Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Photographer X

I know you are lost in a sea of planning right now.  You lay down at night and visions of dresses, veils, and the perfect shoes run through your head.  Your to do list is a mile long and your ears are ringing with the faint ca-ching of money being spent.  Weddings can be expensive. In fact they can be down right ridiculously costly! I know. I've been there.  I was once a bride-to-be planning the most important day of my life and I had a budget.  I cut costs whenever and wherever I could.  I made my own favors, printed my own invitations, did my own hair and makeup.  If there was a way to trim the fat I found it.  When my well meaning father-in-law to be suggested we hire his long time friend to photograph our wedding I was interested.  We had looked at other photographers in the area and their prices were easily half of our entire wedding budget.  I remember getting a free engagement session from one of the way out of our price range photographers.  I nearly fainted when I saw that his least expensive package was $5000.  So, hearing that my husbands dad knew someone was a bit of a relief.  I'm not going to lie. I was hoping for a bit of a family friend discount too.  When we met with photographer x he showed us his portfolio and gave us price quote of $450 for the entire wedding.  Once he mentioned his price, nothing else mattered.  I didn't stop to ask about gear, insurance, turn around time, prints, or really anything other than where we should send the payment.  I left that day feeling happy that I'd gotten a great deal.

The wedding day came and went.  Everything turned out just the way I'd planned it. The perfect guy, the perfect dress, and our family around us, it was bliss.  Like every new bride I was anxious to see pictures.  I wanted some solid physical proof that the day had been as beautiful as I remembered.  I waited a week before calling photographer x.  He didn't call back.  Another week went by and I left another message.  Again, I got no response.  So I called my father-in-law.  He called back and said photographer x was busy with family matters and wasn't able to have the film developed,(Yes, I'm so old my photographer used film.) but if I was willing I could pick it up and have the images developed so I could get them more quickly.  I was super excited to see those photos so I agreed.  I met with photographer x, picked up 12 rolls of film, and headed to the local printer where I dropped off my film and then waited and waited and waited.  Almost a week later the developer calls me to ask  who took the photos.  I cheerfully said photographer x, thinking that they'd want to tell all their clients about him.  I was so naive!  I'm fairly certain I heard laughter on the other end of the phone as they described to me in painful detail how shit-tastic my images were.  They used words like under exposed, over exposed, some had a white line going through the center, and some weren't even salvageable.  My heart sank.  The next day I paid the $115 to pick up my wedding photos hoping that the mean man on the phone had just been overly critical.  He hadn't been.  The photographs were crap.  At this point I'd had no real photography experience and even I could tell they sucked.  I immediately called photographer x  to discuss the awful images.  His response was "you get what you pay for".  Suddenly I remembered a poorly put together portfolio of outdated images and I had to agree with photographer x.  I'd gotten exactly what I paid for.  His to good to be true price turned out to be just that.

I wish I could go back and tell myself not to skimp on the photography. We could have done without something else or saved some other way.  That day was so beautiful but none of the photographs captured it.  Sure, there are some good enough photos, but who wants good enough?  My point is simply this.  Don't skimp on the photography.  Do your research.  Find a photographer who fits your style and then work them into your budget however you can.  Ten years from now you are going to want photos that match your memory of your perfect day. Trust me, I know!
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