Trashing someone all over the internet is not an adequate way to express your dissatisfaction with their services. A bride from Canada learned this the hard way after the court ordered her to pay $115,000 CAD (nearly $89,500) for trashing a wedding photographer online and ruining her business.
This blog is written for anyone who photographs weddings professionally or is thinking about doing so, but it is also beneficial for future newlyweds to truly understand the planning, thought processes, coordination, work, skill and endurance that we go through to get the images. I decided to write this blog post not to showcase the photos from this weekend (which I love doing as well) but to explain to all of you the process of capturing this momentous day for people.
I am writing this blog post on Tuesday, after a really long weekend of photographing a wedding, and I am still feeling the exhaustion from the long days. Photographing a wedding is an all encompassing event and, if done correctly, will leave you drained mentally and physically.
Wedding fairs are a hard competition. If you are a wedding photographer, there is sometimes no way around those, though. Finnish photographer, Aaro Keipi, found a cool way to attract clients to his booth. He replaced the insides of a Kodak Duaflex II twin lens reflex with a Samsung Gear watch to attract clients and initiate a conversation.
Here is why (I think) you shouldn’t sell your files in bundles!
Doing IPS (In Person Sales) does not mean that you cannot sell your files – but it does mean you shouldn’t be giving them away as a Shoot and burn photographer (S&B). And now some of the S&B’ernes will object, they are not giving them away, they are selling them as an all inclusive package!
The S&B’s I know, are priced from 60-180£ (67€/70$-200€/220$) for a CD/USB/Download with 5-30 files included. And this is telling your clients that your images has almost no value. For the client it looks like they are only paying for your time, not the art you create.
If we break the numbers down, depending on your CODB (cost of doing business), best case scenario, you will make somewhere around 20-25£ pr image – worst case scenario – 2£ pr file (!!). Do you really, deep in your heart, believe your art should be sold that cheap?
I covered an event some months ago over a period of a few days, where as you can imagine, many hundreds of photos were taken. Due to the popularity of this event, (we’ve covered it over a number of years thankfully) I knew the folks that were a part of it were really going to be anxious to see, share, print, etc. After editing, and uploading their photos to the online gallery, they ended up having a really great selection of photos that told the story of their event quite well. All images showed people having a good time, shaking hands, hugging, smiling, laughing, posing for group shots; basically enjoying their evening.
Any photographer that has been doing this for awhile can judge the evening pretty well. Actually, more than that. We can judge the day, the event, the evening, the shoot, whatever it is, we can sum it up and pretty much determine how it’s all going to roll. Once in awhile curve balls are thrown, but if you do it long enough, nothing is really a surprise- and that is a good thing.
The evening was slow, not much was happening. You can only get so many photos of the same people doing various activities, while there are infinite poses and different combinations of people you can pose with, after awhile, you’ve gotten everything. Seriously…everything.
After sending the gallery to the clients, I get a text a few minutes later.
… and how you can do the same (no matter what country you are in)!
A little backstory: I have been a full time professional photographer for close to 9 years. My passion is weddings – I have done more than a 100 weddings, and I still cry when they say yes. For the first 7 years of my carrier I was a starving artist. I did lots of weddings (and families, and children, and events, and corporate, anything that came my way, really) – I worked worked and worked – always trying to book the next client – my portfolio was full, my calendar was full, I was a popular choice when people got married, had babies or having their family portraits done.
The truth is, however, I would have made more money working the cashier at the local fast food joint – and would even have worked less! So I decided I needed a change – I needed a fair pay for my work, I am a damn good photographer, why shouldn’t I get paid for my time and talent? So I started reading and stumbled across “In Person Sales” (IPS) for photographers. I saw people writing about making thousands – on a single client. I didn’t really believe in it – and yeah, maybe it worked in America – but here, in Denmark? No way! Everyone wants the CD (or if you are really trendy, the USB). I believed the same lie I have been telling clients for years; “You want the CD right?” WRONG!
I have a dear and very cheerful friend who always assumes that the worst is going to happen. It very rarely does and so, when things turn out better than expected, she’s always much happier than she thought she possibly could be bearing in mind that things are always turning out better than anticipated!
Photographing a wedding is, in many ways fraught with the potential for things to go wrong. There are so many variable factors involved, many out of the photographer’s control, and it’s important to have strategies to reduce risk as far as possible and also to have mechanisms in place to cope when things do go wrong. It’s good to assume the worst will happen so that you can do your utmost to prevent it, you can cope if it does happen and, if it doesn’t happen you can count your blessings and come out smiling!
I received the following inquiry from Lisa, who has a dilemma.
Dear Miss Mwac, I would love your advice on this. I keep being invited to weddings lately. By “friends” (ie: acquaintances) whom I have not seen or spoken to in years. Their messages always start “I would love for you to photograph my wedding” and end with “…and you are of course a welcome guest”. In other words…. ‘Well since you’ll be at my wedding anyway, thank you so much for shooting it for free!’. I never know how to politely answer these emails. Any suggestions?? I’m more than happy to shoot their wedding, but I ain’t giving it away, and I ain’t gonna be sipping cocktails like a ‘guest’. I’ll be working, while the real guests are enjoying themselves. I just never know how to wird a response, once it’s clear that they meant “we’d love for you to shoot our wedding…… as a favour”. Thank you Missy Mwac!! (and anyone else who has anything to say / suggest)
Anybody who has ever shot weddings can attest to the fact that wedding guests can be great assets or tremendous liabilities to you and your task of effectively capturing the day. That’s about the extent of the diplomacy I can muster at this point. Guests dancing at a reception providing awesome photo ops = Good. Guests stepping in and trying to direct the bride and groom during their private shoot so that said guest can grab their desired shot (true story) = Little short of infuriating. But, one app is poised to take it to a whole new level of hot-under-the-collar for photographers.
Ceremony is a free and novel little mobile app that now allows happy couples to crowdsource their wedding photos. In other words, the bride and groom can compile an entire wedding album from each of the smartphones snapping away throughout the day, basically rendering the need for a wedding photographer moot (or, so it would seem).
Businesses beware! There’s a scam targeting wedding photographers
It appears that there’s a credit card scam targeting wedding photographers making its way round the Internet. Over the past several months, I’ve been contacted by a number of unimaginably eager clients-to-be requesting to reserve my wedding photography services. These messages share several common elements: