Tips, Pitfalls and Horror Stories in Choosing Great Wedding Photographer

Here are some helpful tips and advice that will help brides choose a great wedding photographer and videographer in the Washington DC Virginia Maryland New York and New Jersey area. As the wedding photographer for Sweet Dreams Studio and being in the wedding business I have heard many  horror stories of brides being disappointed in getting mediocre or bad photos and video. The photos and video are the main things that brides get to keep after their wedding and to share with everyone so this is one of the most important decisions brides can make for their wedding. And there are no do overs for that one special day.
I sincerely believe that when brides get great pictures and video from their wedding day they will be very happy but it is when they get to look back on those same pictures and video 5, 10, 20 years from now that it becomes priceless. Those photos and video become a family treasure because it allows brides to remember and relive one of the most important days of their lives and to be able share it with everyone always.
I understand people are not use to shopping around for wedding photographers so hopefully this will educate them on how to choose a great wedding photographer or videographer and avoid problems and pitfalls.

Horror Stories of Wedding Photography and Video
I am wedding and event photographer and I started writing this blog because I kept hearing the many stories of brides being disappointed in their wedding photographer. I always try to help and give some good advice but it is ultimately the bride decision. Hopefully these stories will help brides make a good decision.

(New Story 2014)
I had pleasure meeting bride and groom for consultation and they said they actually were planning on another wedding photographer recommended by family member. But they had engagement pictures with him and the pictures were not good. They showed me pictures and I was really surprised how  really boring and bland the pictures were. The photographer had the couple just sitting there like anyone could have taken those pictures. So they understood that everything I was saying to watch out for was true. Not every photographer is same and it does take a lot of thought and hard work to be creative and a lot of running around to get great wedding pictures. There are NO do overs for your wedding. I ended up doing their engagement and wedding pictures and video which they were really happy with.

(New Story 12/11)

I heard another story from a videographer that I knew that this bride who decided to go with this other photographer because he was couple of hundred dollars cheaper than me got very upset about her wedding photos. The photographer she hired gave her total of 120 pictures even though it looked like he took over 1000 pictures. I can only assume the other pictures were not very good. The bride had to ask the videographer for freeze frame screenshots from the wedding. Also the photographer spent so much time adjusting and readjusting his studio lights at the church for the family portraits that the bride got frustrated and told him to stop.

(New Story 1/31/11) 
I had a local Virginia bride who picked out this amazing wedding venue in Florida. And she saw these decent pictures from this wedding photographer's website located in Florida. She was deciding between me and this other photographer. I was honest with her and advised her to look at all the pics from wedding and not just a few on website because there are people who will photoshop the pics to make themselves look great. She ended up going with this Florida photographer because it was couple hundred dollars cheaper. The wedding pictures ended up being posted on facebook and they were not so good (to put it mildly) and very mediocre looking and I was told the bride is upset about it. So the point of the story is that they spent considerable amount on beautiful venue and now they have not so good pictures to show for it and remember it by. This is especially true of destination weddings where a lot of times brides may not know what they are actually going to get except from looking at few pictures on a website. So this is important to be very careful with.

(Original posting)
A bride Kimmie who told me about her friend's wedding and the wedding photographer she got for it. Kimmie said her friend who got married in 2008 had not gotten her wedding photos since 2008. She told me that the wedding photographer who lives very far away from her just ignores her calls. She said the bride is very upset about this and thinks she may have to get back into her wedding dress and redo some of the pictures. This made me upset to hear because I know how important wedding pictures are and now the bride has no pictures to remember it by and to share with everyone. It is actually a common story I have heard of other brides saying they had to stalk their photographers for their wedding pictures. I suspect that the main reason is because the pictures were not very good.

I also had another bride Jane tell me that her married friend did not like a single picture from her wedding photographer. Another bride told me she did not like her sister's wedding pictures because they were so dark inside the hotel ballroom and she was really worried about that. A friend told me over dinner that her married friend "cried when she saw her wedding pictures" because they were so bad. Another bride told me she regretted the inexpensive photographer she had gotten and that the pictures were not even worth putting into a wedding album. Ouch!
Many brides do not realize that weddings ceremony and reception are usually held in very dark places and it is non-stop action so if the photographer does not have the proper equipment or skill to use it the pictures can often turn out very dark, bland,  blurry, washed out and grainy. When Kimmie came in for consultation she actually showed me a friend's wedding pictures and they were all so dark it was hard to see the people's faces. It take considerable technical and artistic skill to take beautiful wedding pictures.

The same applies to wedding video also - I had wedding couple who got videography from another company and I was the wedding photographer.  They told me they loved the wedding photos I had taken but they were very disappointed in their wedding video from the other company. They told me that the best part about the video was actually the photos I had taken for their wedding and which they had added to the video.

After I wrote this a wedding colleague pointed me to another similiar story which you can read here
Hearing and reading stories like this really does make me sad and angry. So brides please be careful.

I have another enlightening story of a friend Howard who also got married complain to me that the proof pictures he got from his wedding photographer were very disappointing - dark, bland and washed out and Howard said he could have taken the pictures himself. He chose this company because he liked the  nice pictures in the wedding albums at a bridal show. But his wedding photographer that he got most likely did not take those pictures. And Howard complained that he still did not get the actual pictures after many months and I presume because they had to digitally fix the images. It is common practice among some photographers to rely on photoshop to fix some of the pictures for show only on their website. Because this can take a lot of time fixing defective pictures the rest of the pictures (can we say 95% of the images) end up being minimally touched and lesser quality - dark, bland, washed out, blurry etc.

Tips on Choosing a Great Photographer or Video
I hope this helps educate brides know on what to watch out for since they don't normally shop for wedding photographers. Here are some main things that brides can do to help themselves in choosing a great wedding photographer so they don't have an awful experience and headache afterwards -
1. See as many sample wedding pictures as possible from one or two weddings.
These pictures should be the ones taken by the photographer picked for their wedding and not some other random photographer. They should see the whole wedding including the ceremony and reception, indoor as well as outdoor pictures and not just the small percentage of pictures that may have been "photoshopped" and "cleaned up".  This is why I try to show a lot of my pictures on my website and show you that if you like the pictures on my website- that is the kind of great pictures you can expect to get for your wedding.

2. Do Google internet search about the vendor
Another wise and easy thing to do is to do a Google search of the vendor and look if there are any reviews about the vendor. Of course if you personally ask the vendor for references the vendor will  most likely give you only client references that were positive. Google and the internet can be a great help in seeing the real reviews of various vendors and it is so quick and easy to do. And I have seen some really scary reviews on the internet.

3. With weddings you usually get what you pay for
And please try not to choose a photographer with lowest price because in wedding photography more often than not brides get what they pay for. Brides can certainly save money getting an amateur photographer. But is it worth it when they spend a lot on the wedding dress, reception venue, wedding cake and food, florist decorations and DJ band joined by family and friends and then the bride gets mediocre or really bad wedding photos to show everyone and which may take forever to get? Is this potential headache afterwards worth it?

Again it is these once-in-a-lifetime photos and videos which brides get to keep forever and to share with everyone now and in the future. I hope this advice has been enlightening and has helped some wedding brides. All the best with your wedding and may it be a beautiful sweet dream too
- JB Yong and Associates of Sweet Dreams Studio for best leading magazine quality photojournalistic wedding and event photographers and videographers DC VA MD NY NJ. Here are also Top 5 Reasons to Choose Us.
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About Sweet Dreams Studio

Sweet Dreams Studio provides fabulous NY NJ award-winning wedding and party photography, video cinematography and the best open air photo booth rental in world. We won 2014 Knot Magazine's Best of Wedding Photography in NJ. We also photograph Sweet 16s, birthdays, bar and bat mitzvahs, corporate and holiday parties. This is where magic happens.
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