Don’t Book a Wedding Photographer Who Does This

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If you’ve been reading Rock n Roll Bride for a while, you’ll know how important I think having a great wedding photographer is. You may also have seen how devastating it can be when it all goes wrong and the photos someone ends up with are either really terrible or, in some truly awful cases, never delivered at all.

This isn’t meant to scare you, but choosing your wedding photographer is a big decision. It also makes me so very sad when I see couples upset because they’re unhappy with their pictures. So today I wanted to give you some concrete guidelines of what to look out for, or more specifically want to avoid, when it comes to booking the person who will capture your day.

You shouldn’t book a wedding photographer who:

Advertises to-good-to-be-true discounts on Groupon 

As a general rule (that part is very important) most of the photographers I see advertising on places like Groupon, Craigslist etc are offering deals that, to me, seem way too good to be true. And this makes me question why they do it and how they can offer such cheap rates.

Let’s look at this this way – a wedding photographer with a decent skill level will not need to discount their rates so much to get bookings. The average cost of a wedding photographer in the UK (for a full day booking) is between £1200-£1800. Of course their are fluctuations due to experience and location to take into consideration, but if someone is advertising saying they’ll shoot your wedding for, say, £100, then clearly something is up. Either this isn’t their full time job, they’re brand new, or their skill level simply isn’t up to par. Its unlikely that they’re going to deliver the same quality of work and service as someone who costs ten times more.

Which leads me nicely onto my second point…

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Is much cheaper than everyone else

Again, there are always rare exceptions to this rule, and everyone has to start somewhere, BUT there is always an element of risk when you book someone who’s newer and still building their portfolio. Yes, they might be an amazing photographer and just finding their feet by offering cheaper deals, but there is always going to more chance that they could make a mistake. It is also unlikely that they will give you the same level of service as someone with more experience.

Of course if you have a small budget and are comfortable with the risk, then by all means, book someone less expensive (it is not my place, or anyone else’s, to tell you what you should or should not spend on any element of your wedding) but always do so with your eyes open. Someone who’s charging much less will in most cases not be as ‘good’ or in-demand as someone who costs the national average or higher.

Undercuts the competition

I guess this one is related to the two points above as well, but its a massive red flag if a photographer will offer to undercut their competition in order to shoot your wedding. It usually means their desperate for your booking which should say a lot about how their business is going. Its also super uncool and a pretty shady way to run a business TBH.

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Spams Facebook groups

As the admin of a very busy Facebook group this is the bane of my life right now! Trying to keep the Rock n Roll Bride group spam-free is almost a full time job. Again, if someone has to spam groups to get bookings then they clearly a) not very busy and b) don’t understand that that’s not the proper way to promote their business!

I probably get more mad about this than the average person because I have to deal with it on a daily basis, but seriously, don’t book someone who thinks this is an acceptable way to promote their business! A decent photographer will not only understand that this is wrong, but will also have a proper marketing strategy in place.

Can’t show you a full gallery

It’s important to ask your prospective wedding photographer if you can see the full gallery from a couple of weddings, not just the edited highlights. You should never base your decision just on what you see in their portfolio, or on their social media or blog. Pretty much anyone can get a few decent shots, but you need to see how the full wedding was delivered to know if these were just happy accidents or indicative of the rest of the photos.

Also, ask to see at some full galleries of weddings that are in a similar setting to yours. For example, if you’re planning an indoor winter wedding with low lighting, don’t just look at weddings shot outdoors in the middle of summer. The resulting photos will be very different!

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Doesn’t show consistency in their work

As an editor, I see a LOT of full galleries of weddings (I actually require to see them for a feature) and to me, nothing shows an amateur photographer more than when their shooting or editing style is inconsistent.

An inconsistent shooting style can be hard to notice unless you look at a LOT of wedding photography like I do, but inconsistent editing is much easier to spot. By that I mean maybe one photo might be super bright and saturated, and then the next is muted and more vintage, followed by another that’s grainy with a lovely dose of spot colour (vomit!) The editing should look the same throughout the full set (with the exception of colour vs black & white).

Has no contract

Run a MILE if you’re photographer doesn’t offer you a contract so sign. It protects both you and them and is vital. When you do get a contract through, please read it thoroughly and don’t be afraid to ask them to further explain any points that you don’t understand.

I hope this post hasn’t come across as too ranty but it makes me so sad when bad wedding photography happens to good people! I hope you’ve found this useful and that it helps when you come to making the decision on who will capture one of the most important days of your life!

Further Reading:

Should I book a professional photographer or get a friend to do it for free?
Can we please stop booking cheap photographers and moaning about them ruining our weddings?
What your wedding photographer wishes you knew
Want great wedding photographs? Follow these simple tips
The price of wedding photography and how much should I expect to spend?
8 ways to get affordable but amazing wedding photos
Facebook live: Wedding photography

Suppliers

30 comments

  1. Laura McWhrter

    Everything and I mean everything you write I support or if I don’t agree with it I still understand it and enjoy reading it. Your very non-judgey and that’s the people I surround myself with so why shouldn’t I also read articles by the same people!!!

    This article however has actually hurt my feelings. I’m just starting out in photography and your basically telling people not to book me. I have years of experience and have actually turned down weddings for a while now because I didn’t feel experienced enough. Now I feel ready and capable I have taken on bookings, we all need to start somewhere (you briefly mention this once but pretty much for the rest of your article warn people off us). Even the most professional of photographers could make a mistake. I can’t charge the full amount yet because I feel that’s unfair given my experience in wedding photography is yet to be fully established.

  2. This is so true!

    I agree with every point in this blog. Sadly there are a lot of clients who’s sole priority these days is budget (and yes I get that) and don’t really understand the background makeup of a good photographer. I always try to explain what they are getting for their money plus the fact my style which I hope the put first before any value.

    Thanks for the write-up and I am going to share this blog on my FB page if that’s okay!

    Thanks Barry

  3. Post author

    Hey Laura, I think you’re miss understanding my point. I’m not saying people shouldnt book newer photographers but that if they should go into it with their eyes open. The thing I’m really pointing out is couples shouldn’t book a photographer who costs £100 and think they’ll get the exact same results as someone charging 10 times that!

  4. Thank you for posting this Kat. Good, established photographers often try to convey the same message, but it doesn’t always go down well. When you’re a photographer yourself it can sometimes seem like there’s an ulterior motive I guess.

    So thank you, as someone who’s experienced and informed, but impartial it’s great to read your take and I hope couples currently looking for their photographers keep the above points in mind.

  5. A brilliant article which again gives support to the argument against going cheap. Information like this is invaluable to couples who are most probably getting married for the first time and swamped with the amount on offer out there!

  6. Some great points raised here Kat. I also here so many sad stories of people that are unhappy with their wedding photographs as a friend or family member offered to capture the day and the results were not what they were expecting.

    So thanks again!

  7. Kat – I am a wedding photographer and would gladly re-post this on my twitter/LinkedIn and FB pages. Is there a reason why you don’t have the social media share buttons?

    Dave

  8. I agree with nearly everything here and makes me sad when I see sub par photographs from photographs thats goal is always to do it for the cheapest price. I occasionally offer discounted rates for weddings that sound interesting and some times discounting to suit a clients budget can often be a lot cheaper than advertising once referrals the come in.
    The big point to take away is see the photographers work and try and meet the photographer before booking.
    I always think that’s it the photos that evoke the memories of the day so well worth the investment

  9. Totally agree with everything you have stated Kat, I think it’s always difficult for a newly engaged couple choosing a photographer or any wedding supplier, as it’s all new to them (and if it isn’t, that’s a completely different piece lol). I always advise my brides to do as much research as possible and more important not to feel pressured into booking someone.

  10. Yes, yes, yes. Even if you are starting out in your journey as a wedding photographer, you should have trained or worked as a second shooter or even, as I did, buy Ebay wedding dresses and organise photoshoots to get experience. If you are good enough, you can charge good prices – never sell yourself cheap. I know we all have to start somewhere but you need to value your skills first and foremost.

    I’ve been shooting weddings for seven years and there is such a huge variety of choice, pricing and skillsets available in the current market. It’s a minefield of choice but I get booked by fabulous couples and we work together to ensure that we achieve the best that we can on the day. It’s not a photoshoot, it’s a wedding and you need someone who is well versed in shooting in cramped or dark environments, who can deal with shifts in timings (because yes, that happens) and also who is a problem solver. I’m sure I’m not the only photographer who has had to stitch her bride into her dress because the seamstress didn’t get the placement of the hook and eye quite right …

    Experience is worth paying for, IMHO. As photographers, we need to value our skills more and not sell ourselves too cheap.

  11. Hi Dave – Just copy the URL into which ever social network you use. We don’t use social media buttons for a bunch of reasons, predominantly speed, privacy, and security.

  12. laura

    I’m a bit torn on this one…I agree wholeheartedly with the Groupon offers, but my partner does charge less than most of his competition. He is a very talented, creative photographer, he offers contracts, is insured, has experience but just wants to offer a fair price. We have been told before that he should raise his price and I worry that articles like this (and the general consensus that more expensive equals better) put people off hiring him. It’s really hard to know what to do..

  13. Totally agree!
    I think the problem comes from not knowing business basics and just knowing about photography. Often we focus on just making money instead of focusing in the quality of the product we are selling.
    Thanks a lot Kat I read you in Mexico!! 😀

  14. ‘Average cost is £1200 – £1800’? What planet are you on?

    The VAST majority of photographers charge in the region of £750 -£1000. Do your market research. Check out the FB groups etc. So your average must include hundreds who charge £3000 plus??

    Discounts are a business decision. Maybe to full up a few slots left, maybe to make a few extra quid that year for next years holidays etc. They are not an indication of a failing business etc.

    As for the photos used in the blog … Really? Looks more like a model in a studio setting.

  15. Nice article, nicely written. But, whilst I agree with most points on here, every photographer has to start somewhere. Not every beginner photographer can pull out a full list of amazing photographs from lots of past weddings. And some might even be shooting as a second photographer, but that doesn’t mean that by advertising discounted rates on craigslist or groupon or wherever is necessarily bad. So long as the photographer clearly states they are a new photographer in weddings, what is wrong with that? Clearly if they are being deceptive and pretending to be a master wedding photographer when they are not, then that is bad, but otherwise offering a discounted service as a beginner is not really an issue. If the client is happy to have them because they are on a shoestring, or the photography is not such an issue for them (many couples don’t actually want a photographer) then who are you to judge? If the client on the other hand is after really nice premium photos, then they won’t book the beginner anyway. Each to their own as they say.

  16. I agree, when a photographer offer discounts, is too cheap, or isnt consistence Its probably an intruder. When u really love your work you you vslue it!

  17. Very valuable advice, a massive part of your wedding day is the images of the memories you have. It is the one reminder and only way your day is truly captured to live on. Don’t spare on the most important parts of your wedding.

  18. Post author

    The thing that really annoys me about these negative comments, isn’t that they disagree with me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, HOWEVER I wish people would actually read and understand what I’ve said before jumping down my throat about it. The “THIS IS SO MEAN, EVERYONE HAS TO START SOMEWHERE, CHEAP DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN BAD” comments are completely invalid as LITERALLY the first line of the section about not booking someone who’s cheaper than everyone else says “there are always rare exceptions to this rule, and everyone has to start somewhere”. So please, for the love of GOD, actually read what I’ve written properly before going off on one about it.

  19. I loved this article – I’m a musician and I found much of this to be relevant to me and of course other groups of suppliers as well.

    I agree with Louise above – it’s hard to say things like this ourselves without coming across like we are whining or badmouthing others.

    Thanks Kat!

  20. Kat, a brilliant article.

    As Samantha mentioned above experience and expertise is worth paying for, however I appreciate every couple has their priorities and budget.

    Just like in everyday life you get what you pay for. Generally a higher price equates to better service and quality.

  21. Great advice.

    Although these days, there seem to be more cheaper photographers who are really good. Not sure about the entire industry, but I’m seeing a lot of it in the Asian wedding market.

  22. MsSolo

    I know this comment is a bit belated, but everyone insisting you have to start somewhere is making me bristle a little. Yes, you do, but you don’t grow your business at the cost of people’s memories. A heart surgeon doesn’t turn up on day one and just start cutting people open with no experience. You train, you learn your craft, you work with other professionals. Apprentice yourself to an experienced professional as their second shooter – you’ll learn a lot without leaving some poor bride with sub par photos, you’ll get paid for your time, you’ll build a portfolio and you’ll pick up some word of mouth buzz (if you work well together, your mentor will recommend you to couples for dates they’re already booked, which starts you off). And when you’re ready to branch out on your own, you can charge what your services are worth, rather than undercutting your competition.

    (on prices, there is massive regional variation. Town I’m getting married in, average price is £1200 to £1800. Town I’m from, it’s £600-£1000. Travel time between the two? Forty minutes.)

  23. Very good article Kat, i get the point some have made that prices can change in different regions but essentially the point is, work out what the average price is in your region and then look for photographers that tick your boxes. Ring them up, don’t go with the pressure of a hard sell or mega discount. And your best advice, look through a selection of full weddings, love this and it’s what i do with all my prospective couples, it’s not just about that epic shot, it’s about the memories of the parts of the day you don’t even see until the pictures arrive.

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