As a photographer and later business owner, some of the most important things I learned were what NOT to do as a photographer and a studio. With that in mind, I’d like to share some mistakes that I’ve seen many couples make when booking so you can avoid the same pitfalls.
1. Booking Without Meeting
These days everything is done online. Seamless, Netflix, Uber Eats… we aren’t leaving our house for anything. Don’t get me wrong – most days I love this lifestyle, and the fact that I still have to get up and open the door for the food delivery guy is even a little too much some days.
All that said, when it comes to something as important as the person who will photograph some of my most cherished memories, I’d like to get to know who I’m going to spend the day with before I commit. All too often though, couples miss this important step and come to regret it later.
So why is meeting your wedding photographer worth leaving the house and putting pants on? Well, at weddings we become a lot more than just a photographer. Since we’re there for the whole day, we often step in when the planner can’t, or when you’re losing your cool. Forgot how to tie your bow tie? We’re there to make sure you look your best. Time to run out for golden hour sunset photos? We’re there to politely steal you away from that never-ending conversation you’re trapped in.
It’s important that we meet and make sure we’re a good fit. You need a photographer you can trust to point you where to go when everyone else is overwhelmed and won’t yell at your elderly grandparents in the process.
Whether you choose to meet at your home, at the studio, or over coffee it’s good due diligence to meet the person, understand their vibe and make sure you can stand spending a few hours with them.
2. Not seeing a few FULL wedding galleries.
As photographers, it’s important to always put our best foot forward. Whether we are arriving for the first set of photos on your big day or meeting a client for the first time, we know that presentation is key. The way we present our work to you is no different. When we meet you, we’ll show you beautiful images like the ones you fell in love with from our website or Instagram. Knowing that, it’s important for couples to look at a few full albums. While most of us strive for excellency, not all the shots will be magazine cover worthy. Look through a few galleries – maybe you liked a photographer’s staged photos but come to find they don’t take very many candids. Maybe your eyes locked on a handful of photos from a particularly stunning shoot, and it gave you expectations that were higher than the photographer’s overall ability. Look carefully at a few full galleries to get a wholistic impression of the photographer’s work before you make your decision.
3. Not Seeing the value of Variety / Versatility.
Most weddings are hectic, and the ones I’ve shot were no exception. Hair and makeup is late, the caterer is yelling, there are limited places to shoot, and there’s no natural light (and no, overcast cloud coverage isn’t better for shooting). It’s times like these that really test creativity and patience. When you look at a photographer’s work, note the diversity of settings and lighting they work with. Do they make excellent use of natural light, but also have stunning indoor photos? How is their day versus night photography? Are there a variety of settings in their portfolio, or are you only seeing rustic summer settings and nothing else? Look for signs that they can adapt beyond a sunny summer day with all the time in the world.
A few things may – or more likely will – go wrong that you can’t avoid. It may be too cloudy for a good sunset photo. Your parents may get overheated and need to cut family photo time in half. Children will cry.
Hiring a photographer who is adaptable will help you avoid unexpected mishaps ruining your day. An experienced photographer will know just what to do when the rain pours, so you don’t have to worry.
- Not Reading the contract.
Picture this. You expected the photographer to be there for the whole day, but he starts packing up the camera as soon as speeches are over. Two weeks later, his hard drive was stolen and most of your photos are gone, but he won’t refund your money. What happened?!
There are so many little things you don’t realize you may be taking for granted, and just because you remember your friend getting certain things included doesn’t mean you will. Is there a second shooter, or is that extra? Does the photographer have the right to post your wedding photos all over his blog without your permission?
It seems simple, but when you’re hiring six different vendors, buying the most expensive outfits of your lives and arguing over orchids, it’s tempting to glaze over the contract, sign it and check photographer off the to-do list. This goes for all vendors, but make sure you read the contract carefully, and understand what you are and are not paying for.
5. Not providing a shot list.
In the era of Pinterest and Instagram, most couples have at least one or two iconic shots they want in their album. Maybe it’s a carefully staged group shot of your wedding party or the iconic dress-on-the-hanger. Whatever it is, don’t assume we know what you want. More importantly, don’t go thinking you will remember to ask the day-of. On your wedding day your head will be spinning with last minute details, welcoming guests and of course, the big commitment you’re making. There’s just no way to remember the shots you were really hoping for, and nothing is more disappointing than flipping through the album and realizing you forgot a shot you really wanted. You only get one chance, so take the time to sit down, think about the types of photos you want and make sure your photographer has a list of “must-haves”. It will mean peace of mind for both of you.
Avoid these pitfalls and you’ll be in better shape than many other couples out there. Check out my other posts for more tips on enhancing your wedding photography experience!