From a photographer..to the ladies, please help

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Wildviper Posts : 6 Registered: 12/16/09
From a photographer..to the ladies, please help
Posted: Dec 11, 2010 1:16 AM

Hello All,

I am a new photographer that is looking to establish a successful wedding photography business (Surprise, Surprise!).

I need your help though. I have been reading this forum and the horrible experiences some of you have had and the polar opposite as well for sometime now.

If you can help me with these questions, it would really go a long ways to me understanding the needs of a bride.

1. As brides (or past brides), what do you look for in your photographer?

2. What are you looking for in your pictures? Moments? Posed portraits? What's that magic thing you look for?

3. And finally, what drives you nuts about any vendor? Service, price, attitude???

I realize Howard is the de facto standard here as the photographer and I am not trying to take over(I couldn't). I am trying to define my marketing which will define my business. So your candid help would go a long way in that endeavour. :)

Thank you.
Anand

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CatStandish Posts : 2,766 Registered: 6/20/08
Re: From a photographer..to the ladies, please help
Posted: Dec 11, 2010 9:38 AM Go to message in response to: Wildviper

I used an apprentice for my wedding, and she did a great job. I actually had invited her boss as a guest to my wedding, and he did take over on a few shots -- I can tell which ones they are. Yes, I knew he took them...but in the ones that are similar (she was trying to do something, for example) that he took the camera on... I can tell which was taken by whom.

That being said, I was very satisfied overall with her work. She did a great job and I got a great value for my money.

However, there was one thing I would have liked that she didn't get -- and as a novice, I completely understand her perspective. We didn't talk about this.

Ask the bride and groom this:

Which is more important to you: That you have a variety of shots during the ceremony or that I am out of the way of the guests?

Simple question...but it carries a lot of weight.

My apprentice was used to working with a team, so each of them would take up a spot during the ceremony (left, right, back), they could get different angles. And because of that, she took up a spot behind me.

We have maybe three pictures of my face during the wedding and a whole lot of my back (thank GOD my dress fit to the degree that I didn't have the back boob ). We do not have us walking down the aisle as man and wife from the front (we have our backs).

Had she asked me which was more important.... shots where she tried not to obstruct the view of the guests, but still moved around OR that she take a stationary position and not be seen by the guests at all, I'd have asked her to move, but try not to obstruct the view.

As this was her first solo gig, she didn't know to ask. This is not something a lot of people are going to think to ask their photographer, because we do not know how you work.

(And I know that jump shot and the shoe shot is all the rage, but not all of us like it)

I am not overly fan of the posed shots -- but you have to have them. I don't want the majority to be posed. I want the candids. I like the idea of the first look (and it's a good thing we did that...because my photographer's spot had her miss DH's face when I came in, so we'd have lost that).

We also did some personal photographs after the wedding with just DH and I. You can tell which pictures they are -- so individual shots of the bride and groom before AND after the ceremony are kind of neat to have.

Misty

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PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: From a photographer..to the ladies, please help
Posted: Dec 11, 2010 9:45 AM Go to message in response to: Wildviper

Hi Anand -

I'll explain how I picked my photographer, which is different from others, but I'll explain why I liked who I liked and then I'll point you in the direction of a thread that Howard started that had great info.

I have a friend, not super close, who LOVEs photography and does it on the side. He's done enough to have a portfolio and contract, but he just can't support himself full time.

I loved his pics - my husband (DH) hadn't seen his pics before, but knew him, DH wasn't sure about hiring him. We walked away from our meeting with him and his portfolio and my DH was like 'We have to hire him'.

I love his energy and his personality. I knew that he would mesh well with our guests - in fact, they LOVED him.

I also wanted a photographer that would give me the rights to my pics. I may have paid a little more up front for that - BUT it was worth it as I can print my pics at any time for less money then otherwise.

I did get an album which I'm glad we did. But that's not always a big draw for everyone, so you may want to have an option to have or not.

I liked that he made sure to get the pictures I wanted, while suggesting some that I didn't think of. :-) I suggest having a list of standard shoots that you 'always' suggest to brides - it helps them think of what shots they want, etc.

I looked at other photographers but there were different things. I didn't like that of the ones near where I was getting married - I couldn't purchase the rights to the pics. Also, I couldn't guarantee what photographer would be shooting my wedding without paying an exorbitant fee. What's the point of looking at portfolios then?

I, personally, don't like 3+ photographers at a wedding that make everything be 'set up'. That's my personal feelings.

Here's the thread about a blog and with some comments by other brides - http://www.brides.com/forums/thread.jspa?messageID=604324򓢤

Good luck!
PTG

 

 

 

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Wildviper Posts : 6 Registered: 12/16/09
Re: From a photographer..to the ladies, please help
Posted: Dec 11, 2010 1:44 PM Go to message in response to: PharmToxGirl

Thank you both. I appreciate the insights. In my quest to come up with a marketing plan, it really helps to focus on what you, the brides, are looking for. No point in me offering 5 albums when you would rather have the CD, for example.

The link to Howard's for some reason didn't work for me. Is there some keywords that I can search for his thread?

EDIT: Nevermind...I found it. Yes, I have read that and had quickly checked my port...phew...by some stroke of luck, I don't fall under that type of photog...I have posted all of my work including inter-racial.

Thanks again,
Anand

Edited by: Wildviper on Dec 11, 2010 1:46 PM

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: From a photographer..to the ladies, please help
Posted: Dec 11, 2010 1:58 PM Go to message in response to: Wildviper

Dear Anand,

From a guest's point of view: I really appreciate it when the photographer dresses appropirately, like another guest. I have been to many weddings where the photographer is in casual (or even sloppy) clothes, on the theory that the photographer is not in the photos.

That might be OK for fashion work, but not at a wedding. It is distracting for guests who have taken the time to dress up to see a photographer walking around in jeans, sneakers and un-tucked in shirts.

Since you are starting out, I suggest you tell your potential clients that you will dress nicely for their wedding, and even ask what kind of clothes you expect the "ideal" guest to wear.

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PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: From a photographer..to the ladies, please help
Posted: Dec 11, 2010 3:19 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Anand,

It was funny that when Howard had posted that link, I hadn't thought about it, but what did also appeal to me about my photographer was that he had multi-racial and inter racial couples. Not everyone was cookie cutter. I'm not cookie cutter neither are most of my guests, so I'm not going to be convinced that a photographer with cookie cutter pictures can take good pictures of me or my guests.

Any way, I also agree with AOTB. Make sure to dress appropriately for the wedding. If they want guests in Hawaiin shirts, find a Hawaiian shirt or nice button down shirt (but not a suit). Or wear a suit or sport jacket if appropriate.

If I think of anything else, I'll pop on and let you know. :-)

PTG

PS. The main complaints that we seem to see are brides with photographers who don't get back in contact with them in a timely manner - worrying them that the photographer's going to be difficult to get in touch with later on.

Going back to the CD and rights to the pictures - I think this is becoming more common with the advent of digital pictures. My photographer offered a lesser package with just an album OR I paid more money for the album and the rights & CD. I wanted the rights & CD - the extra cost made sense. Now, another gf of mine had the option of just the CD and rights without an album and that's what she went for.... You just have to figure out what's best for you from the suggestions.

Edited by: PharmToxGirl on Dec 11, 2010 3:22 PM

 

 

 

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Wildviper Posts : 6 Registered: 12/16/09
Re: From a photographer..to the ladies, please help
Posted: Dec 11, 2010 3:56 PM Go to message in response to: PharmToxGirl

AOTB and PTG...thank you for the follow up.

Yes, I do dress professionally, but never thought that I should point that out. That will certainly be incorporated in my marketing somehow now.

As far as the communications is concerned, I do not understand why a photographer would do that...or for that matter anyone. I come from a sales background and thus it is very odd for me to even think that would be a problem.

I have read here and other places of similar experiences by brides. Strange...but how can I use this for my advantage? Just saying "I will call you back"..is that enough?

Anand

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Wildviper Posts : 6 Registered: 12/16/09
Re: From a photographer..to the ladies, please help
Posted: Dec 11, 2010 4:04 PM Go to message in response to: Wildviper

Btw, how important is it for you to have a website provided by the photographer?

Before the event and after?

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dogbride Posts : 41 Registered: 4/22/10
Re: From a photographer..to the ladies, please help
Posted: Dec 11, 2010 8:54 PM Go to message in response to: Wildviper

One more thing to think about...(most) brides want an immediate response. Try to do your best to return calls and emails in a timely manner. It can be used as a reflection of your work ethic.

"if he doesnt email me asap, maybe it will take months to get my pictures"

Good Luck!

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PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: From a photographer..to the ladies, please help
Posted: Dec 11, 2010 9:25 PM Go to message in response to: Wildviper

I think that just depends on the bride. It was not important to me, BUT I think that can be helpful if you are drumming up business.

It's probably even more important then that as most people either find out about someone through a web search OR through word of mouth.

I know that when my gf was 'eloping' in New Orleans, I looked up photographers on Craigs list - she only called the ones with web sites because we were in VA and she had less than a week.

Also, any professional acreditations are a good thing.

 

 

 

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MagicalMomentsP... Posts : 742 Registered: 3/6/06
Re: From a photographer..to the ladies, please help
Posted: Dec 12, 2010 3:13 AM Go to message in response to: Wildviper

I realize Howard is the de facto standard here as the photographer and I am not trying to take over(I couldn't). I am trying to define my marketing which will define my business.

Great, now I'm a standard when I've always tried to be unconventional.

Anand,

Welcome to the world of wedding photography and congratulations on taking your first steps. You will quickly come to realize there are no quick and easy answers. I'm going to assume from your profile that you are in Southern California. The market there differs from mine, Chicago, and New York, Miami or small town America. What I can tell you is when you are in a large market, Chicago, NY or LA there are literally thousands of weddings a year. There will be brides in all budget levels all of them wanting different products.

As a sales person you know you can't compete on price. There are no barriers to entry and there is always somebody willing to undercut your prices. You'll need to develop your unique selling proposition. Please understand the brides here may not represent the brides in your market or even your demographics. Don't be afraid to do some market research in your area.

Once again, I wish you luck and please feel free to contact me via phone or e-mail with any questions you may have.

Howard Kier, Certified Professional Wedding Photographer

Magical Moments Photography


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Wildviper Posts : 6 Registered: 12/16/09
Re: From a photographer..to the ladies, please help
Posted: Dec 12, 2010 3:33 PM Go to message in response to: MagicalMomentsP...

Thanks Howard.

You are right. The brides here may not represent my target market. Especially in Los Angeles where the economical diversity as well as cultural diversity is vast.

I am waiting for January to come around for the bridal shows to start. That way I can conduct on the ground research on what my target market is looking for.

The inputs here are valuable as well for me though...the more the merrier. :)

Anand

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Mrs_Orto Posts : 14 Registered: 7/19/10
Re: From a photographer..to the ladies, please help
Posted: Dec 12, 2010 4:43 PM Go to message in response to: Wildviper

I just got married last weekend and I absolutely LOVED my photographer! In choosing him, I initially looked at his online gallery to decide if I shared his wedding vision (I think it's extremely important for the Bride and photographer to have similar styles) and I adored his work. When I contacted him via email, I was thrilled to receive a reply in a matter of hours. Finally, when I met with him, I knew without a doubt, he was the right photographer for me because he had a great attitude and our personalities clicked really well.
We did a "trial run" with our engagement session and that's when my husband knew he was perfect because of how well he worked with us. He gave us direction without being pushy and he gave us constant feedback to let us know if the shot was working or not. He also asked us what kind of shots we wanted which I thought was really nice because some photographers will just take the shots they want and the couple may end up losing something they would have liked. He also made sure to ask me what the most important shot was that I wanted from the wedding day. It was also really nice that he stayed in constant contact with me to make sure we were both on the same page the whole time.
I also liked the package offers he had and the design of his albums. It's also great the he provides a CD of all our pictures so we can post them on Facebook and such. And I also love that he posts all of the pictures in an online gallery for a couple months so that the guests can get on and view and order pictures if they would like to.

To directly answer your questions:

1. As brides (or past brides), what do you look for in your photographer?
Style and vision are key. Also good communication, and a great attitude are important.

2. What are you looking for in your pictures? Moments? Posed portraits? What's that magic thing you look for?
Candid moments are often the best ones. But of course, you also want the "formals" which are all posed. Personally, the most important pictures to me were the "big moments" (walking down the aisle, the groom's reaction to the bride's entrance, the vows and ring exchange, the first kiss, the first dance, cake cutting etc.); all the stereotypical moments.

3. And finally, what drives you nuts about any vendor? Service, price, attitude???
Attitude would probably be the big one. Yes, the vendor may be the professional, but you're still providing a service to someone else that has their own ideas of what they want. Now, I'm not saying that you should do something that you know is a horrible idea, but that doesn't make that you need to tell the Bride just how dumb she is for having it. There are tactful ways of steering someone in a better direction, and if you're good enough at it, she'll never know this new plan wasn't her idea too. Basically, just be positive and kind; a sour attitude isn't gonna get you anything but a Bride who will tell all of her engaged friends to stay away from you.

P.S. I put the * around the picture that was my most important shot. I think every Bride wants to be able to look at a picture of her husband's reaction to her entrance and remember how amazing it felt to see all that love in his eyes.

Edited by: Mrs_Orto on Dec 12, 2010 4:43 PM
And I just realized that putting * around anything just makes it bold so the bold picture is my most important shot, lol.

Mrs. Orto
wedding websites

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CatStandish Posts : 2,766 Registered: 6/20/08
Re: From a photographer..to the ladies, please help
Posted: Dec 13, 2010 8:11 AM Go to message in response to: Wildviper

regarding website: That depends on how quickly you're going to get me the CD. (CD is more important to me than album). If you're going to have that CD ready for me in a couple of weeks, then website isn't really needed as I can facebook the stuff.

However, if you're posting all of the RAW photos and only 'finishing' a set number, then the website is very important because that lets me see which ones I want to have finished. (I want all the raw photos though :) )

Misty

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hljanes Posts : 57 Registered: 12/31/09
Re: From a photographer..to the ladies, please help
Posted: Dec 13, 2010 10:58 AM Go to message in response to: Wildviper

I think most things have been covered, but I wanted to add my two cents. You asked about a web site before the event, and I wasn't sure if you were talking about a site specific to the couple, or referring to a site for your business.

I personally wrote off any photographer without a business web site. I did not want to waste my time meeting with someone with whom I wasn't already sure I liked their style of work. I'm sure I dismissed a number of good photographers by doing so, but it was just my thing.

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