It’s that time of the year again—the time of the year where the season is beginning to wind down and it’s time for me to get real with all of you out there who I know are desperate to ensure you get the BEST wedding photography you can.
I’m going to lay it all out here—this isn’t a post that’s mean to be bitchy, but it is meant to be real and to be honest. I’m taking into consideration the past 42 weddings we’ve shot in the past 15 months (Yes. I know. That’s insane) and I’m throwing out my Top 10 Ways to Make Sure Your Photographer Works Really Hard For You list.
Here you go. Enjoy. Write them down. Commit them to memory. Practice them and you’ll get great photos.
1) Be Nice. Be Nice. Be Nice. BE NICE.
I know—this one seems obvious, but I don’t necessarily know if it is—or at least maybe I just amend it—“Be nice. Make sure your wedding party knows to be nice. And make sure your family knows to be nice.”
When you’re nice to your photographer….I cannot even express how much harder they will work for you. Truly. We will work our ass off. Like we will have no asses if we feel that you value and support us. I get it, I know your wedding day is stressful, but we are here for you and we are here to help--so be nice, trust us, be nice again, smile at us, make us feel like you're GLAD we're there and we will seriously kick ass. Some of our most amazing weddings have been ones where the couple welcomed us into the fold—hugged us, smiled at us, talked to their family and friends ahead of time about us.
And a note about that family and friends thing--I get it--your mom is stressed on the big day, that's fine. I don't expect her to be OVER THE MOON excited to meet me or anything like that, but I do expect her to acknowledge my presence and to not spend the entire night just telling me where to stand.
We work hard for people who are nice.
2) Trust Us:
I cannot tell you how many times at a wedding I’ll have a wedding party member, family member or friend say, “Oh, make sure you take that shot…or did you see that?!” Sometimes I haven’t seen it, that’s true, but more often than not I took the shot 3 minutes earlier. Remember—this is my job. This is my livelihood. I’m a professional at seeing the moments, so you’ve got to trust me that I’ve got it. Same thing goes for photos that we might suggest--if we want you to climb up a ladder, it's for a reason. If we want you to stand in front of a sign in a yard, it's for a reason. If we want to shoot you from a different angle walking down the aisle, it's for a reason. We have an eye, or a vision, or a plan, or a story for every single wedding we shoot. And our job is to tell that story. So help us tell it. If it looks ridiculously stupid on the editing end, I'm going to cut it. I promise.
3) Be honest about family issues:
Whenever we book a wedding, we always touch base a few weeks beforehand to ensure we’re all set for any family issues that might pop up. It’s a significant part of the questionnaire I send to my couples and it requires they be honest. If you have some major family issues going on, it’s going to impact the work we can do. If your sister is a huge problem—tell me that. If your mom is really nervous about the wedding—tell me that. If your dad is a control freak—tell me that. I have had some couples be brutally honest about what to expect when I meet their family and it helps SO much. Please know that I can handle it—all the nasty, gritty, dirty details—that helps me handle THEM so that you can chill and enjoy. I can’t navigate years worth of family drama in 8 hours, of course, but knowing what’s coming when I walk through those doors is immensely helpful.
4) Treat Us Like We’re Friends:
You shouldn't hire me if you don't want a new best friend. Ok, we don’t need to be best friends. Really. But we do need to be cool with each other. And, I’m just being honest, we are more important than your other vendors when it comes to having a quality and trusting and loving relationship. Having a couple, wedding party and family group treat us like we’re more than just a random vendor means a LOT. Remember, you’re going to spend WAY more time with us during the day than you will with any other vendor or probably any other person at the wedding. If you like us, if we like you, if it’s a mutual respect, we will work SO much harder for you.
5) Feed Us. A Real Meal:
It’s already in my contract, so it’s not like we usually don’t get fed, but when a couple takes the time to ensure that 1) we’ve eaten and 2) sets aside a real meal (not a vendor meal--a bag of Fritos and a cold sandwich after a 10 hour day ain't gonna cut it) for us and allows us 5 minutes to scarf food in the kitchen, it means the WORLD. We cannot do quality work if we’ve been on our feet for 10+ hours without any food. This summer we had a wedding where we offered unlimited day of coverage, whic ended up to be a 15 hour shoot, but it was totally fine because the bride and groom not only ordered us lunch, but they also BROUGHT US WITH THEM to the buffet line and let us eat before any of their guests. This was amazing—it not only prevented us from fainting, but it also emphasized to us how important we were in their day and it meant we worked so much harder throughout the night.
6) Give us time:
Please let us know that you are prioritizing photography. Knowing that the couple wants to have great photos and wants to spend time ensuring that happens means a lot. If photography isn’t that important to you, then hiring me and my team isn’t a good option. If photography IS really important to you, then that’s awesome—we’ll probably be a great fit. Make sure you build in enough time in the timeline to ensure we have time to spend together and that we’re not rushing. If I feel like photography is important to you, then I will work super hard to get you the best and the coolest shots.
7) Be nice to us:
I’m just going to say it again. Because it’s critical. Hug us. Welcome us. Shake our hands. Don’t start the day by saying, “Ok, so are you going to take this shot?” Start by welcoming us. Just being real. It makes a huge difference. Also please know that if your family and friends are NOT being nice to us, or are going out of their way to be rude, then I'm probably going to call them on it. Or at least do the "hand on my hip, head cocked to one side, eye brow raised, quiet and very teacher-y long and uncomfortable stare". It works every time. And I will use it.
8) Remember our place:
This is probably my fault, but in the past few months I’ve had a few couples start to make the mistake of thinking that we, as your photographers, are also your planners, coordinators, flower girl wranglers, decorators, stylists, timeline keepers, drivers, and every other wedding related task that could fall in there. I get it—we ARE really comfortable doing all those things, not only from styling and throwing the Pop Up weddings, but also from just being slightly Type A, but at the end of the day, remember that your photographer is just that---your photographer. Make sure you give them the time to make beautiful photos and you’re not piling on other tasks that are better suited for a bridesmaid or groomsmen.
9) Respect your timeline:
If you have only booked your photographer for 8 hours, he/she is going to leave after 8 hours. It’s just how it is. It’s not that we WANT to leave, it’s that we are a paid vendor. And , at the end of the day, this is a job. Which we need to get paid for. So if the first dance is still waiting and the clock is creeping closer to the time when your photographer is set to leave, he/she should check in with you and see where you’re at. I’ve had lots of couples in this position and they usually just say, “Oh yeah, I’ll pay for an extra hour.”—cool, that works! But if you just want your photographer to stay longer “for the fun of it” and you’re not planning to compensate him/her, you shouldn’t plan on that happening.
10) Be nice:
I just needed to say it again. I’ve had some REALLY nice couples. I’m lucky. Not every photographer is so lucky. So as a PSA for all my other photographer friends out there, I’m saying it—be hella nice to your photographer. You can do it. Tell your family and friends the same thing. BE NICE.