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Common Mistakes People Make When Choosing a Professional Wedding Photographer


Fullerton Photography, LLC


November 20, 2020

Every couple aspires for their wedding to be a picture-perfect affair. They make sure to leave no stone unturned to turn this dream into reality. They look for a gorgeous venue, hire the best vendors, select the best outfits, decide on the best caterers, and everything else that they think is necessary to make their wedding day memorable. However, when it comes to hiring a wedding photographer, not every couple might end up making the best decision because of their lack of knowledge and failure to understand the importance of this art. This could lead to them making a few mistakes that could lead to a lifetime of regret.

To help you avoid errors that could prove to be costly, Fullerton Photography LLC has put together a list of the most common mistakes people make when choosing a professional wedding photographer.

1. Not hiring a professional photographer

While a bit of a misnomer, the first mistake I’ve seen couples make when hiring a wedding photographer is well, to not hire one, electing to save cost by having guests take phone photos or by only using disposable cameras. While I understand the desire to save money and ease of documenting a wedding, there usually is a tremendous difference between hiring a professional and having average photos taken.

Remember, a professional generally has a better fundamental understanding of composure, lighting, and various photographic techniques that an average wedding guest wielding a cell phone will not have. Professional cameras have extremely high resolution, noise sensitivity, filter functions, speed, accessory-mounting, video modes, as well as the attached or off-camera flashes having far more power-driven to them than a cell phone light. There are a few great videos online comparing a DSLR / MILC’s photos vs. a cell phone’s camera (even a premium model), and there is a night and day difference.

So while there is nothing wrong with cell phone cameras, the more demanding your lighting, environmental, and style of photos desired for your wedding, the stronger the need becomes to hire a professional who can more readily adapt to the situations at hand. Plus, with generally many weddings under their belt like myself, the professional can purely focus on the photography work and remain as an impartial outsider, ensuring any wedding relationships don’t detract from missing or producing great work.

2. Being impatient

Another common mistake in the industry is to be a little impatient on realizing that for the post-ceremony / pre-reception, more formal photos may be taken than planned for or anticipated. I have personally seen couples range from forgetting this step completely (to which I remind them) to expecting formals completed in fifteen minutes when in actuality, the shot list takes around forty-five minutes.

Keep in mind that the amount of combinations scales depends on how great the wedding party is and the number of guests and family you as the bride and groom want involved. The photographer should have no problem capturing any arrangements as desired by the couple, and that can add up really fast! Here at Fullerton Photography, I recommend always anticipating a minimum half-hour of time, up to an hour, for the more formal photos taken during a wedding.

3. Demanding immediate results

More and more, it is becoming common to have work turned out on-site, same day for reception presentations, or hastily filter-edited and returned to the customer. While this aspect is unique to every studio, I personally want to take the time to evaluate every photo taken, cull where necessary, and manually adjust things to make every photo as good as can be.

This tends to add a couple of weeks or so to processing, which since I am very upfront with, the client understands. While there is a skill and art to pushing out work that is spot-on as shot, I would argue that most photographers do need to adjust their work in post-production slightly; whether white balance, lighting, filtering, or other photographic adjustments that the end client may not even be aware of. So really, while demanding work immediately isn’t entirely a mistake, be aware that every studio, including mine, should have specified guidelines for their workflow and turnaround time. If they do not show this, ask!

4. Not including your photographer(s) and or assistant(s) in the vendor list for dinner

I’ve personally come across this issue incredibly rarely, but it has remained that if it is not outlined in a contract, some wedding clients will choose to save money and food and not offer their vendors a meal. These professional people are all coming together, utilizing their time, talent, expertise, and craft to make and ensure your wedding day is the best day it can be! PLEASE feed your vendors!

For photographers, it is assumed that we just stand there and push a button, but realistically we are gauging the lighting angles, white balance, composition, ISO, filtering, flash strength, shooting distance, depth-of-field, and many more variables in nearly every shot that is taken. We are often not standing tall but crouching for a low photo, extending higher for an overhead or higher photo, lugging around gear that is 10-20lbs for hours at a time and yet always expecting to be one step ahead of the Bride and Groom and anticipating everything for a wedding coming before that moment occurs.

Like anything, professional photography may look like an easy job on the surface, but there is a lot being evaluated behind the scenes. To do this for hours, only to arrive at the reception and sit blankly as the wedding guests eat, leaves us feeling unappreciated, hungry, and as if our efforts are not cared for. So while this isn’t a concern at every wedding, mind you, please do not cheap out and avoid feeding your vendors!

5. Make uninformed assumptions

While not always indicative of a professional’s workflow, sometimes the assumption is made that we just “Shoot on Auto” and let the camera do everything. Like with using any tool, while auto modes can get you partway there, you can readily tell a photographer who is dialing in their settings or barely (if at all) editing in post-production from one who is not; at least to a trained eye.

The auto mode in most cameras offers restrictions on image types, settings and does not allow for the best quality since Auto does not know what depth you want for your photos, nor ISO, or many other factors. This does not mean a photographer also has to be in the manual the entire time either, but just when picking the right setting and adjustments for the job at hand.

I personally use a mix of modes to achieve the goal and composition of my photos, situation depending. A professional’s portfolio should show this too, or if not, ask! If it is a photographer’s first time shooting a wedding, this can be expected as they are likely very nervous and focusing on many things at once, but if you are hiring a professional and you never see them change anything on camera, I have to wonder what results are created.

6. Not having an appropriate budget

I have $300, can you shoot my entire wedding day? Likewise, why do studios charge upwards of $5,000 for a wedding day?

This mistake relates to the first question where couples either severely low-ball the photographer or are scared / intimidated by their pricing. Now, just like in life, the adage “you get what you pay for” can apply, and while that is not to say a photographer charging you $3,000 for a wedding vs. someone charging $1,000 will produce exactly 3x better work, obviously higher prices come with veteran technical skills, additional assistants, lighting, etc. which are not always available to more budget-friendly photographers.

It’s all really about finding a style and personality that you like when shopping for a photographer and then evaluating their price to see if it meets your needs. On the low-ball end, I’ve seen people come to me and expect an entire wedding day worth of work done for less than $300. I’m sorry, but that is not going to cover my working time, that of my assistant, plus editing. Now, if it was a ceremony only or something shorter, it would make sense but as usual, people want the world, but they do not want to pay for it. Please be aware that hiring a Professional Photographer is as much of a service as in any other industry, so please do expect a significant additional budget expense.

To avoid these and other mistakes, reach out to the experts at Fullerton Photography LLC.

As a professional wedding photographer, besides getting to do what I love, I also receive the freedom of time. I get to choose if I want to work today or not and be my own boss. That doesn’t mean there is no urgency to deliver when I have a contract. As I said, to stay successful, I need to keep my clients happy. And to do this, I need to work hard and exceed expectations. My biggest achievements as a professional photographer are exceeding a hundred wedding shoots, being published in a few places, both small and large, and taking on different photography types outside of weddings and succeeding in those as well.

My success over the years has instilled in me more confidence in my future. They have even served as motivation to think outside the box, especially during these difficult times. My services include wedding photography/videography and event photography/videography. I serve clients across Milford, Wixom, Novi, Farmington Hills, Brighton, Howell, Canton, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Livonia, Detroit Metro, Detroit, Rochester Hills, Rochester, Grosse Pointe, Warren, Royal Oak, Ypsilanti, Walled Lake, Pontiac, Troy, Sterling Heights, Flint, Fenton, Jackson, Toledo, and the surrounding areas.

For a complete list of my services, please click here. If you have any questions about wedding photography and videography, I would love to hear from you. Please contact me here.

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