How Not To Hire A Photographer – from Wedding Photography 411 by Ryan Phillips

January 25, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

How Not To Hire A Photographer:
We normally don’t allow guest writers but this was submitted to us and we just couldn’t resist because this is rampant in our industry and as consumers you should be aware of what you say to a professional photographer. The photographer will of course remain anonymous. All photographers have received this in one form or another so I think it’s important to share with consumers..
I would start by reading the email below…. while this is extreme…Photographers get emails like this every week. I am all for people trying to get the best rate for something but think about the quality of work you are going to get when you whittle someone down to pennies. In addition, what type of relationship you are building and how much is the photographer going to dislike shooting you. At the end of the day most photographers don’t make a whole lot of money, in fact the national average is $24,000 a year. Here is another post along these same lines that I thought I would share as well…
So without further a do here is the short list of nots (read the email below first)

  1. Do not try to break your shoot out into different times of day and think the dead space in the middle doesn’t have to be paid for. If I am out of my studio I should be paid, otherwise I am losing money.
  2. Do not try to think that taking up just a few hours on a few different days just equates to the same thing as hours in a row.
  3. Do not tell the photographer how artistic their work is and then try to pay nothing for it. You called them because you want good work.
  4. Do not think you can get the same style as your photographer by doing the work yourself. We use more than $10,000 of computers and software to get the job done. That is what you are paying for. You called US because you love our work.
  5. Do not think that the work stops when the shooting stops. It is just beginning. It could take us 20+ hours of production time! Breaking my price down into an hourly rate and then reducing the hours of shooting and taking away a photographer means nothing to me! I spend twice as long producing the job!
  6. Do not offer “it’s a party, you will have sooo much fun at our wedding and can have a drink at the end” as an excuse for trying not to pay what we are worth. I am a professional wedding photographer and am at weddings every weekend while my family is at home without me.
  7. Do not think the day of the week matters to me. Shooting on a Wednesday is the same as shooting on a Saturday, I still have to do all the production work.
  8. Do not state that your wedding is”not typical” all weddings are not typical these days. As Professional photographers we have to know how to shoot every type of wedding, that is what you are paying for. I am not going to say “Hey, their wedding isn’t typical…maybe I should just shoot it for 75% off since it’s not typical!”
  9. Do not think your math is correct on my hourly rate, the reality is at $272.00 an hour with 5.5. hours of shooting, 2 hours of travel time, 2 hours of prep time and 20 hours of production is actually $8,024 dollars. The full package is a fucking bargain!
  10. Lastly, add in phone time dealing with clients, meetings times, retouching times, album design and changes, engagement shoot, lab price increases, ordering times, DVD burn times, download times, back up times, back up storage costs plus the $400 dollars a month to run all my computers and RAID systems…hell when I think about it I should probably go flip burgers, I’ll make more money….

The Real 411: Now this may seem like an angry wedding photographer but the fact is that he is a very nice and a very reasonable guy but gets heated when he gets these types of letters. Our job at WP411 is to educate you on how to get the most out of your wedding photography. Starting off a relationship with your photographer like this is not a good thing. Don’t forget, this person will likely shoot your pregnancy, your babies, your family photos and most major milestones in your life. Treat them like a friend and you will be paid back in spades. Bargain them down to pennies and even if they take the job they will not deliver you their “A-Game.” Just because they love their job doesn’t mean they should do it for cheap. Reward them for their passion and they will blow your mind with the images you receive. When it is all said and done the only thing you have left from your wedding will be their images. What is that worth to you?
Email From Perspective Client
Wedding Location: Backyard
Heard about you: Web search
Message: Hello,
I enjoyed your pictures on your site a lot. I thought they were very artistic. We are getting married next month and were looking for one photographer (only) to shoot only our \”getting ready\” shots, ceremony location details, ceremony and shots with bridal party, bride/groom and family/friends shots after the wedding. We do not wish to have professional photos of our reception. We only need about 4 hours of wedding day coverage in one location. We would like to book separately a portrait shoot with us in our wedding clothes in a cool outside locale for about 1.5 hours on a different day, and we could work around your schedule (even mid-week).
We are hoping to get all of the digital images, and preferably the RAW images. My fiance is a Digital Media Designer and color corrects film & photos professionally, and I am a graphic designer and photographer. We would enjoy editing our own photos…but I understand if you want to edit them before giving them to us. We just thought it might save time on your part and cost on our part. Either way, we definitely want all of the high resolution photos.
The total time we would need is 5 hours on two days, ceremony and portrait day. Looks like if you broke down your starting package of $3,800 for 2 photographers for 7 hours, the hourly rate per photographer is about $272. Would you accept $1500 plus tax for 5.5 hours coverage from one photographer? We aren\’t having a typical wedding and therefore don\’t require a typical wedding package. And we don’t need any “extras.” We’re hoping you can work with us.
Please let me know what we might be able to work out. Thanks.




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