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Frequently Asked Questions and Consumer Alert

 

Many of our customers have wanted us to provide information which they can refer to others seeking a wedding photographer. Some of our customers have told us they were misinformed by other photographers about digitally mastered images on DVDs and other issues during their interviews with other photographers before they chose us. We hope those issues and more are clarified here.

This page provides some insights about some of the various ways wedding photographers set-up and conduct their businesses. There is a lot of plain factual information which makes for some very dry reading. The information here is suggested reading for the person who will be paying for wedding photography services. There are some photographers who are upset with us for addressing many of these consumer concerns. So you don't have to take our word for it . . . many of the issues we address here can be found when you type "photographer consumer complaints" and similar intuitive phrases in popular search engines. Of course, we also just want to "get the facts straight" here publicly concerning things some photographers are saying to brides privately during consultations.


 

Question: Why is professional wedding photography so expensive?

Answer: If all a photographer did was stand around and push a button on a camera strictly on the Wedding Day and charge thousands of dollars, that would definitely be very expensive. However, there is a lot more work and time involved than that.

The fast majority of brides in our market area are paying an average of $2,500.00+ for their wedding photography coverage and the package (excluding videography) they select through established and reputable professional photographers. When a photographer accepts a smaller wedding, the photographer is losing money. In the case of Wedding Photographics, we also include engagement and bridal portrait sessions. We also include the digitally mastered JPEGs from both sessions AND from the Wedding Day. We shoot around 800+ images of most weddings and guarantee in the wedding photography contract to provide 400 to 700 of the best to the Bride on designer photo DVDs. We spend a LOT of time METICULOUSLY digitally processing all these images so they will produce professional quality photographic prints which rival medium format NEGATIVE film photographs. Of course, the reason we don't shoot medium format film is so you have all the advantages of digital (See Gallery 16 and Cutting Edge for a few digital advantages). We spend an average of 40 hours per client! Breaks down like this: About 2 hours for initial consultation, 4 hours shooting engagement & bridal sessions, 4 hours processing and burning designer photo DVDs of engagement & bridal sessions. About 1 hour telephone/e-mail customer service. Within one month before the Wedding Day we provide a "Pre-Wedding Day Consultation" for about 1 hour. Another 1.5 hours designing, printing and framing the signature mat. For the Wedding Day we provide up to eight hours coverage which means 8 hours for each photographer. We then spend about 15 hours custom processing all these files in Photoshop CS3 and other photo editing software and creating special effects etc. About 8 hours post-production processing of the video in Adobe Premiere Pro CS3. The Bride & Groom DVD album contains two designer photo DVDs of 400+ (usually a lot more) digitally mastered images. We believe as the years go by any album(s) we produce for you will become cherished family heirlooms which will be passed down through family generations for years to come and which are truly worth the investment.

We know we have to compete for your printing and album business since you can take your photo DVDs anywhere to have printed at regular photo finishing prices around town. So we have specially priced those services for you. After you have viewed your photos on your DVDs, the bride may then choose a custom designed album with photographs she personally selects which best tells her Wedding Day Story. Naturally, John & Cherry will make your custom designed album available to you at a very special price to complete your package.

 

Question: Why don't you take the final payment for your wedding photography services on the Wedding Day or even at the time of photo package delivery?

Answer: I use to do that. The reason why I and most other wedding photographers require the full payment at least a week in advance is to simply make sure we get paid. On Wedding Photography Contracts, it is the photographers who are legally obligated to provide a variety of services and products. The only obligation of the client is to pay the photographer. It has been the unfortunate experience of many photographers that when they expect payment on the Wedding Day....they are simply handed a bad check or no payment at all. Sadly, many people feel that the photographer has the films and all the photographs and therefore some clients will take their time to pay the photographer the remaining balance when it is convenient for them. No business can operate like that. Printing costs hundreds of dollars per wedding. When a photographer has one wedding each weekend back to back, that photographer can easily have a lot of money tied up in photographs. That is no way to reward a talented and creative professional who has invested thousands of dollars in equipment and time establishing a legitimate business. You are assured that any such professional with so much invested in their business will do everything they can to fulfill their obligations of the Wedding Photography Contract. In the case of Wedding Photographics, our business license information is provided, we are PayPal Verified, we are members of the Better Business Bureau and you even know where we live since we operate a home-based studio. pic

It has also been the experience of many photographers that when the Wedding Day is cancelled for whatever reason, the photographer is the last to be told...if told at all. Since some clients don't feel they have any obligation to inform the photographer, they don't. Especially since they are losing their non-refundable reservation deposit anyway. This problem is resolved by simply requiring the client to pay the remaining balance one month before the Wedding Day. If not paid, the photographer will not photograph the Wedding. We consider non-payment of the remaining balance one month before the Wedding Day as cancellation by the Client. (It can be very inconvenient and time consuming to travel over 150 miles one way to a wedding you were not told was cancelled).

Sadly, some people will tell their photographer the wedding was cancelled when it really wasn't. When the photographer doesn't show for the wedding, they demand the non-refundable reservation deposit be returned to them. (We've heard some customers do this in an attempt to get back their reservation deposit which otherwise is non-refundable and have a amateur friend shoot their wedding). This is why photographers require in the contract that they are informed in writing of a cancellation. But as explained previously, even when a cancellation is legitimate, there is little incentive for some clients to take the time and trouble to inform the photographer....especially in writing. This problem is also resolved by simply requiring the client to pay the remaining balance one month before the Wedding Day. Again, if this payment has not been made, this puts the photographer on notice that the client has in fact cancelled the wedding photography services.

 

(PDF 10.27MB download)

This 5-page checklist serves multiple purposes. It's main purpose is a tool for communication - helping the bride & photographer determine a plan to help insure the Wedding Day events are properly covered - especially when some weddings consist of simultaneous activities at different locations and the bride needs to prioritize the photographs which are important to her. Also, not all weddings are Christian weddings. There are many different kinds of religious and cultural wedding ceremonies, rituals and celebrations. The checklist serves as a starting point for the bride communicating her particular needs to her photographer. Professional wedding photographers use a wedding photography checklist for these reasons and more.

Since we photograph the entire Wedding Day, it is only necessary to indicate the shots which are NOT desired. Using this checklist does not mean your Wedding Photographics photographers will be fumbling around with your checklist papers on your Wedding Day. We only have to memorize the shots which you must have and the rest are shot as your special day unfolds.

It is very important the photographer you consider hiring to photograph your Wedding Day uses a wedding photography checklist or similar tool to help him or her to know the shots which are very important to YOU. It will do you little good to hire a talented photographer who insists on shooting a lot of shots you simply do not want or missing shots he/she just doesn't know you may want or even possible to be shot. (Example: Relationship shots. An older couple may share some special history and these two are married to other people. How would the photographer know to get these two different family members and put them together for a special portrait just for you. Also war veterans. There are many group shots such as these and others that a photographer must be told about).

 

Question: Since you provide the high resolution custom processed photo-quality images on DVDs, what incentive do you have to do a great job since your customers can take their photo DVDs somewhere else to get photographs? With all due respect, most all other photographers for years have charged a profit on selling the photographs. So they do a great job so their customers will order more photographs.

Answer: As a service business we are building a reputation for providing high quality wedding photography. We do everything we can to insure the absolute complete satisfaction of our clients so they will provide us great word of mouth referrals. This is the life-blood of most businesses and our wedding photography business especially. Furthermore, we know our customers can take their photo DVDs to their favorite labs for printing. We have to compete for their printing business! We do this by offering professional printing and assembly in professional wedding albums at very special pricing. Unless we provide great wedding photography, our customers will not order any albums from us and we will not get the referrals we NEED for new customers. Most other photographers on the other hand, can (and often do) charge outrageously high prices for photographs and albums since they keep the images and copyright to themselves. I just don't feel that is an ethical way to treat my customers. I would rather compete for my customers business every step of the way - this helps insure them of better quality service and products. It also challenges me to always provide the best at the most competitive and fair price as determined by the market. If this is a wrong marketing philosophy and strategy, I don't want to be right. pic By the way, 80% of our new customers are from referrals by past customers. Our BBB Complaint Free Certificate shown above is great evidence of this. This is our 2nd consecutive year of receiving the BBB Complaint Free Certificate. We also offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. We are not aware of any other photographer in our markets who has a verifiable complaint free record and a 100% satisfaction guarantee to their customers.

Satisfaction Guarantee

 

Gold Archival Grade DVD-RQuestion: I've heard that DVDs don't hold data but for about 3 years or so at best. What good is it for you to provide your customers with DVDs of high resolution digitally mastered images when they won't be any good in a few years?

Answer: The problem of longevity is nothing new in photography. If not properly processed AND properly handled, the photographic prints photographers have been giving to their portrait and wedding clients WILL change color and/or fade in a few years! You may have already noticed the vast majority of photographers do NOT guarantee the longevity of the photographs they provide. This is not surprising since most photographers do not process the photographs themselves AND considering that the display/storage conditions also directly effect the longevity of photographs. Why assume responsibility for the longevity of photographs when most photographers know that their customers may not be providing proper display and storage care for them? Also the same problem exists with film negatives. We recommend that our wedding customers copy their DVDs every year. But we think the best solution is to pay our $100 production fee for an "Archival Gold DVD TIF Package". In this case, all the Wedding Day images are burned as TIF instead of JPEGs onto archival Gold DVD-R discs. This package usually consists of around 12 DVDs because each TIF image averages around 35MB in size but TIF are more stable than JPEGs and being burned to archival gold DVD provides the wedding customer the very best longer term image storage available at this time.

 

Question: How long after my engagement and bridal portrait sessions are shot will I have to wait until my designer DVD of digitally mastered photos is ready?

Answer: Our first priority is to schedule consultations and engagement & bridal portrait sessions at our clients convenience. When you schedule an engagement or bridal portrait session with us, the time we spend shooting your session takes us away from the post-production work on the previous engagement and bridal portrait sessions we've already shot. We have to put the post-production work of previous sessions on temporary hold like this because of our customers various schedules. If we refused to schedule the next engagement or bridal portrait session until we got all post-production work done to previous sessions, it would become even more difficult to work with the various schedules of our customers. It is especially more difficult to coordinate the engagement sessions when they consist of two people who need their schedules to coincide - we must take advantage of the opportunity . . . as soon as it occurs. We contact every customer as soon as their images are ready.

 

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Question: Do you accept credit cards?

Answer: Yes. All major credit/debit cards accepted on-line only through PayPal. Currently set-up to accept on-line payment of reservation deposit on my Contact page. The remaining balance on wedding photography package and for our digital lab services can be provided in an email link to PayPal when you prefer to make the payment with your credit/debit card.

 

Question: Do you shoot with a digital camera?

Answer: Yes. Our primary digital cameras are Canon 5D 13 megapixel (12.8 megapixel to be exact). We no longer offer film wedding photography.

 

Question: Do you charge travel expenses?

Answer: Yes. Based on two photographers traveling together in ONE vehicle: We do NOT charge travel expenses for weddings located within 150 miles of our studio. For weddings over 150 miles one-way from our studio, we charge $0.65 per mile after the first 150 miles (this charge covers our round trip. See Standard IRS Mile Rates for more info. Our $0.65 a mile to pay for the roundtrip is lower than the standard IRS mile rate of $0.48.5 per mile for every mile of the entire trip plus the $0.65 per mile one-way includes our time as well as return trip). Distance from our studio to any wedding location is decided by MapQuest. Client pays for one-night hotel stay for wedding locations which are 150 miles away from our studio. We usually arrange our hotel accommodations on the day of the REHEARSAL for weddings over 150 miles from Chattanooga. For this reason the rehearsal must be the day before the Wedding Day. Several reasons for this. At the rehearsal we have the opportunity to meet and learn who everyone is, scout the location for various poses and simply learn our way around large locations. But perhaps most importantly, since we do live in an imperfect world, we would rather our car breakdown on our way to a distant rehearsal than for our car to breakdown on our way to the Wedding Day! We also provide our own meals. If you need two photographers each having their own vehicle for transportation, you will be responsible for paying extra traveling expenses. (For example, bride is preparing with bridesmaids at one location and the groom is prepping at a different location and you need simultaneous photographic coverage at these different locations). If you need two photographers with independent transportation, this will also mean you will be responsible for travel expenses of one of the photographers even if your wedding location is within 150 miles of our studio.

 

Question: Do you have a studio?

Answer: Yes. We operate a home-based full service digital wedding studio specializing exclusively in wedding photography and providing high end engagement and bridal portraiture. We have several canvas, muslin and cloth backgrounds and use a variety of studio flash - key, fill, background, hair and special effects flashes and offer hundreds of digital backgrounds of your choice.

 

Question: How are you attired when photographing a wedding?

Answer: We wear business suits. Medium gray, dark gray or black so we don't clash with the colors of the wedding. If client wants me to wear a tuxedo, they provide that for me in the appropriate color and style.

 

Question: When do you require the wedding photography checklist to be turned in to you?

Answer: At least two weeks before your Wedding Day. The perfect time is when you schedule your "Pre-Wedding Day Consultation" with us. This gives the photographer some time to express any photographic concerns or make alternate plans to help insure the desired shots can be achieved. The wedding photography checklist is a GUIDE to help your photographer to know which shots are most important to you. The shots cannot be guaranteed since all the desired shots are not always possible for reasons beyond the control of the photographer and the client. No two brides and no two weddings are exactly the same.

 

Question: How long before the Ceremony do you recommend to start shooting on the Wedding Day?

Answer: We have shot over 800 weddings over the years....and almost always...for various reasons beyond their control....people run late. Considering this, I highly recommend telling everyone to be READY for photography 2 HOURS before the Ceremony. When everyone makes it on time and is READY for pictures 2 hours before the Ceremony, this helps insure the photographer has the time which is necessary to properly and artistically pose the groups and other shots. This also helps to keep the photographer from having to get these shots during the reception when everyone would have a more enjoyable time if they didn't have to pose for photographs. I've NEVER had a bride regret getting all her bridal party and family group shots FINISHED before the Ceremony. This helps insure you will get the PROFESSIONAL QUALITY photographs you are paying for and still have time to enjoy the reception. Also, scheduling the Wedding Ceremony early in the afternoon can help insure the best looking outdoor photography. Shooting at night time, even with flash, leaves the background in the photographs dark - which never looks as good as outdoor photographs with sunlight illuminating the background. We recommend all participants in the wedding party be ready for photography 3 hours or more before the Ceremony for larger weddings.

 

Question: What if flash is not allowed during the Ceremony?

Answer: There are several options. First, we can shoot at higher film speed settings. This can enable us to get properly exposed images in low light levels. But if there is strong ceiling lights shining down from above the subject(s) head, this can produce darkened eye sockets and shadows under the nose and over the forehead cast by the subject(s) hair. Also, depending on the kind of artificial lighting illuminating the Ceremony, the color in the photographs may or may not be flattering (even when shooting with the best white balance setting because of mixed lighting). A second option is to simply re-stage the major Ceremony events. This usually only takes about 5 to 10 minutes and flash will be used to insure proper exposure and color in the photographs. Another use of re-staging the major Ceremony events is at locations when the photographer cannot get positioned for the proper composition in the photographs. It can truly be best to re-stage the Ceremony so the photographer won't be forced to move so closely in and around the wedding party during the actual Ceremony. This can be a major distraction and take away from the guests enjoyment of the Ceremony. Since we started offering video services, we can include that in our strategy as well. Almost the entire wedding ceremony may be shot during the actual ceremony for journalistic video images so that the only thing left for us to do is only re-enact a few events for close-up shots and better angles for still photography.

 

Question: Why is the Reservation Deposit non-refundable?

Answer: Most all established professional photographers have a non-refundable reservation deposit. This compensates them for the time they spend meeting with the prospective bride and producing the contract. It also provides them some compensation for the loss of a wedding they could have photographed if the bride cancels or reschedules her wedding on another day. Also, in the case of Wedding Photographics, it compensates for the free engagement/bridal portrait sessions we provide with every wedding photography package. If the Reservation Deposit were not non-refundable, it would be very easy for people to book us just to get a free engagement/bridal portrait session and then "cancel" so they could get their deposit back....and still have a free engagement/bridal portrait session in their hands. Since that would not be fair, this is another one of the reasons why the Reservation Deposit is non-refundable.

 

Question: I live some distance from Chattanooga but I am having my wedding in Chattanooga. How do I get my wedding photography package after the wedding?

Answer: Since we provide our clients the option to pick up their entire wedding package at the studio, we have to charge shipping expenses for those clients which choose to have their packages shipped to them. We will calculate shipping cost and you provide us the funds to ship to you using the carrier of your choice. If you prefer, you can pay us the shipping cost via PayPal email link we send to you. We cannot be held responsible for wedding photography packages which get lost or damaged by a carrier. Of course, you will also pay for insurance. In the event your package does get lost or completely damaged, we will use our back-up DVDs of all your photographs to re-create your package again.

 

Question: What do you recommend about wearing make-up from a photography standpoint?

Answer: People come in many tone and complexion variations. Some people have allergies to some kinds of make-up and some people wear special make-up to cover up birthmarks etc. I can't recommend any particular brand and I certainly don't want to personally provide a bride some kind of make-up on her Wedding Day that she may have an allergic reaction to! If it has been a long time since you have had portraits made or if you haven't had any portraits made with the make-up you currently wear, this might be a good reason to schedule an engagement and/or bridal portrait session with us. I can't predict what the results will be with various make-ups on any particular person. I can suggest that whatever make-up and lipstick you wear be sure it doesn't make your lips and face shiny. This is especially important when you have hired us to shoot a lot of photojournalistic candids in which there is no time to be touching up. For more posed and formal photographs, you must be ready for photography at the agreed upon time so there will be time for you to retouch make-up, adjust jewelry and other things to help get perfect photographs. Also bear in mind that some reflection off the skin is NECESSARY as it helps show shape and dimension of faces. Without such reflection, faces would simply look unnatural. A lot of photographs cannot be taken in a very short period of time and every one of them be "perfect". (This is why model photographers with professional make-up artists still shoot hundreds of shots during a single model shoot). I don't think I can emphasize enough just how important it is to be READY for photography at at the appointed time before the Ceremony. I provide digital photo-retouching when desired in the form of custom finished prints.

 

Question: Do you recommend the services of a wedding planner?

Answer: YES! We highly recommend the services of a PROFESSIONAL wedding planner for any wedding no matter how big or small. Oftentimes when there is no professional wedding planner, the bride looks for guidance from the other wedding vendors she has hired...and most of the time we are all too busy doing the other jobs the bride hired us to do. Wedding planner services is the job of a professional wedding planner - not the photographer, caterer, florist or anyone else who is already busy working hard to provide the professional quality they were hired to provide.

 

Question: Do you have a back-up photographer in case you can't make it?

Answer: Yes. We have several assistants and back-up photographers available. John and Cherry are the main photographers for every wedding we are booked for. We shoot all weddings together. Many photographers claim to have a back-up photographer...but don't! Make sure the photographer you select has a back-up photographer just in case something happens at the last minute to prevent him or her from making it to your wedding. Print the PDF below to help insure you find a trustworthy photographer for your Wedding Day.

Photographer Interview Questions (PDF 14.69KB) Photographer Interview Questions (PDF 14.69KB)

 

 

Question: Do you use back-up photography equipment?

Answer: Yes. We have various spare equipment items we carry with us to every wedding. In fact, we will be happy to show our back-up equipment to you during your no-obligation appointment with us. We highly recommend when you are interviewing photographers that you insist on seeing the photographer's back-up equipment. There are some photographers who say they have back-up equipment and, unfortunately, they really don't. Every year we hear from upset brides who call us at the last minute because they just found out from the photographer they had booked that the camera gear is messed up and there is no back-up equipment to photograph the wedding and no back-up photographer! Truth is, when you select a photographer who does not have a studio, the business expenses associated with a successful business operation and thousands of dollars in photography equipment, display frames and more, it is easy for that photographer NOT to be dedicated to the wedding photography business . . . and your Wedding Day! When such a photographer is not dedicated to the wedding photography business, it can be very easy for him/her to simply give up your Wedding Day by saying their equipment is not functioning so they can go do something else professional or personal instead. NOTE: We even found a Nikonian Forum user who expressed resentment for us pointing out the underlined fact above. Here again, you don't have to take our word for it that these are real consumer concerns. Simply type "wedding photographer consumer complaints" and other intuitive phrases in your favorite search engines to see for yourself. Even in the November 2007 issue of Money magazine you will find an article, "We Never Got Our Wedding Photos!" All I can say is that consumer protection and consumer issues are real. Cherry and I work long and hard to make sure our customers receive the very best services and great fairly priced photography. So we just want to make sure brides know there are consumer issues to consider when selecting photographers. We invite all Nikonian Forum and Pictage Forum users to contact us about anything posted on this page. If there is something incorrect or which can be better worded, we will do so.

 

Non-Refundable Deposits

If you are someone who has never paid for anything wedding, you may be in for a big surprise. ALL wedding vendors are not only paid to provide a variety of products and/or services, but also on a particular date and time. When a wedding vendor accepts the responsibility of providing on that particular date and time and therefore cannot provide their products/services to someone else, the vendor MUST be paid a non-refundable deposit in case for any reason the wedding does not happen. All established pro photographers must have the same policy in order to make a living. In and around Chattanooga, most wedding venues, churches, caterers and photographers have non-refundable fees of $1,000 to $2,000+

I know it can be a heart-wrenching thought if you were to find out at the last minute the wedding will not take place. It's a no-win situation. But it wouldn't be fair to all the wedding vendors to lose all their income for that date and time when the wedding they were booked for suddenly doesn't happen at no fault of their own. But at least from your photographer you would probably have your engagement and bridal portraits still to enjoy and nothing from the other vendors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright Wedding Photographics®

High-end wedding photographers offer studio bridal portraiture.

 


 

Consumer Alert

Please protect yourself and ensure you have an established and professional photographer for your Wedding Day by making sure the issues described below are addressed in the Wedding Photography Contract.

When meeting with prospective photographers you are considering to photograph your Wedding Day, there are certain questions you should ask and receive definitive answers or even PROOF. That's right, even proof. It is your Wedding Day and you have every right in the world to make sure you select a competent, trustworthy and talented photographer. Please keep all these things in mind when interviewing wedding photographers.

You may print the Photographer Interview Questions form below to take with you when interviewing wedding photographers.

Photographer Interview Questions (PDF 14.69KB) Photographer Interview Questions (PDF 14.69KB)

 

"An informed consumer is a good consumer" - unknown

 

It is not our purpose to talk badly about any photographers. Absolutely no photographers will ever be mentioned by name here. There are two goals of this Consumer Alert. The first is to inform and educate consumers what to look out for in their search for a professional wedding photographer. Most bridal magazines and wedding planning books strongly encourage their readers to ask these questions and get answers. Why? There really are photographers out there you must avoid. Sometimes even tell their readers to make sure these things are spelled out in wedding photography contracts. This information helps keep some photographers from taking advantage of consumer's lack of knowledge & experience about professional photography. As a result, more photographers are challenged to offer more competitive pricing and better quality work, services and products. This fulfills the second purpose of this Consumer Alert: Raising the bar of professional wedding photography by providing you, the consumer, with knowledge and the workings of the professional wedding photography industry for your benefit.

 

Question: Does the photographer have back-up equipment? Is the back-up camera the same kind of camera or a different kind of camera?

Answer: Ask the photographer to SHOW his or her photography equipment to you. Hiring a photographer to shoot with medium format film but then shows up on your Wedding Day shooting with a small 35mm film camera is not the same thing. We recently heard of a bride who didn't have a wedding photographer because the photographer she hired said his equipment was down and he had NO back-up equipment. Wedding Photographics uses Canon EOS 5D 12.8 megapixel cameras as our main cameras and Canon EOS 20D 8.2 megapixel digital cameras for supplementary color and black & white journalistic photography. We will happily show all our equipment to you during your no obligation appointment with us.

Unfortunately, many digital photographers are shooting with only 6 to 8 megapixel digital cameras which do NOT produce professional medium format film-resolution quality photographs. Also this lower megapixel range reduces cropping, tilting and other composition changes the Bride may want to apply since such changes will quickly DEGRADE 6-8 megapixel image quality. See Gallery 63 for more details. In our photo RAW workflow, we can achieve the best color and more from our 12.8 megapixel RAW images to bring out the subtle nuances and High Quality images necessary for medium format NEGATIVE film-quality resolution photographs (See Bibble). There are numerous reasons your wedding photographer team should be shooting with 13± megapixel cameras and shooting RAW format. (Magazine style page design for example where panoramic across 11x14 albums measure 14"x22" which is the same amount of enlargement as a 16"x20" inside an album! Also the higher megapixel count provides more photo manipulation options especially for magazine style design). Also visit Gallery 16 to see more reasons digital photography shot in the RAW format is better than film photography.

6 to 8 megapixel digital cameras are ideal for journalistic black & white since increased noise or grain compliments traditional journalistic style photography and for supplementary photography by an additional photographer.

 

Question: Does the photographer have a back-up photographer?

Answer: Tell the photographer you want to MEET the back-up photographer. This will confirm whether or not there really is a back-up photographer and it will give you a chance to make sure you like the back-up photographer's work. Many wedding photographers do NOT actually have a back-up photographer... and this means the Bride will not get professional photography of her Wedding Day if the photographer she hires can't make it. So photographers who actually do have back-up photographers will have absolutely no problem providing you CONTACT INFORMATION for their back-up photographers. Wedding planners always have a back-up plan just in case of certain contingencies. Most brides have a back-up plan or "Plan B" just in case of something. Even some photographers will expect you to have a plan B. So there is nothing wrong with making sure your photographer has a plan B. Especially if you are paying that photographer a Premium Price for his/her services he or she should prove to you they have back-up equipment and back-up photographers just in case! Wedding Photographics has several associate photographers available. 

 

Question: Is the wedding photographer you are considering a member of the Better Business Bureau?

This is our 2nd Consecutive year of receiving the BBB Complaint Free Certificate.
This is our 2nd Consecutive year of receiving the BBB Complaint Free Certificate.

Answer: As a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) the photographer has agreed to operate his/her business according to higher standards. Also if there is a problem, you can file a complaint to the BBB who will investigate the member and will assure a remedy. There is a BBB office in Chattanooga where you can walk-in and talk directly with a real person. The photography associations and organizations that many photographers belong to do NOT provide this kind of service to the customers of photographers nor do they have any legal power. Also, before accepting our membership into the BBB, a BBB representative visited with us at our studio, confirmed our business license and years in business. Some critics of the BBB point out that the BBB has no legal power to resolve complaints against a company for consumers. However, our wedding photography contract with our clients does give the BBB authority to resolve complaints - whether we agree with their resolution or not. Wedding Photographics is a member of the Better Business Bureau and participates in the BBB On-Line Reliability Program. Many photographers and portrait studios choose not to join the Better Business Bureau in their community because of their history of customer complaints. The main reason for the BBB as well as other independent CONSUMER PROTECTION organizations is to help protect consumers. For these reasons, Wedding Photographics is proud to be a member in excellent standing with the Better Business Bureau of Chattanooga. You may click the icon below to visit the BBB website for our business reliability report:

View Our Reliability Report

 

Question: Does the photographer have general liability insurance coverage?

Answer: Some wedding locations require a "Certificate of Liability Insurance" from photographers before they will allow the photographer on the premises to work. Wedding Photographics has general liability insurance coverage through the Columbia Insurance Group policy #BOPTN32653 and we provide a Certificate of Liability Insurance when required by your wedding and/or reception locations.

 

 

Question: How long will I have to wait before I receive my wedding photography package after my Wedding Day?

Answer: During the 23 years Cherry and I have been photographing weddings together, we have heard stories from brides' relatives and friends of waiting for OVER A YEAR for their wedding packages. Some of them still had not received their packages even after a year! Make sure a deadline or delivery date is in the wedding photography contract. This is so important!

 

Question: Do I get the negatives?

Answer: The vast majority of photographers will NOT under any circumstances provide you the negatives or photo-quality digital files. Wedding Photographics provides a minimum of 400+ digitally mastered photo files on DVDs to our clients. We also provide copyright releases so our clients may have photographs printed from their photo DVDs at the digital labs of their choice. While many photographers keep the high resolution photo-quality images so they may charge you outrageously for any additional photographs you want to order, we are willing to compete for your business. We know you can take your designer photo DVDs of photo-quality wedding images to any lab and have photographs printed. So we offer upscale bride and parents albums which are available only through professional photographers - and at very special prices to complete your wedding package. Since we specialize exclusively in wedding photography, it is easier for us to pass savings on to you for wedding photography products and services at lower prices.

 

Question: Do I get all the photo-quality images on CD when digital photographer shoots my Wedding Day?

Answer: This is a tricky one. While some digital photographers may provide you all the high-resolution images on CD, this does NOT mean they are "PHOTO-quality". Digital image files need to be processed in photoshop for color tweaking, burning-in, dodging, exposure adjustments etc., to produce actual photo-quality images which rival professional NEGATIVE film quality photographs. (Again, see Bibble. Some photographers would have you believe that shooting RAW and custom processing is only for less skilled photographers who have trouble with proper JPEG capture. The truth is custom processed RAW files and the resulting JPEGs are SUPERIOR to JPEGs created in camera - hands down). Highlights - especially in the bride's white wedding dress are usually lacking detail in the unprocessed digital images of less experienced photographers. So you need to make sure in the wedding photography contract whether the photographer is providing you the digital files processed or unprocessed. You might specifically ask the photographer if the files are being provided on CD just as they were created by the camera or if the photographer will have them processed for maximum image quality. Wedding Photographics provides digitally mastered image files on photo DVD with our two photographer full-coverage of every Wedding Day we photograph. Please, don't assume you are getting digitally mastered image files when the photographer is actually referring to unprocessed digital files for the lower price he/she quotes you. There is a very big difference in quality. You will also have to pay photo labs more to have them correct the images for you and if they were shot by a less experienced photographer, the images may NOT be correctable to actual professional standards. On the 42" high definition monitor in our studio, you may carefully inspect all the images we provide to you on your designer photo DVDs to be sure they are professional quality before you leave our studio.

 

Question: Does the photographer have a studio location?

Answer: This makes it more convenient to conduct business with the photographer instead of having to meet the photographer at some public location. When you don't have a physical location for a photographer, it is easier for that photographer to operate a fly-by-night business. Some people starting a photography business are honest and sincere. But if they don't have a studio location and a lot of money invested in equipment, studio displays and other expenses associated with an established business operation, it can be very easy for them NOT to be dedicated to the photography business . . . . . and to your Wedding Day! You don't need to discover on your Wedding Day that you are without a photographer and all the money you paid has also disappeared. Also, a photographer with a studio can provide you with beautiful engagement and bridal portraits when the weather outside doesn't permit or if you just prefer studio portraits. Wedding Photographics has a digital wedding studio of approximately 550 square feet from which we conduct business.

 

Question: Is the photographer a "destination" photographer? Is the photographer priced a lot higher than most of the other photographers in the same market?

Formal studio bridal portrait by Wedding Photographics
High-end wedding photographers offer studio bridal portraiture to better serve our customers during hot, humid or rainy days, help keep the wedding gown clean and to simply provide our customers more benefits.

Answer: A growing number of photographers who enjoy traveling are happy to take on wedding assignments to exotic locations all over the United States and abroad. These are "destination" photographers. What to be careful of are those photographers who would have you believe that their work is in such demand that is the reason they have become destination photographers. The truth is many of these photographers work is not much if any better than other local photographers. If their work was better and not over-priced, they would be booked as much as a year or more in advance by local brides. They would be too busy locally to accept only a few if any destination wedding assignments. So I'm simply cautioning you here to be careful of any photographer who emphasizes he or she has many weddings abroad. Chances are they are OVER-PRICED and this is one of the reasons they are trying to find work outside their local market. Don't believe the hype. They want you to pay more for their services based on the "image" or "brand" they try to get you to believe they represent. Actually, why should you pay more for their "brand" if they don't even have a studio? When a photographer does not have a studio, that is LESS service & convenience they have to offer you. Then on top of this, they normally provide only one photographer coverage, charge extra when the reception is at a different location than the Ceremony, charge extra for engagement and bridal portrait sessions (sometimes don't even offer a bridal session) and the list goes on. Full service wedding photographers automatically provide engagement and bridal portrait sessions for all the photographic reasons detailed on our Engagement & Bridal page.

 

Photographers cannot hide over-priced talent charges in a DVD only package. So many require you to purchase an album package in advance even when they have not yet even photographed your Wedding Day.

Fairly priced photographers are able to sell DVD only packages for what their photography/photoshop talent alone is actually worth. Photographers with over-priced talent fees can't sell DVD only packages.

There are some photographers who charge a minimum of $4,000 to $5,000+ to photograph a wedding and those photographers are NOT even certified by the Professional Photographers of America association, they have never won any prestigious photographic awards nor did they study/learn photography while working for an established or renown photographer. But yet they still expect to obligate you to some $4,000-$5,000+ album package before you have seen any of the photographs they have shot of your own Wedding Day. Some of them also don't offer their customers the benefits of a studio. From your more expensive service providers, you should expect to see the best CREDENTIALS and be provided more BENEFITS TO YOU. This is true of all professional service providers and is especially true of wedding photographers. A wedding photographer can be the most expensive wedding vendor of the day. It is only natural to expect more expensive photographers to have a long resume of credentials and other facts listed to objectively distinguish themselves from less expensive photographers as part of marketing their skills & talents. If the photographer you are considering does not present you such a resume and IF the work is not much IF any better than other photographers in the same market, why should you pay them two to three times what other photographers are charging?

 

Pricing Method: Many photographers feel that since there are other wedding vendors who may charge thousands of dollars for flowers on the Wedding Day or for food and drink for hundreds of guests, that the photographer should also get paid a minimum of thousands of dollars. Those photographers reason that their photography "art" will last forever while a vast array of flowers, food and drinks for 100+ people, musicians etc., will last only a few hours. So those photographers want brides to pay a PERCENTAGE of the bride's total Wedding Day budget - especially when they have wedding album packages to sell and want more profit to actually put in their pockets. (Many wedding photographers who choose to sell their work in album packages to make it more saleable and/or to hide their over-priced talent fees are under pressure to seek percentages of a bride's total wedding budget to offset the expense of the wedding album packaging). However, that pricing method is seriously flawed. When a bride has spent a lot for a vast array of flowers, that usually provides the photographer a beautiful backdrop against which the photographs will appear more pleasing. It helps the photographer. Why penalize the bride with a higher photography price just because she spent more money on flowers? Wouldn't it be strange for a plumber to go into a house and charge $80 for unclogging a drain for a $100,000 house but charge $400 for unclogging the same kind of drain in a $500,000 house? A baker charging $1,100 for a beautiful bride's cake has nothing to do with photography, yet based on percentage (30%), the photographer "should" charge you another $330 for photography just because of the price of the cake? Sounds silly to me. Doesn't that to you?

(Of course, pictures in an album only last so long - they are not "forever". More and more brides are demanding high resolution photo-quality wedding photography on DVDs knowing they can have new pics and albums done again as the years go by or when albums get damaged or lost. It is also very useful for the bride to have the hi-res photo-quality images when the photographer may relocate to another state, retire or simply go out of business).

 

It is photographers who use album packaging who need to "sell up" brides for percentages of the bride's total Wedding Day budget. Knowing that most album package photographers have that strategy, there are now photo labs on the band wagon which charge photographers MEMBERSHIP FEES and COMMISSIONS per consumer web orders and for other lab services to get their bigger piece of the photographer's pie. All of this driving up the cost of pro wedding photography even higher among photographers who force album packages on their customers. Album packaging has truly become an expensive service in order for photographers to make their work more saleable and to demand higher talent fees. Exceptionally talented wedding photographers who price their talent fairly on DVD alone packages can get off that money hungry machine.

 

Business professionals know the method for determining fair market price for one's talent/work is based on several different factors such as the median income of their market, pricing of competitors, the target demographic, the quality service and quality of the work and other factors which I consider confidential. It may be a widely accepted tradition and custom to provide a 20% tip at a restaurant, but to say a photographer is entitled to receive some flat percentage of a bride's total wedding budget is not based on many different factors:

  • The years of experience & skills.
  • Photographic education & training, certifications and other credentials.
  • Quality and style of work.
  • Customer service before, during and after the Wedding Day as verified through past customer testimonials, described in the wedding contract and confirmed by third party organizations such as the BBB.
  • The amount of photo equipment that was needed to properly photograph the particular Wedding Day.
  • Whether one photographer or multiple photographers were required certainly effects pricing.

A photographer who declares they "deserve" some percentage of the bride's total wedding day budget is ignoring all the above statements of FACTS. Not all photographers and other wedding vendors are the same and provide the same attention to detail, quality and customer service. As you interview with wedding photographers, you will see that it is photographers who force some album package on you who usually talk about percentages of your total Wedding Day budget in an effort to get you to pay more for their services. DVD wedding photographers on the other hand simply sell their photography & photoshop talent itself in a DVD package.

We publicly post our bookings on our website to simply be honest and straight forward about our bookings. Some photographers want you to think they are in high demand so they will not post their small number of bookings. Don't believe their promotional hype and pay them more than what they are really worth.

My point about pricing method? Don't let a photographer ask you how much you pay other wedding vendors in a sad attempt to lay a guilt trip on you. Just because you may pay $3,000 for a bridal gown and $4,500 for a beautiful array of flowers doesn't mean your photographer should demand $7,500 for photography. There are photographers, just like there are people in other lines of work, who will apply every tactic and high pressure sales techniques to get you to over-pay them for their work. I would like to recommend that you take your time. Interview several wedding photographers. Then thoughtfully consider everything about each photographer to help make the best decision.

Remember this: There are talented and hard-working photographers who have studios and lots of samples to show you which they have accumulated over YEARS of faithful and professional service to their local community. They are deserving of your consideration. They will do a great job for you and provide you a great value in professional wedding photography.

Birds of a Feather: Over-priced photographers who are already booked will tend to refer brides to other over-priced photographers for sake of the status quo. It's bad for their business to refer brides to other photographers they recognize as professional and talented but who are fairly priced. This practice results in their artificially inflating the minimum price for wedding photography in their market. Don't let a small group of "networked" photographers get away with this (they are really just a group of people who want to force inflated prices for their work and they sometimes refer only to other photographers who simply use the same photo lab). These are also the same reasons we do not refer brides to other photographers unless they first refer brides to us - we know which photographers are networked with others. So to get yourself a FAIR sampling of wedding photographers to interview, don't ask any photographer who they recommend. Instead, use a search engine to bring up a list of various photographers on the internet. This way you may first conveniently check their websites and then make a list of those who you might like to interview with in person.

What happens when you don't have two photographers or a photographer with an assistant? Often when a photographer is shooting a wedding alone, the photographer will take charge of you, a wedding guest(s) or family member(s) to make photography assistants! These photographers will often expect you and others to know how to work as assistants and fluff the bride's dress, semi-pose people and more. Than maybe try to blame you later if the photographs don't look acceptable.If you don't want this to happen, make sure if you hire one photographer he/she has an assistant and tell them you will not allow yourself and your guests to become assistants if that photographer shows up without an assistant. SPECIAL NOTE: A photographer who routinely works without an assistant is also most likely a photographer without any back-up photographers. Make sure your photographer can provide NAMES and contact information for alleged back-up photographers in case he or she can't make it on your Wedding Day.

 

Many other photographers will NOT allow your family and guests to take snapshots on your Wedding Day. Wedding Photographics has no rules against this but we do highly recommend that we be the only people you allow to take photographs on your Wedding Day.

Most other photographers charge $250 and more for an engagement portrait session and charge again for a bridal portrait session. Wedding Photographics provides you an engagement and bridal portrait session with your wedding photography package. Also, your engagement session may include a favorite pet. We will also shoot at two different outdoor locations for your engagement session and two different locations for your bridal session when desired. The bridal portrait session may include the flower girl(s) as well as the maid or matron of honor. If your hair and/or make-up for your bridal session is less than perfect, we will provide you another bridal portrait session at no charge.

 

You are almost assured a photographer or studio which says they "specialize" in wedding photography is over-priced when they also provide a wide variety of other photography services. They MUST provide other photography services in order to generate adequate income since their wedding photography is over-priced. If wedding photography were their FAIRLY PRICED specialty . . . they would be too busy providing wedding photography services to provide any other photography since wedding photography is their specialty.

The flip side of this are those photographers and studios who generate the bulk of their income from general portraiture during the week and so they can afford to purposely over-price wedding photography services for those willing to pay. Photographers & studios who generate the bulk of their income from general portraiture during the week also often consider shooting a wedding over the weekend to be "over-time" and their price for some album package usually has these charges already included.

Photographers who really do specialize in wedding photography and who are talented and not over-priced are full-time professional wedding photography specialists. We really enjoy what we do and have no reason to over-price our work. Weddings are all we photograph and our equipment, studio and most everything else about us is geared towards benefiting our wedding clients. Contrary to what one might expect, established wedding photography specialists provide great quality work at reasonable prices. Wedding specialists do not charge over-time for shooting weekend weddings because that is business as usual so we take certain weekdays off from work. John is a full-time wedding photography specialist.

  

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