At least once a month I receive a phone call or email from a couple who needs a last minute wedding photographer because their wedding is happening soon and ::poof:: their photographer has disappeared.
Here are five steps to take early in your wedding planning to protect yourself from a vanishing photographer.
These tips are based on what couples tell me when they inquire about booking after loosing their photographer.
Make sure your photographer has a website, not just social media.
It’s easy to create a social media presence and make it look like you are a very busy, popular photographer. It’s also easy to have a free website that you can set up and forget. Maintaining a business website that isn’t free takes commitment and work. Commitment is a huge quality you need to look for in your wedding photographer!
Ignore how many people follow them.
I know an incredible photographer with only 400 followers who has been in business for 10 years, and is booked year round, every year. Having 1000’s of social media followers doesn’t mean much in the long term. Running a business is not about how many people hit the like button, it’s about commitment.
Avoid a high volume photographer.
Don’t hire someone simply because they have a certain number of weddings booked. Taking on too many weddings can cause photography burn out. You want a photographer who is able to give you their best on your wedding day.
Most professional photographers I know who do not have a second job can handle between 10-40 weddings per year, depending on if they also shoot portraits or other events.
Avoid a “once in a while” photographer.
Someone who rarely shoots a wedding, or is only in it for fun might have no problem canceling on you if something else comes up. Again, this leads back to commitment. The cost of canceling even one wedding for any reason is very high for those of us who depend on photography to feed our families.
The bottom line is to avoid extremes and always have a contract or client agreement that details cancelation terms for both you and your photographer.
Don’t book by email/text.
A phone call to get your questions answered can help tremendously when booking your photographer. Meet the photographer in person too. Use the phone call as an extra tool before you move forward with the in person meeting. This will help you stay organized and reduce the amount of time you spend running around to vendor meetings while wedding planning.
Usually you can tell from a phone call how interested the photographer is in your wedding. Do they let you do all the talking? Do they encourage you to ask them questions? Are they willing to go over your personal details before even talking about packages?
Have that engagement shoot!
If you have a chance to work with the photographer before the wedding, take it. Even if it’s just a mini shoot that lasts 30 minutes, the engagement shoot is like an extra interview to make sure you really love your photographer.
Now, congratulations on your engagement! Keep these tips in mind and go find the photographer of your dreams. (PS: If you think it might be me, let’s talk.)