Some Must Ask questions that will keep you from choosing
the wrong photographer
You’ve heard it so many times… horror stories about wedding photographers! We’ve written these tips for you so that YOU won’t have your own horror story to tell! If you read nothing else on this subject, READ THIS. It will save you heartache and frustration.
- ASK HOW THE PHOTOGRAPHER GETS PAID. NEVER AGREE TO PAY UP FRONT. Photographers typically get paid IN FULL by either the day of the wedding, or sometimes when you get your proofs. This is ridiculous, and is the leading cause of problems for you. Think about it… WHY should they get paid in advance? WHAT expenses has the photographer incurred by your wedding day? He made a set of proofs for you, which cost him at most a few hundred dollars, but he demands his whole fee. Later, when you’ve selected your proofs, and he has to then come up with the money to print all your photos and pay the album manufacturers, incurring the majority of his expenses, your money that you paid him is long gone. What’s more, if you paid up front and when you finally get your album and something is not to your liking, you’re not in a very good position. He already has all your money! At Celestial Photographers, you do not pay in full until you receive your finished album. This directly leads to the second point:
- ASK HOW LONG TO GET YOUR ALBUM. I’ll bet you’ve heard that photographers take MONTHS, sometimes a whole year, to get your album. Well, why should they rush? They’ve been paid; there’s no incentive to get you your work, AND they’re now forced to come up with the money to produce your work, money that you paid them and they’ve spent long ago. Here at Celestial Photographers, your albums are ready in six weeks, and only then, when you’ve seen the finished product and are pleased will you pay the final balance. To be quite blunt, our profit is in that final payment, so it is in our best interest to get you your album as quickly as possible. It does NOT take six months to a year to make a wedding album, and anyone who tells you it does is insulting your intelligence. The common practice among other studios is to tell you it takes three or four months, and then come up with many excuses as to why its taking much, much longer. Ask exactly what the studio will do for you financially if the work is not on time.
- ASK WHO YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER WILL BE. This is crucial. In many cases you will be interviewing not your actual photographer who will be shooting on your wedding day, but only a commissioned salesperson. They will say anything they have to, true or not, to get your deposit and earn their commission. You don’t book, they don’t get paid. This deplorable situation is especially common among the ‘house’ photographers that caterers recommend. They typically use many freelance photographers, and will not guarantee in writing WHO your photographer will be, saying something like “Oh, ALL our photographers are good!”. Baloney. You should MEET him or her, see THEIR work, and ASSESS THEIR PERSONALITY. The very last thing you need on your wedding day is an obnoxious photographer, spoiling your mood. Here at Celestial Photographers, you ALWAYS are interviewing your photographer, not a salesperson.
- ASK IF THEY’RE ‘HOUSE’ PHOTOGRAPHERS. A word about ‘house’ photographers: Caterers do NOT recommend a photography studio because they think they’re reliable, or do good work. They recommend them because they get paid to. A house photographer typically pays 15-25% commission, or ‘kick-back’ to the caterer that recommends him… A commission that YOU are actually paying, as its built into the photographer’s price. Here’s a mind-boggling fact: A friend who owns a large North Shore Catering facility told me years ago that he often made more money in kick-backs from all the different vendors he recommended than he did from actually selling his catering! Don’t be a part of that, and don’t be intimidated by your caterer’s claims that only ‘his’ photographers have the necessary liability insurance to work in his establishment. Celestial Photographers maintains a two million dollar liability insurance policy held by State Farm insurance, which satisfies every caterer. Proof of insurance available upon request.
- ASK ABOUT EXTRA CHARGES. Photographers usually charge extra for many things that you’d never think to ask about, thereby boosting up their fees considerably. They charge for: overtime, black & white photos, special effects, sepia tone photos, photo assistants, double lighting, etc., etc. The charges for retouching alone can add several hundred dollars to your cost. Ask your photographer if there is a charge for removing shines from your face, or blemishes, or a stray hair. His answers will surprise you. At Celestial Photographers, we do NOT bombard you with extra, hidden charges. All the things mentioned above are INCLUDED here, as well as many other things I haven’t even mentioned! What makes these hidden charges so insidious is that many studios will “low-ball” you initially; quoting a price that is unrealistic. They know that their hidden charges will bring their fees up greatly.
- ASK HOW THE PHOTOS WILL BE PRINTED. To save money, many photographers are now using desktop inkjet printers to print your photos! This is a HORRIBLE way to print wedding photos! In addition to the obvious fading issues, inkjet prints are VERY susceptible to abrasion. You can easily see this for yourself by running your nail across the surface of an inkjet print, and seeing the resultant scratch. Attempts have been made to rectify this by spraying the prints with clear lacquer, but the problem still exists. ALL the album manufacturers say they will accept inkjet prints for album binding only at the studio’s liability, as they are so susceptible to damage in the bookbinding process. Inkjet printers work by actually spraying a thin coating of ink on the paper. This ink of course sits on top of the paper, making for a very scratch susceptible surface. At Celestial Photographers, we never use inkjet printing, and in fact only use traditional silver-bearing photographic paper. Your photos will look the same to your great-grandchildren as they do to you now!
- ASK ABOUT VIDEO COVERAGE. If you’re interested in getting video, you should always book video at your photographer, so that the two guys are familiar with each other’s procedures. BUT….. and this is a huge ‘but’!…VERY, VERY FEW photographers actually DO video! In short, they subcontract it, or ‘farm it out’. They book you for video, then call around to video companies to find the one who will do yours the cheapest. Not here. Celestial Photographers does their own video in-house, from shooting, to editing, to burning the DVDs. How can you tell if the photographer you’re interviewing is doing his own, or farming it out? Easy. Ask how long it takes to get the finished video, after you’ve submitted the baby and/or honeymoon photos they need for the photo montages. If they tell you any longer than two weeks, they’re farming it out! DJ’s and bands who offer to book video ALWAYS farm it out, and are to be avoided!
I hope these tips have opened your eyes, and made you a smarter shopper for wedding photography. I’ve been a wedding photographer for 36 years, and have seen some truly disgusting business practices in the trade. Hopefully, this will have some impact. I welcome your comments and feedback.
Celestial Wedding Photography
1-800-My Album (692-5286)
Call us… You’ll be delighted! We promise.
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