50 brides reveal what their photographers could have done better – my advice for brides
I have just read a superb article written by Bride Box Pro Photography Blog , who have surveyed fifty 2014 brides and asked them what their photographers might have done better. First of all, let me say, I think this is great feedback for photographers. Any aspiring photographer could do far worse than reading the article and taking on board the brides’ comments and concerns. I wouldn’t disagree with any of what has been said. In fact, it’s eye opening to be given the opportunity to read what brides are thinking. Remember, this is a recent survey, therefore it’s bang up to date.
Feedback on the feedback
Following on from the article, there are plenty of comments from professional photographers, building a very constructive and fair debate. These give the pros a chance to respond to the original article, and together the blog is very fair in its deliberations. US photographer Scott Kelby has also welcomed discussion on his own blog which adds further to the deliberations.
For my own part, I’d just like to add a few comments and thoughts. I have been photographing weddings for approx 17 years now, here are some of my own observations.
1 Two way communication works wonders
In the main, given proper communication between couples and their photographers, the issues raised in the original article are wholly avoidable. Most of the issues can be avoided given:-
a) sensible timings on the day, and
b) a mutual understanding between the couple and their photographer regarding everything that will happen on the day.
2 You get what you pay for – never a truer word said
The message from the articles, loud and clear, is that you get what you pay for. So often these days brides demand the Earth on a low budget – encouraged, dare I say, by blogs and magazines to bargain hunt. Something has to give somewhere. I stand in bridal/wedding fairs and regularly see photographers display ‘budget’ wedding albums, with brides expecting me to match my pricing to the competition, yet loving and preferring my albums. The problem is that I supply quality albums which cost much much more than the budget albums supplied by the budget photographers, so I can’t compete on price unless they want me to compromise my standards. It doesn’t surprise me that a number of brides in the survey (not my brides, the survey’s brides!) are disappointed in the albums they eventually receive as the final product. The key here is to really take notice of the quality of the product that you are being offered by your photographer. Please don’t just put one price list next to another and draw your conclusions from that – you need to be comparing like with like to get a true comparison.
3 Personal visits highly recommended
I have received a number of emails recently along the lines of ‘please send me your price list, we are on holiday/are busy until next March/cannot possibly come and see you because we live in xxx’ and so on. OK, so we have Skype facilities now, and I really do appreciate that couples have busy lives, and it’s not always easy to get to see your photographer. But the flip side is that the more you book your suppliers long distance, the more likely you are to have problems after the wedding, unless you take time to communicate very carefully in the meantime. Realistically though, without a face to face visit, how can you hope to compare album quality? (I am of course speaking specifically wedding albums and photographic quality here. However, I’m sure this must apply equally to florists and their flowers, dress makers and their dresses, favor makers and their favors, stationers and your invitations, etc)
4 More than just a photographer
Believe it or not, although he/she may be ‘just a photographer’, you will be surprised at the depth of knowledge an experienced photographer will have accumulated over the years regarding ‘all things weddings’. In particular, they are very likely to be the chief timekeeper on your wedding day, from the point at which they arrive with you early in the morning, to the point at which you sit down for dinner. (Beyond that, it is all in the hands of the venue, the photographer becomes more of an observer). I personally consider it very important to ensure that you sit down for dinner on time. No-one wants spoiled food from their photographer over-running, and your whole evening schedule depends on you and your guests sitting down on time for dinner.
I find that this often takes more planning in the early stages than meets the inexperienced eye. For example, let’s say your hairdresser and make up lady don’t arrive early enough in the morning, the knock on effect can be a 1 hour late sit down in the evening. Brides don’t make the connection between the two, but I bet an experienced photographer would. They see this sort of thing all the time. (Not picking on hair and make up here btw, again, an experienced hair and make up team would always work to a sensible schedule and be in good time).
My point is this – should something run late in the morning, it can easily affect the timings for the rest of the wedding, putting brides under unnecessary pressure all day. There is a sort of concertina effect throughout, and one thing over-runs into the next. The easiest way to deal with this by far is to avoid the issue by having a sensible schedule laid out from the early days of planning your wedding. You’d be surprised how much an experienced photographer will be willing to help you with that – it benefits you to have your day run as smoothly as possible – better photos, unstressed bride, fun weddings!
Yet when I consider the articles I have linked to, many of the issues are timing issues. These are so easily avoided by spending time when it’s not so critical – book an initial face to face appointment with your potential wedding photographer to discuss this in detail as soon as you possibly can.
5 Mixed messages
Please please think very carefully about what you want from your wedding photography. I am often told by potential brides that they don’t want many family group shots, not many posed shots of themselves, and they do want loads of candids of their friends. These points are reflected in the articles. The crunch point is after the wedding, when a bride’s point of view can easily change with the benefit of hindsight.
Whatever has been said before the wedding, I find that what brides actually select for their wedding albums afterwards is the family photos. Every time. No bride rejects the family photos taken on the day, ever! Then come the great shots they have had of themselves, the detail shots of the day, the church or ceremony shots. The fabulous candids of their friends are often relegated to the bottom of the pick list, if not removed from the album altogether.
It’s a real dilemna – do I photograph exactly what I’ve been requested to, and leave out the rest? I can be fairly certain that if I do that, the bride will want the stuff she didn’t ask for when we consulted. The answer of course is to photograph everything that moves on the day, and a real pro knows that.
6 Advice given freely at no obligation meetings
Please please listen to your photographer’s advice. An experienced photographer will give you tons of good advice and loads of tips, especially re timings, if asked. I know I will, it makes your day easier, more enjoyable, and I’ll get better photos as a result.
As always, I’m sure this extends to other suppliers, especially those who will interact with you on the day – hair/makeup/chauffeurs/horse and carriages/clergy/musicians/venue co-ordinators. The good ones will have done this hundreds of times before. They are teaming together to make your day unique and exclusive to you.
7) Buyer beware!
The bottom line is, if your photographer uses too many filters, you could have spotted that before the wedding with due diligence and proper research. If their albums are poor quality, and you booked remotely without a face to face visit, that’s down to you. Ask for a meeting face to face, make sure they take the time to understand exactly what you want on your big day.
8) Be realistic
Your photographer should be flexible and supportive of your plans, but he can’t fit a square peg in a round hole – he can’t do three hour’s worth of photography in a 30 minute slot in the afternoon. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but talking about things well in advance is so much easier. And potentially disaster saving.
There’s so much more I could write on this issue, but I’ll save it for another time. Weddings are fabulous occasions, a great team on your big day can make all the difference!
Wow – sorry, I’ve gone on way too long here. If anyone should have any questions, please email me via the contact form above, or always feel free to call me on 01904 479063.
Good luck, I wish you all a truly memorable and wonderful wedding day. I have my own little book of feedback from real life brides in my studio, available for anyone to see. Please ask and I’d be delighted to share with you some of the amazing things brides tell us.