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!
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.