Wanted: Wedding Photographer with The Credentials of Annie Leibovitz and the Price Tag Of Wal-Mart

wedding photography 1Hiring Photographers – Amateurs Can Work was the title of the section on photographers in a newly released wedding planning book I found on the shelves of my local library. I picked up the book, well, just out of curiosity. Being in the wedding industry for as long as I have, I still pick up a ton of wedding resources, just to see what people are talking about and to find new and interesting resources.

Anyway, I read the section on photographers. And the more I read, the angrier I became.

Hiring Photographers – Amateurs Can Work
If you have friends or relatives who are good with a camera, you can save a lot of money by hiring them to document your wedding. If you have a friend or multiple friends take pictures, you can upload all of them onto a site like Kodak Gallery and let everyone buy the prints they want for just pennies apiece. If you do hire a photographer, give him or her a list of the pictures you would like taken, and be sure to include the rights to the images in the contract. Most photographers charge outrageous prices for printing and do not let you keep the negatives or digital files. You should also consider hiring a professional photographer who does weddings on the side. If the photographer has another source of income, he or she may be more willing to negotiate the contract price and image rights.

I won’t mention what book this came from, because it could be from a variety of sources. I’ve read things like this more than once.

As a wedding photographer that easily commanded five figure prices, I can tell you wedding photography is one of the most difficult forms of photography.

  • You’re dealing with dozens of personalities, all on a frenzied day.
  • You’re dealing with a ton of vendors all with a different purpose in mind.
  • You’re dealing with a ton of family that all have their own idea of a perfect photograph.
  • You have to create a perfect photograph in a hundred different locations. (From the back of a hairdressing studio, to a small dressing room with 25 females trying to get ready, to the great outdoors under blaring sunlight, to a dark dance floor with one spotlight.)

Yet again, thanks to books like this, brides head out into the ranks of their family and friends, trying to cut corners and hire a person with a camera who’s taken a few photographs.

Let’s actually analyze what this “bridal expert” said.

If you have friends or relatives who are good with a camera, you can save a lot of money by hiring them to document your wedding.
I know there are a ton of people out there that have bad photography from their weddings. I run across them every day. Whenever I mention my background, the stories begin. No matter what they say, it’s always focused around the photography. Is the purpose really to save money? Or maybe most people have been over-exposed to amateur photography and at this point can’t tell the difference.

If you have a friend or multiple friends take pictures, you can upload all of them onto a site like Kodak Gallery and let everyone buy the prints they want for just pennies apiece.
Again, the complete focus is on price. When it comes down to price, people can’t see professionalism. They see average pictures, and don’t want to pay a big price for something they can get from a family member. They need to see a difference to pay the difference.

If you do hire a photographer, give him or her a list of the pictures you would like taken, and be sure to include the rights to the images in the contract. Most photographers charge outrageous prices for printing and do not let you keep the negatives or digital files.
Two issues here. First, if you are a true professional, do you really need a list? Don’t you know to take a photo of the bride with her mom? The only list we ever asked for was for unique photographs to the bride and groom (i.e. the bride’s nanny flew in from London just for her special day). And second, rights to the images? Sure, the bride and groom should have access to as many photographs as they want. But the only reason someone says they want rights is so they can take the image files down to Wal-Mart and print them up. If a photographer is to remain a professional, he or she has to charge professional prices. It’s not the cost of the final product, it’s the education and commitment that built up to giving the photographer the talent to create that special image.

You should also consider hiring a professional photographer who does weddings on the side. If the photographer has another source of income, he or she may be more willing to negotiate the contract price and image rights.
Again, I see the lack of talent and originality shining through. If people can’t see the difference between what their friends produce, and what you as a professional produce, there is no way to charge a fair price.

As a photographer, if you snap a few photographs, and hand over the digital files to the bride, you’re not providing a full service. The more photographers shoot and promote themselves this way, the more it’s to be expected. The only way to change it around is to change the way we present it to potential clients.

Wedding photography has to be centered around a complete experience. From beginning to end, you have to be in control over everything. It’s not just about the photography. It’s about the show you put on as a professional photographer.

Even when we were shooting with film, a ton of guests would come up to us telling us how great our images were. AND THEY HADN’T SEEN ONE IMAGE YET! It was all the appearance, and how we were perceived as photographers.

Photography matters because it’s the only source we have to create and maintain our memories.

But really, the low image of a wedding photographer isn’t the fault of the wedding planners, wedding experts, and authors of bridal guides. It’s the fault of us, the photographers.

A bride doesn’t hire a photographer for a few photographs. She hires a photographer to enhance the memories of her entire day. You have to photograph it as such. And you have to sell it as such.

image source Ryan Brenizer

35 thoughts on “Wanted: Wedding Photographer with The Credentials of Annie Leibovitz and the Price Tag Of Wal-Mart”

  1. Before escaping the wedding business I had photographed a little over 700 weddings. I have a few comments.

    If you concentrate on building a good relationship with your couple then many of the problems of undervaluing you work can be minimised. Secondly, charge a good fee (including for prints) but also be mindful of how you can be generous. Create a good relationship and deliver good work you will have referral source for years.

    I agree that wedding photography is one of the most difficult forms of professional photography. In what other areas of photography apart from perhaps photojournalism, do you have the following:

    * no choice of model
    * no choice of day or time
    * no choice of location
    * you must get images even if the weather or location is bad
    * you cannot reshoot
    * time is of the essence – they usually run late
    * usually little assistance such as support crew for clothes, hair, makeup, photography tasks (eg for lighting, reflectors etc)
    * limitations of wedding reception venues, including time, hostile management
    * plenty of uncle Harrys with a camera who get in the way
    * the need to get certain shots
    * most weddings (if you do full service of the whole day) mean working a very long day

    and finally everyone gets tired and emotional!

    What sort of photo shoot has those specifications?

    Notwithstanding all this, it is possible to do great work and make your couple and their families look great.

    I enjoyed my time doing weddings. I am not sure however I want to go back there.

    Good luck fellow photographers.

  2. WHO could give brides advice to pick up their friend as a wedding photographer? Not to mention we wedding photographers spend THOUSANDS of dollars on equipment and dedicate ourselves to learning ever changing technology, how in a world a friend who has ho clue what to do and how to do it will document a wedding? My guess if the bride is REALLY on a BUDGET she will choose no pro.

    I have witnessed recently a girl I know got married and published her wedding pictures on Facebook. I wanted to cry when I saw them, they were ridiculous! It was a “gift from a friend” – here she saved her money. And what did she get??? Awful armature pictures… I did say to her she looked beautiful (because she was)… but i said nothing about pictures… It just killed me, though why would I care. I cared only because I am a wedding photographer and I know how wedding pictures should look like.

    Hope some bride WILL NOT follow that “advice”. Same thing is to advice people to go to a dentist who has never been a dentist… or to a lawyer who is not a lawyer at all.

    Misleading the brides is awful…. I feel sorry for those who cries after they let their friend take wedding pictures. But it’s too late!

  3. Thanks Alex and Galina for your comments.

    Alex, I appreciated your comments “it is possible to do great work” and “I enjoyed my time doing weddings”. After all is said and done, we kept doing them year after year because we enjoyed them so much as well. There’s nothing like a group of guests loving your work BEFORE they’ve even seen the photos. It’s amazing being around people completely in love. And nothing was more satisfactory then having a bride and groom cry as they page through their final album, completely appreciating the work you’ve done.

    Galina, that’s what actually made us become wedding photographers. The photographer at our wedding “lost” all of the photos of the ceremony, and most at the reception were either over or under exposed. I have a hard time looking at them to this day. That’s what motivated me to be the best I could for my wedding clients.


  4. Oh boy, I could go on and on about why the “advice” is so very wrong but I think you’ve summed it up quite nicely. If you really want to save money there are ways but at the end of the day, as the say goes, “At the end of the day the cake has been eaten, the flowers are wilted and all that is left are the photographs….” I want to cry every time I see wedding photos with extra people (shadows) on the wall behind the happy couple. No full length shots, no stolen kisses caught by the camera and so many missing feet. Those I’m afraid are the good ones. The bad are the super dark, over exposed, blurry shots I see uploaded all the time…..

  5. What a GREAT title… only the best photographers would know… Love it.. yes in this digital age everyones a photographer / camera man… until the sh@t hits the fan and they dont know the f stop for inside church on a dark gloomy day… well.. I do!

  6. I came across this article while i was searching for a good planner for wedding photographers.. My husband is a great wedding photographer (if i do say so myself) and I work behind the scenes doing the business end of it. Anyways, when i came across this article i just HAD to pass it on to my husband.. You summed up literally everything that we feel about the industry in one article. The more disturbing this though, is that some “professional wedding expert” is out there giving bride’s bad advice. I would love to know who this person is and if they are truly a known expert or just someone who wrote something.

    I think the worse thing for wedding photographers is craigslist. So many ammature photographers portray themselves as professionals, work up the bride to think that they can do some amazing things, and then end up botching the whole job.. and you’re right, I think people are getting desensitized to bad photography… i’m sure that the invention of myspace, facebook and craigslist has made this just expand even further.. I had recently be shown someone’s facebook page who claims to be a professional photographer.. it was sad and laughable, yet there were people saying “AMAZING WORK” all over the place.

    Anyways.. GREAT article, and i think this needs to be shared to ALL brides everywhere.. if you can’t afford a photographer, give up on the flowers or the stupid favors that no one keeps and get a pro..

    Its also the reason why my husband and I do a free photography giveaway once a year.. we feel that EVERYONE should be entitled to good photography.. and we let people submit their story and we judge accordingly – without taking away the value of our work.

  7. oh my – perfect title! I am both a recent bride and a professional wedding photographer and let me clarify by saying I am not just a professional because I have been paid to photograph weddings, I also studied photography at Pratt Institute and further at ICP. Let me first say that when I started the process of researching and selecting a wedding photographer for my wedding I was horrified by the masses of wretched, untalented “professionals” out there charging both Wal-mart and Bergdorf prices. I was continually sickened by the amount of horrid advice from “wedding planners/industry pros” it is unbelievable. I think as conscientious professionals we have a responsibility to both educate and inform our potential clients about wedding photography and not be so focused on closing the deal. You have to understand the sheer volume of details and information never mind the magnitude of importance this whole process/day has for the bride & groom … this is all new to them and what to look for, what to avoid and what to expect are things most B&Gs are completely clueless about. I would say that most B&Gs place a significant importance on their wedding photographs; however, they do not understand what makes a professional wedding photographer different from a professional photographer or an advanced amateur/hobbyist. Here is usually what I suggest to my B&Gs who are struggling with their budgets:
    1. Almost no one will like the food at your wedding, even if your venue has good food most people plan to eat before or after anyway since most banquet meals aren’t palatable. This is also where there is an opportunity to save the most amount of money. Also the bar tab is another place where you can have some wiggle room – offer and open bar during cocktail hour and then just wine/beer throughout the remainder of the night. People will be happy and you will save a bundle.
    2. Invite less people. It is easy math x people cost x amount and besides B&Gs who have large weddings rarely actually spend much time together at their receptions. If you cannot invite less people then here is a great idea – invite everyone to the cocktail hour, they can see your first dance have a little fun and then only invite your close family & friends for the dinner portion … this is actually a custom for many countries.
    3. Donate your flowers to a nursing home after your reception and they are now fully tax deductible … yay!!! {well in most states & only if you itemize your deductions}
    4. Another way to save on flowers is to use larger/fewer tables which can save hundreds on centerpiece costs. Besides here is a good place to hire an amateur/hobbyist – have a florist do the important items: bouquets, boutonnieres, etc and have a friend who is good at arranging flowers {perhaps has even taken some classes} do the centerpieces – anyone with an eye for composition and access to http://www.marthastewart.com can make something beautiful. Plus you can buy your flowers in bulk from http://www.fiftyflowers.com and save a fortune too.
    5. Want to save a fortune and have a luxury 5 star wedding … do what I did – DESTINATION WEDDING!!! I was married in Venice, Italy – had a couture Designer Loft handmade specifically for me gown – a 9 course dinner at the Quadri in St. Mark’s Square – One of the leading NYC wedding photographers all for less then $25k.
    6. and if you absolutely MUST save money on photography here are my tips. First do not be afraid to negotiate no price is set in stone ever. Second have your wedding on an off day/season you will save money everywhere by doing this. Good old fashion bartering – are you a web developer? maybe the photographer needs some web work and will discount their fee in exchange, be creative. I have also had brides hire several different photographers – the most expensive for the ceremony & formals then either cheaper or amateur for the pre-ceremony and reception photographs. Also, sometimes professional wedding photographers will allow you to hire their assistant photographers for a fraction of their typical price. and in the end I always remind my potential clients that very few things will be passed down to your grandchildren – your rings, your gown and your photographs. Splurge on the forever things and scrimp on the one-day things.

    Note: to all of your $975 “professional” photographers, perhaps you can find another cash cow to satisfy your greed from – stop cheapening the industry with your substandard, uninspired, mundane bs photographs. I am not quite sure which is worse, you all or David’s Bridal!

  8. Nicole

    Thanks so much for the wonderful comments – and for the great advice. I love hearing from photographers that “get it” and you really do. I wish you a ton of success – which I’m positive you’ll have building a business with that philosophy. Keep it up!


  9. Nicole I would like to meet you or at least say thank you. Finally a person like myself who lets it fly in a honest,straight forward approach. Also congrats to the site where they let you speak your mind without “editing” your content. Most photo web clubs encouarge exchange of opinions but god forbid if your words are to harsh and mean {truth} we all must be friendly—thats not opinion,thats speech control so again thank you for allowing us to speak our mind.

  10. Brian

    Speak away! I love hearing all viewpoints. I think that’s the one thing that helps us all grow and become better in the future.


  11. I must say, that in here Estonia, the most prestigious wedding photographers charge about $1500 for the whole day, The average price for wedding photographers in here is around $500-$700 for the whole day, so it is a bit hard to compare the services in here to the prices in there. Also, just to get an idea – the average salary in here is $1200, and that is considered a high salary in here.

  12. From my (guy’s) point of view, weddings are typically a waste of money, with or without professional photographer. 25k wedding and for what? Get married in Vegas, and use the 25k to have a great long honeymoon in Venice and actually enjoy yourself, rather than stress over how you look, if everyone is having a good time etc. Wedding does not build memories, life after wedding does. And that’s where most of the photographs should come from – places we visited, vacations we took, kid’s play etc. Wedding is like a Valentine’s day – over dramatized and over priced. An artificial memory creator.

  13. I feel compelled to ask, why is everyone SO worried about amateur photographers? I’m a wedding photographer consistently booking weddings in the $3-5000 range and I am not the slightest bit worried about anyone charging $500 for all day, all digital images included photography.
    1) I know that when potential brides meet me, the are immediately aware that what I offer is different from what they can get from an amateur. From the quality of the images to the paper the images themselves are printed on. You CAN’T order my albums through Wal Mart, my equipment (and back up equipment) is professional equipment. My clients are educated – not always when I first meet them, but I believe part of my JOB is explaining to brides the difference between professional and amateur photography.
    2) A bride looking to spend $500 on her photography and $2500 on her dress doesn’t value what I do. I can’t force her to change her mind. Lucky for her (and me!) there is someone else who can fill her needs.

    I certainly don’t agree with industry “professionals” giving brides advice like mentioned above, but I do think the type of bride I want to photograph knows better. Just because some one suggests she does all the food herself for her wedding, doesn’t mean she’s going to follow the advice! She knows that it could save her some money but it most likely will end up a disaster. Same with photography – and my clients know that.

    • Thanks Sue. You said it perfectly with, “My clients are educated – not always when I first meet them, but I believe part of my JOB is explaining to brides the difference between professional and amateur photography.” That is the key. You have to educate your prospects on why they need a professional. They’ve never done this before (hopefully). And if photographs matter, they will understand everything you say.

      How many clients do you truly need to build a successful wedding business? 30 a year? 40? Whatever that number, work to get the best 30 you can possibly get.

  14. As a musician, I can relate to this. I generally offer either a String Quartet or Trio, but when people hear the price, they often ask if I can make it a duo or solo. It just never sounds as good, so I refuse.

    In getting our wedding photography, my fiancee and I went with a professional photographer, as we realised that good photos come from good training, and that would cost money. We’re also having a friend take photos at an afternoon tea we’re having after the ceremony, while the photographer will probably be busy with photos with us. The photos of people eating and chatting at the morning tea isn’t so important for us quality wise, but we know that our friend will do a good job. But the photos that we do want to be good quality, we made a decision to find a photographer who we felt a rapport with, and whose quality of photos and dedication to quality we agreed with.

    • Thanks Ben for the insight.

      Once again, people do realize there is a difference between “Uncle Joe” and a professional. If you are a professional, charge like a professional. And continue to market to educate your prospects on why its important to hire a professional.

  15. Nicole…

    Anybody with access to a Martha Stewart book? I would say that is rather insulting to the Florist professionals wouldn’t you? Sounds a bit like a pot calling a kettle black to me.

    Theres a place for everybody. I don’t agree with the way the topic was addressed in the book but as someone who does offer a less expensive alternative to a master photographer, I can honestly say that I would not be in a position to charge the thousands that some charge. But if someone wants me to shoot their wedding, I will charge accordingly and that may happen to be $975.00 I’m not going to turn them away because they can’t afford a ‘real’ photographer. And I will never get the experience I require if I do. I havent had a complaint yet. I only hope to get better, and I seem to be with each event I do.

    Photography can be such a pretentious industy, and I think we need to all take a step back and see it for what it is. And in this financial climate, there has to be a middle man to suit peoples needs.

    Theyre just my thoughts.

  16. Creating a “complete experience” and successfully capturing the mood of the wedding has nothing to do with hiring a professional photographer.

    Many photographers who seem professional (have the equipment, training, fancy portfolio, and offer the “complete experience”), end up disappointing the client. My sister and several of her friends hired professionals with good reputations and were extremely disappointed with the results. Meanwhile, who ended up producing the most creative, beautiful and meaningful photos out of those weddings? An amateur photographer friend.

    A bride can go wrong either way: by hiring a talentless professional that she should be able to trust, or by hiring a friend who has no clue how to take a good picture. But don’t just discount all amateurs when some of them can do a better job than the professionals.

  17. I just shot my cousin’s wedding. I am not a wedding photographer. I tried desperately to get her to hire a photographer. Gave her the link to PPA and said I’d help her find someone that knew what they were doing. In the end, I buckled and chose to do it. I spent months pouring over wedding photography books, looking at local wedding photographers, asking advice of photographers in my camera club, freaking myself out.

    In the end, I thought I did okay for a first wedding – the reception was where I really shined – I like to do candid photojournalism style pictures – it’s what’s won me contests. But when it came time to do the posed portraits I was useless. I didn’t know the first thing about posing people…I fumbled along and she got DECENT portraits – but nothing like she could have gotten if she’d hired someone. She seemed happy with them.

    I keep joking how I’m going to let my photographer design my wedding someday. “What venue would YOU like…is the lighting okay for YOU…” because it was the most gut wrenching, terrifying thing I’d ever done.

    I work at Wolf Camera – and I have printed so many “PROFESSIONAL” wedding photos and even just “It’s a gift from a friend” wedding photos – it really upsets me when I see bad wedding photos. I used some of those as “what not to do” lessons. Over 5 years of printing I had a few examples.

    My other cousin liked what I did – and is getting married next year – I’m now trying to convince her to hire a photographer. I don’t think I’ll do a wedding again. But I’d love to shoot the reception – that was a lot of fun and I did get some good shots in that type of environment – but posing was horrifying.

    My family looks at my photos and like what they see. What they don’t understand is the type of photography I do – is VASTLY different from anything required of a wedding photographer. I am a hobbyist – not a professional. I have no desire to be a professional. I take travel photos and landscapes. Much less pressure than what a wedding photographer goes through.

  18. I am a portrait photographer and ahve ahd to refuse many a wedding. People don’t understand that you need to be good at that paticular form of photography. It took me a long time to hone my craft with portrait photography, so I know that while I could do a capable job, hiring someone who is a pro at that will do much better.
    I tell them, they could hire a plumber to fix their car he”s got allt he tools, but how good a job would he do?

  19. Well I have shot some of my friends weddings with my kodak camera and they allways end up happy with the results, specially since I’m free xD, I usually have a list of 6 to 8 pics that must be taken, next weekend I will get my 21st wedding and really don’t know what the fuss of hiring a “pro” photographer is, those guys just offer mirrors and smoke to steal peoples money


    • Amateur – Wow, I’m not even sure of what to say or where to begin, as I could talk for the rest of the year based on your post alone.

      6 to 8 pics that must be taken? Wow, hopefully your brides won’t be crying some day when you’ve missed all of the perfect moments throughout the day.

      Hopefully your lighting is spot on in the dressing room, outside, and in the darkest of reception halls.

      Hopefully you know how to deal with the out of control mother in law.

      Hopefully Grandma doesn’t fall down when you have her walk outside for a photograph, and she ends up suing you and wiping you out because you have no business insurance.

      Hopefully nothing happens to your one camera, and you’re left with nothing to shoot with as the bride walks down the aisle with her dad.

      Okay, that’s enough. Anyone else?

  20. I have been asked to shoot people’s wedding more than once and strenuously reject their invitations as I know how much responsibility you have to capture that once in a lifetime event and how difficult it can be.

    In the same breath I have to say I feel photographers who charge you a fee for the wedding and then charge you per print are shysters. I think the photographer can price the event appropriately and find charging for prints after the fact to be offensive. When I write software for a client they pay me an agreed rate and then they get to use the software where and how they please, why should it be any different in photography?

    • Michael

      It totally depends on how you structure it. Things are a little more blurry now with digital, but professional labs do provide a much higher quality product than a consumer lab. I’m not against charging one really large fee for the artistic talent, and then giving the client everything around cost. But again, professionals have access to professional prints, enlargements, special products, albums etc. Again, its all in how you structure it.

  21. Oh yes, Miss Amateur with your Kodak Camera shooting your 21st wedding, Wow. What I feel sorry for is the Bride and Grooms you have shot their “Once in a lifetime” memories with your “Once and a while” wedding photography. Very difficult to explain to someone who has graduated from High School what is all entailed in a college education. The Brides and Grooms you have captured for free, got what they deserved. An under educated and very appreciated job for free. Would love to check out your website. Maybe we could all have a good laugh. So speaking of “Smoke Screens” perhaps you should look into what a real pro shoots, go to school, and look back at your Kodak beauty 10 years from now. Tell us what you think then.

  22. I find it really terrible how hateful and mean some people can be. Is this Junior High School? There are plenty of brides to go around but you people fight like there is only 1 in the world! So the people who want free photos, or who can’t afford anything- got exactly what they wanted from the person who took their photos.That’s GREAT! People at a mid or low budget get what they want when they hire a shoot & burn photog. That’s what fits their needs!! Many people are (*OH MY!!*) happy with that situation. They like getting all the images on disc. Like someone else said on this thread, Why is everyone so worried? If you are an amazing photographer and you charge a large chunk of money to brides who see the value in your work, and they are hiring you….. WHAT DO YOU CARE? The low budget bride isn’t going to be booking you anyway. There is a need for people who offer affordable wedding photos. People are filling that need. You won’t be able to change that no matter how much you bitch and whine and pout. You need to rely on your amazing skills, degree, gear, personality etc and be happy to be in a different league! Be proud to be an elite photog. In business, the competition is always changing. Maybe the competition 10 years ago was another photographer, and today’s competition is this new breed of photographer. Gotta get used to the changes or you will be really pissed off for the remainder of your career. Things are changing.

  23. I agree with the comment you made “most people have been over-exposed to amateur photography and at this point can’t tell the difference.” This is true – the public’s eye is losing the ability to see a good photograph because of everyone taking photos.

    I think for me, it’s got to be building a relationship with a couple and trying to be their photographer for life. If you produce a good product and they like you’re style, it’s easy to keep these people customers for life. I’m in small town Texas and reputation is everything. You must deliver or people here will know (good or bad). On the other side, it is hard to get 5 digit figures for a wedding in an area hit hard by the economic downturn. At the beginning of the year I raised my prices to where they should be for the industry. I got no business. Even though they thought my wedding photos were much better, I was told “we simply can’t afford it”. I dropped the price down about $400 and starting picking up the business again. There is something to be said about what you can charge in an area. The cost of living is definitely a factor regarding what you can charge.
    I am a pro, I do have professional training, I’ve been pro for 5 years now and shot about 20-25 weddings. I do have business insurance, I have a CPA that does my taxes, and contracts for every single shoot I ever do.
    But I also think the folks that charge too little eventually end up being weeded out because they realize there is no way to make money when you factor in the time it takes to shoot and edit a wedding. For those that choose to use an amateur, they’ll get what they paid for. But there’s enough business out there for folks that want a quality photographer and quality images of their wedding.

  24. Great article .
    You are absolutely correct in the fact that we have to take responsibility as professionals.
    I started in the photography industry within the business end first for several years until training as a photographer. It was a great way to learn to do it right. One good piece of information that I learned and has been very useful is, ” we have to train our customers”. I listen to the brides on first phone contact. What are they really asking for? They hear through the media what they think they should ask for without knowing in fact what they want. ” I would like my wedding photographed and all the images on DVD. This is where our part comes in. What are you going to do to present and enjoy your photographs. They don’t know.
    They have seen beautifully lit professionaly composed ,retouched custom prints and that’s what they invision . As we all know when they hire one of those untrained auto focus camera toteing cut rate individuals( I’m playing nice with name calling), that doesn’t know the difference between a F stop and a bus stop, that bride is more then likely going to be in tears when she sees the final out come. This angers me. When I started photographing on my own the last specialty that i incorporated into my business was weddings. When I knew I. Was ready I also had a back up photographer . The first year of weddings, I was inwardly a nervous wreak. I’m a perfectionist and still and always will rip apart my images to identify how to make it better.
    Back to taking responsibility . If you really listen you will know how to direct that bride to what she wants. My best way of explaining is using my personal examples. I had a call from a bride and she said” I don’t really want a album, what I want is some a few really good photographs of my wedding day. How I interpreted her statement was, she experienced through friends or family a negative outcome from a photographer on their wedding day and she wanted to make sure she a some memorable and beautiful photographs of her wedding. Also the whole shopping around experience was not going good. She wasn’t finding someone she could trust.
    The long and short of this story. Her sister hired a photojournalistic photographer that worked for one of the largest newspapers in the city. They had a top notch venue with beautiful grounds and all they got was substandard snapshots. The family was so upset. The bride loved traditional images and the grooms style was more cutting edge. I listened and we connected. She pre ordered a high end album moderately sized with the option of adding to her order. The wedding was one of my favorites . The images were fantastic and most importantly they loved the outcome.
    Making that connection, gaining the clients confidence ( informed customer), good professional service and product. Listen to your inquiries , inform them of the professional services and products that you provide, make choosing your services as a photographer a good experience .
    Yes I agree the manual point and shoot camera toteters that under price and throw it all on a DVD, have made a world of problems for our profession. As another reader commented, you pay peanuts , you get a monkey. So let’s keep informing the public and keep the respect in our profession.


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