Photographers (myself included) spend a lot of time trying to convince clients why they should hire us. The problem is that I'm not a sales person. I'm not that girl who can tell you why I'm the best woman for the job, or can tell you how awesome I am. Photography is personal - you can see my work, you know if you like it or not. You don't need someone to convince you about whether or not you like my style.
But what I CAN do is tell you why you SHOULDN'T hire me for your wedding (or any other photographic need). There are a few reasons why I'm just not your girl.
1. You're looking for a cheap photographer.
Honestly, let's just cover this one first...I'm not cheap. I mean, technically, I offer client-driven payment plans so I can fit in even the smallest of budgets - but that's just not the same thing as cheap. If you plan to spend $500 on a wedding photographer, I can't help you. An aspiring photography student at the local college will be a better solution. They won't charge you for experience you know they don't have, and students in their final year of a photography major *should* know their camera well enough to capture a handful of decent pictures. A few missed special moments are offset by the money you'll save. They likely only have one decent digital camera and one or two lenses, and they don't have a legal business to support - so their overhead is MUCH lower.
I lug around an embarrassing amount of equipment at each wedding - approximately $15,000 worth. No less than two cameras, five lenses, two flashes, several stands, etc. and that doesn't touch on the lights we set up around the reception room. And sadly, I'm still in the market for more than $20,000 in more equipment that I'd like to have. In addition to the assistant I bring with me, I ALWAYS hire a 2nd professional photographer with extensive wedding experience and honestly, I hire only those who have more wedding experience than I do. I'm stubbornly picky. I prefer to offer different perspectives and angles that you can't achieve with only one photographer, and I prefer to ensure that no important moments are ever missed due to equipment failure beyond the photographer's control or
drunk overly enthusiastic guests knocking over and breaking equipment that *was* vital to capturing the remainder of the wedding. That second photographer and all my backup equipment prevents that scenario. I can't bring myself to negotiate this security aspect of my business, so I guess in a sense, I'm kinda hard to work with, too. (example of two different perspectives from two different photographers below:)
My own personal out-of-pocket expenses for each wedding are considerably MORE than that $500, so accepting a wedding at that price would leave me bankrupt. Don't even get me started on the additional costs of running a business - licensing, insurance, taxes, training, equipment maintenance, marketing and more. Then that super greedy side of me wants an actual salary added on top of that, so it's a lost cause.
2. Your friend Susie needs practice and/or exposure.
If you have a heart for helping up-and-coming artists get experience for their future business, your wedding will be a great opportunity for throwing all sorts of unexpected trials their way, as well as enable them to build their portfolio. I already know how to use my camera on Manual mode and I already know how to process RAW images. I understand exposure and how to cope with less-than-ideal lighting situations. I know how to capture your candle-lit vows when your venue won't allow flash photography so I don't need to practice at your wedding. I take classes in non-stressful settings so I can be sure I'm already set and ready to go when the groom surprises you with a dip for your first kiss. And my second photographer will also be set and ready to capture that same moment from a different angle. I already have a portfolio to show potential clients, so I don't need portfolio-building opportunities. So really, your benevolent spirit is wasted on me.
3. You love surprises.
Forrest Gump once said, "Non-professionals with a camera are like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get." Or something like that. Someone who doesn't yet know how to manipulate their camera settings can set it to Auto function and let the camera do the guesswork. Its quite intriguing to see how a camera will interpret confusing lighting situations like a ceremony under a dark tent with a super bright sun blaring from behind the couple. Sometimes you get a silhouette, sometimes you get a sun glare, sometimes you get the guests in focus and the bride and groom are blurry. Very artsy! But me? I'm predictable. I choose my own settings based on the individual situation, so I already know what the image will look like. I also have a pretty decent portfolio of my past work so you already know what I will produce. I don't select the best three photos from each wedding and hide the
screw ups varying exposure issues. I will gladly show you an entire gallery from a wedding so you see every single moment I've captured from beginning to end. You will already know how I will handle tricky scenarios before we encounter them. Way boring.
4. You're planning to get married again.
If you already know you're doing this again in a few years, the pictures don't need to be perfect. You'll get a do-over, so this isn't a once-in-a-lifetime event that requires experience and professionalism. You don't need to waste money on heirloom quality products because you're not passing those on to your children anyway. Think of this as a practice round and hire that student or friend of yours. Save the cash! When you get around to marrying the one you want to spend your life with, THEN you can hunt me down.
5. You're in a super big hurry to get rid of me.
There are several photographers in the area who will come out for the big day to take pictures, and several weeks later, drop off a disk with all the images, part ways and leave you alone. Quick and precise, out of your hair. I'm not that quick, though. Kinda meddlesome, actually. I spend a lot of time with my clients. We meet for coffee or drinks (my treat) to talk about what you need. We discuss what you love and what you could do without, and what you want for your future home together. I spend a couple hours with you during our complimentary engagement photo session, capturing what you need for announcements, gifts, and reception table decor - as well as getting to know each other a bit so you don't have to spend the day of your dreams being stalked by someone with whom you aren't comfortable. We get back together to relive the memories of your special day as you see your images for the first time...and share a few tears over some of the more special moments you didn't even know I was hiding behind the scenes to capture...and plan the perfect location for those memories in your home. Ugh, and then I come back AGAIN to install any pieces you need help hanging. Then, annoyingly, I go through all these steps again and again for your maternity session, and your lifestyle family session, and your baby's first birthday, your holiday card photos, and your growing-up-way-too-fast daughter's Bat Mitzvah, and your son's "where did the time go" graduation, and on and on... I'm a total nuisance.
Now, don't get me wrong. I LOVE weddings. Love love love. I cry at every. single. one. I love designing your wall art and seeing your images on a priceless high quality heirloom piece that your children and grandchildren will enjoy - so much so, that when your products first arrive at my home and I open them to hand inspect the quality, and I see that beautiful image you'll be enjoying for the rest of your life - I quite literally cry again. Ask my husband - he giggles at me when I do it. Every time.
But we don't all want the same things out of our special day that we can never ever get back. And that's OK. Which is why I'm just not always the girl to hire.
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