Nowadays it is so easy to choose a career in photography. There are tons of information available, and the best equipment on the market is becoming more and more accessible. However becoming an actual professional wedding photographer is more complicated than getting a good camera and learning how to use it. So how will you know to tell between a reliable high-end professional and a talented amateur? There are mistakes that many wedding photographers make at the beginning of their career, and though they may help them learn, you, most likely, wouldn ’t like being their test subject. Let’s take a look at a few:
Not having backup
Being a wedding photographer is not just about being part of a celebration, but it is most importantly a big responsibility, and one of the greatest mistakes a wedding photographer can make is to underestimate it.
A wedding photographer must make sure that he is prepared for anything. He must have backup equipment, backup memory cards, and batteries as well as a wedding photographer/videographer that is ready to substitute the assigned one if something goes wrong. A real professional will never take any chances with his clients.
Not exporting the files right away
This point goes hand in hand with the first one. After the wedding is over it is essential to transfer the materials onto two (or more) hard drives, an internal and an external one, right away. Memory cards are fragile little things, and things can happen to them. Also, most photographers have a limited amount of memory cards, and they tend to reuse them, right after they reformat the cards. Photographers are human too so they can forget that this particular card they want to erase was not yet transferred. However, that might get them in a lot of trouble. Bottom line, the quicker your materials are safe, the better.
Being too shy or too pushy when meeting with clients
A wedding photographer must sell himself and his work. Leaving it to chance, thinking their work will sell itself is a mistake a beginner photographer might make. He might be too shy of a person or not willing to pressure you, however, these qualities are not quite welcome at a tense setting which weddings often are. Your wedding photographer will have to deal with a large crowd of people he doesn ’t know and will have to make an effort to take some of the most important shots. If he’s not energetic and open enough, the quality of his work might suffer. On the other end, being too pushy is also not so appealing to most clients since it makes them feel as if the photographer cares more about closing the transaction and satisfying his own needs, than about his customers and their priorities. Non the less, all clients are different and click with photographers that make them feel good, which is generally a good way to go (just make sure your photographer of choice doesn ’t make the other mistakes on this list).
Being too serious
Although a serious approach might seem reasonable at first, think twice. You hardly want to feel like a model auditioning for an “Elegant Wedding Magazine” cover on your wedding day. You want your wedding photographer to flow with you while maybe slightly directing you for better results. A photographer who’s very tense and too serious about his work might unnerve you and your guests, as well as miss some beautiful details that weren’t “part of his plan.”
Not contacting the couple
This goes for not keeping in touch with a client right after the first meeting to check on their decision as well as not reaching them when the wedding is approaching for any final remarks. First of all, chances are, that the clients are so overwhelmed with the very idea of getting married (not to mention the planning ahead) that they might have simply lost track of time or got all the vendors mixed up in their head so they need you to reach out and courtly remind them about yourself. This shows that the photographer understands his clients’ needs, and isn ’t afraid to take the initiative. As for the second part, needless to say, that a photographer that disappears on you doesn ’t make a good impression. It takes an enormous burden off your shoulders if you know that your photographer remembers about you and keeps everything under control.
Not managing clients expectation before the event- time and schedule
Some customers might have particular requests, wishes, and expectations regarding the final wedding photographs. For example, they might want to have a huge variety of group shots including all the third cousins they love dearly, and it all must be done at the golden hour; however, they might only leave 10 minutes to do that. It ’s the photographer’s job to learn what is it the couple wants him to do, and to explain to them in detail what they should keep in mind when making their schedule in order for him to be able to accommodate their requests. Apparently, that should be discussed well in advance to avoid any stress.
Not avoiding hidden fees
A wedding nowadays can get quite expensive, and every vendor should pay respect to the fact that their clients might have a budget they’d like to stick to. We all hate counting on one price and eventually having to pay another. That’s why it is best if the wedding videographer openly discusses any additional fees that he might charge on top of your package. Some of them might be traveling fees, overtime costs, taxes, extra fees for additional edits and so on. While you can ask your photographer about all of these in advance, it is a good sign if the photographer talks about this on his own, without you having to fish out every possible pitfall.
Wrong file format
There is an industry standard that indicates that “.RAW” is the most high-quality photography format. This format gives the photographer way more room to wiggle when fixing the results poor lighting conditions, as well as allows him to export the final file to a massive high definition file. The only downside of “.RAW” file format, is that it takes up a lot of space. Some photographers don ’t own large memory cards, others are ready to sacrifice quality for quantity. Either way that is a terrible mistake, and to avoid it, you should always ask your wedding photographer what file format does he shoot in before booking.
Lacking work ethics
Earlier on we wrote that a wedding photographer shouldn’t be too serious. The opposite also applies. A professional wedding photographer should never be all buddy-buddy. He should never consume alcoholic beverages, smoke or curse in front of a client. He should also be neatly groomed, and stick to the dress code of your event. This indicates that he appreciates your business, and takes his job seriously.
Managing camera-shy clients
While most people would like their wedding captured, not all of them are excited about the idea of being photographed. They tense up at the sound of the shutter going off or the lens being pointed in their direction. Some photographers are so focused on getting their shots, that they don’t notice their clients are stressed, or maybe they don’t quite acknowledge the difference a relaxed smile can make to a feel of a photo. Anyhow, a professional wedding photographer understands that a beautiful face is a happy face, and he is willing to first make his clients comfortable in front of the camera.
Managing changes and delays
Sometimes, the clients believe that their schedule and timing have nothing to do with how good the pictures might turn out since they believe that it’s up to the photographer to adjust to their big day and not the other way around. However, photographers work with light, and it plays the most significant role in how the final result will look. A photographer cannot make the sun comply. The only thing that is actually up to the photographer is to communicate in an apparent and respectful manner how his workflow might be affected with the timeline shifting. It is also in the photographer’s responsibility to give his clients some choices as to how you can adjust to the new conditions, what can be sacrificed and what are the priorities.
Not knowing who’s their “go to” person
A real professional understands that on your Big Day you want to relax and enjoy the magic, without having to worry about anything else (you’ve had enough of worrying during the planning). Therefore your wedding photographer must learn who is in charge of answering questions as well as paying him at the end of the night. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know if a photographer will ask you about it before you book him, but you may kindly give him some mental credit if he does.
Remember that we are all people and accidents do happen; it only matters how we deal with them at the end of the day. However, I hope that this list helps you choose your wedding photographer wisely, not only with your eyes, heart, and wallet but also with your mind, now, that you know what to look out for.