Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Photographer
This weeks guest blog is by Anne Brande of Ludwig Photography from Laramie, Wyoming. “We are EMOTIONAL STORYTELLERS specializing in Fine Art wall portraits and photographs. Known throughout the Rocky Mountain Region, we serve not only Wyoming and the Front Range, but also we travel extensively to create emotional portraits for clients throughout the United States and abroad. For over 107 years our family has passionately created emotional stories for families, capturing and revealing the love they share with each other.” View all of their beautiful photos here!
Hello, my name is Anne Brande and I have been passionately photographing weddings for over 28 years. My family studio started in 1904. You might think I’m an old timer but I assure you—I’m not! I am an energetic EMOTIONAL STORY TELLING photographer and mother of three young children. I live in a wonderfully fun college town, Laramie, home of the University of Wyoming.
I absolutely LOVE photographing weddings. Every bride wants to have the most incredibly romantic day imaginable! Most importantly, she wants to have fun and share this amazing time with her family and friends. With every wedding I photograph I feel the same excitement as I did on my wedding day. When I meet that bride for the first time I get goosebumps. It’s as if she were my very own daughter and I really want to go the extra mile to assure that she has the WEDDING OF HER DREAMS.
I felt this way immediately when I met Hannah. She strolled by my studio one afternoon and we started chatting. It wasn’t long before we both knew I was the photographer for her. So she wasted no time and scheduled to come in with Matt, her fiance. It was during this time that Hanna confided in me that she didn’t want to make the same mistakes her sister had made only a year before, in selecting the wedding photographer for her wedding.
Having a downtown Laramie portrait gallery and studio known throughout the state of Wyoming for high quality lifetime guaranteed Story Book Wedding Volumes and wall portraits, many young couples walk into my studio (some of them years after their wedding) seeking my advice. Therefore, I have decided to highlight some mistakes I have heard through the years, and thereby hope to spare new couples some of the same heartaches. I also want to share some special moments from Hannah and Matt’s amazing day.
Absolutely the MOST Important
Google is great, however, please realize that ANYONE can have a professional-looking website and blog. There are companies that cater to photographers providing design and content.
True craftsmanship is hard to find. Many new photographers without formal training or a professional skill set would have you believe they are tops in the field. Natural light photography is a fancy title often used by those who have no formal training in great portrait lighting. Good lighting can make the subject radiant and beautiful. Bad lighting – well – I don’t know of many brides that want deep circles under their eyes or shadows under their noses. Always ask if retouching is included in the investment, or even provided at all? The images may be skillfully captured, but who wants blemishes, food between their teeth or a bad sunburn?
Not Meeting with Your Photographer in Person Before You Hire Him/Her
Call your favorite photographers and schedule a time to VISIT their studio to chat IN PERSON. Pick a photographer that is geographically familiar with where your wedding and reception are taking place. Be leary of photographers that do not mention where they are from or say that they are “destination photographers.” You don’t want to be sacrificing your wedding day freedom to accommodate his or her travel schedule or fatigue. And you don’t want a photographer who isn’t familiar with your ceremony and reception location. (They won’t know the inside scoop on all the great beauty and texture of your location, and more importantly. They may not have the time to really get to know you as a couple and why you are so incredibly right for one another.) If you have questions or concerns after your wedding day, geographical distance can distance your photographers from you. You can’t simply walk into their studio during business hours and speak with them in person. Many of the couples I have spoken to over the years have told horror stories of emails and phone calls going unanswered indefinitely.
When talking with the photographer you, of course, want to be blown away by the quality and emotion of their images displayed in the studio. You want to touch and feel what it is their clients receive. Don’t hire someone whom you don’t really like on a personal level! Remember that your photographer is going to be a very substantial participant in your wedding day, not only capturing your memories, but becoming a big part of them! If you find your photographer irritating or abrasive, or if you think his/her jokes are cheesy; keep looking. You REALLY don’t want to look at your wedding photos and think, “Oh wow, remember the incredibly inappropriate joke the photographer told right before he or she created this?” or “That guy got on my nerves—I remember feeling irritated with him as this photo was being taken.” Your day is about your happiness, first and foremost.
The “Silent Killer” of Reliving All the Emotion of Your Wedding
If your photographer wants to meet at a coffee shop or at his/her home (or even yours) to show you only a few samples and a slide show, you should be questioning his/her legitimacy as a photographer. Professional photographers with great reputations have a studio and gallery where you may see, touch, and feel what it is they do for couples just like you every day.
When Hannah and Matt started looking at various Story Book albums I had created, Hannah hugged Matt and said, “Finally I have found a photographer like my parents had.” She explained that she had grown up looking at the story of her parents’ wedding day and the INCREDIBLE impact it had had on her. “My parents’ photographs to this day look beautiful and timeless.” She went on to say that her sister’s photographs were such a dissapointment. “It’s been a year since the wedding and none of my sister’s photographs have been printed. It’s because she doesn’t like them and it is overwhelming for her to try to put together a book. It’s as if she is embarrassed to still want her wedding memories. Can you imagine…and yet my parents’ album has been on their coffee table all these years.”
My heart breaks when I hear this. Your generation is truly becoming the generation without real photographs to hold and cherish.
So many couples come by my studio asking about recovery software because their hard drive has crashed. Or even worse, they bring in a faulty USB or scratched CD we can’t even open. They will never have their wedding photographs printed. They may be only hidden on a photographer’s blog or facebook post buried under the more recent happenings of their lives.
YOUR WEDDING DAY IS JOY, LOVE, ROMANCE, FUN, FAMILY, AND FRIENDS.
It is timeless and represents something beautiful. Your love for each other— it should never be buried under the news stream.
My joy as a wedding photographer is, of course, capturing all the magic of a couple’s wedding; but an even greater joy is the designing and printing of all these moments as real photographs in leather-bound story book volumes with a life-time guarantee.
Mistake #4 Of Enormous Importance! Don’t Miss This One!
This mistake has ruined so many weddings. It’s the mistake of not choosing a wedding photographer who GUARANTEES that you will be thrilled with your photographs, and who will give you all your money back if you aren’t.
The guarantee our studio has offered ever since I was assisting my father at weddings is this: “If yo’re not THRILLED with your photographs–If they don’t cause you to cry tears of joy when you first see them–then we will give you all your money back. If you’re not thrilled, we don’t deserve to keep your money.”
You have to feel confident that your photographer if on board with your wedding and your love for each other. His or she has to do the homework to get it right, and that requires more than a quick sales chat and then showing up on your wedding day. When that trust and friendship occurs, the day is magical and the memories priceless.
It was so very special for me sit across from Hannah and Matt on my sofa in my gallery and see them pouring over their wedding story page-by-page with tears in their eyes. Yes, I knew they were reliving each and every moment of their AMAZING DAY.
Looking for more photo inspiration? Check out Anne’s blog here! Thank you to Anne Brande for her beautiful pictures and wonderful advice!