Photos bad, Photographer worse. Please help (esp those with photo experience)

posted 1 year ago in Photography
  • poll: Did I have unrealistic expectations of our photos?
    Yes- what you see showcased on blogs is not representative of how wedding photos turn out : (11 votes)
    12 %
    Yes- a photographer's quality of work varies depending on the setting/lighting of the venue, etc : (13 votes)
    14 %
    Yes- for what you paid, your pictures are going to be "fine" but not amazing : (14 votes)
    15 %
    Yes- not all wedding photographers spend a ton of time editing : (5 votes)
    5 %
    No- your photographer should have been able to accommodate the lighting and situation of a venue : (20 votes)
    22 %
    No- for $2,000 your photographer should have given you gorgeous photos : (13 votes)
    14 %
    No- wedding photographers these days should have very high editing capabilities, esp in photoshop : (16 votes)
    17 %
    Other (please explain below) : (1 votes)
    1 %
  • Member
    1686 posts
    Bumble bee

    Yeesh, her response sounds totally out of line.  I don’t have photography experience, but I had lighting issues at our wedding.

    So at our wedding, our photographers had to work really hard to find places with good lighting – it was August and 90% outdoors, and so much of the outdoor parts of the venue would just be way too bright or too shadowy for good photos. It was annoying because group pictures pretty much all had to be in the same place even though we had like 10 acres of venue. 

    I do appreciate that they pointed that out, because in all of the outtakes you can see exactly how shadowy some areas were – way too dark!  In fact, all of the group family photos that we took are way, way too shadowy to use and no amount of photoshop could make them look decent.  I think that your photographer should have communicated her lighting concerns to you.

     

    Member
    4366 posts
    Honey bee

    I think the best indication of a photographer’s quality is their blog or photos of other weddings they’ve shot. Its important to see lots of photos of the same event, not just the best dozen. That said, whats done is done. To address your concerns:

    1. Does the quality of photos vary so much from place to place? She said the photos really depend on the light and that our venues had really bad lighting. 

    To a certain extent, bad light is a big problem. However, there are ways to get around bad lighting and a good professional photographer should able to get good photos in bad lighting. It is a skill and requires knowing how to adjust your camera and lenses based on the lighting and situation.

    2. Why are there no up-clsoe pictures/pictres of faces during the ceremony or reception? Is it true that taking pictures from the back of the church or side of the church prohibits that?


    If she had the right lenses, she should have been able to zoom in to get closer up shots. However, the best close up shots are taken close up. Asking your photographer to stand in the back of the church

    3. What percentage of pictures are usually print-worthy, or worth hanging on a wall? We did get a few, it was jus so much fewer than I hoped, but maybe i Had unrealistic expectations.

    It depends on the photographer. I would say a couple hundred+, but it depends on how many hours they are there and if you have multiple photographers.

    4. The reviews of our photog online were glowing, and we really liked all her blog pictures. This is where I am most baffled. Why oh why 

    Make sure you leave an honest review so that other brides aren’t fooled by the reviews you read. Include both the good and the bad parts of her service (like the fact that you got great photos right away, but the rest of them weren’t the same quality)

    5. Is it the photog’s job to encourage us to take more portrait pics outside if the lighting in the church is so bad? She said that she encouraged us too but we said we wanted them inside- which absoultely may have happened, I can’t remember- but I feel like a good photog who is really concerned about the lighting would really push us to take formal pics outside? Maybe not….

    I think it depends on the customer. If the customer insists on taking everything inside (which you might have) then it is up to the photographer to make the best of it. If the customer is flexible, I think a good photographer would suggest alternative locations with better lighting ect.

    6 How much editing is expected of a wedding photographer? We paid $2,000– the highest end hotographers where we live are around $3500-4000

    It really depends on the photographer. Some edit every single photo, others only edit ones you intend to print, and still others only edit the ones they think need it. Spending more does not always mean you are getting higher quality photos or that your photographer is spending more time editing them. However, if other people are willing to spend more on a photographer (as in they are able to charge $4k for years and still get clients), that usually indicates that they think that photographer is worth that much money (because of the quality of their photos, customer service, items in their package ect.)

    Member
    6304 posts
    Bee Keeper

    I would love to see some of these pics. It’s hard to tell whether or not you are being reasonable without seeing them.

    Member
    1217 posts
    Bumble bee

    My photog complained about the light in our venue and dealt with the problem himself by replacing lightbulbs and adding lights. We got some wonderful pictures!

    I’m not sure whether this is normal, but I think a good photographer would be proactive about the problem–not just use it as an excuse afterward. 

    I’m sorry you’re disappointed! 

    Member
    5755 posts
    Bee Keeper

    I am so sorry about this, truly, I am.  But it’s hard to really say one way or another without getting a look what really happened. 

    The fact is that photography is an art, and when it comes to that, you need to find an artist who’s craft speaks to you and that is that.  I’m not sure what you paid, or what the ins and outs of your contract were, but it would behoove you to review both carefully to see what your avenues of relief are in this situation.

    The good news is that photoshop is a MARVELOUS program, and as long as your shots were taken with a moderatley good quality digital camera, in the right hands those pictures that have you non-plussed, will blow you away once they are cropped and filtered correctly.

    A tip for brides to be who are photographer shopping, look for one who shoots a little on the overexposed side, and tones down in editing, you get a much more vivid and multi-tonal dimension to shots that way!

    Member
    1909 posts
    Buzzing bee

    Email your photographer and ask if you can have permission to edit her photos. If she gives you permission, I can edit them on Photoshop CS6 free of charge. I hate bad wedding photography, but I looooove editing it.

     

    Member
    630 posts
    Busy bee

    @disappointed900: 

    As someone above mentioned, it’s hard to know exactly what the photographer could or couldn’t have done without seeing the images. Some venues are incredibly difficult to shoot. I know you’re not comfortable sharing them openly, but if you’d like to PM me with a link to some I may be able to help you articulate your issues exactly – I am a full time professional wedding photographer and I’ve done this for a few other brides who have had issues with their images. Being able to identify what is environmental factors beyond the photographer’s control vs what is actual error/unpreparedness on the part of the photographer will become very important if you’re looking to ask for money back.

    Can you share what your package included for $2,000? Also, any language in your contract about editing? $2,000 is on the lower end of what really competent, equipped photographers shooting full time can charge and still keep a business open so what that includes would be important in answering your questions.

    1. Does the quality of photos vary so much from place to place? She said the photos really depend on the light and that our venues had really bad lighting.

    Yes and no (again, I’d need to see a handful of the images to see if it was a venue issue or skill issue). Photographers should be able to handle all lighting conditions but unfortunately those on the lower end generally don’t have the skill and/or higher end equipment necessary for some of those more challenging locations. What was the content of the photographer’s portfolio? Did you see many images that looked like they were shot in similar conditions? (i.e. maybe the photographer you chose had all outdoor, beautiful natural lit weddings and yours was not that?)

    2. Why are there no up-clsoe pictures/pictres of faces during the ceremony or reception? Is it true that taking pictures from the back of the church or side of the church prohibits that?

    Many churches restrict our movement during the ceremony. Were there any restrictions? If not, the photographer may not have had the necessary zoom lens to get tighter shots of you (the standard zoom most professionals use in churches is $2500 itself). In some churches, depending on how long the aisle is, even if I zoom in all the way I can’t get a tight shot from all the way in the back.

    3. What percentage of pictures are usually print-worthy, or worth hanging on a wall? We did get a few, it was jus so much fewer than I hoped, but maybe i Had unrealistic expectations.

    This depends on what you consider print worthy.

    4. The reviews of our photog online were glowing, and we really liked all her blog pictures. This is where I am most baffled. Why oh why

    Think about the content of her blog posts – were there many weddings that looked like yours or were they mostly outdoor, easy lighting situations that allow more freedom of movement?

    5. Is it the photog’s job to encourage us to take more portrait pics outside if the lighting in the church is so bad? She said that she encouraged us too but we said we wanted them inside- which absoultely may have happened, I can’t remember- but I feel like a good photog who is really concerned about the lighting would really push us to take formal pics outside?

    If your photographer suggested you do them outside and you wanted them inside, that is on you. It’s our job to give advice based on our experiences, not force you to do things and risk making you angry. It sounds like you didn’t fully trust the photographer to begin with if you declined her advice to move outside for formals.

    6 How much editing is expected of a wedding photographer? We paid $2,000– the highest end hotographers where we live are around $3500-4000

    Most photographers edit for basic things like color correction, cropping, straightening, etc. Full edits (with re-touched skin, taking out distracting objects, etc) happen as an extra or as part of the print ordering process (i.e. we’ll do those kinds of edits on images you choose to print or use in an album through us).

    Feel free to send me a private link to just a handful of examples so I can help you articulate some of the issues you’re feeling!

    Member
    3053 posts
    Sugar bee

    @disappointed900:  I’m sorry you’re disappointed. Are you unhappy with the quality more because your parents & sister didn’t say good things about them? Is it possible you think they’re not very good simply because of someone else’s opinion? Or, everyone else’s thoughts aside, do you like the photos? Are they too dark, too light, blurry, not in focus? Can you email me a few, or a link to see them?

    #1. Yes & no. Lighting can change the image, it can make a good photo great, however a professional should still be able to get a good photo with sub par lighting. If it was dimly lit, you have to have the correct equipment & skill set. Some churches don’t have a lot of light to work with & it can be challenging. That’s how images are made, light going through the lens! No light = no pictures.

    2. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know for sure. However there are some photographers who are all up front during the ceremony, some who get close but not super close &, some who stay back & zoom in to get close shots. We don’t know how your ceremony was laid out, its possible she couldn’t access the best angles due to someone else standing there or someone blocking the view, or objects in the way. Or its possible that the venue limits the photographer (some churches don’t allow photography during the ceremony). If the venue limits them, its not really their fault, they will do their best. If its a combo of low light & restricted access, that would have been very challenging & zooming in would be especially challenging.

    3. It really depends on the client standards. You show 1 photo to a variety of people, some will say they love it, others will hate it, some will say its okay. It also depends on the photographer, if 5 photographers photographed the same wedding: the highly experienced pro, the experienced pro, the advanced amatear, the hobbyist & the newbie, all will have highly different results in quality, angles, lighting, etc. The cost has something to do with how good they are most of the time, but not always. I know some newbie quality photographers that charge too much & I know pro quality photographers who charge too little.

    4. Not sure, but I would wait awhile to review. If you’re upset right now wait until you’ve calmed down. Take a few days & then look through your photos. You don’t want to review someone while you’re upset, or before you’ve gotten your final product.

    5. We’re not going to force you to do anything. She asked you to take them outside for a reason, if you declined, its not her fault. You likely didn’t realize what a difference it could make, but we don’t know what she said or how she said it. Indoor vs outdoor photos can make a huge difference! As you can tell from your indoor vs outdoor shots. If someone doesn’t want to go to a certain place, it will depend on how they say it, body language, etc. If they are hesitant I will try asking again, but if I get the impression that they know what they want, I will do what they want. ETA: I’ve seem some breathtaking images taken in venues, so outside doesn’t always mean better, but if there’s more light outside, then that’s the better place to go.

    6. It depends, some edit every single photo, others only edit a few, & there’s a lot of different combos. Almost all professionals know how to use photoshop (or something like it), however I have heard of professionals that don’t do digital editing much, if at all. Back in the days of film there was no editing like that available.

    Member
    737 posts
    Busy bee

    I’m really sorry you have to deal with this, and like a lot of brides, just had unrealistic expectations of what their budget photographers are capable of. You mention the average is $3400ish in your area. There is a good reason they charge that much, having the correct gear {lenses and lighting} and the education to use them cost A LOT of money.

    You asked what percent are printable. It really depends on the quality of the photographer. I can tell you ever image I give a client is exposed well, in focus, color corrected, composed well, and a genuine moment, but also charge accordingly.

    I do think your photographer’s response was amateur, but that’s the business quality of someone at that level.

    You can buy pants at Target and you can buy them at Michael Kors. They are both pants, but the quality, design, and price are much different. You can’t expect one to be another.

    This is why it’s also important to see full weddings similar to your own before you hire someone. If they are good enough to be working a lot then they should have them to show you. If you like what you see then book that photographer, but don’t expect to give them tips or direct them so they will capture your wedding “better”. You will be disappointed.

    Photography is an art and it takes a lot of know-how, experience and cash to know how to do it correctly.

    Member
    3957 posts
    Honey bee

    @disappointed900:  You need to double check with your photographer to make sure she will allow you to edit them yourself.

    This is usually a big no-no, and if she charged you $2,000 I’m assuming she’s not actually an amateur and might have just had a bad day.

    With that said – was what she produced extremely far from what you saw in her portfolio before you hired her?  If so, i’m sorry.  I can’t imagine seeing results that you didn’t expect. Best of luck to you – and please please make sure you can edit those photos before you put a lot of work into it. 

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