For the eyes. For the heart. For the ears. For the feet. For the soul.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The truth about wedding photography.

Are there more headaches associated with charging affordable rates for photography?  Everyone deserves beautiful photos, no matter what their financial situation, but why does it seem that cheaper rates equal more complaints or demands? Furthermore, on someone's wedding day, are the couple sacrificing quality when they hire someone who charges a really low rate? I'm not saying that just because someone paid $500 for wedding day images and coverage, they will automatically be faced with a lesser quality of service or images. Not at all. 

Just be aware that there are very few seasoned wedding photographers out there who will charge anything close to this rate. You often will obtain this price based on the fact that the photographer is new, and needs to start somewhere. This is a risk on your part. I thank the couples who have taken a risk on me. Up to this point, I have shot and second shot weddings for next to nothing. You have to start somewhere and sometimes one has to sacrifice money to eventually make a financial gain. 

Eventually, you have to charge not only what the market demands but what you feel you are worth. Some people feel that photographers get rich off weddings. After all, you show up with your already bought equipment, shoot the wedding, and burn it on a disk. Shoot and burn. Sounds simple? It's not.
The average wedding photographer makes about $10 an hour once all their travel, time, editing and administration is taken care of. Did you know that on average, it takes 80 hours per wedding to professionally edit and retouch wedding photos? A well composed photo is always key, however it is generally the editing, even as minor as that edit may be that makes the difference between a snapshot and a beautiful frameworthy wedding portrait.
The emotional stress and multiple unplanned scenarios that take place or could take place on someone's wedding day are what lead most photographers to quickly venture into other creative areas and leave the wedding industry far, far behind.

They say that you are fortunate if you are lucky enough to have a client complain. On average, Canadians are extremely polite and not willing to be honest about their dissatisfaction. How can we strive to do better if we don't know what that better entails? I've been fortunate to have had many compliments on my photos. I think and I hope that people are as satisfied as they say they are. Like anything though, it's never a  perfect scenario.

This leads me to a few thoughts I would appreciate feedback on; both from photographers and clients. I cannot stress enough how imperative it is to have open communication with your photographer about what your vision is on your day. I've learned that free reign can often lead to misunderstandings and ambiguity. My style is very candid, however I understand the importance of formal portraits. I generally give way more photos than the average photographer. I don't charge per print, so the added images are just a "bonus" in my eyes. This usually is appreciated but sometimes not. 

I have had a few instances where brides were wondering why there were photos of their colleagues, friends or details in their final images.  
Some photographers feel that if there is something you have spent money on
(i.e. flowers, rings, centerpieces), you would appreciate photos of it. Other photographers don't bother taking photos of the details because they say brides don't care about it. I think that if someone is important enough to be invited to the special event, it would be safe for me to assume that they would be important enough to take their photograph. It is my generous mentality to give more photos than less to ensure if you don't want them, you can simply discard them but if you do want them, the photos are there. It's always better to do too much, than not enough. Or is it?

Every client is different. Some only want candids. Others only want portraits. These are very clear desires and make a photographer's day run smooth as we know what to focus on. It's when someone wants a mix of the two that things sometimes get confused. When a bride says to me "I trust you", these words make me feel great. However trust and vision are two totally different things and can make for a disastrous outcome if not on the same page. 

When I second shoot a wedding, I'm usually in charge of candids. When I shoot my own wedding, I am in control of the day and my husband is busy taking other shots. I spend my morning with the bride, and he handles the groom and his guys. It has been my experience that if there are two of us, we may as well make good use of our time, separately. If the two of us stand side by side shooting portraits, the client will not only receive duplicate shots, but it confuses guests when two photographers are standing beside each other. The guests end up looking at either one or the other, or wondering who they should smile for. The portraits then don't have everyone looking at the same photographer.

Any wedding Michael and I have shot, one photographer is shooting the portraits while the other is shooting details and candids. Otherwise, you're not using the full benefit of having multiple photographers, and in fact will have duplicate shots, which eliminates the point of having multiple photographers. 

It has been my experience that a photographer must run the show on a wedding day. To a certain extent, we can only do the best with what we have to work with. If it is not communicated that a great aunt from a far distance is of utmost importance, you may get a shot of a cute little girl running around versus that important aunt. In most cases, the photographer and client don't know each other so it needs to be clear to the photographer, who to spend the most time photographing. I've heard from other bride and grooms that they weren't happy with their photographer because there were too many kissing shots. I've heard from others that there were too many shots of the guests and not enough of family. Alternatively, I've also heard that there are not enough shots of the guests and too many of family. Every scenario is different.  One thing is for sure though. If the makeup artist is 2 hours behind, the bridesmaids are dilly dallying and the photographer is being told "too bad", the bride is not going to care the day she gets her wedding photos, what the logistics were. She's just going to care that she didn't get the shots that she wanted. 

In some cases, I've pulled brides and grooms away from their guests because I know there is a shot they would totally love. But what can you do when they don't want to leave their guests, speeches etc? You can't pull them away from enjoying their day, to be with you all day taking photos. Sure, they'll get great photos but, they'll miss most of their wedding day.

I have friends who do too much for way too little in regards to their photos. It always seems that the things you do next to nothing, leave people coming back for even more; they want more photos retouched, less photos included or  
a little bit of both.

Is it better to charge more, therefore having to photograph less venues and allowing you more time to spend absorbing the details and giving the client even better quality images? If you shot 40 weddings at $500, you can be guaranteed the creative quality (as well as your sanity) would go down the tubes by the end of the year. 

Clients: Would you rather be offered the extra images, allowing to discard if you're not interested?

Photographers: Any thoughts on the above?

Happy Hump Day.



Elizabeth M said...

I am not a photographer and I have never been a bride. I am speaking as a future bride and what I would want out of my wedding photographer. I think that I would want MORE pictures than necessary because really, why not? I would rather have too many than missing out on some that I may look back on and say "I wish I had a picture of that from my wedding". It is a lot easier to say "no I do not want that one, than being upset that you do not have a special memory of your day on print.
I was just in my best friends wedding 2 weeks ago, and she hired 2 women who co-own their photography business. As you say in your blog, I was very confused when they were taking pictures because I did not know who to look at. They both shot the same potraits. Neither of them met up with the men getting ready prior to the ceremony, just the ladies. We have not seen the final product yet, but I am very interested to see what is missing and if there are just numerous duplicates of the same images.
So I think it is very important to have many and different shots, because you want to see all of your special day, not just you and your husband posing and smiling in every photo. I wouldn't want to see my face in every photo anyways!
You seem like you are a wonderful and talented photographer, putting so much time and effort into each client. Taking the time to consider all their ideas, likes and dislikes and getting to know them is so important and ultimately makes for a happy client. You can tell in your blogs that photography is definetly your passion and it is not only evident in your writing, the way in which you deal with clients, but in the photos themselves. It is very inspiring and I only wish I had half that passion for something too. All the best!

MT Foners said...

I'm a new reader and am thoroughly enjoying reading you and your husbands blogs! I was shocked to see that you only have one comment on this post! I'm sure many read your posts but don't have time to comment, know what to say, or feel their opinion is important!
SO, since you asked, here's my opinion: I think it is CRAZY that people would complain about too many photos. Having said that, have you ever noticed: that people always think they could do better than the one doing the job! (kinda like being the president! lol) that the better we have it, the more we complain! The more we have, the more we complain! The easier we have it, the more we complain!!! Also have you ever noticed that some of the happiest and most thankful people are those that have very little? These people amaze me and always make me want to do more. Having been a bride, and now a new mom and photo junkie, I love more photos! I love that you give more even if they are not YOUR favorite shots because you just never know if you caught someone or something that will really be special to the bride and groom or their friends and family! The stress of capturing someones special day as THEY wanted it to be and want to remember it... well I'll say I'm glad that there are those of you that enjoy it! I think your photos are beautiful! Keep up the great work!