. It usually doesn’t quite come out as we expected. Sure, that instructors work is fabulous, but what about MY work? It doesn’t look so fabulous.

So who is this Damien Symonds guy and why should you care?

He is perhaps one of THE best PS masters of all time. And he offers a few PS courses that honestly, will turn your hate or fear of PS into a LOVE of PS in ways that will astound you. His teaching methods are simply the easiest to comprehend, the simplest to master, and don’t require a learning curve that is unobtainable. And he is not a photographer, but a retoucher and restoration expert from Australia.

His first and most recommended course from me is his RAW Class. Shooting in RAW format is often misunderstood and the reasons WHY you should be taking photographs is RAW is explained in depth in his course. But once you have a RAW image, processing it, setting white balance, properly adjusting exposure and all the other settings requires a foundational few steps to start your masterpiece. I know that in my wedding photography, I sometimes have hundreds of images to sort, cull, and process. I KNEW there had to be a better way to quickly accomplish that task and honestly, dreaded it. Not any longer! Damien’s RAW class turned my entire workflow upside down, inside out, and sped things up so much I love doing RAW processing now. And I have images that are ready to do the magic touch in PS using Damien’s NEXT CLASS, his Levels and Curves class.

We ALL want to make our images have that special, one of a kind POP to them. Levels and Curves can do just that once you understand how to use them, how to make them work FOR you, and how selective editing can be your best friend. To learn Damien’s technique is so darn simple that once you go through his course, apply his methods to your own images, you’re going to wonder yourself, WHY did you spend all that PS Course money?

Now for the caveats. First, you MUST have a color calibrated monitor that you edit on. Don’t even think about taking either course until you do. Without that, you aren’t serious enough about your photographic work to even consider the investment in these courses. You can’t trust what you’re seeing on your screen and what your final prints are going to look like without calibrated monitor(s). So before you do anything, invest in that and get your screen calibrated to your prints.

Second, you will need Lightroom and/or Photoshop. You can get by with just Photoshop and Bridge (it comes with Photoshop) so you can do RAW edits. Adobe Camera RAW comes with PS, and it is a powerful RAW editor as Lightroom is. They are actually almost identical. BUT, again, a calibrated monitor is necessary for proper RAW processing!

Your first course should be the RAW Class. A good, well exposed, properly White Balanced photograph starts you down the path to creative excellence. I often struggled before this class to get a photo looking its best and worked hard in PS to make it better. Now, I have an EASY way to take an image and process the RAW file into something that makes the PS edits a walk in the park. You’re going to learn exactly the proper steps to take, in what order to take them, and the end result will amaze you. I took a couple of photos in Lightroom, made Virtual images out of them, reset them, re-edited so I could compare, and the difference is huge. The edit took all of 2 minutes and the comparison was astounding. Colors correct, skin tones nearly as perfect as I could ever have wanted, contrast and lighting is perfect and well, images I can work with in PS with ease as the result. Add to it, the amount of PS work is reduced dramatically as well.

There is another course you should follow with and that is the Layers and Masks Class. IF you have a good solid understanding of how to use Layers and Masks, have no difficulty in adding them, editing on them, and know how to create them, you could skip this. If you are confused or feel you need to refresh yourself, by all means take this one. Masking is a fundamental skill many do not fully understand, but after this class you will. If there is any question in your mind that perhaps you could be better, take this class next.

Now comes the best part! The Levels and Curves class. I’m going to tell you right up front, you are going to complete the RAW class and see a huge difference in your photographs. But the best comes next. When you take that properly processed RAW file into PS and apply the methods Damien teaches in this class, your entire world is going to change on how you approach PS editing. You will probably never reach for a Magic Wand, or a couple of other tools ever again (well, there are times you do need them!). You will discover how the slightest enhancements will turn your photos into masterpieces in a few short minutes. Your entire view of your images will change as will the way you edit them. You will even discover that a few of your “not so hot” images can be turned into some beautiful work with a few simple levels and curves adjustments as well as using other layer types to make them really come to life.

Here is what I promise you- YOU can learn how to use Lightroom and/or Adobe Camera RAW and PS in ways you never believed you could. Damien’s easy to follow, easy to learn methods are something that I honestly believe anyone can learn to do. If you can open PS, can make a few basic adjustments, can fumble around a bit and understand where your tools pallet is, your layers panel is, and can open an image inside of PS, you can do this. Even Adobe has some nice, free video tutorials that you can learn these basic tasks from.

So if you want your editing skills to take a light year leap in a few short hours, I can’t recommend this enough. Go visit Damien’s Website, click on his Photoshop Training class links if this doesn’t open right to them. But let me warn you in advance- by his own words, he describes himself as this;

Hi, I’m Damien. I’m short-tempered, ill-mannered, narrow-minded, and have questionable personal hygiene. But I know a lot of stuff about post-processing, monitor calibration and colour-management.

So if you’ve ever wished there was somebody sitting beside you while you tried a new editing technique, or grappled with a Photoshop error, or fumbled through your first monitor calibration, or whatever … I try to be that somebody.

And if you need somebody to slap you upside the head and drag you screaming by the hair into a better workflow and better images … I’m that somebody too.

Spades shall be referred to bluntly as spades, and smoke shall be blown up nobody’s ass, ever. But we have a lot of fun, so I hope you’ll join in.

But don’t let that fool you! He KNOWS PS and teaches in a way you will love and come to understand that he really is a nice guy. He just doesn’t have time for those who won’t listen.

Take his classes if you want to really become good with Photoshop and RAW file processing. Tell him Mike sent you and buy him a couple of beers too. They are worth every cent you will invest.

The Most Photographed Generation Will Have No Pictures in 10 Years- Part II

Often I wonder if “really important people” read what I write. I still don’t know and honestly, it doesn’t matter.

Just today I stumbled on another article that said basically what Part 1 of my “The Most Photographed Generation Will Have No Pictures” article stated and from no less that a Google Founder and Big Boss what is in charge. The article appeared in several British publications. The article I read was in the The Telegraph.

Basically, the same dangers were reiterated of not printing your photographs- technology is exponentially changing today so fast that the risk of losing everything digital is going to be something you will not consider until it’s too late.

Warning that the 21st century could become a second “Dark Ages” because so much data is now kept in digital format, he said that future generations would struggle to understand our society because technology is advancing so quickly that old files will be inaccessible.

Validation can be a good thing when your thoughts are echoed from someone far more in touch with digital development that I am. 10 years might be too short a time frame.

Print your photographs. Preserve them for future generations to see what we enjoyed today, lived today, cried today, and laughed today over.

They might love to actually know what “we” were all about in those “old fashioned” days of doing things the hard way.

Wedding Planning- Why that $400 Wedding Photographer Could Be Costly

Your Wedding Day Should be Captured Professionally
Your Wedding Day Should be Captured Professionally

I get requests from couples almost daily wanting to know “how much do you charge” to photograph their wedding day. It’s the #1 question and I do understand why they are asking. In most cases, they are basically “price shopping” and want the best “deal” they can get. Invariably, when I give them a range of prices, they tell me “THAT’S too much. I can get someone to do it for $400!”.

Sure, it seems to “make sense” to save money, but did you know that it could be the most costly mistake you make? And the sad part is, you won’t know it until either a few weeks after your wedding or perhaps even a couple of years later! Continue reading “Wedding Planning- Why that $400 Wedding Photographer Could Be Costly”

Wedding Tips: Why Does Professional Wedding Photography Cost So Much?

As Brides and Grooms begin planning their wedding, of course they want all the nice things and entertainment their budget can afford. It is nothing for them to spend thousands on their DJ, several hundred on their wedding cake, and even more for food and table decorations. We haven’t even talked about the dress or tuxes yet. Each of those start to add up fast and the money gets short and the budget gets blown.

Yet, in a lot of cases, the last thing that gets booked is usually the photographer. The scrimping has to be someplace and every couple knows that “anyone with a decent camera can take great photos”, right?

Let me say this as politely as I can- Wrong. Continue reading “Wedding Tips: Why Does Professional Wedding Photography Cost So Much?”