When to Break Up With Your Wedding Photographer
Breaking up is hard to do, I know. But there are times when it is totally necessary to do so. Don't worry, I'm here to help you a) figure out when it is time to call it quits and b) HOW to call it quits because there is a way to let 'em down easy. Or...easier I should say.
Before we start, let me emphasize that this is not something that happens everyday. Typically, couples go through the necessary process of doing their due diligence before choosing their photographer and end up very happy campers. They ask for recommendations from married friends who had a positive experience with their photogs, they scope out the photographer's work on his/her website and Instagram, they set up a consultation to get a feel for whether or not their personalities will jibe, and then ultimately make the decision to go with someone who best fits their personalities and style.
However, there are exceptions, and sometimes you just gotta know when it's time to go.
Scenario number one: When your engagement session is not everything you hoped for.
Remember this post when I talk about the photographer's argument for engagement sessions? Usually your engagement session is an awesome time to get to know your photographer and get a feel for working with each other so that when the wedding day comes, both parties are comfortable and relaxed having shared the experience of working with one another already. Another argument for the engagement session? To see how you like your photos. Like I stated earlier, MOST of the time, you've seen enough of the photographer's work to kind of know what you are getting with your own photos, but sometimes this isn't the case. At the end of the day, it is about the total package.
If you were super uncomfortable at your engagement session and then you got your photos back and were terribly disappointed, it may be a sign to move on from this particular photographer. After all, it is better to find this out with your engagement photos rather than your wedding photos. You can redo an engagement session, not so much for the wedding day.
So your engagement session was no bueno. Before breaking up, take a step back and ask yourself these questions:
1) What were my expectations for this shoot?
If you are upset that your engagement shoot doesn't look like your ~*engagement photos*~ board on Pinterest, take a second and check yourself. Did you look at your photographer's work before hiring him/her? Does his/her work align with your Pinterest perfect vision? Did you communicate your Pinterest dreams to him/her? Pinterest is a great tool, don't get me wrong. But, keep in mind your vision boards are a mash-up of a bunch of other people's work, not necessarily your photographer's work. Every photographer's style is different because every person on earth has a different perspective; so to find other people's work and then expect your photographer to read your mind and imitate that? Not really fair or the fault of the photographer.
2) What didn't I like about the engagement session?
There are certain things your photographer cannot control. Flowers weren't in bloom in late March? It was overcast out? You had a pimple? Not things your photographer can do a lick about, so if the conditions were not pristine for your shoot and you're upset about that...you may find that the problem is with you, not your photographer, and switching photographers isn't going to magically bring out the tulips, sun, and Clearasil.
However, if your photographer rubbed you the wrong way during your engagement shoot (i.e. they were late, unhelpful, awkward to work with, unpleasant, etc. etc.) then take a second and try to picture working with this person ALL DAY on your wedding day. Sound like a nightmare? Then maybe it is appropriate to start to think about other arrangements.
Scenario number two: you can't seem to get ahold of them...ever.
If you feel like you are constantly hunting down your photographer for information, feel like you are in the dark quite often, or even feel like you are inconveniencing your photographer by contacting them--it may be a sign they ain't worth your time. The last thing you want is to feel like you have to babysit any of your wedding vendors, but especially the one that is supposed to be documenting your day from start to finish. THAT person? That person cannot be MIA...
Keep in mind...that you should definitely give your photographer time to answer you. Many photographers wear all the hats when it comes to their small business, so 1-2 business days is a pretty good window to allow time for an answer. The chances are good they aren't ignoring you or flaky, most of us have packed days full of shoots, consultations with couples, meetings with accountants, marketing, editing, book keeping, album design, oh, and then a life. Allow your photographer a little grace, BUT if this turns into the rule rather than the exception...tell them to hop on the bus, Gus.
But Shelly, what do I SAY to my photographer when I want to split?
Let me preface this by saying, mooooost likely, your photographer won't be exactly happy with you bringing this to his/her doorstep. However, your wedding is something you invest in heavily between the planning, the PERSON, and all the bells and whistles, so you deserve to have it the way you want it. It will be okay. The other thing I will say is if it really has to come to this, this should not be the first time you have voiced your displeasure or concerns with your photographer. You really should give him/her a chance to right any wrongs before you make a decision like this, because it may simply be a matter of miscommunication that can be corrected and leave you with a wonderful experience.
Keep in mind that your photographer is a person at the end of the day, and we are all trying to do our best, so there is no reason to be mean or defensive when calling it quits. I'd say something along the lines of:
I want to first start off by thanking you for all of your hard work on our engagement session. We appreciate the time you took for our session. With that being said, we have decided we would like to take our vision for our wedding photography in another direction, and we won't be needing your services on (insert wedding date here) anymore. We realize that we will not get our non refundable deposit back, and we are okay with that, but we will not need your services going forward.
We wish you all the best.
Again, I cannot emphasize enough that this is not a common occurrence, nor should it be your initial strategy if you have an issue with your photos or service. This is ONLY to be used as a last resort when you feel you have exhausted all other avenues of communication or the service you are receiving is grossly subpar. The best way to prevent this from happening is to ask married friends for recommendations, check out reviews online, scope out potential photographer's webpages and Instagrams, and set up an initial consultation where you ask my foolproof list of consultation questions.
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