The Do’s & Don’ts of Booking Wedding Photography

Asheville, NC based Destination + Elopement Photographer shares the Insider Tips + Do’s & Don’ts of Booking Wedding Photography!

  1. DON’T book Vendors based on Recommendation Alone!

Just this week, I read another horror story on one of those Bride’s Wedding Planning Facebook groups about a Bride who booked a Wedding Photographer based on the recommendation of her wedding planner…. HER WEDDING PLANNER. Long story short, the photographer shows up 4hrs late on Wedding Day, acts insanely unprofessional, promised a 48hr turn around (which is wildly unrealistic) and now, 6 months later the Bride has none of Wedding Photos and the photographer has ghosted.

One would think that a wedding planner would personally vet the vendors that they refer to their clients, but believe it or not, that may not always be the case.

The point of this cautionary tale is this: Just because a friend of a friend, another vendor or even your own wedding planner refer someone to you, does not mean that you should just take their word for it without doing any of your own research!

2. DO Deep Dive on your Vendors!

Tap in to your inner private investigator! Take a DEEP Dive into your prospective vendor’s websites, online reviews and social presence! In addition to thoroughly investigating the websites of the vendors that you’re interested in working with, you should also be reading their reviews, ALL of the reviews! Google them and read the reviews! You should be looking to read the good and the bad ones! And if a prospective vendor that you’re thinking of working with doesn’t have at least a couple bad reviews, you can’t trust trust it because they either A.) haven’t been in business long enough (read: inexperienced) and you WANT vendors with a ton of experience because that for you means the kind of professionalism that can only be learned through experience AND Consistent, Quality Work. Or B.) the reviews are bogus because we all know the “you can’t make everybody happy all the time” and that people, generally are pretty crazy! So, take it from me, any vendor who’s worth their salt has weathered at least one or two bad reviews over the course of their career!

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3. DON’T be Fooled by a Beautifully Curated Instagram presence alone!

We all know that people share the shiny, curated, best parts of their lives on social media. Wedding Photographers and Videographers are no exception to this. Obviously, they would want to share their best work! Here are a few Tale Tale Sings that what you see may not be what you’ll get:

A. Photographers and Videographers are Photo / Video people. They should have a minimum of 40 social posts per year that they’ve been in business. (That’s less than one post per week!) If they don’t have at least 40 posts per year that they’ve been in business, they’re either not working all that often or they’re working too much. Either of those scenarios is not a good sign for you.

B. Does their feed look a little too curated? If all of the images are geo tagged for a handful of the same venues, if there’s a lot of images of the same couple, if there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of variety in locations, subjects, weather or lighting situations — that would raise some red flags for me! Chances are they’re doing a lot of “styled shoots” (photographers and videographers who aren’t busy like to organize styled shoots with models at venues to create content) this does not translate into real working experience (working at different types of venues, in different weather and lighting conditions, with different people, facing real life situations and learning how to handle them on the fly and professionally.) I said what I said.

C. When you click on a post, are there multiple images or videos to scroll through from that particular event? Sure, everyone chooses to do things differently but when I share my work, I’m so excited about it, that I want to share multiple images in a single post because I got lots of really great images from that event! Sometimes, 10 slides aren’t even enough, sometimes I’ll create multiple posts, each with 10 slides because I have so many great images to share from a single event…. If the vendor that you’re considering only shares one image per post, that would raise some red flags for me.

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4. DO be Realistic when setting your Photography + Videography Budget!

In this business, you will definitely get what you pay for. You should budget to pay your photographers and videographers a minimum of $350 per coverage hour + $150 per coverage hour for each 2nd shooter or assistant (where applicable) that they’re on site on your wedding day. This would be considered the LOW end of what you should be paying these artists & professional trades people for their time and talent. For every hour that your photographers and videographers are on site shooting your wedding, they’ll spend an additional 2-3hrs (per coverage hour) sitting in front of a computer screen culling and editing your wedding images for delivery. This lowest price is what you should expect to pay someone who is not as experienced, who doesn’t have the portfolio that more experienced, higher end photographers and videographers would have. The Best Wedding Photographers & Videographers are licensed, incorporated and insured. They pay taxes and they’ve spent YEARS learning and perfecting their craft. They’re professionals and they behave as such all the way through the process. This would be the bottom line amount that a photographer should be charging to run a profitable business. On average, you should actually expect to pay an experienced photographer or videographer with a beautiful, extensive portfolio + great reviews somewhere in the neighborhood of $550 – $750 per coverage hour that they’ll be on site on wedding day (remembering that they have to pay taxes, 2nd shooters and assistants and then they’ll spend an additional 2-3hrs (per coverage hour) culling and editing your wedding images for delivery). This is the cost of doing business.

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5. DON’T Bargain Shop for your Heirlooms!

Believe me, I totally understand that budget is a very real consideration when you don’t have endless amounts of money and there IS a photographer or videographer for every budget. What I’m really trying to tell you is that: it is critically important to re-evaluate your values when it comes to wedding planning and budgeting (where you allocate money for various services). This day will never happen again and there are no “Do Overs” for Weddings. These images are your family’s heirlooms beginning with your wedding day! These images are the preservation of your memories for perpetuity and your wedding photos & video is truly all you’ll have left (besides your actual marriage of course!) after that day has come and gone. Why on earth would you spend a year or more and tens of thousands of dollars planning this once in a lifetime event to then roll the dice on having an inexperienced, budget photographer who are you aren’t 1000% confident in, there to preserve these treasured memories for you? That seems like a real gamble to me.

PS: That Bride from the Facebook Wedding Planning Group – upon scrolling through the comments and conversation for that post, I found out that she 1. accepted her planner’s recommendation without doing any of her own research (if she had, she would have seen tons of negative reviews on the search engines), 2. that she paid her less than $2000 for an 8hr wedding with a 2nd shooter (dead giveaway that this is gonna be a total shit show) and believed her when she promised a 48hr turn around…. on a wedding (which is totally unrealistic and sends my bullshit meter through the roof!) and then I checked out that photog’s Instagram and found less than 40 posts on her entire feed, all of which looked highly curated, at a lot of the same venues, same couples, not a lot of different locations, weather or lighting scenarios and only one image per post and she didn’t even have an actual website…. Don’t bargain shop for your photography or videography, trust me, you’re not getting the “deal” you think you are! XOXO

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