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/ .

 

What you Don’t Know About that “Cheap Photographer” that CAN Hurt You!

Let’s start out with a profound statement you might find surprising!

“I LOVE competition as a photographer!”

Now many are probably thinking “are you crazy or what? Isn’t the competition what you are fighting to stay in business?”

The short answer is “no”, but the more complicated one is the reason I say “what you don’t know about that “cheap photographer” that CAN hurt you!”. It’s NOT meant to “drive away” the competition, but to actually make me become something much better that will give you complete and total satisfaction in what I deliver!

I don’t hide the fact I have been behind a camera lens for a long time. I have seen so many changes in the photography industry, I probably forgot more than I remember. Compared to today, we went from the Model T to the Space Shuttle in a few short years. Cameras are “smart” today compared to even 15 years ago. And even smarter ones are coming out every few months. So what does that mean for you? Continue reading “What you Don’t Know About that “Cheap Photographer” that CAN Hurt You!”

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.

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!”

Now That You are Engaged, What is Next?

It is a known and proven fact that more Engagements occur between Christmas and Valentines day than any other time of the year. If you are one of those couples, then without a doubt, it probably means a wedding is in your life in a few short months. This can be one of the most exciting times of a couples life as well as one of the most confusing one at the same time.

The task of planning everything from soup to nuts, flowers to dresses, tuxes to garter will seem simple enough, but the countless mistakes and frustrations are about to begin and in order to help couples get started, let’s examine where to begin so you start off on the right foot for your wedding day! Continue reading “Now That You are Engaged, What is Next?”

A Brides Biggest Nightmare- “Cheap” Wedding Photography

As I speak with couples who are planning their wedding, I find that more and more are no longer interested in print products, albums, or any other form of viewing their photographs other than “digital files”. This could perhaps be the biggest mistake they make.

Basically, they want to take their files, with print rights, and go down to their local 1-hour Photo store and print their own photos, or order a photo book from an online book maker, or simply keep them for later viewing on their computers.

So let’s examine each method carefully and see if these are viable options or perhaps the biggest mistake you can avoid.

First, digital files are great. They take up whatever space that a DVD, CD or USB thumb drive offers and can be stored in a small area of your home. However, there are drawbacks you should consider before you settle for just digital files or using your 1-hour photo printers to preserve your wedding day memories.

Today, you can’t find an Apple I-Mac or a Toshiba laptop that offers an optical drive as standard equipment. Getting your photos on DVD is going to soon be obsolete since few computer makers are offering drives capable of burning or viewing DVD’s or CD’s. Then you have the USB drives. Few (or none) of your Apple tablets have USB ports and a few of the lower end I-Macs don’t have them either. Everything has become “Cloud based” for storage. Microsoft, Adobe, and a few other software companies are almost totally cloud based for access to their products. And, if technology continues to progress, even your USB drive or the “cloud” will be obsolete as well.

Now, you COULD store them on your hard drive, but even that isn’t totally preserving your wedding photos. Drives break and crash. Photos and other files get lost or corrupt and many a person has discovered all too late what happens when you have to buy a new computer to replace that broken one or to upgrade to the latest and faster machine.

Now, let’s say you take your digital files down to your local Walmart and print your own photos. Let’s look at what they offer for their $2 8×10 or their $.29 4×6. There are 2 ways to “print” your photos. The one you are probably most familiar with is what comes out of your inkjet printer. They use “photo” paper- which really isn’t true photo paper, but a treated paper that drys the ink really fast- and you get an image that may or may not look ok. Some, if not most, of your 1-hour labs use a similar method to produce your prints. It’s cheap, fast, and subject to the same issues all ink based photos offer. They have a VERY short “shelf life” and will only last about 1-5 years before they start to face, discolor, or become pretty much useless. Even the BEST inks and paper combinations will only last you 6-7 years at the very best. Add to it, any moisture or water completely renders the photograph useless.

So what do Professional level labs that your photographer is selling for $50 or more offer? A whole lot more than you realize.

Pro level labs only deal with professional photographers. Their methods of producing prints does NOT involve inks or pigments, but instead use real light sensitive photographic paper that is “developed” through a chemical process. They are usually coated to protect from UV light deterioration, and have a shelf life of 100 years or more. The paper is much heavier, is not subject to moisture damage, ink deterioration, and unless you set fire to them, are always there. Pretty much, these prints are made the way prints were done during the “old days” of film and paper. I know I have prints I made 30 years ago with film and paper and there is no loss of quality or fading or any other “color changes” from the first day they were made. These are truly archival photographs and will last you until your children are ready to get married and have your grand children. Even though “digital files” are great, none of the “alternative” methods of photographic preservation is better than the “old school” method of photographic prints using Professional labs.

Let me also add that Walmart doesn’t have a clue what my prints are supposed to look like, NOR do they really care. They almost always color correct my images, can produce inferior results, and you will come back to me with complaints that my photos have something wrong with them. The fact is, my photos are perfectly fine and with my Professional Labs, I can guarantee the exact photograph I see on my screen when I edit them- colors, effects, resolution, and any other factor that influences image quality- will be produced exactly when you purchase from me.

The same holds true with Professionally produced album products. Basically there are 2 ways to produce albums or photobooks. You can get “press printed” products really “cheap” and you get really CHEAP books. Again, these are ink based books and can and do fade and discolor over time. Your true Professional photographer will use their Professional level book binders and album binders that use photographic paper and NOT “press printed” pages for your photographs and will last you forever. The bindings and covers are not going to fall apart in 10 years either.

Over the years, I have seen so many so called “experts” give couples the advise that “professional photographers are ripping you off” by charging as much as we have to charge in order to “make a living”. Perhaps you can’t understand that $50 8×10 print price when you can get one at Walmart for $2 or less. The fact is, these “experts” are being paid a salary to tell you how to do things rather than actually DOING the thing and making a living at it that they are telling you to do! Would you listen to an “expert” tell you how to drive a Mercedes Benz if they were driving a 1986 Ford Escort?

So let’s examine the “real” income of that so called “cheapo” photographer and WHY they aren’t going to be photographing weddings for very long.

Let’s say you find a “photographer” who offers to do your wedding for $400, provides you with digital images, and print rights and sends you on your merry way! The rest is totally up to you as to prints, albums, etc. First of all, this “photographer” is NOT going to be around in 2-3 years simply because they are going to soon discover that they are making around $3 per hour for their time. Let me explain.

At any wedding I photograph, I can pretty well figure that I take between 100-150 photos per hour. A 5 hour wedding means I have 500-700 photos from which I must edit and compile into your image files. Yes, I reject a LOT of them-upwards of 1/3 of them- which will leave me with a solid 350-400 images from which to work. Rejected photos could be due to any number of issues like exposure off, people blink, distractions in the background or something else that just isn’t making it a good photograph. But because I have multiple images, I have a LOT to make a great visual story of your wedding day.

From there, let’s say I spend 15-20 minutes doing editing per photograph. This includes correcting exposure to perfection, color correction for proper skin tones, adding enhancements to make the colors rich and full and sharpening the images for great prints. Perhaps I have to take the photos into Photoshop to remove a distraction or edit a blemish from a brides skin. All of that is done to every photograph. 400 photos times 15 minutes average. That is a total time of 100 hours of editing time. Now, since I shoot in what is knows as “camera RAW”, each of those files must be first converted to jpeg format, have the proper color space embedded for the Pro labs to reproduce the images correctly without color correction, and then store those files on disk. I also have to upload those to my website which takes roughly 5-8 hours depending on the number of images. So assuming I don’t have to “babysit” the upload process, that adds another 2-3 hours of time to the workflow. So just in time alone to photograph your wedding, do the editing, and uploading to the website, that is roughly 105-110 hours of work I have actually done to your wedding images. Now take those hours and divide that into the $400 you paid that “cheap” photographer- he is making LESS than $4 per hour. Let me ask you- would YOU work at your job for less than $4 per hour? So why should I have to? And how long before your “cheapo” photographer figures out that he/she is making literally nothing for their photography?

Now, from that $400, I have to pay for my website hosting, the cost of a DVD, insurance, taxes, cameras, SD cards, software, computers, additional hard drives for archiving and back up of your images, online backup of your images, gas for the car, the car insurance, car payment, other lighting equipment I use to photograph your wedding, the salary of an assistant the day of your wedding, and any repair costs or replacement costs associated with having a viable, Professional photography business. IF I offer you prints for $2 apiece, like your “Walmarts” do, and that is my cost of those prints, I have actually spent more to get you prints than I would make selling them at their price. Unless I price my prints at a rate that keeps my doors open and my business viable, pretty soon, I will be like the REST of the “cheapo” photographers you are thinking about hiring- OUT OF BUSINESS FAST. Or sooner.

As Professional photographers, we are NOT out to “rip you off”, but to provide you something you can’t get from the “cheapo” photographers. We offer an experience that is fantastic from start to finish with products that we know will exceed your expectations and provide you the lifetime of memories we promise to provide. You have your family to feed, provide a home for, and to offer the nice things in life you want to have. Shouldn’t I have the same desires and ability to provide MY family the same things? Sure, many of us would LOVE to provide you great wedding photographs and would do it “free” simply because we love what we are able to create for other people. But reality sets in and soon enough, we MUST charge enough to pay the overhead and expenses of keeping our business viable and to provide for OUR family and income needs. I don’t think there are very many of you who would get up in the morning and head off to your job and tell your employer you are now working for “free” since you love doing what you do.

So what is the “bottom line” here? First, don’t mistakenly believe that you having your digital files is the all encompassing solution for your wedding photography. Technology changes and the day will come where you aren’t going to have photographs you can view. Don’t think because you have “print rights” and will get prints from Walmart is the solution either. Chances are, you won’t have much to see in 5-10 years. Nor will that $59 photobook be around for your grand kids to see before their wedding day.

But most of all, please don’t think that we are trying to “rip you off” by asking for $2500-3000 to photograph your wedding and provide you with images you will love and with products that will last you forever. We are no different than you are and want to provide for our families with a decent income that can provide the same things in life you desire. But more important, we really WANT you to come back to us over the years as your family grows, your kids graduate, and your grand kids start coming. And if we aren’t “there” because we just couldn’t make it doing “cheapo” photography, we won’t be around should you need access to your images in 5-10 years due to an unfortunate accident. But perhaps the “thing” we want to do more than anything is to see you really enjoy and cherish the photographs we have made for you and to see them displayed proudly for you and your family to value as keepsakes forever.

Hire a professional and budget accordingly. I have never had a couple tell me how much they regretted doing so, but I sure have had a ton of people tell me how bad their photographs are that went the “cheapo photography” route!

 

Bridal Tips: Hiring Your Wedding Photographer

Jacksonville Wedding PhotographerIf you are a Bride and Groom that is planning your wedding day, you have already discovered that there are hundreds of things you must consider from the guest list to the jewelry you will be wearing. Add to it, the various vendors you will be using from the venue to the cleanup crew, and you find yourself nearly overwhelmed with anxiety and maybe even wishing you had 20 “you” to handle it all.

Choosing your Wedding Photographer is one of those things you will be experiencing all soon enough, so here are a few tips to make it one you will enjoy, rather than dread. Continue reading “Bridal Tips: Hiring Your Wedding Photographer”