The trouble with weddings
P.s. I love weddings…
…Truly I think they are one of the greatest events of our lives. They are a gathering of our closest family, our greatest friends (and often that uncle you’d rather not invite but you know you’ll never hear the end of if you don’t)…
So why do I have trouble with weddings? Well, it’s simply this wedding photographers. Now, I realise that I myself a wedding photographer but please bear with me… Not all wedding photographers, in fact most, don’t fit into my troublesome category, but sadly some do, and they tend to ruin it for all of us.
I am relatively new to the trade of wedding photography, my photography journey started just a few years ago with a cheap starter DSLR from Nikon. I still use Nikon today but a far upgraded version to the one I started with. I have worked hard both by practice (it makes perfect after all) and by studying techniques and the work of other photographers (if you don’t know the work of Annie Leibovitz, google her!) to hone my craft, my individual style and my camera and editing technique.
I am proud of what I have achieved so far and continue to learn and develop as I work on commissions from weddings to events and portraiture. A hospital consultant once told me that when you think you know everything, it’s time to give up being a doctor, because you’re dangerous… this was after a junior doctor balked at her googling something she didn’t know! I try to apply the same sentiment to most of life, that I’ll never really know everything, and so I keep learning and developing (pardon the photography pun) and working. It’s incredibly rewarding, often frustrating and very exciting.
I also didn’t start charging for my work until I was sure I could pull it off. And therein lies my eventual point…
Now I should say first that I am in no way anti-photographers of any skill level, discipline or status. I know, for instance, that my portraiture has a style and feel that really resonates my creative style and seems popular. My landscape photography, however, is shit. Mainly because I’m more interested in the stories I’m someone’s eyes that an old oak tree. I can appreciate the beauty of the natural world, but capture it, not so much.
What I am, however, is passionately anti-fakes. Those guys and gals who claim to be something they are just not. Snapping your sister’s wedding doesn’t make you the next David Bailey and doesn’t make you a professional wedding photographer. I’m all for community over competition so am delighted to share my little bit of knowledge with those in and wanting to join the field but some of these ‘professionals’, shooting in auto mode and charging exceptionally high prices for privilege really put those of us who are truly passionate and studious of our craft in a bad light. We have thought long and hard about my pricing structure, for example, and I charge what I believe I am worth. Hopefully that’ll go up over time (my sense of self worth, like so many creatives, is way off sometimes).
And then comes the big gripe. The phenomenon I like to call The Phantom Photographer. These phantoms, like the mask clad mentalist from the novel and musical, appear on social networking sites, often in wedding groups and offers pages. They engage with a client and tout their wares, often with a deal that’s too good to be true. Then they charge a deposit, we all do that so it’s not extraordinary.
What’s extraordinary about the phantoms, however, is that it’s about this point, or often just before the big day, that they simply disappear… contact will cease, Facebook accounts will be blocked and what should be the build up the couple’s happiest day suddenly becomes a panic-filled desperate search for a replacement.
Recently I have had a number of enquiries for wedding photography from people who have been ‘let down’ by a photographer, often just days before their wedding, in fact the images in this post are of the lovely Emma & Andy who called me just 1 week before their wedding and asked me to replace a phantom photographer who did their magic disappearing act a week or so before the big day. I’m delighted to have been available to help out. Not only were the happy couple the most lovely people, their day was joyful and their guests a pleasure to meet.
Sadly, there’s no way to spot a phantom before they strike, and it can be devastating as well as financially damaging to have it happen to you, but with a few top tips, you might survive a phantom strike.
My top tips to avoid photography hell…
It’s important to research your prospective photographers as fully as possible. Do they have a website, Facebook page, Twitter account? How active are these accounts? Do they have a body of work you can see online, such as a gallery or ‘latest work’ blog? Do they also have some testimonials online that you can check?
Contact & Communication
When someone contacts me, whether that’s directly, through my Facebook account, my website or other social media, I always try to start from the same base point. I will tell you if I think I can help you, first, I am not in the business of wasting my or your time. Second, I will tell you what services I offer and a ball-park figure for them. I will then invite you to share more information with me about your big day / event so that I can prepare a proper quote for you. Once I have done that, and assuming you’ve accepted, I will send across a booking form for you to complete and send back to me, as well as the deposit invoice, which secures your booking.
For me, it shows that 1. I really care about your wedding or event and 2. I am working hard to ensure that I have all the information I need to do the best job for you at your event.
All too often I hear stories of someone having contacted a ‘photographer’ online just to be told “no problem, it’s £300. See you there”. For me, this should ring alarm bells.
Word of Mouth
I assume you’ve come to this site from one of two places – a web search which I popped up in, or because of a recommendation from someone else. There is no better advert for a Wedding (or any) photographer than the word of mouth recommendation. Listen to those that have been before and take their words of wisdom and experience (this applies to life as well as photographers, of course).
I truly hope you don’t need to call me the week before your wedding or event, but if you do, I will do my very best to be there for you. If you want to make sure I am there, prepared and ready to capture your memories, why not contact me today and we can talk…