Hiring a Photographer

A brides story about her "professional" wedding photographer

A bride who recently wed reached out to me for help. I had worked with her in other projects in the past, but unfortunately when she had first inquired with me about her wedding, I wasn’t available for her date. Just like any other bride, she continued her search online for wedding photographers in the Niagara region.

I do not know who she ended up hiring, but she assures me that she hired a professional wedding photographer from Niagara who has been photographing for quite some time and has a great reputation.

She shared her story with me with the hopes that I might be able to inspire/help future brides in their search for a wedding photographer. She also knows that I speak regularly to a lot of photographers, and she hoped that by sharing her story it might help wedding photographers realize the true value of what they do. Here is her story about her “professional” wedding photographs:

Our wedding photos do not possess any qualities of the work of a trained professional  When we hired our photographer we understood it to be their priority to take control of any photo opportunity that day. I expect a hired professional to make required adjustments as they arose in order to capture better images than any of our guests.

We truly believed that our photographer was experienced and well trained in capturing all the important elements of this important celebration.

We were caught off guard when we received our discs with an overwhelming number of unpleasing images. While viewing our images at home for the very first time, I felt the most gut wrenching feeling. I still can’t believe this is our reality … at first, I truly thought that this was some kind of nightmare. It is still heartbreaking for us knowing that even with extensive editing, it ultimately won’t create a beautiful enough reflection of our Special Day. 

A few examples of the errors include:

– Incorrect angles/positioning of photographer (no rhyme or reason for how/why a shot was taken from where it was, how it was)
– Several shots with obstructive objects
– Arms, shoulders, feet being cut-off
– N
eglecting to rearrange or give guidance to the subjects being photographed on how to make the composition seem meaningful
– Lost opportunity 
of receiving pictures with some family members (which I clearly listed)
– No usable group shots
– Lack of variety/creativity in the poses

In an after-note, the bride said to me:

I completely support the need to share the reality of these disasters with anyone looking into booking a professional to capture the beautiful memories created on their most special day. It is also important for all (so-called) wedding photographers to understand the true importance of the dependancy of their existance when hired for this type of celebration.

Here are a few pieces of advice that I would like to share with future brides in hoping that we can learn from this terribly unfortunate situation:

  1. When meeting with a photographer, always look at a full wedding instead of just the “best of” portfolio. Seeing a full wedding will give you an idea what you can expect from start-to-finish with that particular photographer. 
  2. Be clear in your expectations and what you’re looking for out of your photographer and your photographs.
  3. Always do a “practice session” (as I call it) or an engagement session with your photographer to gauge the style and quality of work you can expect from your wedding.
  4. When interviewing photographers, don’t pick on photographic style alone. Also consider qualities such as organization, attention to detail and professionalism. A photographer who is familiar with the flow of a wedding day will approach every wedding day with incredible attention to detail to ensure that all of your needs are met and that there is no extra stress the day of the wedding day with regards to pictures.
  5. Remember that a “cheap” photographer is “cheap” for a reason.
  6. Always consider the background of the photographer – are they a member of the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC)? Members of this professional association adhere to a strict code of ethics and they are committed to the continuing their education and improving themselves as a photographer.

There is so much more that I would love to share with future brides in regards to tips in hiring a professional photographer, and perhaps I’ll share more in future blog posts. There really is so much that goes into the decision of choosing the right photographer aside from their pictures and their prices. For me, in our studio, this is a constant educational experience that I walk through with all my potential and existing clients at the “meet-and-greet”.

With regards to the bride mentioned above – I am now working with her now one-on-one to see what we can do in terms of “rescuing” her photos with intensive post-processing. Of course, unfortunately, we’ll never be able to make-up on the computer what could have been done in-camera though. The conversation of hiring a great “photographer” instead of a great “photoshopper” is a whole other topic all together, but it’s something I’d like to write about in the future.

This is truly every bride’s nightmare, and I would not wish this upon anyone, regardless of the budget they are working with. Hence why I thought I would share my advice here with future brides in the hope that they can make a more informed and education decision when hiring their photographer.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these tips in the “comments” below.

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