Finding a wedding photographer is a competitive process, not only for the photographer, but for you. If you’re lucky enough to have a wedding on a Friday or Sunday, or in the winter months, than you may find that you have a wide range of choices when it comes to wedding photographers who are available on your date. However, if you want one of those coveted summer/fall Saturday dates then you will need to start your search early in order to ensure you have a good number of choices. Wedding photography follows the simple rules of supply and demand, and on those busy Saturday dates there simply aren’t enough good photographers to go around. So in order to get the best photographer for your wedding day, start early!
The five most common mistakes
There are some huge pitfalls that can occur in planning a wedding. However, if you’re lucky you will only have to do this once in your lifetime. Let’s take a quick look at some of the more common pitfalls.
This is by far the most common scenario. A bride comes to see us. She is excited about the planning process, and usually by the time she visits us she has a date, a ceremony and reception site, a dress, and that’s about it. She has an appointment with us, a florist, a DJ, and a bakery, all on the same day! Next weekend, she has an appointment with another DJ, another photography studio, and other florist, etc. Seven weeks later we get a phone call back from her, asking if the date is still open (if it’s a summertime Saturday the answer is usually “no”). What happened? Somewhere between seeing us and seven weeks later, someone got sick. And something happened at work to cause one of them to work weekends. And their was a birthday party or a wedding to attend one weekend… And friends came in from out of town one weekend. Suddenly its seven weeks later, or another way to look at it, two months closer to the wedding date and the core vendors are not secure.
What are core vendors? Photographer, DJ, videographers, and depending upon your situation Clergy, and Caterer. These are the people who book up fastest. Your florist, and cake people, and the wedding invitations, and all those other details can wait. They are able to do more than one wedding on the same Saturday. The very best idea is to visit core vendors by vendor type, in short periods of time. For example, one week you meet with all the photographers you are interested in, decide on one. The next week, meet all the videographers, decide on one, etc. The chances of your favorite vendor booking in one week are slim. Plus some vendors may offer time sensitive money saving offers. Meeting all your potential photographers at once makes it easier to take advantage of those offers and still be able to meet with all the photographers you are interested in. Make sure you have the money to put down a deposit. It is a waste of your time and the photographers to meet with them if you can’t put a deposit down yet. Schedule your appointments when you can pay the deposit. Most photographers will require 50% down.
- Emotional decisions
A recent headline news story in s Angeles was about a woman wedding photographer who never came through with wedding photos for not one, or five, but 16 sets of clients! How did she do it? I don’t know her, but perhaps it’s because she made people feel good when they signed up. She most likely gave them a good vibe. Then according to the article, she stalled and made excuses and probably made people feel sorry for her when she couldn’t deliver… It took a couple of years for this all to catch up to her.
We’re not saying that selecting a photographer should be cold and technical like selecting a grade of gasoline. At the end of the process, you should feel good about your decision. It’s just that if you let your emotions take control you can find yourself signing up for a photographer outside of your budget or worse yet, one who may make you feel good, but in the end, do a poor job. If you know that you’re an emotional decision maker, perhaps it may be wise to have a friend come along who is a lot different from you just to get a second opinion. The best thing to do is make youdecisionon at home and not at the meeting while your emotionally charged.
- Getting bored with the process
This is a very common problem, and it manifests itself in two ways. First, there is the excited bride who is in her element when planning for a wedding. Her mind is constantly buzzing with wedding ideas and spends nights and weekends 100% committed to the process. These brides are often emotional buyers so the groom feels he has to come along to keep a watch on her. One thing becomes clear; she can spend the next six months talking to photographers. To avoid this problem he pushes for the first photographer they find that they can afford, and he can get along with. It’s not a smooth decision because she wants to see more photographers before making up her mind.
The second scenario is the multi-tasking couple. They more or less get overwhelmed with the process, they get tired of the pressure of finding vendors, and they find that it isn’t so much fun running all over town looking at everything. They want to get the process over and thus start making snap decisions.
- Lack of planning
This is the least common problem, but you will be surprised how many people call looking for a photographer in less than two months before their wedding. One bride told me that it was in a wedding planner she bought to hire a photographer three months before the wedding. This is really bad advice; the planner may be outdated because ten years ago the average engagement was less than a year, now its 18 months! This means people have more time to plan their weddings and those who plan early will get exactly what they want.
- Price Fixation
The average client pays for part if not all their wedding photography themselves. This being said, getting the most for their money is obviously a concern. The actual investment is a highly important part of the process. As you will see below one of the first steps in evaluating wedding photography is establishing a budget.
This being said, there are people who get over fixated on the price of wedding photography to the point that this is their primary concern. What’s worse, to pay more than you want to, or less than you should have? After all, this is wedding photography we’re talking about. If you get a bad haircut from a barber, your hair will grow back. If a plumber doesn’t fix your leak, you can call another one. If you’re wedding photographer does a bad job, you will have to live with it the rest of your life! Ten years from now you may not remember nor will you care if you spent $500 more or less on your wedding photography than you did.