Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How NOT to be a Wedding Photographer

Several months ago, I was convinced by a friend....I hesitate to put I decided because I was really railroaded into it...... to start photographing people as well as horses. I know that most of the time our friends, our true friends, have our best interests at heart when they make suggestions like these but it's been my unfortunate experience, that these suggestions usually end badly. The "people" photography is a prime example. It started off well enough, with high praise for the work I did but I was having a problem getting bookings. My sister told me that my prices were way too high (compared to J.C. Penny where she always gets the grandkids' photos and is well satisfied with them) and I'd never make it. My prices were half the price of any other photographers out there especially the ones doing location shoots like I was. So, when the chance came to book a wedding, I jumped at it. It sounded perfect... it was a small, outdoor wedding and the bride was mature so I wasn't expecting a bridezilla. I was right about the bride, she was very sweet but I was still awake and sick the entire night before the big day. I suddenly remembered why I stopped doing this when I was younger, the pressure to get it right and not make any mistakes is just too great. Well, the bride didn't book until a few weeks before the wedding so I didn't require her to follow the rules and pay me at least half in advance despite the fact that I was only charging her 300 for the shoot (way more than half the price of other photographers but I figured it was my first so I'd cut her a break). Despite my anxiety, the wedding shoot went off without a hitch. I stupidly told her that she could wait until after I finished the edits to pay for the shoot and also told her that I'd have the photos within two weeks for her to view (obviously she'd never dealt with a photographer before or she would know what a gift both of those statements were.) So, I start working on all of the edits but this was also during the last two weeks of my best friend's life so I was away and terribly distracted most of the time. Two weeks and two days later, my best friend was laid to rest and the very next day, even though I didn't feel like it, I finished up the edits on 149 photos (!!!) and posted them online for her to view. The bride complained to the wedding planner that I was late! It will be obvious how ridiculous that is when I tell you that the wedding was in late August and I finally received a very small order of prints (it has dwindled down) and a promise of payment last night. Evidently, the bride has never dealt with a photographer before and evidently, did not check with any other photographers before contacting me. She loved the photos, everyone loved the photos. I captured the intimate moments that she asked for and I am known for..... I've found that I can bring the best out in the people I'm photographing even if I do say so myself. She started out wanting a dvd and a ton of shots and asking for a deal....of course. After I quoted her just 650 for all of that and the initial shoot, she waited another two weeks and the order dwindled to 5 small photos and I'm hoping, the initial 300...or she's not getting her photos. I'm through with weddings, I've learned my lesson. I've completely removed the option from my website and I've now removed the bride's gallery and the wedding video from my page and from youtube so she doesn't get the benefit without paying for it. I worked hard on those photos, I did a good job and then I spent an entire day just putting together that video she'd said she definitely wanted. She's said that she will get the check off to me pronto....a check for 380 (which dwindles down once I pay for photos and shipping and all of my other costs + Uncle Sam's cut....oh, and the worry over ever getting paid) for over 40 hours of edit work; payment of which has been delayed for nearly four months. This "great idea" my friend had was definitely not worth it. I'm back to working on my art and now jewelry....which in a few short weeks has already made me more than the wedding and all these months of stress. So, if I ever make the mistake of agreeing to shoot another wedding, please just go ahead, shoot me and put me out of my misery!

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