Six Common Mistakes Couples Make When Hiring A Wedding Photographer.
Learn From Brides Themselves.
Hello there… pleased to meet you. My name is Jason Albus of Sicklove Wedding Photography, a wedding pro of over 8 years.
Having shot over 200 weddings throughout the U.S. and the globe, I’ve learned a thing or two from my brides and grooms. And I know how challenging it can be to sift through hundreds of portfolios on the Knot and WeddingWire and all the other bridal blogs and magazines and Pinterest and Instagram and Facebook, and how the hell are you supposed to even start to figure it all out??
I got into this industry because I saw there was basically no place for people like me in it… and I knew that I wasn’t that unique or weird, so there must be hundreds or maybe thousands of couples who felt shut out, as well.
So I set out to change it one couple at a time.
This list is by no means definitive… it’s just a compilation of the many complaints I hear about photographers and the wedding industry in general. And if you, like me, feel left behind by the super bright, way too polished, way too over the top, wedding industry, trust me… YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
#6 : Getting Frustrated And Just Picking Whoever is #1 in Search Results...
top google results don’t mean good value or top talent.
So many times, brides and couples get so overwhelmed by the OVERWHELMING amount of photographers and videographers out there that they fall into the trap of just picking whoever is at the top of Google’s search results.
I mean… if they’re listed at the top, they MUST be good, right?
Nah, this just means they paid Google more than anyone else to get that spot. Or they have a really good Search Engine Optimization strategy that places them at the top of their local market.
Many times, this does not correlate with great photography. Sometimes it can, but usually many clients find the opposite to be true.
Unfortunately you won’t know this until you get your photos back months after your wedding.
#5: Letting Other Family Members Have Too Much Say…
it's your day, not theirs.
This can be a problem that’s solved easier said than done… especially when a certain someone has control over all or a significant part of the budget.
But you have to always remember that this is your day, not anyone else’s. So many brides tell me that they let their mother-in-law or dad have way too much say in the vendor hiring process and by the time the day came it felt like it was someone else’s party and not theirs.
Sometimes it can be hard to get through to family members in a way that doesn’t alienate or upset them, but in the end, it’s worth keeping you and your fiance in control of the day.
Your photographs, more than anything else from the day when you look back on it years from now, are going to be the one thing you have to remember the day how it was. It’s important to make sure it’s a reflection of your vision, and not someone else’s.
#4... Only Looking At Price.
you usually get what you pay for...
There seems to always be the pervasive urban myth of the legendary “student photographer” who is just looking for their big break and will work for a few hundred bucks to build their portfolio. We all start somewhere… that’s sure how I started, taking Craigslist weddings for $500 a pop.
But the catch was that I was terrible. I will never show you guys these pics, because they’re embarrassing as fuck, but they exist.
Do you really want to hire someone who’s just “figuring things out”? By far the biggest regret I hear from couples is “I WISH I HADN’T SKIMPED ON OUR PHOTOGRAPHER!”
Seriously, I hear it so many times.
When you’re paying a premium for a seasoned professional, you’re paying for:
EXPERIENCE. They know how to get the shots YOU want. They know how to turn your vision into reality. A student, or someone still learning their craft, does not.
PEACE OF MIND. They are a professional… they will not text you a week before the wedding to tell you something “came up”, and they can’t shoot your wedding. They have planned for all contigencies, they have backup cameras, they know how to store your files so they will never be lost or accidentally deleted some day, they work with other professionals to make your day smooth so you have nothing to worry about. etc, etc….
CONFIDENCE. And this does not just mean confidence in their photography skills, or technical prowess, but it means the little things that matter A LOT… like being able to “kindly” tell your uncle Tom that he needs to stop flirting at the bar and get in line for his family photo. Or diffusing a stressful situation with a family member. It could be anything, really, but just like any job… until you have the proper experience, you don’t often give yourself the authority to take the lead when it matters most. A seasoned professional does all of this, often unnoticed, because that’s just what needs to be done.
Staying on budget is always necessary, but it’s also make sure you’re allocating that budget to the things that REALLY matter to you.
#3: Hiring A Friend or Family Member.
i know it seems like a good idea, but...
Hiring a family member, or close friend, seems like a natural choice at the time of planning… they’ll probably work for cheap (or maybe free!), and they’re going to be there anyway, right?
Sometimes this can work. But I almost never take family or friend weddings.
If you really want your wedding properly documented the way it deserves to be, it’s very hard to get this from a friend or family member, even if they’re talented. In theory it’s cool! They’ll just be hanging out anyway, right?
But when I’m photographing a wedding, I’m working. I’m not there to hangout or party (maybe later during the reception, though, if you’re down!), and though I’m always enjoying myself when I’m photographing a wedding and doing what I love, it’s not the same kind of celebrating I’d be having if I wasn’t working. Shooting a wedding can often be 10-12 hour days, and it gets to be exhausting. I would never want to put that onto someone I would much rather have there relaxing and partying with me.
Sometimes it can work, but I always strongly suggest to family and friends that they hire someone other than me. Plus, mixing business with family and friends can always be tricky in and of itself. Beware!!!
#2: Not Asking The Right Questions Beforehand.
make sure your style & vision match well.
Photography in general, but wedding photography specifically, is a very personal thing.
I myself understand that my style isn’t for everyone. Some people love that bright clean green look you see on the cover of bridal magazines and wedding expo brochures. I personally find that style boring, and would never hire a photographer like that for my own wedding. We all have different tastes! Nothing wrong with either.
When I started looking at wedding portfolios when I was starting out, I noticed that there was a desperate need for photographers who were a little wild and daring and wanted to do something a little different than what everyone else was doing. I wanted to be the photographer that *i* would want to hire for MY wedding.
My goal is to never be boring. I don’t think you can ever fail that way.
When looking for photographers, make sure you’re asking them the right questions that line up with your personality and vision… not just a “80 questions to ask your photographer” questionnaire you found on the Knot that mostly goes over boring stuff that doesn’t matter.
Your photographer is the ONE person who is going to be there with you throughout the WHOLE day. You have to make sure they’re not just a technically good photographer, but also someone you want to have with you from start to finish. I strive to be a aesthetically great photographer, but also just a cool chill guy you want to hang out with. That kinda thing is SO IMPORTANT to be able to put your vision into action.
#1: TRUST YOUR FUCKING GUT.
Just like when you found your partner, sometimes when you know you just know.
I put so much of my personality into my work so that when people stumble across my work in this endless sea of wedding photography, they usually just KNOW I’m the right one for them. And conversely, this weeds out people who DON’T want me to be the one to shoot their wedding. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s A-O-FRICKEN-KAY. :)
But when you find that feeling, go with it. Work out all the details and make sure you’re right, but if you’ve found your dream photographer, make it happen.
If you’ve done your homework and asked the right questions, you won’t regret it.