Our personal wedding story

on February 23, 2013
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One of the main characteristics that defines our team from other photographers is that my wife Yen and I understand exactly how you feel right now, because we have been in your shoes.


We got my introduction to wedding photography like many of you: as a paying customer that knew very little about photography. We had done our research and chose what we thought would be the best options but at the end, we were unhappy.


Why were we unhappy? Read our story...



The search for a photographer

Price was a leading factor in our search because our budget was pretty tight. My fiancee (now wife) and I didn't need pre-wedding or engagement shots since we had them done previously, in Taiwan, so we only looked for a photographer to document the event and to take photos of our guests. We wanted somebody that was able to take candid pictures, would work the whole day for around 1500 dollars.


The right photographer was hard to find as most we found had different kinds of restrictions (leading to increasing fees) or boring portfolios. Then we our perfect photographer! His portfolio contained many journalistic style candid photos which we loved, he didn't mind the long hours and charged “only” 1400 dollars. For that price, he included an album, 300 printed photos and a DVD of our photos.


We also hire a family friend’s son studying photography in college for extra coverage, giving him two hundred dollars for his services. We gave him the freedom to shoot whatever he wanted.

 

 

 

The wedding day

As far as photography went, the wedding day went relatively smoothly. We had a semi-traditional Chinese wedding, "semi" meaning that we followed traditions at our convenience. It looked like neither of our photographers seen any Chinese weddings before, but they seemed to do OK. Besides, with two photographers, every aspect of our wedding should be covered.


The two photographers would often be seen right next to each other, taking the (almost) same photos, but that wasn’t a worry for us at the time.



Photoshoot session outside,

Once the ceremonies over, our photographer insisted we went out and take pictures in a park even if we just had 45 minutes. Time was tight as we had to go decorate the wedding hall, but it was our wedding day after all and we didn't want to curb the photographer's enthusiasm, so we went. The photoshoot took 90 minutes, or twice as long as what we planned, leaving us with less time to take care of the many details we had to take care of prior to the reception. Needless to say, stress and fatigue increased proportionally.


After the shoot at roughly 3:30 pm, the photographer was dismissed until 5:30 pm, which corresponds to 30 minutes before the start of the reception.



The reception.

As planned, the photographer came early to set up his light going equipment for the official pictures with each guest. Since there were approximately 250 guests, he had about a hundred or so photos to take. Half way through, he started commenting how there were many people and how tiring the work was. As more and more guests entered, we felt his enthusiasm slowly decreasing.


Minutes before the reception starts, he asks me if he had a seat at a table. He said he was hungry and wanted to eat something. He never mentioned anything about feeding him and assumed I knew I was supposed to feed him. I honestly thought he would have had something to eat during his off time. I quickly found him a place with my guests and proceeded to my entrance.



The uncanny  transformation from paid photographer to guest

When we did our entrance, the photographer was at his table, drinking and mingling with the guests. As a result, I didn't get any entrance pictures of us, my best man, bridesmaid or parents.


For the rest of the evening, he was found at his table, still eating and drinking. He did get up a few times to take snapshots here and there, but for the most part, he wasn't covering the reception as I hoped he would. He was nowhere to be seen during many of the games, speeches and events. It felt like I was paying for this guy to be a guest at my wedding reception...


As for the second photographer (who actually was a guest), I think he just decided to enjoy his evening as a guest. Maybe I told him he could take it easy, as he was technically invited... I don’t know, I don’t remember.



The moment of truth: Delivery of photos

My second photographer, the student, delivered the photos a week after the event. He did have a few good photos, but for the most part, I wasn't impressed. His best pictures were portraits of his family, which were nice for me to have, but not exactly what I wanted. I wish he would have walked around and taken more pictures of the other guests.


My main photographer delivered the photos a month later. He came in with a confident big smile, congratulating me for the great pictures I was about to receive.


To my great surprise, he came with the album, all done, with his choice of photos. We thought we agreed that we would choose the photos that went into the album, when we saw his choice, we were a bit disappointed.


The photos delivered were dark (underexposed) and the colors, bland. Some indoor photos were grainy and blurry. Not one “candid photo” caught our eye.



Surprise, surprise! Request for extra money!

He gave 300 printed photos (that he chose) and a DVD with all the photos taken. He then mentioned that the contract stipulated he would deliver 300 photos, but he had more than 400, so he made me a deal and charged me only 200 dollars for the additional photos. When I signed, I assumed he meant he would deliver 300 prints and that any extra photos would be handed to us only in a digital format. He had never mentioned anything about extra fees before that day.


The DVD was already burned with all the 400 photos in there, which made me feel he was just trying to extort money from me.


We “negotiate” (in this case, “argued” is a better term) our misunderstanding for a good thirty minutes. Annoyed, I suggested that to preserve our good relationship, I would give him 100 dollars for his photos, to which of course, he rebutted that his photos were amazing and worth more than what I was offering.


My wife brought out our pre-wedding album from Taiwan. When he saw the quality of the products from the Taiwanese photography shop, his jaw dropped to the floor, accepted our 100 dollars and left.



We realized while speaking with other friends, that we were not the only ones that felt disheartened about wedding photography.


Our disappointing experience motivated us to learn about photography and to ultimately, discover a passion for it. Our goal is simple: to give you the photography experience we wished we would have had at our wedding at a price we would have been willing to pay.


Not sure what that means? Contact us and we'll show you!