Everyone showed up to my wedding but the PHOTOGRAPHER!!

I'm sitting here in my robe, Power Puff girls blaring in the background, cinnamon rolls in the oven, and I have a wedding this afternoon that we are excited (OF COURSE) to cover.  In the back of my mind, I know today is my brother's birthday and I must call him, and I feel guilty because I missed walking Angus yesterday and today will be day 2 and he's looking at me, questioning with his eyes WHY we've missed our walk.  

I woke up this morning knowing today we are covering Randi's wedding.  I woke up today knowing that all of the batteries are charged, our lenses are cleaned, our cards are formatted, and we are ready to GO!  I started loading the car last night with excitement.  I woke up this morning with a stretch, knowing it had rained last night, knowing it will rain today, but we will roll with the punches, and it will be a beautiful day anyway.  But I also woke up with this nagging feeling knowing that somewhere in this world today, there is a bride getting ready for her wedding, she has paid a photographer, and that photographer isn't going to show.  That photographer isn't even going to have the decency to send a replacement.  That photographer is going to be a coward, and they will take her money, and literally run.  

I haven't missed a wedding yet, and I never plan to.  But I've heard stories, I've read stories of how photographers have actually taken payment for a wedding, and then never showed up for the big day.  I can't imagine the horror.  I seriously can't.  I've read the heartbreaking stories of brides who gave the photographer all the money they had, and how the photographer was supposed to shoot their engagement session.  They sent texts, emails, phone calls.  And nothing.  OR better yet, they shot the engagement session, received their beautiful images a week later.  There was some communication (not as much as they would have liked) between the engagement and the wedding, and then weeks before the wedding- all lines were dead.  The photographer had changed their phone number, the website was down, emails weren't being responded to.  Radio S.I.L.E.N.C.E.

It makes me crazy to hear stories like this.  I couldn't IMAGINE doing something like that.  I would want to dig a hole, climb into it, and never want to come out!  How do you move on after something like that?  How do these photographers wake up the next morning with the realization of what they've done and continue to live???

When a bride contracts our services, I make communication my number one priority.  There is tons of communication.  I am planning this with her, I'm answering her questions, I'm giving her vendor referrals, I'm telling her all of the wonderful things about her venue, and how pretty her pictures will look when everyone is on the dance floor dancing their sweaty hearts out, and how her bridal party portraits will look soooooo goooooood in this one area riiiiight here.  I'm in the trenches with her.  With ALL of my brides.  This is THEE day! Communication is everything.  I'm talking my heart out, and I want her to know I'm always here.  If she texts me at 11 p.m. with a worry, then yes, I will text her back with some words of comfort.  I'm also talking with her the week of her wedding, I want her to know we are getting ready, we are so excited, are there any last minute changes?  We even arrive early so that we can catch our breath, make sure our equipment is set up properly, but more to ease her mind.  "The photographers are here, I can breathe."  Every bride relaxes when we show up (and no I'm not trying to say we are the most important vendors, and I'm so important- it's not that at all).  What I'm saying is I have seen brides relax, their posture changes, they are laughing easier, yes- I have physically SEEN it.   They too have heard the horror stories- they've worked up this fear in their mind.  "What IF she doesn't show?" So because other photographers have done this awful thing, we work extra hard to ensure our brides WE ARE COMING.  We aren't like these awful people.  Doing something that terrible has never and would NEVER enter our minds.  

This is another reason we ask our brides for reviews.  The more reviews we have from brides sharing their experience with us, the more it shows future clients that they can trust us.  We are legit.  We will give everything we've got. Every. Single. Time.

I'd like to share a few tips on how a Bride and Groom might minimize the risk of this happening to them on their wedding day.  1.  Try to find a photographer with consistent reviews.  If many brides are sharing the same kind of story about that vendor, then it's more than likely true that you will have a similar experience.  2.  Has this photographer worked with any of your friends? What was their experience like?  Referrals from friends can have a very powerful advantage.  When your friends or friends of friends had a wonderful experience, you more than likely will too.  3.  Google them.  It sounds funny, but Google will pull up a lot of things, good and bad.  

Now, I will add, everyone has to start somewhere.  It takes years to build reviews, and luckily brides that booked me my first year put their faith in me, and I was able to start building my reputation.  Just because a photographer has NO reviews doesn't mean they're a bad person- maybe they are just starting out.   

I'm an open book.  If you have any questions, please get in touch.  I have to get ready for a wedding now.  Hope you all have an awesome weekend and week ahead!

~Leia

 

Leia Smethurst

Leia Smethurst Photography, PO Box 18694 , Oklahoma City, OK 73154, United States