When I receive inquiries from new brides, they usually fall into one of two categories: 1) the bride mostly concerned with finding a photographer in their budget and 2) the bride who came upon my work either on their own or was referred, saw it and “omg I looooove your work!” wanting to know what packages and such I have to offer! (My favorites of course because hey, it’s my art!!!) I tend to get more bride #1’s through my Facebook business page, and more bride #2’s through my website contact form. I don’t know why I wrote that, other than it’s an observation.
There’s nothing wrong with bride #1. I was a bride #1! When I got married we were on a very limited budget, I couldn’t have afforded me and so I have great compassion and understanding for brides that need to know a price first. I mean, why go through extensive emailing or meeting with a photographer if they’re out of your price range? I so get it.
What I’m here to talk about is why you should meet with the photographer or photographers you’re considering. Whenever I reply to someone inquiring about my pricing or packages I always invite them to get coffee. I feel like people’s reaction, who have never met me, is assuming I want to meet so I can sell them or pressure them into choosing me. No way man, that would make ME uncomfortable and being a natural introvert, I really don’t like being uncomfortable. With how many people are out there trying so hard to sell their products, brands, and so on, it makes sense that people might resist meeting in person. The world is ad/product pushing overload. But this is definitely not the case as I’m sure my past bride and grooms would attest to it. A meet and greet is SO valuable for these reasons…(I’m sure there’s more but these are on my mind!)
- Chemistry!! The best weddings I’ve ever done are those who were couples I really connected with. It allows for comfort, especially with people who aren’t usually at ease in front of the camera. (I’m looking at you, men.) So getting to know your photographer as a person from the get-go, really helps ease the discomfort and anxiety of having a stranger take your photo. One of the first things I say when I meet a couple is “Hi! Nice to meet you! I WON’T MAKE YOU POSE AWKWARD DON’T WORRY!!” Jk, it’s not one of the first things I say but I know it’s a concern and usually fit it in pretty early so that people can relax and enjoy the rest of our meeting and the men can taste their coffee. I promise, you want to be sure you actually like the person who’s going to be following you around all day on one of the most important days of your life!
- Answering Questions. A newly engaged bride and groom might be feeling a little lost and overwhelmed about planning a wedding, most of them probably haven’t done it before. If you’re not hiring a wedding planner, the wedding photographer is the next best person to ask questions about things like, how many hours of coverage are you truly going to need, the order and timing of planning a wedding itinerary, what you might need to include, what you could get by without. This is a great resource for shedding light on some of these questions you might have and it should show you that you’re able to trust the photographer’s experience. Some of these questions might greatly affect the photographer’s involvement in the day and thus affects the final quoted price. I know that from my point of view, I’m happy to help, but asking the couple important questions helps me determine if I am going to make the most sense for them as well.
- Lights, Camera, Flash! (Or no flash. Or just a little flash.) From the get-go it’s pretty obvious that photographers have different styles. But there’s more to it. Did you know that some photographers bring a bunch of light stands, off camera flashes, tripods…and some don’t? Did you know that some of the best photographers in the world bring all of that equipment, and some of the best….don’t? I’ll never forget finding out that one of my favorite wedding photographers shoots with only two cameras, and (usually) two lenses. It was a MIND. BLOWN. Moment for me. I’m a minimalist. Less is more. I am in awe of the photographers who have a team of people and lighting equipment everywhere, they get great results! It’s not what I prefer. While I know and can shoot with flash, I am a lover of natural light, ambient light. I shoot more photo-journalistically, following the bride and groom, zipping around, standing up, running over and crouching (yes, I know it sounds a little cray and I’m sure it looks that way too,) grabbing those moments before they’re gone. I have found that light stands and tri-pods work against my “flow.” I gotta be a free bird and that means I am in my creative process without off camera flash. But here’s the catch. You might want flash. More than the minimal flash I use when I have to. This is important. This is something I discuss every time I “grab coffee” with a bride and groom. It’s crucial and probably something a bride and groom might not be thinking about when they slide into my facebook inbox asking for my price sheet! Hopefully if you are seriously considering me you would trust my experience and technique and know that my non-flashy approach is how my work looks the way it does. But hey, you might realize your reception is in a reallllly dark room with nothing but candle light and that is definitely something a photographer needs to know ahead of time!
- Pricing! Meeting with a photographer will allow you to discuss wedding pricing, packages, options. You may have needs outside of the photographer’s pricing and need a custom quote. You might realize there is something important to your future spouse that you didn’t realize, and by sipping lattes and having a pressure free convo, discussion can happen.
So much value to just agreeing to meet with your photographer for a no pressure chat. Don’t worry that you might be considering more than one person. We know there’s a lot of talented people out there. We aren’t going to look at a consultation as a waste of our time, unless you were never going to choose us in the first place, which would be weird. But anyway, I encourage you to get that “coffee!” (Or brunch, I brunch.)