Oh, you bet I've seen it all! I have seen every Craigslist photographer, every 5th St., quinceañera photographer, every associate photographer from the big photography studios and all the beginners that tell you they are pros.
#1 Shop by price... the best way to spot and hire a really crappy photographer is by price!. You saw the website, the pictures looked okay. That really pretty sunset photo looked nice. But, why is that photographer about $1000 less than most of the photographers in your area. I'm sure you've heard of the term… Supply and demand. Is there no demand for that photographer? I mean, wouldn't that photographer be charging a bit more if there were a lot of people trying to hire them. A good photographer, that has good ethics, beautiful work and great customer service is not going to be less than most of the photographer's in the area. Here in orange county California, a standard wedding package with engagement shoot and a small album is gonna run you somewhere around $3000.(The wedding report 2017) If you have a CRAPPY photographer that is offering you the world for $1500 chances are they are probably SUPER CRAPPY. There are many photographers that are in denial that they are awful photographers. Trust me I know many personally. They don't know why they aren't booking many weddings. They start to lower their price, they are still not booking any weddings... They lower their prices even more, still no bookings. They don't know why! They think their work looks just as good as everyone else's until finally they are shooting weddings for thousand dollars a pop and angry that they have to work at that price.
If somebody has been in business for five years and they have 20 maybe 50 great photographs on their website that's not easy to do by chance after that much time. Ask to see a complete wedding gallery from beginning to end, un-retouched and raw photographs. This is going to give you a better idea of how well that photographer shoots. Many photographers depend on Photoshop to save their images. An image can be really really dark and shot really badly and then can be manipulated in Photoshop to look okay. But, that image printed would look really bad.
Not everybody knows what good photography looks like. Most of my clients are artistic, designers, hobby photographers, photography enthusiasts and professional photographers. I know, when I meet with a client, that they know that there is something that sets me apart from other photographers but not everybody knows or can spot good photography from bad photography. This blog post should spell out pretty clearly the difference between great photography and kind of crappy photography.
Most people don't have any idea what a wedding really costs. They might have a made up number in their mind that they think photography will run not really understanding what the median cost for photography in their area is. Sometimes, this can be shocking.
#2 Hire a family member or friend of the family... Who is willing to shoot your wedding for free. Uncle Bob, will shoot your wedding for free because he's been toting around his camera around for the last forty years. He has zero artistic ability. He has zero creativity but gosh darn it he can zoom that lens and click that button and hopefully the images won't be blurring. Sometimes when you're on a budget, someone shooting your wedding for free sounds like an amazing idea. I've seen this a million times. I have had brides in my office crying to me about how their family friend or family member ruined their wedding photos... I mean literally sobbing!
Wedding photography is unlike any other type of event and portrait photography. You not only have to be at the top of your game technically speaking. A cloud could pass overhead and you have to change your settings immediately. Things are moving so quickly you have to be very fast at changing your settings and capturing moments. On top of that you have to be creative, original, amiable, easy-going, technically savvy and really really fast. These moments cannot be re-shot. That kiss shot is never gonna happen again. That dove release... When it's gone, it's gone. It is the most technically and creatively difficult type of photography in the industry. You can always reshoot somebody's family photos if something went wrong but you can never re-shoot a wedding. Not only that but because we know how important wedding photography is we have double of absolutely everything cameras, lenses, flashes, cords, EVERYTHING!
#3 Find your photographer at your local bargain shop area. Here in Orange County there is an area where you can find a really cheap bargain basement photographer. It is 4th Street in Santa Ana. You can find a myriad of sweet 16 or Quinceañera shops all over with their gaudy Zebra and hot pink dresses! You will see shop after shop filled with very large sized photographs framed with outdated huge gaudy wood frames of Quinceañeras (girls that have turned 15) in front of gazebos and parks with lakes. They will normally be standing in the shade with very strong flash photography, shot at the brightest time of the day and it looks awful. These shops will sell you a photography and video package for 1000 bucks with a huge gaudy wedding album and 500 5x7's. These people are happy to shoot a 12 hour day to make a profit of $100 and their lack of caring creativity shows for that.
#4 Hire an associate photographer from one of the big photography companies in the US like George Street photography. I once put an ad out to look for a second photographer and I found an associate photographer that shot weddings for George Street photography. I figured since he was shooting weddings he would have no problem second shooting for me. I hired him to just tag along to a wedding just to see how he shot. He didn't know how to use his camera he had no idea and I mean absolutely no idea how to use a flash. How to use of flash when you're shooting a wedding should be basic 101 photography skills. I could not believe that he didn't understand the basics of photography and he was hired by George Street photographers as an associate photographer. I have heard the worst horror nightmare stories about big companies like this. Most of these companies don't train their photographers they just send them off to shoot. They charge a little bit lower going rate so that they take a lot of business. Because there are so many of them in any given area you never know who's work you're looking at when you are visiting their storefront. Many times they will charge you an additional fee just to meet a photographer that you want to shoot with. It's a huge gamble to trust your day to a company like this, a company who peddles less than worthy photographers. If photographers were good they would have a business of their own they would not be shooting for a large corporation.
#5 Hire a beginner that will give you an amazing deal! Run like hell! If you are going to start shooting weddings it means that you are already an amazing photographer. You don't just start off shooting weddings you start off shooting maternity photos and family portraits. You shoot your family and a bunch of kids and some graduations. You probably have been shooting for years and are so good at it that you want to jump into weddings. The problem is you can't just jump into weddings even after being a portrait photographer. Like I stated earlier this is the craziest paced highly technical style of photography around. When someone wants to become a wedding photographer I normally have them assist me for a minimum of two years without touching a camera. Then they can shoot as an assistant for about a year if they are good they can move on to a second photographer for another couple of years. If they prove themselves capable of shooting quickly and creatively they can move on to an associate photographer and then they can shoot on their own. This process normally takes a minimum of four or five years. Your wedding should not be an experimentation and whether somebody can handle shooting a wedding. If that person is interested in shooting wedding they can be taken under a photographer's wing and they can learn while not ruining somebody's wedding. You should never allow somebody that isn't an experienced wedding photographer shoot your wedding.
I know that weddings are expensive. They are luxury. Not everyone can afford to have the wedding that they want or the photographer that they want. After all is said and done a beautiful wedding can cost you $10,000 to $50,000 or more here in Orange County. A full wedding package with an engagement shoot and an album may cost you $3,500 or more depending on the album and the hours that you want. But, photography is the most important if not one of the most important aspects of your wedding. It is the one thing that you will have at the end of the day to remember your wedding. It will be the images that your children and your grandchildren see and they will become priceless over time. If you are in love with a photographer try to see if the photographer can do just digital images without retouching without album without an engagement and as you can afford it you can add retouching and album. It's a shame to hire a photographer that is going to give you all the bells and whistles if you are not going to love the photography. Get the best that you can afford. Even if you have to cut a bit from flowers or appetizers it's worth it for the photography. Sometimes photographers discount for off-season, I don't but some do.
I'm planning on writing a blog at some point in the future about what distinguishes good photography from bad photography. So stay tuned and for now let me know what you think about this blog post and if you have a HORROR story I would love to hear about it... your story can help others not make the same mistake!
Thank you for checking out this blog.. if you don't want to make the mistake of hiring a really CRAPPY photographer give me a call! If u are ready to book your wedding, engagement, maternity newborn, family, sexy or boudoir or high school senior portraits please call Edna Eudave Square Eye Photography 714-420-8285 NOW! We shoot locally and globally.. contact me for pricing for destination wedding photography!
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