This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but something that happened today brought it to the front of my mind and I realized that today is the day.
Brides & Grooms: Keep in mind, when you contact a photographer who is not part of a chain, or large multi-person studio with a front office and sales staff, chances are you are talking to not only the owner of the business, the actual photographer who is actively shooting work, but also a person – a regular human being who has a life and a family and feelings.
If you contact a photographer and ask them to meet with you on very short notice, and they do their best to accommodate you, please be appreciative. Many of us have families, have children, have things we might have planned to do, but sometimes we are willing and able to shuffle things around to make things easier on a potential client, especially one from out of town who is only in the area briefly.
If you speak with a photographer and leave the conversation without making a decision, and that photographer follows up with you, don’t leave them hanging. Reply to their phone call or email. Even if it’s to say you hired someone else. Even if it’s to say you’re still undecided. Get back to them, because they’re a person. With feelings.
If you say you put paperwork (a contract, a deposit) in the mail – DO IT. And if you didn’t do it, either because you forgot, or changed your mind, or whatever – let the photographer know, so they’re not waiting for your correspondence, holding your date. An unbooked date is not a day off for us… it’s a week without pay.
If you meet with a photographer and realize they are beyond your budget, that is unfortunate, but we understand. It happens. I’m sure you’ve walked into a furniture store and seen a couch that you loved, only to find that it’s more than twice of what you planned on spending. Or you’ve seen a really, really awesome TV then realized it costs three months’ rent and you just can’t afford it. It happens to everyone. We want to see you have good photography but we also can’t make you a deal just because you think the package should cost a little less. If you’re looking at a package that costs $3500 and you only have $2500 to spend, try asking the photographer what they can do for $2500 – NOT “Can you do the $3500 package for $2500?” Doesn’t work that way. I can help you find a package that fits your budget if you are willing to make concessions. I want to help you out, but not if it means being a doormat. If the budget just can’t work, let them know and move on. No harm done. (I alternate between “I” and “we” in this case because I know *I* am willing to work with people on their budget but I can’t speak for all photographers.)
If you don’t love a photographer’s work or personality the way you thought you would, that is FINE, but if they made the time to meet with you, you can take the time to get back to them when they follow up with you. Writing a quick email response takes all of two minutes, and that’s if you’re flowery with your words. If you choose another photographer, it’s not personal, it’s business – tell them, and they will appreciate knowing that the date is still available. Don’t feel that you need to go into detail about your reasons – we get it. We’re not for everybody.
Just keep in mind that you met with a PERSON, not a customer service rep overseas somewhere who is getting paid by the hour whether you book or not. You met with a PERSON whose photography is an extension of their brain and heart, not just some employee who doesn’t care about you & your wedding one way or the other.
I do my best in my work to be courteous and conscientious. I think pretty much anyone I’ve ever worked for can attest that I am a very thoughtful photographer. When I do someone’s wedding, it is not just money in the bank to me – it’s something about which I am very passionate, and I do my very best to make sure I bring everything I can to make each wedding my best work. I don’t come in to run the show, to bring any attention to myself, but to make it the best day it can be for that bride and that groom and their families.
My heart is in this job. Basically my entire heart. I don’t know that I believe in “karma” exactly, but I definitely believe in running my business the way I would want a business to be run if it were the photographer I hired for my own wedding. I want each client to know that I care about them – not that we’ll turn into best friends after the wedding, but that on that day, I’m there for them, to do everything I can and to hopefully be one of their very best wedding-day decisions. Time and time again I get feedback from my couples that I’m doing it right, that I’m achieving my goal, but I know there is always room for improvement.
To all of my past clients from the last 7 years – thank you for hiring me, thank you for trusting me, and thank you for helping me live my dream. I love this job. I can’t imagine doing anything else. Not anything.