Frustrations with the Photographer

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WellWisher Posts : 175 Registered: 1/2/10
Frustrations with the Photographer
Posted: Oct 13, 2010 12:37 AM

So, the number one priority in my wedding for my fiance and I(besides getting married, of course:) ) is having great photography. We shopped around photographer's websites the best that we could (it's MT, so not many quality choices) and decided on a photographer who's style we loved. We contacted him for our wedding next Aug. and he gave us a great deal on the package we chose because we signed on so early (about a month ago). We put down our deposit, signed a contract, and he said he was excited to do business with us.

A couple days after signing the contract I was shopping at Target. I went to check out and my checker was my photographer! He seemed embarrassed that I "found out" about this, and it was kind of awkward. I didn't think it was a big deal since everyone these days is finding it harder to make ends meet, but it was weird that I had just put a pretty big deposit down and then saw him in such a context.

Then my fiance and I decided a good time for us to have our engagement session. We called our photographer as much in advance as we could (about a week) and he said that he was totally open and that the time would work great for him. He said he would send us an email over the weekend to talk about what clothes are best for taking photographs as well as where and what time to meet him.

We received no email. I called him on Monday afternoon to share some key pictures I would like taken (just a few that were important to me)and he said that he was very sorry, that he had to make a quick trip to Salt Lake, and that he would get back to us. He didn't.

So day of our engagement session and we still have no time or place to meet him. He ends up calling us about two and a half hours before to confirm everything. At this time I have plenty of time to get ready for the pics, but I'm flustered and aggravated. The engagement session goes very smoothly and fun, and the photographer spends an hour more with us for free, even though we ended up taking pictures that he wanted and only got two that I shared with him earlier that was important to me, and one was done very last-minute. We left with him assuring us that this rush wouldn't happen again and that he would have 1) a couple pictures on his blog right away and 2) all of our pictures done from 2-3 weeks so that my fiance and I can order our save-the-date postcards.

Flash forward. Tomorrow will be the one-week marker since our engagement pictures. We have had no news from the photographer and no pictures on his blog. I'm very miffed, but I also want to be reasonable. How can I tell my photographer that I am unhappy with his communication and organization without ruining the great client-photographer relationship we do have, when he shows up on time? Should I just keep my mouth shut because he gave us a great deal for signing up early? Should I be worried that he hasn't worked on any of the photos at all and that our STD's will end up being really late?

One part of me would really like to be VERY frank with this photographer. The other part wants to be the storybook nice, sweet bride. What should I do?

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MagicalMomentsP... Posts : 742 Registered: 3/6/06
Re: Frustrations with the Photographer
Posted: Oct 13, 2010 12:00 PM Go to message in response to: WellWisher

Hello WW,

Congratulations on your engagement and upcoming wedding. Unfortunately, yours is a story we're hearing all too often these days. You may not realize it, the source of your problem is the economy. Your photographer, like the rest of us, is finding it hard to make end meet. That's the real reason he gave you a discount, to get the booking and much needed cash.

These days with business down, independent photographers are doing what they need to do to put food on the table for their families. I'm actually considering a part-time job too. It is actually a good thing you discovered your photographer at Target. While you may not be happy with what has been happening, at least it allows you to understand.

I can tell you from my days at Disney, retail work schedules are not typically posted until the week before. Your photographer didn't know his schedule to be able to work around it to schedule your engagement session. In addition, he is working retail hours and might not be home in time to call you without waking you up. However, that does not excuse his failure to communicate via e-mail. Currently, your photographer is overworked and exhausted from a lack of sleep.

Now you have a choice. You can go bridezilla on him. Call and complain about his lack of responsiveness to you. However, I don't think that is the best approach in this situation. You'll catch more flies with honey. This is the time for a frank but caring/compassionate discussion with your photographer. You can express your disappointment with his failure to meet your expectations. Expectations he's set by giving you delivery dates. He can solve much of your frustration by communication and setting realistic delivery dates.

Howard Kier, Certified Professional Wedding Photographer

Magical Moments Photography


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WellWisher Posts : 175 Registered: 1/2/10
Re: Frustrations with the Photographer
Posted: Oct 14, 2010 1:41 AM Go to message in response to: WellWisher

Thank you for the advice. It's nice to hear from the photographer side of the fence. Your reasoning makes a lot of sense to be. My fiance has sent our photographer a kind email asking about our pictures. If he doesn't get back to us within a couple of days I'll call him, and if I'm still frustrated again you might see me back here! Thanks again!

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Frustrations with the Photographer
Posted: Oct 14, 2010 10:42 AM Go to message in response to: MagicalMomentsP...

Dear Howard,

Question:

If the photographer is working two jobs, one in retail, and if the schedule for the retail job is posted a week ahead of time, how can the couple be sure the photographer will be available on W-Day?

I am sympathetic to the need for a photographer to earn a living, even if it involves a second job. However, the couple contract for a service and they need to be assured that person will be available as contracted.

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PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: Frustrations with the Photographer
Posted: Oct 14, 2010 11:22 AM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Usually in retail jobs you can request a specific day off and it can be given to you.

In the event that it is not, most places allow you to switch shifts with other employees.

That said, if those things are not possible you raise an excellent point. So unless the person is willing to quit on the other job without notice the wedding couple is up a creek.

 

 

 

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MagicalMomentsP... Posts : 742 Registered: 3/6/06
Re: Frustrations with the Photographer
Posted: Oct 14, 2010 12:09 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Dear AOTB,

That is one of the big reasons I left Disney. I had a new store manager who was not sympathetic the scheduling needs of my fledgling studio. The biggest issue was having Saturdays off. With that said, the previous posters are correct about being able to ask for a day off or have somebody else cover the shift. Without knowing Target's work rules, I'm simply unable to comment about how the photographer could make sure they are available to photograph the wedding.

Howard Kier, Certified Professional Wedding Photographer

Magical Moments Photography


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WellWisher Posts : 175 Registered: 1/2/10
Re: Frustrations with the Photographer
Posted: Oct 14, 2010 12:32 PM Go to message in response to: WellWisher

I assume he will be able to make the date, since he has told us it has never been a problem. Our contract states that if he cannot show he has to get a photographer of greater value to come stand in his place. He said that this has never happened in the past, but we looked over the contract carefully and if he can't show, we end up getting more than our money's worth. Our package comes with two photographers so in case he can't make it the other will step up and be a "main" photographer who already knows all of the communication we've already shared, and a "better" photographer will step in to help.

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MagicalMomentsP... Posts : 742 Registered: 3/6/06
Re: Frustrations with the Photographer
Posted: Oct 14, 2010 2:13 PM Go to message in response to: WellWisher

Our contract states that if he cannot show he has to get a photographer of greater value to come stand in his place.

Hello,

I really don't mean to cause you additional worry but this is a very nebulous clause. What is meant by "greater value?" Does that mean the photographer charges more per hour than yours? It is very difficult to define "greater value" when dealing with photographers. Is the photographer more experienced? Better photographer? Who decides these qualifications? As many others on the forum will tell you, just because a photographer charges more, it does not mean they are a better photographer.

Howard Kier, Certified Professional Wedding Photographer

Magical Moments Photography


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WellWisher Posts : 175 Registered: 1/2/10
Re: Frustrations with the Photographer
Posted: Nov 8, 2010 7:11 PM Go to message in response to: MagicalMomentsP...

Hello, everyone!

I'm back again and, sorry to say, I have more questions for all of you. First of all, Howard, thank you for your concern with our contract. I would love to give you a direct quote from our contract with the photographer, but alas, he hasn't sent us a copy yet, which he told my fiance and I that we would have a week after we signed it with him. I do remember that in case he could not make it, our photographer would give us a list of other local photographers to choose from at no cost, and that his second photographer would step up to the "first" seed in order to give us the best service possible. If after the wedding we felt that we'd been duped, he would offer us a reasonable discount.

Well, the engagement pictures came back a few weeks ago.

I've given them some time to grow on me, but they honestly haven't yet. Out of the two hours we spent shooting with our photographer, we've only been given 42 photos, and I don't think a lot of them are that great. It's strange, because our contract states that we would receive digital negatives, but I know that our photographer took more than 42 pictures that day. We didn't even get shots of some of the poses he put us in! We did get a CD of the 42 pictures to share with friends and family, but what happened to all of those other photos?

I also feel like the pictures we did receive are not really very good. He only got a couple of pictures with my fiance looking at the camera and smiling, and only in a couple of them are we both doing those things. I also feel like I just don't look very good in them, which is horrible because I don't have that great of self-image anyway. I know that this isn't the photographer's fault. But I see so many beautiful engagement pictures out there, and I know I'm not that bad-looking of a girl, so why didn't we have just one picture that took my breath away? I'm finding myself cringing at picking one of them out to send to all of our friends and family for our STD's.

It's weird because I'm usually not so judgmental. Usually I just go with the flow. So why am I so tense about getting some decent engagement photos? And how can I communicate with my photographer that I want a signed copy of our contract, the rest of the engagement photos, and my expectations so that I won't feel the same about the wedding pictures?

Again, thank you for all of your help. It is very much appreciated in this stressful time.

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hljanes Posts : 57 Registered: 12/31/09
Re: Frustrations with the Photographer
Posted: Nov 8, 2010 8:02 PM Go to message in response to: WellWisher

It's strange, because our contract states that we would receive digital negatives, but I know that our photographer took more than 42 pictures that day. We didn't even get shots of some of the poses he put us in! We did get a CD of the 42 pictures to share with friends and family, but what happened to all of those other photos?

I know that some of the photographers I looked into don't provide ALL the photos they take, just the ones they feel are worth being provided. Not every photo even a pro takes is going to be good; some don't want to give you ones that aren't up to their standards. Whether that's a good practice, someone else with more knowledge than I can speak to.

As for why you're so tense about getting good engagement photos... you're concerned because you want good wedding photos and this is the guy who's going to be taking them. If they aren't good, you don't get a do-over of your wedding day. I just had my engagement photos done this weekend and I know if I don't like them, I'll stress like crazy over my photographer selection.

Edited by: hljanes on Nov 8, 2010 8:51 PM

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MagicalMomentsP... Posts : 742 Registered: 3/6/06
Re: Frustrations with the Photographer
Posted: Nov 9, 2010 12:15 AM Go to message in response to: WellWisher

Hello,

First and foremost, I'm a bit concerned you have not received a copy of your contract. That seems a bit strange to me. However, I do have to admit there was a time when I sent a contract out which was not received by the client. But a quick phone call and fax resolved the situation. The clause you are citing from memory seems a bit strange to me. Especially the part about you being "duped" and obtaining a refund.

Next let's talk about your engagement photos. They are really a practice run. In my nearly ten years (I can't believe it) of doing this, I've only had one client express concern over their engagement photos. However, it did open up a good dialogue over what they wanted and let me know what I needed to do in order to give them the wedding photos they wanted/deserved. In our case, it was just a matter of style. The clients wanted more direction and I'm more hands off. But we talked and after the wedding, they love their photos.

The important fact to note, in that situation, there was nothing technically wrong with the photos. They just wanted something a bit different. I have the feeling you are not happy with your engagement photos for more than style differences. Without seeing the photos, it is hard for me to comment on the technical quality of the images. If they are posted somewhere, I'd be happy to take a quick look.

Part of the job of a wedding photographer is to make their clients comfortable enough so good photos can be taken. Another facet is knowing how to take good images despite various body shapes. For example, you don't want to photograph a heavy person straight on. If possible you want the camera to be a little higher than the person and "shoot down" to provide a slimming effect. Sometimes, those "WOW" photos happen because the photographer knows how to get the couple to relax, have fun and can then click the shutter.

In the end, you are the ones who have to be comfortable with your wedding photographer. You are the ones who are investing in your wedding memories. Memories you will be sharing with your children and grand-kids. If you are not happy with the photos, they you have several options. First would be to talk to your photographer. See what he says. Next, if time permits, have a redo of the engagement session. Make your photographer prove he will be able to deliver the photos you want. After that, you do have a choice to make. You can continue with this photographer or you can find another photographer. In the end, the choice is yours.

Howard Kier, Certified Professional Wedding Photographer

Magical Moments Photography


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Holdens_Bride Posts : 15 Registered: 11/2/10
Re: Frustrations with the Photographer
Posted: Nov 9, 2010 9:54 AM Go to message in response to: hljanes

Honeslty, I say go with your gut feeling.

I am like you, my pictures are the most important thing to me- vendor wise and I initially was trying to be budget-conscious. I found someone I liked, we met with him, he did our engagement photos and um. I hated them.

Hated. First off, we did them at noon on a really sunny day, which my (new) photographer said was probably not the best time of day to really capture the best light, but even worse, I looked pregnant in them. How you make someone who is a size 8 look pregnant in jeans and a shirt, I dunno, but they were awful.

All 12 of them I received. TWELVE. I have friends getting 75-100+ raw images on a CD and I got 12. 12 bad ones.

I just knew in my gut, this wasn't the right guy for us and it was hard to swallow the 600.00 he kept from me, which I think is crappy considering my wedding is still so far away, but I can't make my peace with the fact that my pictures might not be fantastic, so if in your gut, you don't think this is the right photographer, I say trust it!!!

Good luck!

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Mrs_Orto Posts : 14 Registered: 7/19/10
Re: Frustrations with the Photographer
Posted: Nov 11, 2010 9:46 AM Go to message in response to: WellWisher

WW~

I absolutely understand where you are coming from! Like you, my pictures are the most important thing to me besides the wedding itself. We're not having a videographer so the pictures will be the only documentation of the day.
I did a lot of searching to find my photographer. He was local and I loved his work in his gallery online. It was a little bit more money than I had originally wanted to spend but when looking at everything we are getting, it's really not a bad price at all (especially compared to others' I've seen!).
We had our engagement session a few weeks ago and I was thrilled with the way the photographer worked with us. Like Howard said, he made us feel very comfortable and relaxed which made it easier for him to get some great pictures.
We also did not get every single picture taken. I think we had about 35 or so from about an hour of shooting. Like hljanes said, the photographer won't really want to give you a photo that they don't think looked good. Maybe you were blinking or sneezed or dropped your head or whatever the case may have been. They will select the photos that they know, as a professional, are better quality.
I agree that some of the contract stuff seems a little odd (especially the fact that you don't have a copy of it!) but that is something that you can really just talk to the photographer about. Since he's the one that wrote it up, he's really the only one that can clarify it and answer any questions.
Also agreeing with hljanes, the engagement pictures are important because they're like a preview of the wedding photos. If the engagement pictures were less than satisfactory, you're automatically going to be thinking the wedding pictures will be the same. And when you put as much importance on the photos as you (and me, and many others) are, you want them to be breath-taking. I certainly think it's worth asking if you can have another engagement session, after sitting down with the photographer and explaining why you were unhappy with the first one. If he doesn't know what was wrong with the first set of pictures, you'll probably just get more of the same. Even if you can't do another engagement session for whatever reason, you still definitely want to talk to the photographer about what you feel was bad about the pictures you got (like the fact that the two of you aren't smiling at the camera very much or that he didn't choose angles to make you look your best). Obviously you don't want to be mean about it but it seems like you have handled the other problems gracefully and kindly.
So, just sit down with him and have a discussion about EXACTLY what you're looking for with your pictures and you can figure out what you both need to do to get that. And if, in the end, you feel like this photographer can't give you what you want, consider searching for someone else. Like HB said, follow your gut. And good luck!

Mrs. Orto
wedding websites

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WellWisher Posts : 175 Registered: 1/2/10
Re: Frustrations with the Photographer
Posted: Nov 11, 2010 7:11 PM Go to message in response to: WellWisher

Thank you everyone for being so nice and supportive!

Howard, after you offered to look at our pictures I went back to look at them (for about the millionth time) and decided that perhaps the pictures themselves aren't the problem. The lighting and location of the photos are very good, and we did tell him that we wanted some "artistic" looking pictures, so maybe I just wanted too much, or communicated with the photographer too much over the phone. I think that I might have taken a lot of the pressure I'm feeling from family members over the wedding planning and put those feelings into my engagement pictures, since I do have a sub conscience tendency to try to blame others for my stress (luckily I'm aware of this so I usually recognize those feelings right away :) )

I guess that I was expecting way too much from the pictures. Even though the photographer did a good job with lighting, etc I could look at the pictures and agonize over how weird my hair was blowing in the breeze/how big my hips look/how my shirt isn't laying right/ whatever. And those things aren't the photographer's fault. Everybody wants that breathtaking picture for STD's or whatever, and I didn't get that, but big deal I guess. Maybe that's just because I'm way more judgmental of myself than I am to other people. That's a personal problem, and I'm working on it. Besides, if every couple got a breathtaking picture than they wouldn't be breathtaking anymore, would they?

I'm not trying to be negative, just realistic. Our photographer has the skills so hopefully we'll get our one breathtaking picture for the wedding. And if we don't, I guess I'll live through it :)

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dogbride Posts : 41 Registered: 4/22/10
Re: Frustrations with the Photographer
Posted: Nov 11, 2010 7:52 PM Go to message in response to: WellWisher

Hmmm, I wonder if it would be worth talking to another photographer. You have brought up MANY concerns over the past 6wks with this. I would hate for you to hate the wedding photos. You cant redo the day. And this is something that you named as being one of the most important things to you.

This might add more stress in the weeks before your wedding-will he show, will he take good photos, will he fulfill things in the contract.

I think that Howard would agree that you shouldnt have to worry about your photographer doing an awesome job.

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