10 Things you should know before you book a… Wedding Photographer
A few days ago, I was talking to a friend, about how much she misses my wedding industry blog posts.
Apparently, I wasn’t that bad at it. And my views were interesting enough for someone to read it.
So I have decided to start blogging again. Something fresh and punchy. And that can be useful to you beautiful couples, who wish to get married in Spain.
Naturally since it is me (Jesus) who does the writing, I plan to be dead honest and perhaps I even make you smile!
Suppliers…Please do not feel offended if this week’s chapter talks about your trade, and most importantly if you get offended don’t tell me anything about it when I bump into you at a wedding. You know us, at weddings we are really busy!!!
So with no more delay and hoping you like it, here is my 10 truths about booking a photographer. I already see many of you photographers, getting annoyed with me. Take it easy!
1 – A Wedding is not a photo session.
Something so basic often gets misunderstood. You have seen all those great pictures on Instagram. Everything looks just perfect. And certainly, you want the same at your wedding. Well, let me tell you, most of those photos are not taken on a real wedding. They are in fact Styled shoots specially designed to promote weddings. The couple are models. The flowers have not been in the sun for a few hours. The weather is perfect otherwise the photo shoot is not happening. The timing matches the best lighting to take a photo. The deco that you see costs lots of money to hire (and is there in just small amounts). The hair, the make-up, the dress… You get the idea. Your wedding is a live wedding, and a photographer is working during that day to collect images of what is happening. Not what is not happening, or you thought was going to happen. So, if you have a vision for certain shots, make it happen, let the photographer know, arrange for the right decor or flowers to facilitate the style you’re dreaming off.
2- Not every wedding that a photographer shoots, appears on his website.
This is another one that I have to explain to my clients. A photographer usually chooses their best wedding images to promote their service. It is only normal that they would pick their ‘Best’ Weddings and there is nothing wrong with it. Those wedding galleries that you see at their website, are the best shots that year or from last two years. Weddings with a very high budget, at remarkable venues, with good looking couples surrounded by expensive deco and flowers. Typically these couples contracted the photographers most expensive service, with an extra hours, camera and a drone. So remember the investment is reflected in the photos. A 3 star hotel wedding images will not look the same a beautiful 5 star country cortijo.
3– Agencies are agencies.
I don’t feel comfortable working with Agencies! Period! Usually it’s the story of one good photographer, having too many weddings at a certain point and creating an agency where he employs other less experienced photographers to take as much business as possible! I know. We are all capitalists. But please, don’t send me a guy with little experience for the price of a highly experienced photographer, so the agency can keep a big chunk of that money staying at home. Quite possibly the photographer they send will earn little money for each wedding. He is probably tired, as he needs to do numbers (of weddings) in order to make a living. And also, he is usually less experienced otherwise he would already be set up independently!
4- Remember, the main subject on your wedding day, is you.
So often you might hear couples disappointed with their wedding photos. (Not at our weddings!!! We make sure my clients know how best to work on the day!) It’s when their expectations were not met or managed! They expect the images to be out of a magazine, off Pinterest! But that’s not what they got! Because, during their wedding day, they didn’t put importance to the photos. They paid no attention to the photographer. They were too busy with other things. When they go for the portrait session they’re distracted, they couldn’t really get into it, as all they want is to be back with everyone partying! Once again, there is nothing wrong with this. You enjoy your wedding day, the way you wish to, which is also important. But, if you don’t commit some time to the photographer, be willing to build a rapport with him, then don’t expect great photos of you looking relaxed and natural, if you never posed like that. Don’t expect certain shots, when you didn’t position yourselves that way. Be clear about the images you want to achieve, commit to working with the photographer to create those images! If you want to look beautiful, romantic and serene in your photos, don’t be drinking since 12h. It’ll show and let’s be honest, he’s a photographer not a magician.
5- Photographers are contracted to do photography.
I remember one wedding we had with a US couple. They brought their own photographers from US. He was highly successful and a bit of a celebrity. As a consequence, the couple followed whatever he had to say without questioning it. The problem came when he started rearranging the timings of the day! Let’s be honest. Everyone thinks their wedding service is the most important thing. Caterers think they can do it all. Venues think it is all about their place. DJs think without them there is no party. Etc. Back at school my religion teacher used to say religion was the most important even more than maths. So nothing changes. Photographers believe photos are the most important thing on a wedding because it is what you materially take away with you and revisit whenever you feel like it. I’m not going to argue this vision. I’m only going to say there is too much ego in the world and photographers are no exception sometimes a good example of this. As a wedding planner I value everyone working on my wedding. Everyone has a role and they are interconnected to produce an overall result. Or in other words, if someone screws it, it can ruin everything else. If there is not enough alcohol, no matter how good the DJ is, the dance floor remains empty. If the bus is late and people is waiting at 3 am, it doesn’t matter how beautiful the flowers at the table were. So everyone is important. Photographers too. But don’t let a photographer decide at what time you eat, so he doesn’t ruin the meal for everyone else.
6- The more you spend in venue and decor, the better the photographers work.
I could have tittle this one, the bigger the budget, the better the photographer seems. And it is so true. Wedding photographers don’t work in a studio with a fake background and fake light. They capture a real moment as it happens in a real place. Quite a challenge don’t you think! So their work tend to be affected by how beautiful a venue is and how all those elements of decoration enhance the place. Naturally, they can do close ups to avoid surroundings or fade the backgrounds, but there is no doubt that if they can use beauty, it will boost their photos to another level. Sometimes I see galleries posted on stylish websites, and straight away I know how big the budget must have been!! Venues with a nice surrounding landscapes, open spaces and expensive plants and decoration make all the difference. Flower budget is key as well. So please bear this mind when choosing a photographer. Don’t book a very expensive one and then marry with no budget for venue or décor, as I mentioned in the last statement, each element of the wedding is as important as the next!
7- Are you shy in front of a camara? Then build rapport, get to know your photographer before the big day.
So your big day has arrived. You are getting married today. All those plans and decisions about timings, vendors, places… all that money invested. All come true today. Before you know it, time is flying, and everything is happening so fast. And all of a sudden you are there in front of a camara. And then it happens! You just remember you hate posing in photos. This scenario that it might sound exceptional, it happens more often than you think. Some people go through life without enjoy the whole photo thing. No selfies. Only occasional group photos and for good reason. I know this because I have seen more often than you think, and because I’m one of them. So if you are like me and since your partner really wants to have photos of her/his wedding you better do an effort to do it right. 1st piece of advice don’t avoid the subject, it is going to happen. 2nd you need to relax and feel comfortable with it, perhaps enjoy the experience. And 3rd and final don’t be foolish! Arrange a meeting with the photographer before. It can be done online or face to face the day before, sometimes even in the morning of your wedding. Talk to him/her and build some rapport. You’ll see how that works later on when everyone is looking at you and he/she is taking photos.
8-A tired photographer takes bad photos.
This one is going to sit badly with photographers. But it is truth, and they know it. Sometimes photographers work 4 weddings on a week. Your wedding may happen on Saturday and he has been already working since Thursday. He arrives into the venue already tired with lack of sleep and not in a great mood. When I have been in this scenario, first thing that comes to my mind is,… are my clients going to get a good service from this guy? Or is their wedding going to look bad? Believe me. You don’t want to be in this situation. Over the years I have stopped working with people who does this but is always tricky. Let’s explain a bit. Wedding photography is a tough job. Usually you work for long hours, away from home, during hot conditions with little time for eating or even drinking water, running from one place to another, traying to capture everything so you have a product to present your clients. There is also an element of creative art in it. So energy, inspiration and mood are key. No matter how fit they are, tiredness is going to affect their job. I understand everyone has to do a living and people exploit jobs opportunities as much as possible. But is not fair for clients who pay full rates to get a half full service. You can always tell in the results. So please be aware who you are contracting and find out if possible how many weddings is your photographer doing that week and how many that season.
9- No photographer survives with one wedding a year, so be realistic.
I understand. It is your wedding. Probably the most important day of your life so far. And you are really looking forward to see the photos and share it with the family and friends. Everyone told it was the best wedding they ever, so photos are going to be great. You can’t wait really. So you ask again. When are my photos going to be ready? I think I respond to a least 5 of this email each year. Not bad considering we don’t do more than 10 weddings a year. The answer is always the same. Your photographer works many weddings a year. He has a system in place where he edits your photos withing a period. This period is usually reflected at the contract you sign. So you need to be patient. Editing photos is as important as shooting. Sometimes even more. Many photographers show their true skill set at editing and it is at this point that they come apart from the rest. So let the photographer complete his work and the less you push him. The better you are going to look.
10-Iphones take great photos, but they are not cheap!
Sometimes money is a good measure to discern quality. Very often cheap turns out to be expensive.
I bought a Casio watch, thinking of my old days as a teenager and how long I had them for. I spent less than 50 euros, so I was so happy to have something to work at weddings for such little money. After 3 months it broke. Screen went blank. So, I bought another Casio, this time a G-Shock in case the last one broke by knocking it during one my decor set ups. This one cost a bit more but I still believe it was worthy. It did the same thing after 6 months. So no more Casio for me. When booking a photographer, the price range is as extensive as with watches. I met once a photographer who charges 25k for wedding. He works in the US. His photos were good but not better than some of my usual photographers who are paid 2K. So don’t be fooled by cheap options and don’t go mad spending to get quality. Get a few quotes. Calculate an average. And trust your instincts.
I hope you enjoy my ten tips of this week. If you think there is too much risk in booking blind a photographer, trust a professional wedding planner. We know who does what and we offer only the best professionals at the best rates.