So this will be a quick little blog. It’s poking at some practices that we (not me) as photographers sometimes do to bait potential customers. I’m just listing a few that you might see at a bridal show, online or a face to face meeting. This also will touch a little bit on style of photography as well (some tricks that I do employ to a degree). If you’re a photographer, bride or groom then you may agree or disagree. Feel free to comment at the bottom. This is really only my insight from over ten years of shooting weddings and developing my approach. This is my opinion and of course there are many roads to Florida (my analogy I most often use). I know a photographer, lets make up a fictional name and call him Bill G. He would get soo mad whenever he saw anyone doing photography different than he did it, it wasn't the proper way he would always mutter. This photographer only happens to shoot a few events a year now while I have shoots a few times a week. Anyways.. all roads eventually lead to Florida. Every photographer has a different method and this is only to highlight what some of the masses do when they’re not trying to stand out.
Free engagement shoot with all new bookings! Okay, I always offer an engagement shoot with every wedding, that’t only normal to me because i’m going to be spending the entire day with you and… I want to know that you’re both semi-normal and that we somewhat get along and like each other. The engagement shoot is also a great time to run through poses, get a few nice photos for save the dates.
So back to how this works at a bridal show. Everyone is going to give this away and they’re going to put a “value” on it or an exact price or possibly use the word bargain along with this. The engagement shoot costs the photographer nothing but his time and when you bundle up your fee for the wedding day along with any tangibles (flash drives, albums), then a little extra time on the front end isn’t a big deal. Every photographer is going to include this, you might have to poke and prod a bit, but get it. But never think that the photographer is some sort of saint for offering this.
Positive side of things, take the engagement shoot with the photographer you want to book your wedding with, it’s a good trial to see how you vibe with each other. Even if in the end they charge you for it as extra it’s still a small investment to know that your wedding photos are going to be what you want.
Dates are filling up fast, better book with me now. This may be true. I had to turn away almost forty brides last year because I can only shoot one wedding at a time. If you need a few days or a week to mull things over then that’s totally reasonable and responsible. There are popular dates out there that happen every year. Typically i’ll have one or two dates that people are pining after every year, but only those who book early get it. If someones offering a one day deal only then pass on it. This is your wedding and if your photographer can’t wait a day or week to book you then maybe they don;’t have that much business to begin with or too much business to properly accommodate you.
Free album with all 2020 bookings, an eight hundred dollar value!!! OMG, you better book right now, that’s a killer deal. Wait! There’s the internet, With absolute certainty I know that any of my brides can find a decent album for two hundred dollars. I also know that once I send them an album they could do a little research and figure out who I use or… just ask me directly. When I book a wedding I do the albums at cost, give or take twenty dollars, this means that I have no incentive to up-sell you on getting one. It’s not that I don’t want you to have an album, in fact I do. I just don’t want to charge you eight hundred dollars or more for one and lose a wedding over a book, I also don’t want you to say “we aren’t interested in an album” and all of a sudden i’m taking eight hundred dollars off the total. So for me it’s always easier to just be super transparent on this. I would much rather charge for what matters, the photography. I’m putting value on my time and skill, not the material things. You’re paying for someone to show up, not mess up and deliver some amazing images.
To be completely transparent and honest I will say that there are eight hundred dollar albums and northward out there. Some of them are amazing companies that put out a quality product. I have friends that sell using these beautiful albums and that’s great. I’m only warning you about people that are pushing a free album in attempt to make you “Buy now now now!”. A great salesmen is going to present, not pressure. A traditional mark up on products is three hundred percent of their original cost if not more. It’s much easier for me not to have to explain the price increase if someone ever tracks down where I get my albums, so I do it at cost.
So if you’re a photographer you may have a problem with this next part. Multiple packages and A la cart pricing. So this allows photographers to move things around and still keep the price in their favor. This also can add to some confusion when trying to figure out the price. Sure, I can add this, let me give you a deal on this other thing or this is going to cost more because it’s not bundled with this, so you want this but not this other thing, or that’s an additional charge because of…
It’s too much to shift all these tiny pieces around all the time. I always want to make sure you get a good deal so I just find out what you’re looking for and give you. price on that, putting the majority of the fee on photography, not the tangibles or things that don’t cost me anything. A la cart pricing “can” be a way to steer you back to the packages. Once you add up everything that you want you realize that the price is more than the package. So now you’re considering the packages again and now you’re back to shifting things around. Again, going to play myself up again. I only offer one package so that I can just take away whatever brides aren’t interested in vs. shifting packages around or slowly building up the bill.
Additional photographer, more coverage. Okay. This is true to a degree. You end up with more photos, more people in more places. My goal is never to up-sell you on what you may not need. If you’re getting ready near each other somewhat or if you have under a hundred and fifty guests then it’s pretty easy for me to accommodate you. Most brides that come to me are pretty educated on wedding stuff by the time they get to me and I know they’ve researched me and my work, so I’ll never want to push something on them that they already have an inkling that they don’t need. Your photographer should be pretty up front and either say yes or no, not yes and yes to a second shooter (our term). If you want photos of you walking down the isle from front and back then you’ll want a second shooter. If you want photos fo your grooms face as you walk down the isle and you walking down the isle, you don’t need a second shooter. If you’re both getting ready at a hotel and you want coverage of the both of you then you don’t need a second shooter. If you’re getting ready four towns away from each other and want coverage of the both of you… you may want a second photographer.
When I use a second shooter (photographer) I usually charge whatever money i’ll actually be giving them. They have an easy job, they show up, have fun, shoot and eventually leave sans memory card. I’m only using a portion of their photos in the end, we all have pretty high standards when it comes to photos and we’re all very picky as photographers. Be weary of any photographer pushing services that you don’t think you need on you. Do your research on this subject, ask Jeeves (old reference).
Here’s what else grinds my gears, yes I went there. Everyone calling their photography their style or vision when… they’re just using a downloaded preset (sometimes they even pay for these) on every single photo or desaturating the photos. I’m not going to say I don’t like these photos, some of them are great. I love the look but, yes there’s a but. Someday in the future when you want to see what that moment actually looked like without grain and desaturated reds and oranges and way to much work on highlights and shadows you won’t be able to. Because that filter is there for life. What I like to do is capture the actual colors, correct color temperature and exposure. It takes seconds to throw a filter on, but I don’t think I could ever call it my “style”. I’ve wrote a bunch more about it here.
So here’s what i’m trying to get across, look at their skill as a photographer. Do you like the way they frame a photo, is the exposure at least correct. Take a look at their whole portfolio, not just weddings. See their range and skill as a photographer because a wedding is essentially a marathon of photography. We’re constantly pushed and pulled throughout the day to get operate in any conditions, bad lighting, difficult people and situations, hot and cold and also our gear matters. I’m getting away from my point but basically if a photographer is calling his desaturated photos his style and trying to play up how artistic he is… take a second look. If he’s saying he’s a natural light photographer.. run! One more warning sign to look for is selective color, thats when a photographer turns down all the colors except for one. This makes everything black and white except for those red roses, making it an iconic photo. This is gimmicky, simple and a stupid trick that people can now do on their cell phones… so why would a wedding photographer be doing this? Steer away from white vignetting as well, that’s a huge warning sign that your photographer is behind the times in style.
A natural light photographer is a scary thing for a wedding. There’s only so many hours of the day that are bright during a wedding. Eventually it gets dark and then what? If someone’s mastered how to take photos in daylight, that’s great. But you’re going to want your entire wedding covered and if they can’t navigate around a flash and some interesting light then you may want to look elsewhere. Again, they’ll have some amazing photos and they may be a talented photographer but please for wedding sake make sure your photographer uses lights! Imagine if you bought cabinets for your kitchen and the cabinet maker told you that he can only put the hinges on the outside of the cabinet and not inside because that’s not his style. I love a good analogy.
Here’s another trick that I do employ. Shooting at a very low depth of field. This means whatever i’m focused on is sharp and the rest is out of focus. It does make for a pleasing photo. I also know that regardless of the situation when I use this little trick that whoever sees the photo regardless of proper assessment sees a professional image. They know that a good camera or good lens is somewhere in the equation and whoever can afford this good lens or camera must be a professional photographer. Quick example, lets say I tattoo’d someone and it didn’t look half bad and I show off that tattoo. To those of you who don’t know, I might be a professional tattoo artist, but look at the rest of my work and realize that maybe… not so much. So again, look at someones portfolio, if that’s their style, everything shot in low depth of field, then maybe pass. It’s a simple trick that I do use, but only when it’s called for. These lenses are primarily used to work in extremely low light, not just for a blurring (bokeh) effect.
So i’m going to admit to something horrible. I use my gear to get brides and grooms. I have some cool lenses. I have a fisheye lens that is pretty much useless except for some random cool photos here or there. It’s sometimes fun to use during a wedding reception or sometimes in tight spaces but mostly useless. I also have a two hundred millimeter lens that is no longer produced that can shoot at an incredibly low depth of field which produces a spectacularly amazing image that looks like non other. I have many others which I could list. I use these lenses to get new business sometimes because I know the common person will see the image and be wowed. But the main thing I want to point out is that I can still use the most basic, boring, cheap lens to get an amazing image regardless of depth of field or any other curiosity the lens may entail.