DOES ANYONE JUST LOOK AT THEIR WIFE AND THINK F@&K!!! I'M PUNCHING ABOVE MY WEIGHT....... #superheroes #mywife #photography #business
Does anyone just look at their wife and just say f£%k - I'm punching! I do! Every-damn-day! I'm so proud of my wife as she's started yet another business outside of our photography company. She has this indomitable entrepreneurial spirit. Where she finds the energy from I do not know! For those of you that don't know - Katie is a primary school teacher. And I think this touches on the impotence of words to convey the true meaning of the weight of the responsibility of being a teacher these days. I see my amazing wife work harder and harder every year, spending more and more of her limited personal time marking, preparing and planning. It's not just that - it's the constant thinking of ways to engage 30+ kids on a raft of subjects day in day out without leaving anyone behind. The amount of money she spends on nik naks for the kids when we're away on holiday or just out at the shops on the weekends - it's crazy. I can't even believe the amount of perpetual changes to the teaching criteria in a given year dictated by people who have never taught in a classroom and yet they roll with it. It just beggars belief. I'm so proud of what a strong and wonderful person my wife is and I'm biased but I don't think she or her fantastic colleagues get the recognition they deserve. I remember all my good teachers including Katie's Mum who taught me at Primary when she was still Mrs Pavey, Mr Nixon and Mr Cooney at Secondary to name but a few. They worked their arses off to make sure we understood the world we lived in better and could make contributions of our own one day that mattered. I will always be grateful to them for that. Teachers need a little more respect, a good bit more pay and a bit of recognition for the role they play in our lives, in our families and childrens lives. I have more respect for teachers now than I ever did before which makes me glad I married one. I'm a pishy photographer who makes his own schedule for the most part. I could not do what Katie does. My wife is my Superhero.
The last year or so for the wedding industry have been mired in controversy . Within the last few weeks a big wedding photography firm shut down out of the blue. Right up until the last minute they were apparently taking deposits and full fees leaving couples hugely out of pocket and without photographer and or videographer in some cases as well. This has yet again made a lot of people very aware about booking the right photographer, there's a lot of suspicion cast on photographers and wedding vendors as a general as a result of actions like these however. I desperately wanted to throw together a wee blog to tell you - the couples - what to look out for and hopefully help spot things that aren't quite right. Maybe even save you lovely people some unnecessary agro!
1. Photographers Portfolio! Where is it?
If you're anything like me you're now part of a huge number of Facebook bridal and wedding planning groups. This is a huge source of income for us aside from referrals, magazine ads, wedding fairs etc. If anyone posts looking for a photographer they will no doubt be inundated with hundreds of links, comments and offers from far and wide. Now these links should in theory be to a mainstream form of social media like facebook, twitter, instagram etc. The work should stand on its own without much explanation, so the photos are the main selling point. However in amongst these comments from time to time now, you will see someone who says - Hi XXXXX, I've just PM'd you! I offer full day coverage for £250. Its two photographers, and album and 100 prints and the kitchen sink all thrown in'. Now I started cheap when I started out but even I could not compete with this because after expenses I would have been in debt. So unless my client bought several more albums and several hundred more prints it would have been a total waste of time.
In cases like this even if the offer isn't dodgy it means your photographer has little to now concept of how to run a business and make a profit. So you can probably assume as much thought has gone into their customer service policy and everything else.
2. Where's the Website?
Today you can make even a template website from WIX, Weebly etc look incredible with a few days graft. You don't need to be Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. You just need patience and a few good ideas.
3. If a deal looks too good to be true......
As I touched on before, sometimes you will see companies/photographers offering the shirt of their back for nominal fees. Just think about this - if you come across a photographer duo who traverses the whole UK free of travel charge and are based in Portsmouth? and will cover Scotland, Wales and NI, give you a photo book, parents albums, big old canvas and spend 12 hours with you all for £350 ( I exaggerate a bit but you get the idea ) how does this business model work? The cost price of even the cheapest professional quality photo-books run about £100+. Off photobox maybe cheaper but the quality difference is noticeable. So you've got a couple hundred left. Then you've got petrol. If you're traveling one end of Scotland to the next you're talking a couple of tanks of petrol. Let's say another £100 gone. So now you've got £100 left to pay yourself, your second shooter and take care of any random expenses that crop up. Bare in mind, decent second shooter can range from £80-£300 per day. So how they make any money is beyond me. In my mind this puts them in a financial hole they are soon going to wish they hadn't. This is how people go out of business. This is how couples are left devastated and high and dry.
4. Where's the contract?
A contract should be the first thing you agree with your vendor be it photographer, planner, venue etc. Imagine you pay your deposit (it could be £50 or it could be thousands mind) and you find out your photographer doesn't fly, or he doesn't travel on certain days of the week, or he can only be in a room with an odd number of people. You can have a bit of a struggle negotiating when the terms of your agreement aren't laid out in black and white. So be on it, get on it and get it signed straight away. If only for the peace of mind that legally it means he/she/they can't double book or back out without consequences and reimbursement.
5. Why do their photos look so different compared to one another?
Anyone with eyes can tell you that there are a lot of styles out there in the wedding photography world. If their style is truly varied then they might just be eclectic. However more and more we've heard tales of young photographers or newly started photographers stealing images from established shooters in order to present themselves as being more experienced than they actually are. What if there's only a couple of photos of each wedding in each gallery on their website? Do an image search now! It won't hurt and if you find they're knicked pictures from real photographers - let them know about it! This is their livelihood we're talking about.
6. Where are their reviews and testamonials?
I have a handful of reviews even though I've been going for a few years. Mainly because I'm horrible at the whole online thing. That said if there's no reviews whatsoever - this should ring alarm bells. Or if their reviews talk about how great their baby shoot was and there's no mention of a single wedding in their past I'd ask for a brides details and check them out. Never be afraid to ask for references. Some brides now pay upwards of £15k a day for their wedding photographers. This is not chump change! And even if you're paying £500 for the day - check that person out. Ask around. Don't be shy. This is one of the biggest days of your lives and you deserve to have everything perfect and to be surrounded by people who care about delivering top quality service right down the line and helping you achieve your dream.
Katie and I really really really hope this is useful to everyone here and on our social channels. if you have questions leave them below or message us directly and we will help in any way we can!
Big Love xx
Have you ever seen your parents’ or grandparents’ wedding photos? Chances are they were printed on some kind of what the pre-millenials called photographic paper either as individual prints or presented in a wee slot in wedding photo album. To many they are priceless family heirlooms and they’ll likely outlast much of today’s wedding photography.
The advent of digital photography has changed the wedding industry in a revolutionary way. It was slow to start but eventually it meant that film photography has been almost entirely replaced as a medium for wedding photography. This also meant that the traditional business models whereby the photographer would shoot the ceremony and come back in the evening with a few proof prints for ordering is all but dead. In this original era, photographers were providers of pretty much all the products and services; they were also the sole owners of the material negatives, without which additional copies were impossible to reproduce. Couples relied exclusively on wedding photographers their entire service from prints, to books and albums etc.
The digital revolution changed things immeasurably, making it possible for some basic bargain photographers to operate exclusively as service providers without ever having to sell an actual printed photograph. The mounting industry pressures saw that old school photographers had to diversify further away from their medium and original business model . Savvy clients expected digital copies of their wedding photographs in high-resolution and a license to print them to their hearts’ content. Well, at least, that was the idea.
We find ourselves in a situation where wedding photography print sales have declined dramatically. The unfortunate consequence is that wedding photographs – most photographs, actually – are increasingly relegated to a purely digital format; it's now very unlikely that they will ever see the light of day as a printed photograph for viewing: eyes looking at paper, unaided by the interpretive layers of software operating within an electrical device.
The Consequences Of Not Printing Your Own Wedding Photographs
I often wonder what becomes of the digital copies of the photographs. Are the images made into physical items either as prints, books, or albums? I really really hope so, for it would be a shame if all that effort was wasted on a Facebook post, a Tweet or just an Instagram upload – and I don’t just mean my effort as the wedding photographer in question, but the much greater effort expended by the couples themselves, their vendors and family and friends spanning the months and years leading up to the wedding itself. Not only does the photographic document deserve better presentation, but it also deserves a greater chance at longevity.
What a lot of clients fail to realise about digital media is that it is inherently fragile and has it's own drawbacks. An accidental push of a button, spill of a coffee, stray malware, or an unfortunate power surge can spell doom for your precious files. Depending on the nature of the damage, recovery can either be expensive or impossible. This isn’t fear mongering: it is the reality of digital asset management, and the reason why professionals from all walks – wedding photographers included – are keen on premium data redundancy precautions.
A wee while ago, Google’s Chief Internet expert V. Cerf (He is referred to as an evangelist in the community and that's actually now his real title), gave a very gloomy warning during a speech to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). In a statement to the Guardian He says:
"We are nonchalantly throwing all of our data into what could become an information black hole without realising it. We digitise things because we think we will preserve them, but what we don’t understand is that unless we take other steps, those digital versions may not be any better, and may even be worse, than the artefacts that we digitised. "
His main point was that it's not just the media that needs to reman safe by digital back ups but the very software used itself. We've all have a phone, games consol or computer. But it is his finishing words, about printing your photographs, that sparked my interest in particular as it basically inspired this whole blog. His proposition takes a Big Idea and brings it home with an effortless jab at modernity’s approach to the long-term preservation of personal data.
If you don’t print your photos, how long will they actually last? Your Grandparents and your parents wedding photographs. They have survived not only because of their inherent sentimental value, but because they exist in a physical form that can be passed down through the generations. It is much much more difficult to accidentally chuck away a box of printed photos than it is to accidentally delete or lose track of a virtual wedding folder or gallery. It's sad to say it's easily done because of their physical insignificance.
Physical destruction and careless deletion aside, the greatest threat to digital information is it simply becoming old and outdated. You're almost certainly not still using the same digital cameras that you bought when they first became available, just as you're definitely not using the same phone you first bought when mobile phones became mass produced and wifely available. Tech will come and go and with it, the companies behind them. While storing your wedding photos on multiple storage sites (e.g. a cloud service or on multiple hard drives) diminishes the possibility of inadvertently losing them, they don’t protect against companies going into liquidation, hacking, or some other form of loss. Nor do they offer protection against changing industry giants like Apple who try and use ever more proprietary forms of technology to enure you pend your tech budget with them time and again. The standards for cables, connectors and communication protocols and file types change every year. Software standards are the least changeable but are still periodically prone to the winds of change just like everything else.
I recognize that this is a big old list of worst case eventualities. Much like myself and Katie, knowledgeable clients will convert and move their digital folders and galleries and wedding photographs from one format to another as technology progresses. It’s been done before and it will probably continue well into the future. Did anyone else's parents spend whole days week on week digitising VHS videos or Records to CD's??? My Dad did this constantly when he was at home for days and days at a time such was his passion for keeping the collections he'd spent so long building up over 40+ years.
Printing As Preservation
When stored in a cool, dry, and dark place, photographs printed on quality photographic paper can last for years. Hi-res jpegs are amazing things but part of the file opening and closing involves a compression of all the information and over a number of uses this begins to degrade the information that makes up the picture. This is why people are even now currently looking at new digital formats for future cameras and editing platforms.
Good albums not only protect your wedding photographs, but they are also a beautiful way to store, view, and present them. I personally work with half a dozen different printing companies to service a diverse range of client products. I chose them because they have consistent quality and their stuff lasts. I'll leave a list of printers at the end of the article so you the clients can seek em out and do your own printing using the softwares if you want to. I just want you the client to save your legacy pictures for future generations.
It doesn’t matter where your photos are printed, provided that they are. It would be a horrendous shame if the very consumers who wrestled their right to print from wedding photography industry chose not to. As Bob says - Stand up for your rights! We've had clients on occasion knock out 15-20 albums from photographs from relatives weddings but this seems to be more common in big Indian weddings. My own dad made nearly a dozen DIY albums from our own wedding photographers photos last year using a 3rd party site and they turned out wonderfully! Confession - my Dad is also a photographer with a wicked eye!
I understand not everyone is tactile like me. That's not to say your kids will be and mine won't. But people change as with everything given a long enough time-line you do. I'm not saying to all my clients - GO RIGHT NOW AND ORDER PHOTOS FROM YOUR GALLERY RIGHT NOW! Although that would be nice :-) What I am saying is - as with other big moments in life, all we get are the memories, but your photographs take you back to how it was - time and again. I'm one of those sad buggers who likes thumbing through new and old books in funny wee bookshops in every new place I go to. I am a tactile creature - gimme the print!