Post # 1
HI All – I’m working on getting quotes on some videographers/photographers. I’ve met with Bella.
I really like how I would own the digital negatives and my pictures. It seems like it would save a lot of money since I wouldn’t have to buy my pictures from them.Has anyone used them? Positives? Negatives? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Post # 3
DowntownGirl, I’ve heard a lot of different things about Bella, ranging from "I loved my pictures" to "the photographer they sent was awful."
The thing with Bella is that they hire photographers on the cheap, usually at the last minute (my friend who used them said they would not give her the name of a photographer until 1 month before the wedding), and take a huge cut of your payment to fund their overhead. Because they work with so many different photographers, the quality of the people they send is not very reliable.
I think brides are usually better off booking directly with a photographer who works for him or herself, or for a smaller studio. That way you know exactly who you’re working with, and you get to look at samples of *their* work. It’s very common these days for photographers to give you the digital negatives and rights to your photos as part of their package, so Bella isn’t doing anything special for you by giving you those things. Good luck!!
Post # 4
My friend was recently a MOH for her cousin’s wedding and they used Bella. From what my friend told me, it ended up being a disaster because the photographer originally assigned to the wedding didn’t show up AT ALL! No call, no messages, no nothing from him! Needless to say, the bride and groom were stressed and pissed off… the guests began doing the best they could and took photos with their point-and-shoot digital cameras. They eventually sent a "replacement" photographer who showed up well into the reception. So now they don’t have professional photos of any of their ceremony or beginning of reception. That sounds like a total nightmare to me… if I were you, I would take MelissaB’s advice and go with someone who works for themselves (a private photographer). And yes, most of them do give you the high-res negatives on DVD/CD nowadays, so you can still make prints yourself.
Hope that helps! 🙂
Post # 5
Downtown Girl, I’ve had friends who also gave BAD REVIEWS of Bella. I agree with Melizza and ddub….look for photographers who are just working on their own (not through a company). MAKE SURE YOU GET A COPY OF THEIR LIABILITY INSURANCE, too. A legit photographer who owns her/his own business must have one. One of my friend’s photographer went out of business. Good thing she had her money back. If she the photographer she hired had no insurance, my friend would not have gotten her money back.
Post # 6
Thanks for all the feedback. Geesh, it all sounds kind of scary! I had heard they use contracters and the woman told us all their photgraphers are employed Bella photographers. She also said we would have the chance to meet the photographer beforehand because that is important to me. Geesh, I’m really scared now. I am most definitley going to continue interviewing.
Next on my list is Timothy Whaley and Associates.
Thank you everyone for all the feedback!
Post # 7
- Wedding: September 2007 - Hyatt Lodge, Oak Brook IL
I think Timothy Whaley is along the same lines as Bella. I’m not sure what your budget is, but there are a TON of amazing INDEPENDENT photographers in the Chicago area that really reasonable AND include the digital files in their packages! Check out:
– Steve Koo Photography (fiance of Miss Stileto!)
– Laurie Peacock
– Allure Photography
– Second Print Productions
– Brian Kinyon
(you should be able to google all of these)
Post # 8
If you want to get bang for your buck, look into Modern Image Photography. We almost went with them, but I ended up finding my doppelganger at a different studio. They’re not the cheapest out there, but they do toss in a ton of things. The quality seemed great and you actually choose your individual photographer. (I’m giving them a shout out because they were SOOO wonderfully accomodating and I feel very guilty about going with someone else).
Post # 9
We used George Street Photography, which is a local chain. They’re similar to Bella in that they work with contractors, but you can chose the photographer you work with from the beginning based on their individual work. Our photographer, Lin, was awesome. Also, you receive a copy of the digital negatives. GS is cheaper than Bella, too.
Post # 10
I used Bella and I loved the results! Our photographer was great, showed up on time, and took fantastic pictures. I was able to speak with him before the actual wedding day and discussed all of my concerns, etc. I felt extremely comfortable with our decision and would recommend them!
Post # 11
- Wedding: September 2009 - The 19th Century Club
Being able to build a relationship with your photographer is, in my opinion, really important. There are SO MANY fabulous photographers in the city of Chicago that are independent and fabulous. Just like any other vendor for your wedding (from hair and makeup to invitations), there is a greater chance you’ll have a more personal experience with a photographer working independently vs. someone from a larger chain. And, it’s almost a given that with the options out there, you’ll be able to find someone in your budget! Mrs. Emerald gave a great list to start from (including my hubby-to-be, thanks Mrs. Emerald!)….good luck finding a good fit for your wedding!
Post # 12
Thank you all very much for the input. I had Modern on my list so I will look into them as well, thanks TeamZ. Thank you Emerald for the great list of independent photographers, I will look into those as well.
I met with TWA, pricing was better than Bella and I appreciated that you have the photographer for the whole day/12 hours as oppossed to Bella’s 6-8-10 hour pricing policy.
It’s such a hard and expensive decision. I just don’t want to choose bad and end up regretting the money spent and the pictures/videos so I’m really taking my time on this one. I appreciate all your feedback and will keep you all posted!
Post # 13
One of the girls I went to high school with had Peter Coombs do her photography — the pictures are beautiful and you get the digitial DVD as well as the ability to order on snapfish, etc. His pictures are amazing and I am meeting with him next month. I love his style.
Post # 14
Other than my venue, my photographers are my 2nd favorite score so far! I’m using 847Media.com. They are a husband and wife team and their FULL day of coverage (including an enagement session) is less than Bella’s least expensive package (plus you get all your pics in hi-res).
I heard of them through a friend of mine and another friend used them (Rose, who is one of the wedding’s featured on their site) and am so incredibly excited to be able to have 2 photographers on a small budget like mine! I have a large family and since we are having a 12:00 wedding, I feel like we’re going to be super stressed in the AM getting ready and trying to get pics taken, etc. By having 2 photographers, we’re going to be able to knock out so many more pictures before hand (we’ll each have a photog with us as we get ready too!), the pics just after the ceremony will be coordinated so much more smoothly because Carol can be organizing one group while her husband is snapping another and Adam and I will just have to switch between the two. Not to mention the fact that I love the idea that throughout the day I’ll get to see pics from two points of view.