Tag Archives: clients

How to Choose a Wedding Photographer

Wedding SignI’ve been working on this post for more than a year now. It’s been sitting in my drafts folder as an idea that I’ve wanted to tackle, but I’ve never really had the time or energy to dive in… until now.

What is it that gives me special knowledge when it comes to choosing a wedding photographer? Yes, I’ve been behind the lens at a few weddings, but more importantly, I’m 28 years old and today is my one month wedding anniversary. Being in your mid-twenties means I’ve been in a lot of churches, ate a lot of buffet-style meals, and drank my way through more open bars than most see in their lifetime.

While I count my passion for and knowledge of photography a blessing on most days, weddings are when I wish I could enjoy sweet ignorance about what the wedding photographer is, or should be, doing. It might sound like I’m going down the negative highway, but I assure you, I’m not.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are thousands of talented wedding photographers in the world, and plenty of them live within driving distance of you now, but there areĀ  lemons out there as well, who, unfortunately for photographers and brides alike, still get hired and paid!

And, honestly, that upsets me. As photographers, we are tasked with capturing moments in time, and wedding days are some of the most emotional, sacred, amazing days to capture so why would a bride want nothing less than the best and why would a photographer want to give nothing less than the best?

Bridal Party

What I hope to do is to share what I’ve learned about not only picking a talented and able wedding photographer to capture one of the greatest days of your life, but how to pick the right photographer to fit your style and meet your expectations for the day.

  1. Get Referrals
    A good place to start your search is by tapping into your inner circle of married friends, family, and contacts. This is where social media and a great wedding planner can really be useful. Do your own research, of course, but to get a leg up, start gathering referrals from folks you already know and trust.
  2. Bride & Groom First KissNever Trust a Portfolio
    I often tell my friends and clients, “Anyone can take a million photos and get lucky 30 times.” You don’t want a wedding photographer who gets lucky from time to time, but is consistently shooting the same quality over and over. After you have looked at the portfolio, start browsing the “B sides” on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, 500px, etc.
  3. Variety & Style Ain’t Just Magazines
    When you are browsing through their work, I urge you to look for variety. If you see a range of work, from landscapes to weddings to portraits to still-life’s and more, there’s a better chance that your wedding photographer is pushing the envelope creatively and not just doing the “same old thing.” Also, make sure that the style of images they are capturing are consistent, but more importantly, match your vision for the day.
  4. Get Your Money’s Worth
    Make sure you completely understand what you are receiving in return for payment. There are a lot of options from CD’s to prints to photo books and keepsakes… make sure to get it all down and don’t be afraid to say “no” when you need to. Which leads me to the next point…
  5. Ask Questions
    Have a face to face meeting with all of your finalists and “interview” them the way you would a new employee. Make sure to bring along a list of questions and be sure you ask them, no matter how stupid they might sound. It’s better to be informed upfront than not at all. Talk to them on a personal level about how they approach the day, their expectations, and get to know their personality.
  6. Get References
    Most wedding photographers will have a list of past clients you can contact as references. Make sure to get that list and call them.
  7. Bride & Groom HandsMake Sure They Have the Skills
    You might be fairly confident that they do already from their online work, but make sure you ask them about their style, their equipment, etc. Everyone has a friend who is a photographer so if you are unsure of what to ask to assess their abilities and if they can “walk the walk,” ask your friend to come up with some questions to send along with you.
  8. Seek Out Flexibility & Preparation
    Nothing means more to you on your wedding day than having a photographer who will be flexible and prepared – trust me. Knowing that the photographer has a back up plan for locations if it rains, has an assistant to help with gear and run errands, and carries duct tape and safety pins around with him or her is something you’ll really value when the time comes.
  9. Be Wary of Packages
    This is my own personal preference and you are free to ignore it, but when I see a photographer who won’t give me a couple more hours of coverage because I don’t want three more canvas wall prints and two more albums, I know they aren’t there to capture moments, but to make money and that’s not the point of a wedding. Packages can be nice and lead to better discounts overall, no doubt… just be careful not to get boxed into something you don’t want or don’t really need. Again, state this upfront and any self-respecting wedding photographer should be willing to work with you on it.
  10. Choose the Right Fit for You
    This is probably the most important rule of all. As most brides and grooms will tell you, the day will go by faster than you can ever imagine. Your wedding photographer is there to capture everything from the outside of the storm so you can go back years later and remember the whirlwind, moment for moment. Make sure the person you choose is the right fit for you – your style, your personality, and your vision for the day.

Have a tip to choosing a wedding photographer you’d like to share? Leave a comment below!

Off the Walls with Pet Portraits

It’s been a long while since I’ve done some solid blogging and I apologize to my fans and readers. I’m going to ease back into the routine of this thing slowly so let’s kick it off with some pet portrait wall art!

The following photo was sent to me by one of my clients from last year who had asked me for a pet portrait session at the local dog park with her two beautiful, playful Labradors. I always love to see how clients take my art and present it in fun and unique ways on their own walls at home.

Three framed pet portraits hanging on a client's wall

Are you a past portrait client or have an original Michael Vujovich print in your home? I’d love to see what you did with it! Share it in the comments below or send me an email!

Telling Photography Clients No

Lindsey modeling White Folks Get Crunk T-Shirt against a white wall

WFGC T-Shirt (2011)

As a professional photographer, it’s difficult to turn down a job or tell photography clients “no.” It goes against your very nature. Almost every creative professional in the world loves to pursue their passions, be helpful, and, of course, make a little money doing what they love.

But we all know there’s a left side and a right side to the human brain and while creativity lives on one side of that great mental divide, reality and responsibility lives on the other.

So when photography clients call and present a project that they would like me to work on, my brain starts firing like a strobe light in a New York City club. Back and forth, I sway between saying “yes” immediately and asking some very important questions that all creative professionals should ask themselves.

5 Questions to Ask When Choosing Photography Clients

Do the benefits and rewards outweigh the expenses and challenges?
This is the first question I always ask myself and sometimes it is a tough one to answer as the benefits and challenges aren’t always clearly present when you first discuss the project with the client. With that said, this is also the first question I ask because if the answer is no, I usually don’t have to ask the other questions.

There are two types of rewards that usually justify my acceptance of a project. The first, as you can guess, is money. While I am not a greedy person, after years of being a photographer and a musician, I do value the ability to financially sustain my passions and creative vision. It’s hard to keep the train rolling without a little fuel in the engine. The second reward, when money isn’t involved, is professional advancement, which I’ll discuss next.

While these are the most important two considerations I keep in mind when choosing to work with photography clients on projects, they aren’t the only ones. I also weigh in the “feels good to do it” factor, as I, like most people, love to just feel good about what I’m doing. This is what leads me to working with not-for-profit and volunteer organizations and providing my photography services for free.

Will this job further my career or my artistic vision in some way?
This ties in with the benefits and rewards mentioned above, but simply put, if a job you accept won’t help you to work toward or meet a professional business goal or further your artistic vision as a photographer, it’s okay to let the job go.

Hand holding up a chocolate-covered apple against a white background

Pinteresting! (2012)

Is this photography client worth working for? Are they reputable and easy to work with?
When you meet or chat with a client for the first time, they are sizing you up and determining if you are someone they would want to work with. You should take this same opportunity to check the client out and make sure they are someone you are comfortable and willing to work with.

Photography jobs should be a collaboration between you as the one with the camera and the client as the one with the overall vision or strategy for how the images are used in the end. If you are unable to get through the first discussion or contract negotiations before you ever raise the camera to your eye, it’s usually a sign that the client isn’t the right fit for you and you for them. Don’t force a job if you know it may lead to more trouble than it’s worth.

Will this lead to other opportunities? Will this client refer me to others in their industry?
This is another one of those benefit questions to specifically keep in mind. I have accepted jobs from clients before that offered little to no money, but I knew that the connections made with those clients or those they networked with, would lead to more prominent opportunities and, ultimately, better paying gigs as well.

Be careful with this one, though, and make sure that you do your homework; don’t just take the word of the client that you will receive exposure. Do an analysis of their business, their connections, their network to figure it out if it is truly worth your time.

Am I at a level in my career development where I can choose to turn down a job?
This is a tough one to ask and answer; it forces you to really look at your abilities with the camera and the stage of career development you’re at in your industry. It’s okay to say you’re a newbie; it doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing behind the camera, but that you haven’t had all the experiences you feel you need to be properly prepared for the type of project you’ve been asked to do.

Ashley modeling White Folks Get Crunk T-Shirt and short shorts in a downtown alley

WFGC T-Shirt (2011)

This is where having friends in the photography game is a blessing so you can refer the client to someone you know has that particular experience and is comfortable working on those projects. More often than not, when you are ready, you can revisit that client again and, if the referral you gave them panned out, they will still think highly of you as a professional. In fact, most clients appreciate honesty and open communication.

At the same time, it’s okay to turn down a photography client if you feel you are at a level of development that surpasses what the client is asking you to do or it doesn’t fit inside the scope of your business. For me, this would be how I handle weddings. I enjoy doing them from time to time, but I’m a portrait and landscape photographer first.

My passion is in working one-on-one with a model or client for an hour or two to really work a scene or concept, get the lighting just right, and really create an image that captures who that person is at that time. That’s why, for the small amount of weddings that I do, I choose my clients very carefully.

I’ll be honest – it took me a long while to get used to the idea of saying “no” to clients on this basis (every person is their worst critic and artists are even worse than that), but overall, I’m a happier and more driven photographer because I’m able to say it. And my clients respect my honesty and my professionalism as well.

The Key to Saying No to Photography Clients

Three product shots of antique blue and white china plates

Tangled Up in Blue (2012)

Once you’ve answered the questions above and you know in your heart that the project the photography client has asked you to pursue is either not in your wheelhouse or not the right fit for your business or vision, then it’s time to pull the trigger and deliver the bad news. This can really be a tough thing to do especially if you’ve never done it before; I equate it to breaking up with a girlfriend.

Here’s the truth, though: it really isn’t that hard to do. The key to turning down a client is to be honest and professional. Make sure to give them the reason you aren’t accepting the job, thank them for the consideration, and offer a referral if you have one to pass along.

If things start to go sour and the client gets upset, just bear down, stay calm and collected, and again, make sure to give them an honest reason. As long as you were logical in your reasoning, when you hang up that phone or walk out of the office, you will know that you did the right thing and that the next great photography client is right around the corner.

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