As a professional wedding photographer, you are trusted with the huge responsibility of documenting one of the most important days of two people’s lives. Not only are you expected to fully capture all the big moments, small moments and everything in between, you are expected to create images that are beautiful and authentic and will bring tears to each viewer’s eyes. All brides hire you believing that you will meet all of these expectations, but unfortunately that is not always the case. We asked real brides whose weddings took place in 2014 what they thought their wedding photographers could have done better. These are direct quotes from anonymous brides who took this opportunity to express their true feelings. The answers may surprise you.
1. My photographer fled the area after giving us the raw photos digitally but before editing our photos and giving us our wedding photo book as required in the contract. We did our own editing in Windows Live and printed them in BrideBox and they came out wonderfully! What a relief!
2. Our photographer was very good but the one thing I regret is that he used a filter on almost every photo so many of the photos were not sharp and vibrant in color, which is what I prefer.
3. He could have gotten better low light photos during the reception. More fun shots with bridal party. Most of ours were posed and serious.
4. Could have communicated with me more prior to and after the wedding. We’ve been married for almost 2 months now and he has failed to respond to any of our correspondences regarding when we will get our pictures, or anything else at all. I almost feel like we will never hear from him and that he has stolen our money. Not even sure what to do.
5. Snapped more candid photos.
6. Listen to me better. I asked for specific shots that I wanted and he didn’t want to do the the day of the wedding. I got married at the Palace of Fine Arts, and I wanted pictures inside the dome and he did not want to shoot there. He could have at least said, “Okay let’s do a couple and them move here.” I also had to push for shots by some doors that he did not want to shoot and those ended up being the best pictures. Also he didn’t have many ideas, I had to tell him what to do next.
7. My photographer should have spent more time with me before the wedding to go over the details for the day. They should have used a checklist for the specific pictures I wanted them to take.
8. I could name 20, but I wish he would have insisted on taking table shots so I at least had a good record of everyone at my wedding.
9. I wish they had gone to each table and taken pictures during dinner. They took a lot of pictures of the dance floor action, but not everyone was dancing so there are some guests I don’t have any photos of from the reception!
11. My photographer should have cleaned up my pictures a little better than how they were presented. I had some pictures that were actually blurry and partially blacked out… No Bueno!!!
12. If there is a set plan/list of photos to be taken, be organized and able to stick to that plan. Stick to original requests as much as possible.
13. Be honest about how long it would actually take to get us our pictures and albums after the wedding. Stop saying “I’m almost done” and just say “My volume is so high it will take me over a year to complete your order.”
14. Communicate better. Took more pics of details especially the DIY projects I worked my ass off for. Took more candids of guests.
15. More direction.
16. Our photographer convinced us to get the more expensive package which included a few extra hours of his time and a wedding album so we thought the album would be super nice. When we got it we were sooo disappointed… cheap materials and the picture quality wasn’t great.
17. There were plenty of things my photographer could have done better. For one, the selection of pictures. I had a ton of pictures of me and my bridesmaids, which I of course love. However, I only had a handful of pictures of me and my husband. I was so disappointed in the lack of pictures of the two of us. I wrote out a list of specific shots I wanted taken, and he clearly did not even look at the list. There was one family picture of my mother’s side (and only because my mom rallied up everyone) but no family or table shots of any other family. I could go on… thank God for my videographer.
18. Made the timing of her exit more clear.
19. Had a 2nd photographer with him to catch more moments.
20. Communicated better regarding the pics we wanted… & giving it more of a “party” feel with more of the fun shots & better attention to detail.
21. He could have offered more ideas for the group photos. It seemed like he just wanted to get the job done and wasn’t thinking that creatively.
22. Given our photos back within the contract deadline. I understand that sometimes things get really busy, but be proactive in letting us know when we may expect it so that we’re not having to chase them down.
23. I wish we would have identified a place during the ceremony for the bridal party to make a brief pause for a photo on the way down the aisle.
24. Provided multiple family shots (and not just what he thought was the “best of”). I wish we could have gotten a shot of my brother and I just regularly posing, but he only gave us one of us smiling/laughing, which was great…just I wanted more than the one. Also, one other thing…wish he had gotten more couples shots that were artistic, but we were on a time constraint.
25. I wish our photographer would have taken more initiative and be creative. Rather than us telling him which pictures to take and how I wish he would have as well. Yes he did ask for a list of pictures that we wanted him to take, but with everything going on, the list was misplaced. Afte looking at my digitals there were many picture opportunities that did not get taken advantage of. Our pictures were also only edited when we asked for them to be edited.
26. Spend more time taking photos of the couple prior to the ceremony. (Different poses outside of the normal area)
27. Been more creative with location of the first look and bridal.
28. More party shots.
29. She didn’t take my opinion into consideration when designing my wedding album. I trusted her to be an expert since she does wedding albums all the time, but the final product was very underwhelming. Very cookie cutter and seems like she uses the same boring template for every book.
30. I LOVED my photographer. But I wish she had had more romantic and intimate pose ideas when she was photographing us alone as a couple. I found the ones we took a little stiff and in the rush of the moment couldn’t think of anything better myself.
31. Taken more photos with me with my guests at the reception.
32. Not rush us and have given us better direction for poses.
33. I wish my photographer had captured more photos of my friends and family, as well as photos of us interacting with them. At the end of the day, I only had one photo with my mother and her face is 3/4 hidden.
34. Ensure that I received a CD of my photos sooner as well as leaving them online for more than a month.
36. She should have been more open and nice. She was very closed off and not open to any suggestions.
37. Adjusted the lighting/brightness/contrast (I have no idea of the correct technical term!) of the photos from the reception which was in a hotel ballroom. Something about the lighting in those photos is very unexciting, which is in stark contrast to all the others!
38. Not cancel on me the day before the wedding!!!
39. I have pictures but it would have great to have a real photographer. A lot of things got missed
40. Taken more pictures of us at the reception before the dance. He got pictures of us walking into the reception hall and then the next pictures are of us having our first dance… we ate and went around to see people for about 1.5 hours before we danced! So there are not any pictures of us, our head table, us talking to guests, etc. I wish he could have got more of us interacting with our guests, but instead he sat down and ate his dinner with the rest of everyone and didn’t pick up his camera again until we had our first dance.
41. Take all my important family pictures.
42. Listened to what I wanted. While I have nice photos to look back on, they did not look at or consider the shot list that they asked me to send them. There were certain photos I had really wanted and missed out on.
43. Could have taken more candids. I didn’t really get the shots like you see on Pinterest like in a field. I loved her but it would have been nice to have more direction from her.
44. Taken more whimsical pictures of us as a couple.
45. The photos came out fine, but during the whole consultation she was flirting with my husband!
46. Not only did it take forever to get my photos and wedding album, but the album itself is very cheap quality and looks like it was carelessly put together. The photos don’t really tell the story of my wedding day.
47. He seemed like he was really unprepared for the day. Fumbling around with camera settings and whatnot during important times like when we were walking down the aisle after saying “I do” and when my maid of honor was giving her toast.
48. Completely ignored my phone calls, emails, texts – everything! It’s been 3 months and I still haven’t heard from her even though in her contract she said 4-6 weeks is typical turnaround.
49. I thought my photographer would be a little more prepared. She didn’t really know where to be at the right time and she didn’t get any good shots of important things like the first kiss and my husband’s face as I walked down the aisle.
50. To be fair, he took a pretty healthy mix of photos and got pictures of all of my guests, but I really thought he would know better and take more photos of my bridal party and my family members. I only have one picture of me and my sister (who was also my maid of honor!) outside of the posed photos.
As we read through these brides’ responses, we realized a few common themes that kept recurring. First, lack of communication seems to be a huge problem between brides and their photographers. In any business relationship, clear communication is the most important aspect in order to ensure all parties are on the same page. There is nothing worse than going into a business relationship thinking you will receive one thing and then receiving a totally different product. Maintaining a clear path of communication is essential in order to meet expectations for both the wedding photographer and the bride. This means you need to take the initiative to make sure your bride understands what you are going to provide for her, before, during and especially after the wedding. Spend the time to communicate with her what it is exactly you will do on the day of and during the days following the wedding so that she feels comfortable trusting you with the important role of documenting her wedding day. Above all, do not ignore any correspondence you receive from her after the wedding, even if you are worried that she’ll be upset that your schedule is running a bit later than expected. She will only be more upset if you ignore her. Be open and honest with your clients so that you can manage and align expectations smoothly.
A second recurring issue with wedding photographers is that brides want their photographers to direct them to pose for photos and to have a shot list prepared so that nothing is missed. Although some brides felt that their photographers weren’t creative enough with the poses, it is evident that many brides prefer for their photographers to not only be open to pose suggestions, but to have a prepared list of poses that include portrait shots as well as whimsical, fun poses.
Another problem brides have with their photographers is that they were promised a beautiful wedding album, but the product they received was disappointing and of poor quality. When brides receive a wedding album with their expensive photography packages, they expect a superior, professional product. If you are going to include a wedding album as part of your packages, please make sure that you are only offering a product that will thrill your customers.
Finally, when documenting an event as important as someone’s wedding, be sure to take the time to find out who are the VIPs on the guest list. Your bride and groom will be extremely busy on the actual day and won’t be able to come over and tell you to take more photos of their family or best friends, so they’ll expect you to be one step ahead of them and already be snapping shots of those important people. Although it’s important to get a good mix of shots that include everyone and everything, more photos of those who are most important to your clients will only make them happier in the end.