Can I Share A Story With You?
Professional Wedding Photographers Near Me
By Jeffrey House Photography
Can I share a story with you?
I'm often asked, what made you want to be a wedding photographer?
I hear the same comments all the time -
"don't you hate dealing with bridezillas?"
"Isn't photographing a wedding incredibly stressful?"
I've been photographing weddings now for about 7 years and I've never experienced a "bridezilla."
Sure, photographing a wedding can be stressful. Couples are placing their trust in your hands to capture and document one of the most special days of their life.
And you only get one chance to get it right.
Of course that's stressful, but it's also part of why I love being a wedding photographer.
But I can assure you, photographing weddings is not for everyone!
Initially, I was drawn to the enchantment surrounding a wedding and the challenge of capturing it artistically.
I'm still very inspired by these same feelings today. But over the years I've paid close attention to the voices of brides - especially those brides that had bad experiences with their wedding photographer.
It didn't take long before I started to notice some trends. And these trends encouraged me to make change.
I'll be honest - trying to make change - trying to help people - is not always the easiest thing to do. It can be very disheartening at times, especially when you don't feel like you're helping anyone or making a difference. It's easy to feel like you're failing.
It's these moments that are most important - it's at these moments I have to remind myself that we don't fail in our efforts, we only fail when we give up.
I know I'm a wedding photographer and when I share articles and information about the importance of wedding photography, it can appear self-serving. But the driving force behind my intention is genuine and heartfelt. If I can share information that helps just one couple to have a better wedding, I'm immensely satisfied.
What Did I Learn About The Trends?
Each year, at least 80% of brides admit they regret how they planned their wedding. 80%!
Every year, the majority of these brides regret scrimping on their wedding photography.
Ironically, wedding photography is often one of the first places brides look to cut costs, when it comes to planning their wedding.
These are some of the concerns brides shared:
- My photographer lacked professionalism!
- My photographer didn't listen or seem to care at all about my needs!
- My photographer didn't respond to my emails, phone calls or text messages!
- My photographer didn't even edit our photos!
- My photographer missed a lot of important moments!
- My photographer wasn't friendly and annoyed my guests!
- MY photographer was not punctual!
How My Own Perspective Changed
In the beginning of my career, I found it difficult to understand the frustrations shared by brides. It didn't make sense to me that a professional wedding photographer, who's also a small business owner, could neglect being professional, not edit photos or not care about their customer's needs.
The dissatisfactions shared by brides are everything a photographer shouldn't be or do. As a professional photographer and a small business owner, it's required that you're friendly, outgoing, and have the ability to effectively listen and communicate with your clients. These are the basic skills of customer relations.
So, the more I thought about it, the more I realized there's a serious disconnect. But where and why?
The more I researched and evaluated the reasons behind bride dissatisfaction, the clearer the issues became.
Most brides begin their search for a wedding photographer with a simple Google search.
Typically, they view several websites from the search results found on page one. They go to these websites and compare photographers by scrutinizing their portfolios. After they find a few photographers they like, they schedule interviews.
During the interview phase, most brides ask a handful of question, review the different wedding packages, and choose a photographer based mainly on price.
But what are the problems with this approach?
1. There's a whole world of high-quality photography businesses beyond page 1 of Google, but we've been lead to believe page 1 is for the best businesses. Unfortunately, page 1 is for the businesses with large marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) budgets. Explore the results beyond page 1 and embrace the quality options available to you.
2. Choosing a wedding photographer by focusing on price will often lead brides to hire a "cheap" photographer or a wedding photographer that's not a "good fit" for their wedding.
With that being said, I'm not trying to imply or say that price isn't important. Price will always play a part in the purchasing process, but studies have proven price is usually around the 4th consideration for all consumers.
What Drives Our Purchase Decisions?
As consumers, we all tend to make purchases based on some general principles. But many of the factors we use to in making a purchase happen sub-consciously.
So, let's take a quick look at what drives our purchase decisions.
We're instinctively drawn to products that meet our needs and can't be accomplished in any other manner.
How does functionality relate to choosing a wedding photographer?
Every wedding photographer creates unique imagery - this is what we refer to as their style. Their photographs meet functionality because they can't be accomplished in any other manner.
When choosing between the same or similar products/services, we tend to choose the more reliable one.
How does reliability relate to choosing a wedding photographer?
On the surface, wedding photographers and wedding photography can appear the same or very similar. However, every wedding photographer is going to bring something unique to your wedding. Ultimately, you're likely to choose the wedding photographer that you believe to be more trustworthy and reliable.
When several businesses offer the same or similar products/services, we will choose the product and/or company that makes the process easier or more convenient.
How does convenience relate to choosing a wedding photographer?
We tend to focus out attention towards the products and services that more easily understood and more convenient. There's a very simple example of this when it comes to wedding photography. If you were comparing the wedding packages of two photographers, which one would you find more "convenient?"
Wedding Package 1
- 8 hours of timeless photojournalistic wedding photography including "Great Photographer A" and their "Great Assistant."
- A convenient private online photo gallery designed for viewing your high-resolution photographs, ordering high-quality prints, and private sharing for 6 months
- A custom DVD with high-resolution digital images and full image copyright to print your photographs for personal use with no restrictions or limitations to the number of times they can be reproduced
- A free engagement session with "Great Photographer A" and their "Great Assistant" focused on creating natural and romantic photographs
- A 12x12 genuine leather wedding album with up to 50 8x10 high-resolution printed photographs made by album elves in magical places
Wedding Package 2
- 8 hours photography coverage
- Online viewing gallery
- Image copyright
- Complimentary engagement session
- 12x12 fine art wedding album
I think we can agree that "Wedding Package 2" is much more convenient compared to wedding package 1. It's clear, concise, and easy to understand.
So far, we've discussed functionality, reliability, and convenience. Now it's time to discuss the 4th consideration - price!
As we said earlier, price will always play a part in our purchase decisions, but it's rarely the first consideration.
However, the trends of dissatisfied brides reveal many of them placed a heavy focus on the price of their wedding photography. But when we make price the priority, it essentially makes wedding photography a commodity, and wedding photography is anything but a commodity.
While wedding photographers may appear to be the same, they are tremendously different - especially when it comes to service!
So, how is it possible those "cheap" photographers can offer such low prices?
There are essentially 3 types of cheap photographers and we're going to take a look at how each one can offer these bargain basement prices.
Many "cheap" wedding photographers are hobbyists. They can charge these low prices because it's not how they make their living. They don't need to worry about the "business" end of wedding photography - marketing, website fees, association fees, insurance, training and development, professional gear (cameras, computers, editing software), etc.
Even though they are losing money by charging these low prices, they are willing to make this sacrifice so they can photograph weddings. Generally speaking, the hobbyist isn't as skilled, doesn't have the necessary equipment, and is very limited in their creative approach to photographing weddings.
So, here's the question. Will the hobbyist photographer value your wedding the same as a professional photographer? Generally speaking, they won't. "Reputation" is everything to a professional photographer, but the hobbyist has more of a "one and done" mentality.
It doesn't matter what industry we're discussing, there's always going to be those businesses that thrive on taking advantage of unsuspecting consumers.
The wedding industry is no different, and in fact, it's the perfect setting for the scammers.
A wedding is an expensive venture. A wedding, from the planning to the last dance, is an emotional experience. The scammers charge low prices knowing they appeal to your budget. But as consumers, we all fear the "deal is too good to be true," so how does the scammer combat this?
Not only do they focus on being budget friendly, but they promise you the world when it comes to your photos. They pain a picture that''s original, beautiful, and hard to refuse, but ultimately they leave you with a worthless fake.
The Corner Cutter
This is the photographer that claims to be a "professional" and they promise you the world for a low price.
They show up on the wedding day and everything appears very normal. A few days later you receive your photos and it's obvious why their prices were so low. They clearly didn't only minimal amounts of editing, if they did anything at all.
In many cases, the "corner cutter" barely touches your images in post-production. They run them a process that applies a couple basic editing effects and they're done. They didn't bother to remove blemishes or distracting lint balls from your attire or distracting elements. When you reach out to them to discuss the poor editing, they generally don't even respond.
They offer low prices by cutting corners. And since editing is the most time consuming part of the creative process, editing is typically where corners get cut.
Hiring one of these photographers is a big risk. They don't possess the same skills and knowledge of professional photographers.
When hiring a cheap photographer, there's one crucial consideration - are you willing to gamble with your wedding photos?
What's Most Important When Choosing A Wedding Photographer?
If you had only one criteria for choosing a wedding photographer, it would be personality.
A photographer that has a great personality is not an option, it's a must! But there's one more important detail when it comes to personality - it must mesh well with yours.
Your photographer will spend the entire wedding day by your side and it's not uncommon for wedding photographers to play the part of psychiatrist too. Weddings can cause brides and grooms to become frazzled, and we are often the ones to help calm their emotions.
It's also vital that your photographer has an outgoing personality that's flexible and diverse. A wedding photographer will have a lot of interaction with your guests; therefore, it's essential they have the ability to be friendly, and engaging with a wide range of personalities.
Wedding photographers also need to be highly skilled in communicating with other wedding vendors (venue, DJ, videographer, etc.). While you probably won't even notice it on the wedding day, there's a lot of communication that transpires between vendors to ensure everyone is on the same page.
While personality is the single most important criteria for choosing a wedding photographer, trust is a very close second. And trust can have a significant impact on your engagement and wedding photography.
I always like to compare trust to having a conversation with a close friend versus a complete stranger. How you interact with a close friend is vastly different than a complete stranger. With a close friend, you're likely to share intimate details about your life, you're less guarded, and you're far more relaxed. But with a complete stranger, you're going to be instinctively on guard - even your body language will tend to appear more withdrawn.
When choosing a wedding photographer, ask yourself a simple question -
"Can I imagine being friends with this person?"
It doesn't guarantee you'll choose the right photographer, but it's certainly a step in the right direction. Generally speaking, if you can imagine being friends with them, it's very likely your personalities are a good fit.
Connection And Comfort
If your personalities mesh and you establish a trusting relationship with your photographer, usually you're going to naturally feel a connection. This of course also leads to feeling comfortable with them.
These might seem like insignificant details, but they play a huge role in the overall success of your wedding photography.
If you relate to your photographer's personality and you trust them, you're going to feel much more comfortable in front of the camera. Conversely, if you don't like their personality and don't feel comfortable around them, how do you think you're going to feel now?
If your partner had asked you to marry them on your first date, you likely would have looked at them like they were crazy. But as you formed a deeper connection with them and became more comfortable, everything changed. The same principles hold true for wedding photography too.
The Bottom Line
The majority of brides that experienced dissatisfaction with their wedding photographer, either chose them based on price or for the wrong reasons.
But it wasn't their fault. With the large amount of bad information so readily available, it's easy to be mislead.
Hopefully, my story of discovery has helped you to better understand how to choose a great wedding photographer. Many couples are shocked to learn that being a great wedding photographer has very little to do with actual photography. And yet, choosing trustworthy photographers that can form meaningful connections, make you feel comfortable, and have great personalities all lead to better photography.
I know that my experiences as a wedding photographer have changed my perspective considerably. And I'm sure as I continue to evolve as an artist I will continue to learn and experience new perspectives.
I look forward to it.