Why do I have to pay a deposit?

Two days ago a mother of a bride called me to cancel, two months before her daughters wedding. I had already turned down two large weddings because I was booked. When she called I went scampering off to see if the other couples had already booked other photographers which they had. Now although I have promised the cancelling bride that if I manage to sell the date she would not loose her deposit. But it’s unlikely that I sell the date at this late stage. So the thirty percent deposit helps cover the loss of earnings incurred. I am sorry for the bride who is cancelling because she had a change of heart, but I am running a business. I have a booking manager because I am a big softie when it comes to the hard stuff. A big softie who was making no money till I hired my precious booking manager.

Great photographers book fast

Good photographers limit the number of weddings they do each year and so book up quickly. Make sure you do your research fast and don’t leave it till the last minute. I often get calls from desperate brides who have left things for the last minute and can’t find ANY photographer at all. If you book a year in advance you will find that may get better prices since the prices often increase the next year. Make sure you choose well and you are sure. Once you are sure about your choice make sure you get a deposit paid and a contract signed. Then you can be relaxed about the most important investment of the day. Because it’s the most important investment of the day it should be the first one you take care of.

Charming your service providers.

We all do it, try much hard for those people we like. Now I know your florist, wedding planner and photographer are at your service but I can tell you, charming your service provides will give you the deluxe service. They will do back flips for you and you will all enjoy your wedding more. This in turn will make for good moods all round. Nothing worse than a spoilt brat bride, who believe me, all the service provides will give average service to and avoid the rest of the time. But a lady will be treated as such and we all try a little hard for those we like.

Why is wedding photography the most important investment you will make on your wedding day?

It will be the only thing that is left. All the time and planning and money spent will be a waste if the pictures do not tell your story. Two thousand euro badly spent is far more expensive than four thousand well spent. Wedding photography is a little life face cream, you have to get the best you can afford. The importance of wedding photography cannot be stressed enough and the true value of your wedding album will only really be apparent twenty years from now.

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Why is wedding photography so expensive?

The answer is simple it’s very hard work. It’s difficult to get it right and very few do. In order to stay on the game, a wedding photographer has to keep updating knowledge, equipment and skills, every year. And this is very expensive.

There are a few who do it well, even under such huge pressure and they do it with a smile. There is a great demand for these dedicated few and so they can command their prices.

If you ask any photographer why they are not a wedding photographer they will most likely reply that it’s difficult and too much hard work. A wedding photographer has to be good at nearly all kinds of photography from portraits and interiors; to still lives and landscapes. Most couples like at least some reportage and photojournalism. These styles require extreme skill and are very difficult due to all the dynamic conditions like light and time. They will not only have to be good but also they will need to be fast and work well under stress. They will need excellent people skills to deal with all the different people involved.

Popular wedding photographers are always expensive, the more popular they are the more expensive they will be. Becoming a popular photographer means they have worked on their skills for years and deliver their best year after year. This is easily checked with references. Unfortunately the old proverb stands true, “you get what you pay for”.

There is a huge responsibility placed on the shoulders of a wedding photographer. Added to this pressure is the limited time, the groom who does not want to be shot, the mother in law who wants five hundred groups, the priest who want her to stand at the back of the church and all your guests with their digital camera who keeps standing in front of her at all the important moments. It takes a special skilled person to deliver breath taking results every time, no matter what the conditions or pressure levels. And if they are this good every time, it means they work so hard at it that they have no life.

The worst mistakes you can make as a bride

1. Not having something warm to put on on your day (for just incase)
2. Not having a pair of chic slip ons for when your feet hurt
3. Getting drunk (I have seen some scary things – once a bride tried to get it on with my hubby because she was drunk, yes on her wedding day)
4. Taking tranquilizers and then thinking you can drink (you won’t remember a thing)
5. Asking a friend who drinks too much to be your maid of honour or best man (you have seen the movie – I have seen it in real life and it’s very embarrassing).
6. Over doing the tan.. especially if you man if very fair
7. Get drunk and stay up late the night before
8. Wear your shoes for the first time on your wedding day
9. Forgetting to kiss your dad when he delivers you to your future husband – this is often a very hard and emotional moment for a parent. We only find out when we have our own children just how hard. I cringe when I see a sad dad being ignored and left without a proper farewell to the past.
10. Stressing about the small stuff and not living in the moment on this your special day
11. Not buying a white umbrella…it means it will rain
12. Being late – instead of being relaxed and enjoying your day, you will spend your day trying to catch up.
13.Organising your ceremony and reception venues in different locations. Try not to take a car on your wedding day, as soon as you and your guests have to travel time is wasted and people get tired, hot and stressed. (And car sick if you are marrying on the Amalfi coast)
14.Have a list of groups which exceeds seven or so groups. Your guests will hate you for it and your album will be full of dull pictures because you photographer was shooting boring groups while all the juicy stuff was going on in the good light.
15.Let your happiness depend on the perfection of the day. Nothing is ever perfect and you will only set yourself up for disaster if your mood depends on the sunshine.

So why the strict rules with meetings?

Now as we all know, practise makes perfect. So I should be practising my photographic skills, so that you will have the best wedding images every seen. If I spend my time on clients who aren’t sure I loose a lot of practise time. Already if I just see the people who book me, we are looking at over 50 meetings. Added on the second meeting and ten who don’t take me. It means I do 100 meeting in a year. Which is fine when it’s a constructive meeting but really frustrating when someone is unprepared and unconvinced.
Each and every wedding and couple are important to me and I promise you everything but try and remember it’s a balancing act.

What are the things I can do to make the meeting productive?

1.The number one rule is come prepared.

2. have a list of questions prepared you want to ask me, so that you leave the meeting feeling satisfied.

3.make sure you have seen and accept my pricelist, I do not discuss prices with clients. All such queries must be done before hand with my booking manager.

4. have a look at other photographers

5.please don’t be late. I know I am offering a service and that I should be at your service but I often plan meet and greet days. And if my first appointment is late… things go pear shaped.

6.make sure you have read through the contract and the info on my website

What to do when it’s impossible to meet?

Sometimes during the summer season it’s absolutely impossible to meet. In June I shoot nearly everyday and so it can sometimes be impossible to meet. Also for international weddings outside of Italy it really becomes difficult to meet. So what can you do to help me to get to know you?

1. skype me… just as good as meeting in person really
2. write me long letters all about you
3. send me pictures of you
4. add me to facebook
5. send me pictures you love

Of course you can do all of the above even if you do get a chance to meet me.

The second meeting

A second meeting can be good just before the wedding to go over details and reassure clients. I like to send off a wedding form to each couple a few weeks before their wedding. I ask them to list the most important details like venues address, group photographs required, styles they enjoy etc. This form is very important because I could never remember all the details mentioned at a meeting. I do over 60 meetings a year and it’s impossible to remember everybody’s details. This way I have everything on the form and I am able to discuss finer details like timing at this second meeting.

The next stage – the meeting

Then once this chemistry has been certified and you have seen our pricelist, and you are still interested in me I am more than happy to meet. I bring along album examples and we discuss details, photography, venues, tastes, styles… and sometimes life in general. We will laugh, plan, whisper and giggle some more. But it will be a comfortable meeting with my clients prepared. Knowing which questions they want to ask. I don’t want to convince anyone to take me. If clients aren’t sure about my work then I am not the photographer for them. Most clients come to the meetings pretty sure they love the work but not sure about the nutter behind the camera. So I prefer this meeting to be about my new relationship with my client.

The chemistry phone call

The best solution is a nice long chin wag on the phone before actually booking me. I am not everybody’s cup of tea. A quick phone call can establish if there can be magic between us. Clients don’t realise that often it is me who is interviewing them and trying to decide if things will work between us. If there will be any magic.

This magic is an absolute must when it comes to making beautiful pictures. I can usually tell in the first three minutes of a chat if a bride and I are going to gel. I have recommended other photographers in the past to brides I felt were needing a different kind of photographer. If I don’t like the people I shoot, it’s hard to make special images. And if you don’t like me, well then you would be just silly hiring me. So basically we both have to feel the love.

Am I your cup of tea?

First read what you can on my website and on my blog. See a whole bunch of pictures till you can’t look anymore. Check out the prices and your budget. Ask my booking manager for some references to contact. By now you will have a good idea of my achievements, styles and personality. If you still fancy me chasing you around on your wedding day… it’s time to make that call.

Bonding – the reason to meet or not meet with you photographer.

aving said that I try to see all my couples before their weddings to establish trust and a common game plan. I am a little silly, quite fun and sensitive so quite easy to bond with. And because I will need to “climb into the head” of the couple bonding is essential. If I am going to be their eyes for the day, I will need to be treated like a new best friend. Which is sometimes not easy and may seem artificial but worth the effort. Even the guests will treat me differently if they see I am friends with my clients. Which all means better images and a relaxed, fun atmosphere

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Should you meet your photographer before your wedding?

Just last night i was kept waiting an hour and forty minutes for a bride and her wedding planner. Who arrived and made it quite obvious that she was not in the least interested in my work. Why did she waste my time? I have so precious little to spend with my son. I am not into hard sales. I am not prepared to go to a meeting to convince anyone. If you are not already 90% sure from seeing my work on line, I am not the photographer for you. Simple. Sound rude?

In the past I have make many sacrifices for my brides but now that I am older I have realised that it’s not necessary to be a slave at their beck and call. I am a person with a family and my services are not life giving. As my friend Rikkie likes to regularly remind me I am not a brain surgeon. So although I find it absolutely essential to meet a new couple before their wedding, I don’t want to waste my time or theirs. It’s enough I bond with them after they as sure they want me.

The runaway bride and groom …5 things to remember, so you can make the most it

1) Treasure the private moments – this is what you are here for! If it means slowing down and stopping to take it all in for 10 minutes, then do it. It’s not like you have a dinner room full of guests waiting for you!

2) Although you won’t have formal speeches to prepare, think in advance of your vows and include the special words, thoughts, poems, or even music which are personal to you both. So you don’t have the big wedding party or guest list, but emotion will still catch up with you on the day, so it pays to be a little prepared with words.

3) Create endless photo opportunities and have fun with eachother. Take the time to explore with your photographer. If you find a photographer local to the area, they will be able to guide you. Find the best little spots and views that will make all the difference to your day. A quiet walk around secret alleyways, isolated beaches, empty fields or even a glass of champagne on a lone table in a busy piazza. These are the moments that will be etched into your memories forever.

4) Pay close attention to your appearance. The details will become an important feature in your photos, and will be the things you want to look back on – shoes, flowers, cufflinks, hair, makeup, the vows. Remember …It’s the little things.

5) If you are brave, consider a “trash your dress” shoot together – in the pool, on the beach, by the flowerbeds or in rustic surroundings. Breaking all the rules in your wedding photos, will go hand in hand with your breaking all the rules Elopement!

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The smoking bride and groom

I smoke but I personally try not to have photographs taken of me with a cigarette. It's quite ugly a bride and groom walking in the street with cigarettes in their hands. While one or two fun 1950's style smoking portraits can be done, I don't recommend smoking while you are having your picture taken. We can have ‘no shooting smoking breaks’ if you are a chain smoker. It’s not too difficult to go a few hours at a time without smoking.

I also recommend mini mints like tic tacs. Beware of gum especially if you are having video or mostly reportage photography. You will be horrified to know what we look like when we chew… And again smokers get red eyes, so have those drops ready.

It's also important to go for a teeth spring clean before your big day. You will take years off your appearance instantly. Be careful not to over bleach teeth since you will look like I have been over zealous with the touching up.

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Why are good wedding photographers so expensive?

Firstly wedding photography is very difficult. Often the subjects are not models, there is loads of stress, very limited time, dynamic lighting conditions, relationships, grumpy priests, and Aunty Lucy who keeps jumping in front of us during the rings… the list is endless.

You have to be really good at a number of kinds of photography e.g. landscape, portraits, interiors, groups… you name it..

Photographers in general have quite a snobby attitude towards wedding photography. No one studying photography will admit to wanting to be a wedding photographer. Fashion, advertising etc. The best students go there and apparently the rest of us become wedding photographers. Well it turns out there are only a few really good wedding photographers out there. Serious photography lovers know that it's worth paying for and ruin it for everybody else.

Basically a photographer can only do a few weddings every year before they start to loose chunks of hair. The limit at a max is around fifty, as nearly all weddings fall in summer. So because they get more requests than they can do they need to make themselves more expensive. It's the old and simple supply and demand law. It's a sad truth that the photographer who won't give you a discount has loads of work and will fill your date anyway. This is often because they are good.

Ever been to Venice and fallen for the “tourist menu” and felt robbed. Paying a little for rubbish is expensive. Paying a lot for something which requires study and work, and which is of a supreme quality is value for money.

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A checklist when hiring a wedding photographer

1 check references by phone and email
2. See individual wedding albums not just portfolios, it's easy to do a good portfolio but hard to produce lots of good images on one day.
3. Look around and compare to be sure of your choice
4. Make sure they offer you a binding contract
5. Make sure you know who will shoot your wedding and see images shot by that person
6. Ask other service providers what they think of the photographer; usually where there is smoke there is fire
7. Do not hire someone rude or arrogant, it will ruin your day
8. Look for someone kind, charming, gentile and sensitive
9. It’s often better to have a photographer who speaks your language or at least speak theirs, communication is essential
10. Look for a photographer who is interested in your ideas and is flexible with his/her style
11. Remember photographers who offer large discounts and highly reduced rates are not working a lot. This could be that they are very talented and just starting out. In which case you are lucky. But usually it means they don't have bookings.

The Brides Emergency Kit

Nausea and headache tablets
Tampons
Nail scissors
Eye drops
Tissues
A charged working cell phone with all the numbers you need
Extra flesh coloured knickers
Something warm that is white
White umbrella (if you have one it won't rain)
Flat comfortable white ballerina's (you can get gorgeous fold up ones)
The spray instant spot remover and brush
Floss
Safety pins
Needle and thread (in your colours)
A little extra ribbon in your colours
A sparkling evening dress just encase something silly happens involving you and a glass of red wine
Portable steam iron
Extra stockings
Plasters

The Bomboniere Perspective

So in Italy there is the tradition of giving a small favour to your guests on their departure. These are often expensive, useless and seldom match the taste of all the guests. I think generosity brings happy fortune and I recommend a small donation to a worth while charity instead. The guest can be informed of your gift on their behalf with a small card accompanied by delicious Italian confetti. At the moment there are the most incredible flavours available like pear and cheese cake. Instead of adding to the world pollution problem you can spread a little love and gererosity.

Getting perspective on the whole subject of your wedding can only be good. Sometime we forget just how lucky and spoilt we are. We get upset about nonsense while life passes us by. Getting perspective and getting grateful will help you appreciate everything. Feel lucky, you are. So many people never find love, let alone someone who is prepared to promise forever. Get real and get happy.