I keep hearing this same story, just a slightly different version every time. Wedding photography has become very similar to the used car salesman. They will use what ever trick they need to so that you’ll sign on the dotted line. Here is Mandy’s story….
Mandy had lots of friends who had gotten married, but none of them here in Gainesville. She asked all her friends how they chose their photographer and most of them said, we looked on the web, made a phone call and booked one. They are all the same, her friends told her.
After doing a google search Mandy realized they were right. All of the photographers looked a like, how do I pick one? So on her day off Mandy called 6 of the photographers she liked the best on the web. The first three she called, didn’t answer the phone and had no message, just the automated answer that repeats the phone number. The 4th one she called said she’d be happy to meet with Mandy at the local Starbuck’s to further discuss her big day. The next one she spoke with was a man, he said she could come to his house and meet but only in the evenings as he worked until 6pm every day. Going to some guys house made her a little uneasy so she just got some pricing information. The last one didn’t have time to meet but was super friendly over the phone. She talked, the talk. She was saying everything Mandy wanted to hear. At the end of the conversation she asked Mandy if she’d like to put a deposit down. Mandy said she’d need to talk with her fiance first. The photographer said, “well the price I just quoted you is a special price we are offering that ends today. So make sure you call me back as soon as you can.” Nervous, Mandy gave the photographer her credit card number. After all her website was beautiful. A co-worker knew her, she hadn’t used her for her wedding but the price was right and this special price ended today. Boy, was she lucky. She was going to save them money by booking now.
The wedding day came and went. There were no major red flags, everything seemed to go off as planned. Her friends and family made a few comments about the day that included stuff about the photographer being a little pushy, but nothing to stress over.
Now fast forward 6 weeks…the photographer called, the disk was ready to be dropped off. Mandy was so excited to share these amazing pictures with her friends and family. The photographer came into her house and handed her a disk in a white paper envelope with their name written on the front of it in black sharpie. Mandy was not overly impressed, they had payed her over a $1000 and this was the final product? Oh, well Mandy thought, the images will be great.
After the photographer leaves, Mandy heads to her computer to take a sneak peek before her husband gets home. Mandy opens the disk on her computer so she can quickly look through all the thumbnails. Wow, these don’t look so good. Maybe it is because they are small. Let me open one up and see it big, that will make it better. Yikes, why is my face blurry, Mandy thinks to herself. She opens up another, their heads are cut off. And then another, it is dark in the reception you can’t see the beautiful room. What is going on? In a panic, Mandy opens up image after image, horrified by what she is seeing. The family picture in front of the beautiful glass window at the Baughman Center, the outside looks beautiful but the family is all dark and you can’t see any ones face. Mandy starts to cry. Her parents are going to be so upset that the pictures are so bad. And what about her husband, what is he going to say. I’ll call the photographer, maybe she gave me the wrong disk. She calls the number for the photographer, no answer. She leaves a panicked message. Pacing she hopes she calls back soon. She just left her house, where could she be. About 20 minutes later she calls again, still no answer.
Mandy would try for over a week, but could never get in touch with the photographer. Finally she gets a call from someone who says that they work for the photographer and she need to quite harassing her or they will call the cops. Mandy explains, she thinks she has the wrong disk, everyone in her family agrees, these are not professional pictures. The person on the other end of the line says, you have the proper disk, the images are amazing and you should be happy you got this photographer for a steal. Then they hang up.
They thought about suing, but for what. By the time they spent all the money on a lawyer all they would be doing is putting themselves out a few thousand dollars more. The pictures couldn’t be fixed. She already tried taking them to a well established photographer who said there was not much they could do.
Moral of the story…look beyond a website. Anyone can take a few good pictures. Meet with the photographer to make sure your personalities mesh. Look at a full wedding, what do all of the images look like? Are they a consistent quality? How many are there? If someone refuses to show you a full wedding, run. They are not a professional!