Make sure you absolutely love your photographers work before hiring...
If I were hiring a wedding photographer, these are the ten items that would definitely cause me to move on to the next candidate but I know every potential client will have different expectations. Remember, every photographer is going to offer a unique experience. Consider the following pointers and use your best judgement. As always, I’m happy to answer any questions.
#1. Photographers who don’t list their starting price on their website.
(or require you to reach out first)
Contrary to some photographers, I am a firm believer that wedding photographers should, at the very least, make their starting rates easily accessible on their websites. When a photographer forces you, the potential lead, to jump through multiple hoops (i.e. filling out a contact form, setting up a meeting, etc) simply to find out what the service costs, it becomes a real annoyance. This shouldn't be a secret.
Furthermore, by being able to easily access rate information, you’ll immediately know whether or not the photographer is within your budget. Imagine going out of your way to meet a photographer only to find out you can’t afford to hire that person. It becomes a waste of everyone’s time.
#2. Photographers who claim they have a “signature style.”
Photographers who make absurd claims like are betting that you have no clue what you are looking for and so they think that they're literally the only photographers you should consider. This shows a total lack of respect for you, the client. They simply do not deserve your business. Photographers might have different aesthetics, methods and approaches, but no photographer has a signature style. This is nothing more than a cheap marketing tactic. Don't fall for it.
#3. Photographers who withhold high-res images.
Be aware that some very established, well-known photographers may also claim an additional fee to obtain “digital negatives.” This may sound fancy but really these are nothing more than just high-resolution jpeg files.
Keep your life simple. Work with a photographer who builds in the costs for unrestricted access to your wedding photos as well as unlimited printing rights. You're paying for those photos. You should have access to them.
#4. Photographers who are overly enthusiastic.
It’s one thing to come off friendly, passionate or approachable in an email, but it’s quite another to use excessive explanation marks (!!!!!!), ALL CAPS, italics and emoji. Why would the photographer stylize their emails with such unnecessary excess? Are they being sincere or are they simply trying to grab your attention, desperately hoping for a response? Maybe they are trying to compensate for their mediocre portfolio? Whatever the reason, just be sure to let the photographs speak for themselves.
#5. Photographers who have extremely wide pricing scales
(i.e. $1,200 — $9,000...)
Photographers who claim they can work with anyone’s budget should be avoided. Think about it. If your photographer charges a base rate of just $1,200, do you really think you’re going to get something good? Now say you pay the photographer's $9,000 all-inclusive super diamond platinum VIP package: which might include unlimited coverage for two days with three photographers, a couple albums, print credits, maybe an engagement shoot… Sure you’ll get all those extras, but at the end of the day, you’ll still be working with the same photographer who charges that super low $1,200 base rate. The quality of the work doesn't improve just because you're purchasing a bigger package. You'll just end up with a lot more of the same thing.
Ideally, a photographer’s pricing scale should be around $3,000.
#6. Photographers who guarantee a “minimum” number of frames.
Your photographer should only be concerned about making you feel comfortable and capturing the moment. They should not be concerned about the number of frames taken. Remember, it’s better to have a smaller selection of excellent images than to be bombarded by literally thousands of frames that all look basically the same.
#7. Photographers who do not prepare or are unwilling to share a contract.
It amazing how some photographers can get away with this. They take your deposit and shake your hand. There is nothing to protect you should they simply not show up on the day of your wedding. A contract should always be required because ultimately, it protects both you and the photographer. I would strongly recommend asking your potential photographer to see a sample agreement before proceeding to make sure everyone is on the same page.
#8. Photographers who feature work on websites that are clearly outdated.
We all know what an outdated website looks like right? Zero branding, small thumbnail images, difficult to navigate etc… Photographers who don’t care to keep their website updated probably don’t care about wedding photography or whether or not you hire them, so it’s probably best to just stay away. You should spend your money on someone who actually cares.
#9. Photographers who make lists about themselves on their bios or about pages.
Okay maybe this isn’t necessary a red flag, but it’s something that just annoys me. In an effort to connect with you, the potential client, some photographers will list all of their “likes and dislikes” in their bio sections. Others will list random facts that are completely unrelated to photography.
To be absolutely clear, I have no problem being open about myself or my interests with my clients, but I strongly believe that the initial reason why you initiate contact with any photographer, should be because of the work itself. You should love the photography first and foremost. All the other details (common interests, personality etc.) should come out eventually.
#10. Photographers who refuse to show entire takes from previous weddings.
You should always ask to see full galleries so you can have a better sense of what to expect from your photographer. This is an absolute must! If they refuse to share one with you or make up some lame excuse, they are likely either too afraid or ashamed to show you their work.
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