Thursday, January 20, 2011

From A Photographer's Perspective: 5 Things that could cause a Photographer to turn down your Wedding

I read this article today by a mentor of mine, Mark Eric ( ) and thought I would share it here for all. I don't believe that this really only applies to wedding photography but to anyone looking to hire an artistically styled photographer. Enjoy!

People always ask me if I’ve ever had a “bridezilla”. The honest truth is that most of our brides have been really great! We love our clients, and based on feedback- they love us! Occasionally, we will meet a Mother, Sister, or Bridesmaid that doesn’t quite understand artistic wedding photography, so they get a little confused when we gently tell them that we don’t shoot off of magazine checklists. But in the end, they all love the images, which is why the couple hired us to begin with. Part of the reason that we do have amazing clients is because the interview process is two ways. When a couple contacts us about shooting their wedding, we are just as interested in finding out about them. Of course, we don’t bring them into a windowless room with a swinging light bulb for a full blown interrogation, but we do try to get a feel for their personalities. We want to make sure they are hiring a photographer that is a good fit for them. At the same time, we are also trying to make sure that we don’t book a job just because the date is open, we want clients who love our style of photography, and who are comfortable putting their wedding day memories in our hands (which means the magazine checklist doesn’t apply).

We have turned down clients in the past, based on a variety of reasons. Like I said earlier, we want to make sure they find a photographer who is a good fit for them. If that means that we don’t book the job, that’s ok! In the end, they must be comfortable with the decision they make, and they should hire a photographer that will best capture the vision for their wedding day. For brides and grooms searching for a photographer, here are 5 things that would cause us to recommend another photographer for your wedding day.

1. Availability. This is an easy one. If we are booked, we will recommend photographers that we trust. We actually share calendars with several photographers for this reason- when we are booked, we are happy to recommend trusted photographers who we know are available. The big thing to keep in mind is that good photographers book up fast. One of our good friends (who is an amazing photographer) is already booked entirely for 2012. We are booked for several dates in 2012, but we still have some availability. Why am I telling you this? Because when you find a photographer that you like, and they are open for your date, don’t drag out the booking process. Chances are that they are receiving several other inquiries for your date, and they will book soon. One of the worst feelings is for us to develop a great relationship with a bride, but have to tell her that someone else booked her date before she could make a decision to pay the retainer. When you find a photographer you trust and like, don’t delay the booking process, you’re date will get snagged by someone else. Remember, wedding photographers only have 52 weekends a year to earn a living, those dates go very fast.

2. Personality. Again, this one is pretty easy to recognize, but we do turn down jobs if we feel like the personalities just aren’t a good match. For example, we had scheduled a meeting with some potential clients recently. When I called to finalize the details, the groom was very short with me. As he passed the phone over to his fiance, I could clearly hear him raising his voice towards her. I brushed it off as a stressful day, then waited for her to come to the phone. When she came to the phone, she sounded very annoyed and short. I knew that they were probably having a bad day, but based on this brief conversation- I realized that they just weren’t clients that we would want to enter into a working relationship with. We want clients who love each other, and are excited about the wedding process. The way you talk to the photographer may make the decision process easy for him or her. Remember, dates book up fast- and most photographers realize that if a client isn’t a good fit, the date can likely be filled by a better fit.

3. Time invested in the interview process. We’ve chatted with some clients who we absolutely loved. Eventually, we realized that we weren’t a good fit simply because we couldn’t afford to invest any more time to their questions and phone conversations. We have literally spent seven hours (split up) with some clients answering questions, giving consultations, and getting to know different members of the family. There comes a point when the amount of time committed simply doesn’t make business sense for the photographer. If we have to spend more time in the interview process than we will spend on the wedding day, then obvioiusly the client still isn’t comfortable with us for one reason or another- and it’s simply time to move on so that we can devote our time to our actual paying clients.

4. Budget. Photographers should be upfront with all of their pricing and package information. We understand that we may not fit into everyone’s budget, and that’s ok. Most of the time, we can help you find a photographer that will fit into the budget if we are asked. However, some clients seem to believe that photographers are open to a negotiation process. I’ve never really understood this one. Of course, we may be able to customize a package to fit your needs, but asking us to reduce our pricing because of budget issues is more of an insult than people realize. People don’t go to the cashier at Macy’s and offer $100 for a jacket listed at $250. Maybe it’s the fact that photographers are self employed. Maybe it’s because people don’t understand that photographers charge what they do for a reason (equipment, insurance, taxes, family income, employee wages). Whatever the reason, when a potential client asks us to reduce our pricing because of budget issues, we simply send them a list of other photographers, then move on.

5. Shopping Photographers. Today, we received an email from a potential bride that was addressed to several other photographers besides us. It simply asked for pricing on wedding day coverage and a DVD. This told me that she was simply shopping photographers based on price. Honestly, if you are shopping photographers based on price- we really shouldn’t be on the list. There are plenty of photographers who are cheaper than us, and we know this. There is no reason for us to get caught up in a bidding war (see above). We want clients that want to hire us for our talent, experience, and personality. This is the main reason that we have never participated in a bridal show, because we realize that by nature, most bridal shows are set up for brides who are shopping based on price. Fortunately for us, we receive our business from word of mouth, which means our clients love us!

If you are serious about hiring a particular photographer (whether it’s us or someone else), I hope these tips will help you see things from a photographers perspective. Perhaps they will help you avoid some of the red flag issues that may be a turn off for the photographer you love. More than anything, I hope they help everyone realize that wedding photography should be based on great personality matches. The wedding photographer will be documenting the biggest day of your lives! Having someone with a personality that you can trust and get along with is critical to producing great images that you will love.

Hope this helps! Please feel free to add your thoughts or questions in the comments, I would love to chat more!

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