(Closed) Ladies, what do you look for when searching for a photographer?

posted 8 years ago in Photos/Videos
Post # 18
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1314 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2006

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@hisprettygirl:  Putting your pricing up or not putting your pricing up is I think the single most difficult decision you have to make on your website as a photographer.  We’ve done it every single which way you can think of, and no scenario has brought us perfect results.  So here is the simple reason why we currently aren’t doing the pricing on the website, or a range.  Our average wedding starts around 3K and works up from there depending on what people want.  However just because someone’s budget in their brain isn’t already at where we start- doesn’t mean it can’t change.  And it also doesn’t mean that if certain criteria are met that we might be able to accommodate them somehow.  There are so many factors that can go into a booking, time of year, personal circumstances, etc. etc.  If we meet a couple who can’t afford us, but who we fall in love with – if they truly value us and our work then we might work out something special for them.  I really hate “packages” and a one size fits all mentality. Everyone has a different circumstance, needs and wants, and why should you have to necessarily fit 1-5 preset prices?  We currently custom quote everything.

The biggest hurdle is to get people to understand that it’s truly NOT all about pricing.  It’s about developing personal connections, it’s about finding artists whose work you love, and whose personality fits you.  And for us it’s about finding clients who love us and our work.  We don’t want someone to hire us just because our package was $200 less than some other photographers.  Our best work comes from when the whole experience is personalized.  We find that the downside to the wedding business is when we end up working for people who more or less are only concerned about price and the whole thing starts to feel like a Walmart transaction.

I agree with everyone on website music, I think most photographers “in the know” have figured that part out.  I however don’t get why you’d necessarily eliminate someone based on how they worded “pricing.”  They are just trying to illustrate that of all of the vendors you hire for your wedding, photography (or video) is the one thing that goes beyond the day of the wedding.  They are trying to take the commodity feeling out of it.  It’s definitely not an insult to anyone’s intelligence.  All photographers want is for the inevitable nitty gritty conversation of price to be something that doesn’t have as much priority as the love of the photos and the relationship we have to forge to take them.  We don’t fault people for asking, obviously it’s a big factor… but we get a lot of inquiries where people write in the comment box “send pricing.”  That’s it.  No- hi how are you, like your work, available on my date?   Wanna talk?  We are obviously not the ideal photographer for everyone, some people don’t want to invest that kind of time.

Also if you truly truly want awesome photography your budget for it can change.  You can move funds around in a wedding, you can make it happen.  Your photographer might even have some great ideas on things from their experience that aren’t worth the money that you might think are, or they may have payment options for you too.  The point is you will never know until you ask.

I realize what I have to say won’t always be popular or understood by everyone, but that is one perspective of a photographer who struggles with wanting pricing to be less of a factor than people make it.

Also as an FYI most photographers are moving away from Flash based websites because they are terrible for SEO.

 

Post # 19
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1212 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

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@continuumphotography:  Why not put some example package pricing up but also make it clear that you can customize packages to fit the needs of the couple?

There are so many photographers out there, that not having pricing is an easy criterion to use to eliminate some and narrow your search. 

Post # 20
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1314 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2006

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@Lemma:  We have a general example price range set up, but if you read our pricing page it’s very clear that we are custom.  Putting an example package up would to us go against how individual a process it is.  Again we are not for everyone, and the client we attract isn’t searching for a photographer with price being the number one factor.

Post # 21
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1212 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

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@continuumphotography:  Fair enough. I now see the part on your website where it gives a ballpark figure. That’s helpful. For what it’s worth though, if I had been seriously searching and came across your website, I might easily have missed where you wrote that and eliminated you.

Post # 22
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1314 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2006

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@Lemma:  To be honest when we had standard packages on our website we’d still get inquiries from people asking us what our pricing was.  There really is no right answer that fits how everyone searches.  We book up every year and our clients either read all of the text on our site carefully, or like our work enough to take the time to start a dialog.  If you really like someone’s work and want to find out more, just send them an email.  Takes just a few seconds.  And if they don’t get back to you in 24 hours that would be a reason in my opinion to eliminate them from a search (unless you contact them on a weekend – every once in awhile we work a two or three wedding weekend and it’s pretty hard to respond to stuff then).

Post # 23
Member
705 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

I would say that the two are not comparable.  I don’t care how great your service is, if I don’t like your work, I’m probably not going to hire you.  That said, if your work is amazing and you treat me like shit, I am also not going to hire you.  You have to have both.  As much as others will try to say that it’s not about money, in a way, it is.  Not necessarily the bottom line but if I’m paying a lot of money for something, it needs to be awesome.  I set my expectations for the value I’d like for my money.  In my area, photography usually starts at $2000ish.  I’ll accept less than stellar (but still professional) service and maybe less than my ideal style for the lower end or below the standard price range.  But as your prices rise above the low end of the spectrum, my expectations rise.

As much as I hate it, for some people, price is the big point.  We can’t all afford our favorite photographer and I’ve yet to talk to someone who I’ve known professionally for over a year and who *knows* that I am a nutcase for their work (so 3 people in my area) who will offer to work for less than what they normally charge, which is double my photography budget.  What I really enjoyed for the photog that I’ve hired is that she offers a small package–3 hours coverage and an option for an engagement or bridal session–for people who still want some photos but can’t afford to have her all day.  I think that something like that will get you more business than just offering low prices.  If you charge less than what you’re worth, your customers will not value you and your time because they won’t respect you as they think that they are taking advantage of you.  It’s a tough balance.

Post # 24
Member
731 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2013

I second a lot of what these other bees have said! πŸ™‚ Well thought-out, ladies!

One big thing for me was finding a photographer that loved what they did. I found a pair that are always shooting something or other–their baby, their weekends, their friends, funny videos. I could tell that photography was really their passion, and it wasn’t just a job. I even saw a photo of when their baby was first born–they put a little toy camera in his hand!

Some good things that came out of this–the “main” photographer in the pair was willing to travel from SoCal to NorCal with us to do our E-session. He said, “Yeah, that would be fun!” SO willing! A lot of good stuff can result if your photographer honestly loves his/her profession.

Post # 26
Member
731 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2013

oops sorry I wasn’t paying too close attention, and just answered what was in the topic title! Hopefully this will be more helpful–

price does not trump photographic style for me for the team we chose! We loved our photographers pictures, and they were about 500 more than we wanted to pay, but we went for them anyway. I fell in love with another photographer’s pictures, but he was about 2000 more than what we wanted to pay. At that point, style did not trump price! hahaha!

as for client service and style, I think they go somewhat hand-in-hand. If you don’t gel well with your photographic team, it will be more difficult to feel at ease in front of the camera, and your photos will reflect that. I would look for photographers that you really get along well with, that help you to relax during your E-sesh and wedding.

The ones we found, we feel like we could be old friends! They’re so cool and funny, I just know Fiance and I will be ourselves in front of the lens.

Post # 27
Member
853 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

@continuumphotography – I agree, “it’s not about pricing” – except that it is. Sorry, but that sounds like the typical photographer response, the kind of photographer who calls the photos an “investment.” You also mentioned that if we want really good photos, we should adjust our budget – that sounds just like the bridal consultants on the dress shows trying to upsell budget-busting gowns! Every wedding vendor wants you to “move around funds” to make their product fit in your budget!

It was really important to me to maintain a reasonable budget during my wedding (and I’m seriously lucky to have done so, since I was fired / not recontracted from my teaching job a month before the wedding). I wouldn’t even consider a photographer outside my budget, even if their work won Pulitzer prizes. 

I also had precious little time to actually research photographers, since I was teaching and putting in 12-hour days regularly and working through weekends. I didn’t want to waste my time OR the photographer’s time if I couldn’t afford them.

I also understand how difficult it is to post prices because of how much can vary because of the couple, location, time of year, etc etc – but I’ve seen it done from many photographers. I likely wouldn’t contact a photographer unless 1. I had a great recommendation for them by a close friend, or 2. They posted a basic outline of their pricing online.

When I was still researching photographers, I almost went with this guy: http://loicphoto.com/. You can see that he does amazing work and has a very basic price schedule posted on his site. Because of that, I contacted him and asked further about his work, availability, and cost. In the end, I went with a friend as our photographer, even though this guy would’ve been a litle less. 

AFTER I make sure I can actually afford the photographer, then it’s important to take a closer look at how much I like their work, and after I meet them, the kind of “vibe” I get from them. 

Post # 28
Member
9129 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

Meet with the photographer before booking them.  This is someone who is going to follow you around all day from getting ready in your bridal suite to intimate shots of you and your hubby to grandma getting down on the dance floor.  You don’t want a creepy or bitchy or (insert bad trait here) photographer following you around all day.  You want some chemistry with the photographer so that they can get you at your best in pictures.  Also, depending on your vendors, the photographer is one of the vendors that sets the speed and order of events if you don’t have a day of coordinator.  Make sure he/she is authoritative enough to move you through your timeline so you’re not that newlywed couple that ends up hours late to the reception because the photographer wanted one more shot or couldn’t get everyone organized for the shots.

Post # 29
Member
3768 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2013 - Brookfield Zoo

For me, photographic style almost trumped client service!  I met with 3 photographers; the 1st one’s personality we loved and really clicked with but their style was not our favorite, the 2nd was totally lifeless when we met with them, took several days (more than 48 hours) to get back to me and did not seem enthusiastic at all, but their work was amazing.  We could have gone with #2!!  We might have had we not met photographer #3.  That is not to say that you can treat your clients like crap, but quality and style can outweigh service to a certain degree.  I will say that after meeting #3, #2 was the easiest to eliminate.

For me price did not trump photographic style or service, but I had a big budget to work with knowing that photography and videography were the things I really wanted to splurge on, and Fiance was on the same page with me as that.  This will definitely vary from person to person.

Post # 30
Member
1314 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2006

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@hisprettygirl:  I have much more information on my pricing page than the photographer you are using as an example.  Again our philosophy and approach to pricing isn’t going to be a perfect fit for everyone’s personality.  Sorry you think my responses are “typical photographer” responses.

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