Can we be real for a second? Lawsuits aren’t fun, and shady business practices are, well...shady! Hiring a photographer for your wedding can be overwhelming, no doubt about that with some 143,000 photographers here in the US! If you end up hiring the wrong one, you could end up with lawsuits, and some pretty unsavory people that you have to deal with!
I interviewed 5 married couples who all had a pretty crappy experience with their wedding photographer (something I would not wish on anyone!) this is what they had to say. Through this blog post I want to help couples who are getting married, and looking for their perfect photographer, so they don't make the same mistakes these 5 couples did. By doing a few pretty simple things, you will be able to weed out the photographers that are less than ideal and find yourself the perfect wedding photographer, who cares about you and your photos.
LET'S GET INTO THIS, SHALL WE?
BUT FIRST, I want you to know this is not meant to be bewiddling (belittling?) to other photographers, or to point blame. No names or locations will be named (to be honest with you, I don’t even know the names or locations.)
This blog is strictly to help couples, and maybe even photographers, to know what to do and what not to do when it comes to wedding photography.
1. NO REVIEWS? THAT’S A BIG ‘OL RED FLAG
I can’t even begin to explain how important it is to read reviews. Find your prospective photographer on facebook, google, yelp, their website... read all of the reviews, if you find something iffy that stands out, this should raise some questions!
One groom put it best:
“ When we first researched and talked with them there were maybe one or two bad reviews that were recent that mentioned the issue we were having, but he had a ton of older reviews and they were nothing but positive, In hindsight, total red flag! We should have at least asked about the bad reviews, rather than doing our own calculation that the more good reviews and their quality of work outweighed anything negative.”
Another brides also said:
“Go off of reviews, my photographer had no online reviews. That should have been a red flag!”
Find reviews, read them, and determine whether or not the good outweighs (if any) the bad. Ask questions if something arises!
2. GRAB COFFEE TOGETHER
When you are emailing back and forth with a photographer, most will ask for everyone to meet either in person or via a video call. (I never book a client until I get to meet them) Not only does this help the photographer get to know you as a couple, but it also helps YOU get to know your photographer. This is the perfect time to ask all of the questions you might have going through your head.
One bride said the following about meeting your photographer:
“When we met the first time to “go over” things before the wedding. They hardly asked me any questions as to what shots I wanted captured or got to know us as a couple.”
Another bride had this to say:
“Have a couple meetings with the photographer prior to your wedding day. Our photographer didn’t meet with us at all and I should have known that was bad.”
Setting up a meeting, shouldn’t be something you as a client should have to ask for either. A good photographer will ask right away to meet you guys!
This bride had to ask for one!
“It was two weeks before the wedding that I knew something was off, they hadn’t contacted me to discuss the day - of schedule... finally reached out to me two weeks before, but it took days for them to return my texts to set up a time to meet, so it ended up being only a week or so before my wedding, which messed up the schedule my mom had made up for everyone already.”
After meeting with your photographer, you should have a good feeling, you should feel like they know what they are doing, and they align with what you are looking for in a wedding photographer.
3. CONTRACTS, CONTRACTS, CONTRACTS …
Having a contract not only outlines what each party is expected to do and when, but also it’s a legally binding document that holds both parties accountable. They outline what the photographers duties are during the wedding and after the day of. It’s also how clients know when to pay and what they are getting out of the deal. And in some cases, it can be used in the case of a lawsuit.
I love what these brides had to say from the client perspective:
“Identify everything you want on the contract for documentations. Even though everything I had was documented via email and text it didn’t feel concrete because it wasn’t on our contract.”
“Make sure your photographer has you sign a contract, and read that contract! Otherwise there’s nothing holding them accountable to ensure you receive your photos in a timely manner.”
4. DON’T HIRE YOUR “FRIEND”
2 brides put this very well…
“Don’t hire someone you're “friends” with it never ends well. It needs to be a business relationship turned into being friendly. I truly believe the outcome is way better.”
“I would also caution people on hiring friends, because that puts an added layer of emotion and hurt feelings on top of everything else, because I felt like they were taking advantage of the fact that they knew I would give her grace and wouldn’t throw a fit or complain.”
I am just going to leave that one at that, these ladies put it great! This one is kind of, hire at your own risk / discretion, but I definitely think that if you do want to hire a friend, make sure it's a good friend and not a "friend" AND make sure that they fall under points 1-3! Hiring friends is a great way to not only support them as creatives, but also to support small local businesses!