I recently proposed to my girlfriend of 4 years and we began on the stressful journey of planning a wedding. For those of you, photographers and non-photographers, who have not had the “joy” of planning a wedding, it can be a real pain. But here and now I would like to give some recommendations to my fellow photographers out there.
I by no means want to insult any photographers or videographers out there. These were just some of my personal pet peeves I noticed. So lets begin.
1) Inconsistency: One thing that made me skip several photographers is the inconsistency of work. I am a firm believer in having a “style” and sticking with it. Don’t try to cater to every style out there. If you are on the current trend of the bright / vintage look ( I call it the Instagram look ), then stick with it. Don’t try to mimic a style that you think one specific client wants.
2) Pricing: This was a big one for me. There are lots of variations of pricing in my market. You can find a “photographer” for any budget in Birmingham. I air quote photographer because there are a lot of people out there with a camera and a flash trying to shoot weddings and charging a lot of money for their skill level. Be careful with this people! If you are looking for a photographer and see that they only want $500 for all day. Be warned that you probably won’t be getting the best of quality images. I recently had someone come to me wanting to reshoot their engagement pictures because, the ones they had taken by another photographer for $50 turned out horrible.
3) Deposits: Come on photographers. I know this is a lot of you all’s full time and you have to get your money. But charging an outrageous amount for a deposit to book a date, to me is sketchy. It’s very intimidating for someone to tell me that I have to give $1,500-2,000 for a deposit. Set a moderate percentage for your deposit to make sure your client is serious and tell them the remainder has to be paid by 2 months before the wedding. Worst case scenario, if they do cancel after give you the (non-refundable) deposit, you got something like $500 to do nothing for that day.
4) Natural Light Photographers: When I see this it scares me a little. The reason why is because, in most weddings you will be put into challenging light. A dimly lit reception, a late outdoor ceremony, or simply a gloomy day, can be thrown your way. Now, if you know how to handle yourself in these situations, great. But I would say a good many of natural light photographers are natural light photographers because they are scared you use on or off camera lighting. This is purely my opinion. If you know off camera lighting, but typically use natural light, this does not pertain to you.
5) Websites: This is a big one for me. Because, I am a full time graphic designer and web designer. If you don’t know what you’re doing when making a website, hire someone! A website is not the biggest part of marketing your business but it is a big chunk. At least in my opinion. A good website with your best work and some proper SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can go a long way for finding new clients. An easy mistake when building a website is to pick something like Squarespace or Wix. These are okay but they are have limited features compared to something like WordPress. I have used most of these “Drag and Drop” website builders and they leave me wanting more. I could go into this all day about what to use and not use. Design is just something that I do day in and day out. On these your website make sure someone can get in touch with you in any way possible. On every page of my site you will find a way to contact me. Do not just rely on a “Contact” page. On a final note about websites. Please, please, please, stop using Flash websites. Although Flash sites do “cool” things they can be overdone. All the flashing and moving objects, can be an eye sore. One thing most people will agree with me on is, having music playing on your site. I think this is something that was “cool” at one point but just like flash, this craze has passed. There is nothing more I hate then having to pause either the website or the music I’m already listening to. Not to mention, these do NOT work on Apple mobile devices. IOS is almost half of the mobile market. You need to make sure your site works if someone has an iPhone or iPad.
6) Delivery Method: I know how easy it can be just to upload pictures to Dropbox or Pass and just have your client download them, but I think this is a big hassle. Think about it. An engagement session alone is probably around 2-3 gigs if you are giving full size images (which in my opinion, you should) that’s going to take hours download. Also, most people don’t know that they should back up something like wedding pictures. Give them something like a flash drive or cd. It’s a good opportunity for you to be creative with packaging. Be creative and WOW your clients.
7) A Final Note: Photographers, I know how easy it is to forget about clients and want to seal the deal as quickly as possible. But remember your clients don’t care how busy you are. They expect for you to give them the time of day. Respond to emails and especially Facebook messages. I can’t tell you how many photographers we Facebook messaged and we got replies back after we already found a photographer, weeks later. This shouldn’t be hard. Connect Facebook on your phone and allow it to notify you when you receive a message.
I want to clear the air and say, I’m not trying to offend anyone or act like I know everything. These are just some things my fiancé and I came across when looking for a wedding photographer. Take these suggestions as just an opinion or feedback. Everyone needs a little feedback.