Honest advice to all starting wedding photographers

Jul 9, 2018

Paulius Musteikis

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

Honest advice to all starting wedding photographers

Jul 9, 2018

Paulius Musteikis

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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With the article below don’t want to ruin someone’s life and business. Or stop them from pursuing their passion, dreams or whatever they’re after.

I want to speak about it, as my frustrations with unprofessional wedding insiders has been slowly building up in the last few months.

Wedding professionals that base their recommendations to their client because of fees they receive from other vendors.

New competition in area that offer smaller prices, and directly is threatening to ruin your business if you don’t send any recommendations their way.

Suggestions for not booking your wedding professional until last minute, so you can save money.

These are just a few examples of what I’ve been seeing and hearing among my fellow wedding photographers.

And this email from my wedding colleagues I received last week, kind of became this last drop.

I want to speak up, because I want to see wedding industry improving. Learning. Growing.
Because I want better experience to all wedding clients out there.

Here’s how email I received looked like:

I am wedding photographer who still have dates available to book for weddings this year and next.  I would love to be able to coordinate with you on dates that you may already have booked but are getting inquiries from prospective couples.

As part of this collaboration, I would like to offer you $50 for each booked wedding package that you refer to me upon completion of the wedding.

My portfolio and packages, starting at $900, are available on my website to view.  Since my 2nd photographer and I work together at each wedding, we have the advantage of being able to shoot multiple angles and styles for each moment of their big day.

I look forward to hearing from you and collaborating with you in the future!

Wedding photographer

I have been thinking about that email over the weekend. I felt I had to say something. I didn’t want to talk about their $900 wedding package. Nor I wanted to ask them why the first image I see on their website is out of focus.

I wanted to talk about something else: wedding photography ethics. Or at least, the way I see them.

So today, I sat down, put together and emailed wedding photographer my response:

Dear wedding photographer,

Thank you so much for the generic email you’ve sent out last Friday. I’ve talked to few my colleagues, and seems like we all got the same copy/paste version.

Bravo for doing your homework and making it very much personal!

Now, I know I will sound like an asshole, but let me tell you few things here.

first picture from the wedding. just had to include it.

I know you’re just starting. I know, because I see “under construction” message in  your About Us page. “This site was designed with the website builder.” banner beautifully sitting right above your website navigation says so. And 4 posts in your Instagram account is pointing at it.

And it’s OK.

And I’ve been in your shoes.

We all started from the scratch.

bridal party shot at 17mm. distortions are amazing, aren’t they?

But I never took shortcuts.

And that’s exactly what your email is.

A lousy shortcut that won’t take you anywhere. In fact, it will make quite a few wedding photographers you’ve emailed not happy. Or at least it should.

And there are few reasons for that.

some impressive detail shots from around the wedding reception.

First of all, we’ve never met. I don’t know who you are. You don’t know who I am. And you didn’t even didn’t bother to learn my name and put it in your email.

Why I should pay attention to anything you have to say, if your email looks like the rest of the emails that go to my Spam folder: “Dear Sir or Madam?”

Second of all, your wedding photography style is not what I offer to my clients.

As a wedding photographer, I have one job: to give my client what they want and do my best while doing it. So by default, if I am booked, I will try to match a couple with someone who’s wedding photography style is closest to what I offer.

Thirdly, (and that’s a biggie) if I refer a wedding couple another photographer, it will be someone who I trust. Someone who will push through the day not matter what. Someone, who will do their absolute best. Because if my recommendation fails, I fail as well.

Finally, the whole idea of paying someone for a referral in wedding photography industry is disgusting. Because if I would accept your offer, unless I’m really sending a client the next best recommendation available, I’m simply would be serving my own interest.

And that’s not how I see wedding client and wedding photographer relationship.

So, thanks for offering me $50, but no, thanks!

I hope you still have a real job and didn’t jump into full-time photographer’s career yet.

Because on your path as a full-time photographer there will be a lot of homework to do and a lot of inner demons to face.

And for sure it won’t happen overnight.

Or over a year.

Or five.

And the formula is really simple: Be nice. Work Hard. Care about people. Repeat.

It’s simple, but its not an easy formula to follow.

And shortcuts won’t take you anywhere.

And maybe you know it already, but from your email, it doesn’t look like.

I won’t explain you how and where to begin. Not because that I feel threatened by your competition. But because we all have our own ways. Because what have worked for me, might not necessarily work for you.

So you’ll have to figure it out yourself. It’s really not that difficult if you push hard enough for long enough.

And if you do, you’ll be rewarded.

And while exciting, this journey won’t be easy. And definitely isn’t for everyone.

I wish you best of luck.

PM

I know my response to wedding photographer could have been nicer. I’ve consulted fellow photographers before, met with new people in town, introduced them to my local colleagues, etc. But this time I chose a different response.

And I know for sure, that if wedding photographer would have chosen honest and humble approach, they could be assisting weddings for several people they have reached out. And learning wedding photography on steroids by taking a legit shortcut.

Thanks for reading.

* All pictures in this blog post are taken by me back in 2012 during one of the first weddings I photographed. Yes, I LOVED my shooting weddings with my 17-35mm back then.

About the Author

Paulius Musteikis was born and grew up in Lithuania, went to school there and got a degree in civil engineering. He ended up coming to Madison Wisconsin in 2001 and worked in quite a few different fields: advertisement, construction business, restaurant industry, real estate, etc. He eventually became a full-time portrait and wedding photographer in Madison, Wisconsin area in 2012.

If you’d like to see more of Paulius’ work, make sure to check out his website and follow him on Facebook and Instagram This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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2 responses to “Honest advice to all starting wedding photographers”

  1. David Alves Avatar
    David Alves

    Listen in America we have a thing called a free market and it’s the most honest thing there is. We have all done things at the beginning that we look back at and cringe at once you gain more knowledge. When you start you just want to get your feet wet by any means possible and honestly there is no right or wrong way to go about it, itall comes down to personal decisions. Having said that in the long run wether you succeed or fail in this business comes down to people who choose to hire you. If your not good or don’t get better then ultimately people won’t hire you and the market will decide your fate. I’ve been shooting weddings for 6 years and in that time I’ve seen so many come and go in the competitive New England market but one thing remains true if you deliver good work and make people happy you will thrive no matter what your style is. One thing I learned in this business is do photography to impress your clients and make them feel good, don’t do it to try and impress other photographers. Also articles putting down others is tacky, if you care enough to spend the time to be critical about how others choose to start their journey maybe you should spend the time to write the photographer and share some encouragement and tips on how to succeed. Never be worried about competition because quality always lasts.

  2. R Avatar
    R

    This article is more tasteless than the e-mail that was sent to you. I also find it pretty strange that the e-mail that was “sent” to you contained the same sort of grammatical errors as your article. Hmm…