Open letter to wedding photographers about their websites

Original photo by Flickr user naixn, remixed by Creative Commons license
Dear wedding photographers,

I think you're swell but, as a whole, your websites suck.

First of all, turn the freaking music off.

Seriously.

I'm probably looking at your site at work and it's hard to find the off button and I probably don't like the music you picked nor do I care since I didn't come to you for music.

Don't do it — you're going to get a potential client in trouble!

Secondly, it should not take 100 years for your site or gallery to load. The best way to ensure this is to NOT USE FLASH! And while we're on the subject of the gallery, how to move from one picture to another should be obvious to my grandmother and I should be able to peruse the thumbnails.

I should also be able to use the keyboard or the scroller on my mouse to move through the pictures (which is another reason NOT TO USE FLASH!)

Also, I'm pretty sure 75% of you all have the exact same Flash site re-branded. Stop it. Want something inexpensive? Try WordPress with a custom template design. [Editor's note: or even just a good pre-made theme.] And do NOT have your gallery or site pop-up! EVER!

Thirdly, don't have your blog header take up the entire screen. I get confused and think there are no posts or something. And if you don't have a blog with most of your current wedding previews, make one.

Fourthly, tell me how much you cost. I don't care if you do "custom" packages, tell me how much your typical package is and what it includes.

Fifth, I'm probably going to post the photos on facebook. If you have a problem with this, the best way to handle it is to give me lo-res versions of all pictures with your watermark. Then everyone is happy.

Lastly, tell me WHERE YOU LIVE. I totally get that you want to travel and stuff but I'm not looking to pay for that so make it really obvious where you live and shoot weddings generally. Don't make me look up your area code on google. Instead how about say "Chicago Wedding Photographer" instead of just "Wedding Photographer."

Seriously I love you guys, but weddings are stressful and photography is expensive, so make it a bit easier on us! True I'm already married and had an awesome photographer (with a great website!) but since I have three good friends getting married next year, I now have to look at all the sites again… and it's annoying. It is also true that I develop web sites for a living and am probably more critical than most… but really, I'm trying to help!

Sincerely,
Becca

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  1. Wedding photogs, you KNOW I love you. Seriously. Mad love.

    But Becca speaks the truth. :/

    That said, OBBs: you know we're not about bashing anyone here. So please keep your comments constructive. Photographers are our friends, and we want to help them make their websites better — not bitch about them.

    34 agree
  2. Absolutely! You have nailed it perfectly. I use flash on my site and have a minimal header on my blog. HOWEVER, my site is very easy to use and navigate.

    I list my prices, location etc. I don't use music. I've done market research in my area. Approximately 1/10 of the wedding photographers do not list their prices. I feel that this is meant to deceive / trick brides into meeting with them (inevitably leading to high pressure sales).

    23 agree
    • *Ahem* I can tell you that my colleagues and I do not keep prices off our sites to deceive or trick. It's merely a way of getting brides to CONTACT us. Most of us want a little information from the brides to see what they might need from us and then we send the list. I usually send the prices within 2 hours of contact and sometimes faster! Again, it's not a bait and switch thing but just a way of making contact. Thanks!

      66 agree
      • And I'd be willing to guess that you might actually be losing clients by not posting any prices. When I was looking for a wedding photographer, I automatically dismissed anyone who couldn't bother to give me at least a general idea of pricing. Brides are busy people who don't have time/patience to contact 20 photographers and wait a couple hours for a reply.
        Show them your work, and show them your prices. Let them decide if they want to contact to you.

        235 agree
        • You know, when I was looking for a photographer, of the ones I could find that worked in the Toronto area, only ONE gave me prices, and their prices scared me. So I was forced to email photographers. I found out quickly it was actually a good idea. Some of the ones I liked were just WAY out of my league price-wise, but the really telling part was how they communicated with me, or didn't. some never answered my emails, some were very dismissive, and some, well the one I originally chose, was really nice!

          As much as a pain as it might seem to contact photographers, you really can quickly get a feel for whether or not they are someone you want to talk to further.

          The photographers I've asked as to why they don't have prices on their website said the same thing, that they wanted contact, but also because their prices can vary depending on what the client wants/needs.

          My photographer doesn't have prices on her website, but I'm getting pretty darn amazing value for my money in terms of her time and commitment. So it's really worth it to email. Personally, I cut and paste my email for the most part, and just personalized how I'd found them/what I liked about their work, it didn't take long at all. It took much more time figuring out if the photographers I was looking at were actually in/around Toronto or in like Seattle. I really wish more photographers would be really blatent about *where* they are!

          37 agree
        • Same with me. I don't want to take the time to email someone only to find out that they're wayyyy outside my price range. Then I've wasted everyone's time.

          48 agree
        • I will not contact a photographer that doesn't give at least general pricing information up front. This is very true.

          61 agree
      • Okay, I understand where you're coming from with that, but here's the thing… Whenever I see anything (from services to shoes) without a price tag attached, I assume it is because it's amazingly expensive and I move on. I'm willing to bet that many other people think the same way.

        177 agree
        • This is absolutely my outlook…and for the few people/places that I've been willing to email even without posted prices…I've found it holds true!

          10 agree
        • Yes, completely agree! When I see the prices, I know that these are not the set in stone prices, but they do give me an idea of whether or not the photog is even in the world of what I can consider.

          22 agree
        • I completely agree with what you have said. I need to see the prices of things before i make contact. Im not going to take the time to write emails and wait around when the next website i see might have the prices on there and its easier to navigate and see what is on offer.

          9 agree
        • After contacting two who didn't have prices and finding out they were way too expensive, I think the same thing. After that, if there was no prices anywhere, I didn't bother-no point in getting my heart broken.

          10 agree
          • I'm another one who feels the same way. If I don't see a price I move on assuming it's too expensive. I don't want to waste everyone's time discussing plans only to realise I can't afford it.

            It doesn't have to be an exact price. The best approach might be to say "My prices start at X" with X being the minimum you'd consider for a job.

            Alternatively give a few example packages across the range of your services with a note that each couple gets different things and is charged different prices.

            28 agree
        • I completely agree. I'm very frugal so if prices are not listed, I assume the product is too expensive. Also, I'm a soft touch so I feel bad if I contact someone and they're not what I need and then I need to send them a break-up letter. I'm getting married so I never have to break-up again!

          29 agree
      • I likewise pass over any vendor (photographers included) who does not post prices online. I don't want to waste my time e-mailing or calling someone who ends up being out of my budget. I'm happy with a price range (and then I'll contact for specifics), but if it doesn't have any hints about price range then I'll keep looking elsewhere.

        14 agree
      • I totally agree with the no price/no buying thing. I like to know what I'm getting up front- most ladies can't afford a wedding coordinator you know…

        9 agree
      • Same here. Every single photographer that didn't list prices got passed by without exception.

        Yes, every photog does custom packages, but even having a price range of your bargain basement vs. all-inclusive packages gives a starting point.

        10 agree
      • Personally I didn't bother contacting any photographers that don't at least give a minimum price on their website. I'm sure I'm not the only person who skips over photographers that give zero clue as to their pricing.

        9 agree
      • I wrote something very long, but I think it came off a little too ranty. So I'll just summarize and agree with everyone else. When I was getting married, the photographers I got were out of my budget, but their work was amazing enough that I considered them worth negotiating with so I contacted them anyway. But I didn't contact anyone whose prices weren't easily available to me with out contacting them. Because I don't LIKE contacting people, so I'm not going to do it until I know that I'm fully prepared and completely thought out and will only have to do it the ONE time.

        22 agree
        • "I'm not going to do it until I know that I'm fully prepared and completely thought out and will only have to do it the ONE time."

          The problem is, you might not be 'fully prepared' until AFTER you talk to them. A good photographer will be honest with you… you might think you need 9 hours, and they might see the schedule of your day and tell you that you really only need 7… or that you really need 11.
          You might think you need X minutes for your formal shots at the altar, or Y minutes for your bridal party at a park – and you might be WAY WAY WAY off. (I've had people think it takes 5 minutes… and I've had others think it takes 3 hours…) the photographer can help you get a more accurate timeframe based on what you want and help you plan your day better.
          Photographers don't want you to 'shop' them online using faulty information — if you think you need 11 hours, you might think someone is our of your budget… but if after learning the needs and style of that particular photographer, you might really only need 9 to get what is important to you and 9 hours with photographer JoeSchmoe might be within your budget.

          18 agree
          • This is true, but if my photography budget is $1000 and your 5 hour starting coverage is $3000, it doesn't really matter if I'm wrong about my timeline πŸ˜‰

            88 agree
      • I was LESS likely to contact a vendor if they didn't have their prices listed. Not worth the effort.

        11 agree
      • It's a point of contention, to be sure. You are doing your clients a courtesy by allowing them to at least self-select but probably doing yourself a disservice by laying it all out there. That's why I see a lot of people agree that "starting at…" is a good idea. Your clients know if you're in the $1k, $5k, or $10k bracket, and you go from there.

        13 agree
  3. Sorry about the flash. I think that even my blog is flash. In my defense, my site loads pretty quickly though and I think I know which sites you are talking about. Let's just say that they are not as "fast" as they say they are! ;o) The pricing issue is tough though. It's because we want to hear from brides. Personally, I took my prices down for the first time in 11 years because I wanted to hear from brides that needed help and also wanted to be able to see how I could work with them. If I only put the prices up and they never contacted me, some lovely people would have missed out on getting a good offer from me that they could afford.
    I already put about 100 watermarked images up on Facebook for my clients. What's upsetting is when they crop out the watermark. Thanks!

    6 agree
    • One of the biggest problems with flash these days is that iphones can't deal with it … which means you're missing a slice of your market!

      26 agree
      • And slowly, the site designers are trying to deal with this. I find it amusing that we are being blamed for the phones not having flash site capability. Which came first? :O)

        8 agree
        • Oh, absolutely — but you gotta adapt to market shifts. And the iphone is a market game-changer for web designers.

          20 agree
        • Yes, Flash came first, but therein lies the problem. It's old technology that is an absolute resource hog.

          32 agree
      • So true! I was recently helping MY best friend find a photographer and she'd text me their web addresses and too many times would I get that sad "?" icon.

        3 agree
      • You really shop for your wedding photographer using the 3" screen on a iPhone? (I'm not trying to be confrontational… it's just that I have completely ignored the mobile phone market because even though I'm a tech geek in my 20's, I'd NEVER consider shopping for a multi-thousand dollar photographer for my wedding via a mobile phone… do I need to reconsider my stance?)

        18 agree
        • It wasn't a photographer for ME or my wedding, it was my friend asking my professional opinion on a photographer for HER. I can get a feel pretty fast for whether or not I like a photographer on ANY size screen as 1. Studying wedding photos is part of my job for OBB and 2. I'm also a photographer. But I can't give a yay or nay opinion if I can't see their websites. So I'm only going to vote on the ones that I could access.

          It's pretty common practice to check emails on the go from your phone and then click through the links in the emails on your phone.

          18 agree
          • Very interesting — the "emails from friends while on the go" is a great example of when it might actually matter. I've always kept my blog phone-friendly, but my main site (which hasn't been updated in 2 years… grrr…) I've never really thought people might be looking at on their phones. Time to make a alternate HTML version, I guess.
            Thank you for the insight.

            9 agree
        • These days I know people who do ALL of their web browsing on their iPhone. I think they're crazy, but I'm starting to fear I may be slipping into the minority of not having a smartphone D:

          6 agree
          • Don't worry, there's plenty of us out there still.

            My brother uses his iPhone a lot because he's a guitar teacher who spends most of his day travelling. My mum uses one because she's put so much junk (animated wall paper ect.) on her computer it's not worth using unless you have an hour to spare.

            Me, I spend almost all day in front of a computer and can't remember the last time I had just one tab or just one program running so an iPhone would be a waste of money.

            2 agree
    • This is what I don't understand.

      "I already put about 100 watermarked images up on Facebook for my clients."

      Yes you took them for the client, but in all honesty, if I can't put the pictures up on my own Facebook, Flickr etc then I would move on from that photographer. And if they're cropping out the watermark then you could make it opaque and stick it right in the middle of the picture.

      I just don't get the entire "I took these photos, they're MINE" concept (not saying you said that, just commenting about it from experience in finding a photographer) some photographers have. Yes, they took the photos, but *I* paid you to take them for me. I'm not going to pay a photographer for photos that isn't going to give me full rights to them. It's our special day, not the photographers.

      37 agree
      • You make an excellent point (and here is where I get all librarian copyright law), technically the photographers own the rights to the photos of YOUR wedding and you do not. Unless you come to a written agreement with the photographer otherwise. That is how copyright law works. So if you want the rights to post your photos online or Photoshop them, then you need to get it in writing with your photographer. I also suggest reading the article on Offbeat Bride by fellow awesome librarian, Molly. http://offbeatbride.com/2010/03/wedding-photo-copyright

        17 agree
      • I agree with this 100%. One of my "musts" for my photographer was one who would give me the rights to all of my photos. That honestly eliminated almost every local photographer in my price range, luckily I did find one who we ended up going with.

        One of the more annoying policies I came across in my search was the photographer who would release the rights to "a limited number" of the photos for $50 per photo (That's just for the rights, you don't even get a print included with that)! I understand the law, but I can't say I really agree with it!

        13 agree
      • Giving you personal right is one thing. FULL rights is another. As photographers, we make our living off our work. Giving you FULL rights means giving you the right to the copyright of the image and therefore enabling you to sell it commercially to advertisers and on stock photo sites, etc. This is where most photographers won't go, because it is their work, and their copyright.

        Usually this is expressed in the photographer's contract. I expect my clients to want to blog/FB their work (it's good publicity!) and I even expect them to want to make their own prints (though not having control of the quality of the prints representing my work is kind of icky sometimes) but, if a client were selling my work and profiting off it, we would have a problem.

        41 agree
        • So I read the other comments, and I think I understand now.

          Photographers have the copyright to the photos, that's fine. I just came across five or six photographers that wouldn't give me reproduction rights to print my own photos, or allow me to post them on my facebook/flickr/blog etc. And that irritated the crap out of me.

          Now that I understand what you're saying I have a better idea of the whole copyrighting the photos by the photographer concept.

          14 agree
  4. OMG yes! The price thing is particularly annoying. Wasting your time and mine because I can't tell from your website that you are like 2K out of my price range is not cool.

    9 agree
  5. So probably not all of us are going to bow to the request of posting all of our pricing without contacting us first. Is it an acceptable compromise to post price ranges?

    11 agree
    • I think so. I need an idea of pricing to know if I should contact a photographer. It would be a total waste of both our time if packages start at say $3500 when my entire wedding budget is less than that. πŸ™‚

      17 agree
    • I think that's all people want.

      I don't want you to share all your secrets or be perfectly consistent or not cut me a break! πŸ™‚
      I just want to know if you're 4k out of my price range (real experience).

      That kind of gap is really not going to get 'worked out'.

      12 agree
    • A HUGE reason why we booked the photographers we did for our wedding was because their website gave a starting price for full-day coverage (and they listed what that would include) and then added that if clients were getting married on a weekday, in the off season, or were willing to compromise on cobbling together a la carte options, they were really willing to help come up with a price point that would work for everyone. We ended up going for one of their mid-range packages with some substitutions, but it just made my heart glad to see that they were our kind of people in terms of values.

      12 agree
    • I think that's all most people want.

      I think most people understand that photography is a very variable service and the price can depend on a lot of things, they just want to know if it's even worth thinking about it before going in.

      3 agree
    • Or just put packages up and then say that custom packages are available and/or all prices are negotiable. Most packages have tons of stuff I knew I didn't want, but of course I had no idea how much each component cost. So I went in knowing I could negotiate, while the photographer still had the power to determine when and how to drop the price.

      5 agree
    • The caterer we picked just had a few sample contracts up (with names/details removed but prices all there) up — that was enough for us to know we weren't wasting anyone's time in contacting them.

      4 agree
  6. Honestly, I won't even contact a photographer if there are no prices on their site. I need some sort of idea of their prices to even consider it. Sure, I know almost everyone does custom price packages, but still. It's uber important for someone with a really tight budget.

    7 agree
  7. My photogs website is awesome, awesome, awesome — a big part of why I went with him. First impressions mean a lot.

    1 agrees
  8. I agree about the music. I'm usually running hulu while I research (the only way I can sit and waste an hour watching hulu is if I do something productive while watching. In fact, it is playing right now. go Hell's Kitchen!) The music coming on is very annoying to me. If I can't find the button right away I just close out the window and never return. Also, I don't like contacting people about prices, so if they aren't on the website, I usually use that as a tool to narrow it all down. Any excuse to say "no" to a vendor in order to narrow it down is employed.

    12 agree
    • thank you. not mention who wants to listen to re-mixed enya while watching chef ramsey explode on those ppl? it's too contradictory…my head might explode!

      8 agree
  9. OMG. This. I went through so many photography websites. The worst ones were ones that had a terrible layout, flash, sappy music and no price references.

    I ended up contacting and meeting with only one photographer that didn't have her prices posted…but that's because her work was PHENOMINAL! Other places that didn't have prices, but still had nice photos…I didn't bother with.

    You don't need to list your exact prices, but basic packages, and price ranges would be SO helpful. Then I'm not wasting everyone's time by contacting dozens of photographers, only to find out they're thousands out of my price range.

    4 agree
  10. Amen!

    I agree to all of the above ESPECIALLY the telling me where you live part. That is so important and I can't figure out for the life of me why photographers don't have that clearly stated.

    7 agree
  11. I had a photographer friend at one point who switched her page to flash mainly because she was frustrated at seeing people stealing her images using that handy right-click – save feature. Sadly, the thing that frustrates us the most is a result of a few people taking images without permission.

    That being said, dear god, I hate flash sites. I've just started browsing for photographers, and when the flash doesn't work sometimes, I don't know enough to try workarounds like I can with HTML.

    3 agree
    • You can disable right clicking through HTML (I think? It might be Javascript…). People can still get around it, but it does make it much harder!

      4 agree
    • You know, I do understand this issue. I think there are ways to use Flash sparingly so that it isn't super annoying but you can stop the right click issue. (You can do it with HTML but you can also get around it). That being said, someone could always take a screen shot even with an image displayed with Flash.

      Also, someone else brought up the iPhone issue (which is annoying in itself – why should we all hurt because of Steve Job's vendetta with Adobe?? but I digress …) so I think it's likely a lot of sites will be moving away from Flash.

      2 agree
    • Flash isn't the culprit. It's poor design that is the issue.
      Flash is not inherently slow. People doing dumb things with flash, or programming it poorly, is what makes it slow. All of the complaints about 'Flash' are really just complaints about bad design and user interface. An HTML site can be just as slow and badly designed as a Flash one. (it's just more prevalent with Flash because it's easier to get all 'wiz-bang')

      4 agree
      • I agree with you to a point, but as a longtime Flash-hater, I gotta say that a Flash site ain't never going to load on an iPhone, and unless you're smart, ain't never gonna allow linking to specific internal pages.

        2 agree
        • Actually, you can internally link. And make the back button work. And even get indexed on google. It takes programming skills, knowledge, and time (of which I only have 1.. hehe) but it can be done.

          Yeah, Flash is too powerful for Jobs to allow it on the iPhone. (it would take revenue away from people buying apps if they could get the same functionality for free from Flash/AIR programs) I will give you that…. unless of course, people stop buying a web device that can't see a huge portion of the web. πŸ˜‰ hehe

          4 agree
      • Flash is still notoriously poor for SEO, despite the majority of problems that stem from bad design. It'll just never be as good as a CSS, HTML or other non-image-embedded site, even with as many meta tags and whatnot as you want to stick in there. There are workarounds, but that's all they are…

        1 agrees
  12. I work in the tech industry, and I have to say that, in trying to plan my wedding, it's been frustrating to deal with badly built websites. This is not just limited to photographers though! I've had the same issue with venues, caterers, etc. Maybe I am missing out on things that might be great, but I live and die by the internet and if your website doesn't function well, you don't respond to emails, or your prices aren't listed online, I don't want you to be involved in my wedding.

    My own "gripe" to add to the list is "If you ask me what my contact preference is, PLEASE PAY ATTENTION". I am at work 10-11 hours a day and cannot pick up my phone. However, I am plugged into a computer and constantly check my email. If I ask you to email me, I mean it! I hate talking on the phone. I will not have time or energy to return your phone call, so it's your loss if you refuse to email me back!

    23 agree
    • Oooh, yes on the phone thing. I had a few vendors (not photographers, fortunately) who INSISTED on using a phone and not email, and they got narrowed off of my list. I work during regular business hours, plus I volunteer and am involved with a bunch of other stuff, and did most of my wedding contacting either at 7am or at 10pm (it's also when I do my wedding-blog-surfing!). I DON'T HAVE TIME TO CHAT ON THE PHONE.

      I can't help but think it's a holdover from the days when women didn't hold full time jobs – being married was their full time job. But … seriously, that was 50 years ago.

      8 agree
    • I couldn't agree more about the contact preference. If you are going to contact me however YOU feel like it, don't ask for my preference! Drive me nuts.

      I also couldn't agree more with the comment about poor websites. We planned our wedding from out of town, and if you didn't have a website, or had a website with no information, you were out, because I live on the internet, and if you as a vendor were going to be a good fit for us, you had to be technologically up to date, especially because we couldn't just pop in for a meeting after work one night. Sadly, so many aren't.

      5 agree
    • Seconded. SO MUCH. And to those who don't ask about my contact preference? Maybe they should start. I'm almost never without email for more than a couple hours, and I'm terrible at phones. I get nervy, forget questions, have to ask people to repeat themselves, etc.

      One of the reasons (not the only one by far, but) that I custom ordered my dress without setting foot in a single bridal store? I couldn't get up the nerve to call for an appt, they all required them, and not a single one of the local ones had a contact form/email on their web site. So I started looking at custom options, just for fun and ideas, since I had plenty of time, and found something I loved.

      9 agree
  13. YES!!! Thank you for this. When looking for a wedding photographer I was able to find ONE who listed prices. I figure if your price isn't listed, that means I can't afford you (same for apartments, if any are out there reading this). I wasn't blown away by that one photographer's portfolio so I had a good friend take the pictures at our wedding. She did a lovely job and I certainly saved money but I probably WOULD have spent the money on a professional if I could find one with a good website.

    3 agree
  14. ha! this is really wonderful – i think these are the exact thoughts i had (in the exact order, even) when i started looking at wedding photography. i kept *wanting* to be excited and do tons of photo-stalking, but i couldn't bring myself to.

    as someone mentioned, lots of folks/vendors have bad websites, which is a shame, but i get it. the thing is that people are automatically going to be more critical of the design when looking at a photographer's site, as it is (fairly or not) a way to see their aesthetic.

    2 agree
  15. I would like to add "Quit resizing my browser window!" I understand that some websites look better at a certain size, but in these days of tabbed browsing, highjacking my window is annoying.

    20 agree
  16. Package price was the first thing I checked when I went onto a photographer's website for the first time, every time. There's no sense in me falling in love with the style of a certain photographer who I will discover after an e-mail conversation is far out of my price range. It won't make me revise my photography budget, it will just make me sad πŸ™

    15 agree
    • "It won't make me revise my photography budget, it will just make me sad πŸ™ "

      Yes, THIS. Exactly. I get the sense that some photographers hope you will "change your mind" and adjust your budget when you see the beauuuutiful pictures…not gonna happen. Even if the pics are super-beautiful. A Ferrari is a super-beautiful car (IMO), but no matter how much you try to sell it to me, it will Never be in my budget so don't waste my time!

      21 agree
  17. Great post! I definitely agree with the whole music thing; not only is it annoying, but a lot of the times, it's STEALING!

    Regarding listing prices, I currently list my half- and whole-day starting prices, though I've been considering listing my packages on the site. I agree with Shari about wanting couples to contact us, but at the same time when I planned my own wedding, I didn't contact anyone who didn't have any kind of pricing on their websites. I enjoyed having prices listed (photo packages/menus/etc), though in the end I just contacted the people I knew (nice planning a wedding in your small hometown).

    7 agree
  18. I hang my head in generic flash based template web site shame. no one spends any time on my website hardly at all, and my blog gets all the traffic. I officially feel so behind the times and am not sure what to do about it as the evil flash based website template providers own my url. I have all this advertising etc. attached to this url, so it's complicated.

    This is actually something I've been mulling over for a longtime: how do I change my website so that it's more user friendly.

    Any other tips that ya'll wanna give out are most welcome.

    3 agree
    • Can you transfer the URL registration to another provider? (It might be that you're on a contract for a certain amount – when that contract comes up, you *should* be able to transfer it elsewhere.)

      I just had a look at the site itself, and then main annoyance for me is that it loads directly into your wedding portfolio. I think it might be better to have it load into an "about me" kind of page – not necessarily the whole bio that you have on the "information" tab, but may just a "Hi! My name is Lauren! I take wedding and engagement photographs and creative portraits in the *fill in the blank* area!"

    • Yeah, this is definitely a larger issue. It's part of why the suggestion to go for a WordPress-based site is so smart — WordPress is a blogging AND a website content management platform, so you can have your blog and your portfolio in one place. All without flash.

      • Wahoo!! we just made our site a "blog site" and are super stoked about it! we're still working out the last of the kinks and plan to launch totally on monday. but yeah, these were all things that annoyed us both (steph for OBM and me for Hi-Fi Weddings) when we have to search for content. i's great to hear everyone's thoughts on this! i'll be thrilled when these cookie cutter flash sites are a thing of the past! thanks for sharing such a great article! becca, you know i love your wedding πŸ˜‰ xoxox

      • I cannot sing the praises of WordPress enough. Seriously, even if you don't know much about websites, you can use WordPress to do pretty much anything. And there's so many photo templates!!!

        1 agrees
    • i've been tirelessly building a flash website, only to have it not work (and we're even paying for it!) so this really helped me too! now i will just finish building my non-flash and leave it at that!

  19. THANK YOU!!!

    Nothing was worse than trying to find a photographer; I ended up throwing up my hands in frustration at the websites and facebooked an old friend from high school who has a facebook page for her photography business. Guess what– no sappy/crappy music, no flash, and price range listed! I hired her as fast as I could, and I am so pleased with her work!

    1 agrees
  20. THANK YOU.

    Wedding photographers-
    Do you know how often your GINOMORMOUS PICTURES and endless pages have crashed my internet? So often that when the internet goes down my husband says, "Are you on a wedding photographers website again?" without looking up.

    And if I have to look up you location by googling your area code one more time, I might poke out my eyes. And the times when you move, haven't changed your area code but still don't list your location? Awesome.

    I'm not your potential client. But I think you might be pissing your potental clients off. Just sayin'

    Best,
    Meg

    6 agree
    • Uggg. Yes!

      The thing is that a lot of people say they use flash so people don't steal their photos … but if they would just resize their photos and make them lo-res, it would be less of an issue AND make their site less annoying. πŸ™‚

      Good call.

      2 agree
  21. This is my photographer's website, and I think it's definitely one of the good ones:
    http://www.anneherman.com/

    She's also incredible, amazing, and extremely talented! Once I get my photos back (it's only been 2 weeks since the wedding), I'll be posting a full review of her on the forums. She's that good. Seriously.

    • when i clicked "next photo" on anne herman's site, it didn't go to the next photo. it goes to an incomplete "other resources" page.

      having a site that's easy to navigate is nice unless it's otherwise half-baked.

      1 agrees
  22. This. Flash is also tripledy bad because it's not accessibility-friendly. Please do not ever use it!

    I'd also put in a note to be netbook or small-screen friendly. I was doing a lot of looking at websites on the go with my netbook and did run into problems there. πŸ™

    3 agree
  23. being a bride trying to organise a wedding from over 6,000 miles away is frustrating enough as literally EVERY descision is based on a vendor's website and reviews of their services… but one of my biggest gripes with photographer websites is the music… thankfully i was able to find a tog who's website was easy to navigate, and had prices readily displayed. i understand that to some togs with varying packages asking how much they charge is like asking how long a piece of string is, but any togs who didn't display prices i just ignored…. their loss, unfortunately…

    3 agree
  24. I find this whole discussion quite interesting not only because I'm soon to be engaged, but also because I am a photography student. Starting next week I'll be building a website for my photos and these tips have been great for me! I can understand what the photographers that replied are saying, but really when you're in an industry completely support by clients, you'd better listen to what they say!

    5 agree
    • "but really when you're in an industry completely support by clients, you'd better listen to what they say!"

      I could not agree more. It's like they wont even consider the advice, more like pleading actually, that we all agree with. I've contacted only ONE photographer for prices and it's because I really love her photos and need to know how much I need to save up. If I get a quote under $2k that would make my year. If it's over $3k it's probably time to move on. And if I move on, if no prices are listed, I'll be moving on from them.

      2 agree
  25. Thank you so much for posting this! I needed to be sneaky about a lot of my planning — my wedding was a surprise — and I dismissed immediately any photographers with music on their sites.
    I also needed different photographers for my engagement photos, my wedding, and my church service. I appreciated knowing where the were up front. I would have loved to use my e-pic photographer for everything but it was simply not cost-effective to pay for her to travel everywhere.
    I also appreciated price ranges and package information on the website. It made comparing them so much easier for someone planning long-distance. I felt that if the photographers could not give me even general information, they did not want my business enough for me to bother contacting them.

    2 agree
  26. Wow, quite the eye opener! As a wedding photographer with a flash site and music I was glad to catch this post. I didn't realize I was ticking anybody off, I thought I was enhancing the experience. I will kill the music ASAP!

    18 agree
  27. Excellent advice, particularly about the locations. I've recently stumbled across a great photographer (who, I must admit, did each and every one of these no-no's) and I lucked out that he was indeed from my area. I would have been heartbroken to find out otherwise.

  28. OOH! This is super awesome and interesting, mostly because we're fine-tuning our new, built-in-Wordpress, non-flash based, music-less site. πŸ™‚ Excellent timing, OBB.

    Honestly, the biggest thing that gets me is photographers not allowing people to put the photos on Facebook. Facebook is like..where half of our traffic even comes from.

    3 agree
    • Agreed. I'm surprised at that. I've gotten a ton of referrals from Facebook.

      And seeing my clients using my photo as their profile shot? *squee!*

      3 agree
  29. Ok, this made me laugh b/c I have a LOT of photographer friends, and the thing that drives me most nuts is the music!! Why oh why?!?! If I want music I will listen to Pandora or my own iTunes. I hate it when websites have music. I loved this post, and you pegged photogs great, Becca! πŸ˜‰

    • Same here! One of my best friends is just starting out and while her website is good in most of these respects I'm going to send her this as a heads-up if she makes it (the website) bigger in the future.

  30. AMEN. Oh my lawds this is pretty much the run down sheet of everything we try and tell all of our clients EVER. Unfortunately, they never listen. Apparently being trained marketers and graphic/web designers for a decade and a half means we don't know ANYTHING about the internet >_>;;; GAH!

    • Haha. As a web developer, I feel your pain! People are always like 'Flash! Animation! Music! I'll be SO cool and everyone will buy my stuff!"

      • People need to stop linking to The Oatmeal. It's evil and steals my life! Whenever you get to the end of a page there's links to things so strange you HAVE to click on them, then there's more links…

        5 agree
  31. If you do list prices, list them in a comprehensible way.

    I'm looking at you, photography site that didn't list base package prices but did list package add-on prices in the next column, making it look like those were the base prices.

    And you, photography site that had a "Prices" (or maybe it was "Costs") tab on their website (yay!) and then for every single package, had "Type: Custom. Call For Pricing". Really?

    I passed by both of those sites and for at least one of them, if they'd listed prices in a straightforward way, I would have stuck around and contacted them. So I'm not bitching, just sayin' that if you had been forthright with me, you might've had my business.

    I'm not such a fan of using "Investment" instead of "Cost" – it's a selling tactic that I find personally annoying. It may be for something that will last a lifetime (one hopes), but I am paying you for a service rendered. My photographs aren't going to increase in value after I get them unless you become the next Ansel Adams – so it is not an "investment". Investments appreciate.

    But then the photographer I did hire uses that term – as do a few who've advertised on OBB – and I hired her anyway so whatevs. She had prices and location clearly listed!

    6 agree
    • Totally agree with this. I'm looking at sites to try and get an idea of what I should be paying and the most annoying are those who have a 'Costs' section and then say something elusive like "we are not the cheapest… but neither are we the most expensive!" Unfortunately as I have found dress shopping my ideas of cheap and expensive are very different from those of the wedding industry at large…

    • YES on the "investment" label. "Cost," "pricing," even "services" with some sort of price guideline listed next to the different services provided. Photography will certainly last longer than catering, but those photos will have absolutely no value to anyone but my spouse & I and a few family and friends. Our wedding bands at least could theoretically be resold to pay for the nursing home; wedding pictures, not so much.

  32. You hit the nail on the head! This is absolutely, 100% correct. I took my photographer selection VERY seriously. Alright, I was a little neurotic about it. That means I looks at tons of sites, so many that I had to make a spread sheet to keep them straight. I hated the music, hated not being able to just see the darn pictures, hated the ones who made me contact them just to find out that I couldn't afford them, and hated note being able to find out where they frickin' were! Thank you for calling it like it really is!

  33. Such a great discussion and valuable input!! I've had a website for over 10 years now and flash has made it so easy to update my content. However, I've been thinking for a while now about turning my WordPress blog into my main website. It contains much of the same information that my website does anyway. Thank you for all the suggestions! This is the kind of feedback we need to hear!

    • Thats what I have been thinking about doing, turning my wordpress site into my main site.

  34. i agree. i wish someone could do an open letter to florists, too, in regards to the pricing thing. being straight forward about your services and what you charge for them is crucial to those of us brides with little time to dilly dally. i have often wondered if they're playing at being sexy by maintaining so much mystery. πŸ™‚

    but really, being as upfront as possible helps attract your niche market and weed out those who can't afford your services, which are no doubt every penny. i hope that doesn't sound snarky! πŸ™‚

    1 agrees
    • Venues, too, while we're at it.

      Planning a wedding from across the world, with only websites to really go on…then falling in love with venue after venue only to find out what they charge is way beyond my budget was disheartening. (I'm looking at you, $12,500 venue with no price indication on your site). Coulda saved everyone some time by just telling me upfront. After awhile I stopped contacting venues without pricing on their sites, too.

      It also saves you face – when I e-mail you, get back a price that is out of my budget* by thousands of dollars (so bargaining wouldn't help), and have you write back to me to ask if I am still interested when I don't follow up*, it's just awkward to have to say "Yeah, sorry, can't afford you". For everyone involved.

      *I believe in follow-up for vendors you have talked to more than a few times, or whom you've met with. For one-off contacts, not so necessary I think.

      2 agree
  35. One of the first things I learned working in retail is "if it's not priced, it won't sell." It's very true.

    I LOVE that other brides out there HATE the music. I told a photographer that same thing to his face when I met him at a bride show. He just looked at me like I was the crazy one. It's damn annoying.

    This just made my night. πŸ™‚ Four months until our wedding day and I have all of my vendors nailed down! The photographer was the first one.

    2 agree
  36. Answering as a wedding photographer, you have made some valid points and I am pleased to say that I don't do the flash/music thing on my website as I am a photographer not an entertainer (although I am very funny) and the photos really should speak for themselves and I expect my clients to put the photos on Facebook so I am happy to hand out a disc of high quality images not watermarked (because its not like I am shooting in film anymore).

    The whole issue of prices on the website is a bit tricky, so let me tell you a little story…….I did have my prices on my website, until the day I got an email from a Bride to Be who was referred to me by her best friend saying that she loved my work but found my prices to low and she had decided to go with someone more expensive because she equated quality with price. I wrote back and said I could charge her more if it made her feel more comfortable.

    2 agree
    • Okay, first off the whole "I'm a photographer, not an entertainer" bit had my inner Trekkie giggling madly. Second, that story? I don't even. That's actually perplexing. Did the bride to be equate high price with high quality or something? I'm really curious about that now and would love to hear the reasoning behind that one.

      • I just encountered this with a friend, I was helping her look for photographers and I showed her a bunch from OBB and when she saw the prices (we're talking two – four thousand) she said, "Oh no, I was looking to spend WAY more than that on the photography. It's REALLY important to me, so I want to make sure it's good." It shocked me that she was equating price with quality when she was looking at the same amazing photography that I was. She was basically saying, she was willing to pay more for good photos, even if she didn't have to! As to what the reasoning was behind that, believe me I wracked my brain trying to figure that out… Perhaps it is a WIC thing? Maybe a societal brain-washing thing? Maybe chalk it up to her rich WASPY family? (FYI: I had the same upbringing so I can see where she's coming from.) I'd be more willing to go with the latter explanation I think.

        And then I realized why some photographers either don't list their price OR get away with charging so much freaking money! I happen to also be a photographer and I have my (ridiculously affordable) prices listed. My experience with my friend made me think for a second about not listing prices… and then NAW, I'd really rather not deal with brides that think things are better just because you're paying more for them. I been lucky to have ZERO high-maintenance clients thus far. So if some bride-to-be passes me up because I don't seem high-end enough, I don't look at it as if I'm taking a hit AT ALL. πŸ˜‰

        5 agree
        • OK, you guys have convinced me, I will put my prices back on my website and see how we go.

          1 agrees
        • It sounded to me like a WIC thing when I first read it, but in my opinion that doesn't make it any less baffling. Then again, while price is an important factor for me, my top priority has become comfort level (as my fiancé feels awkward in front of a camera and I'm much more comfortable behind one). So this kind of reasoning, even when apparent, still makes me scratch my head. And for me, if I see just a range, that's sufficient enough for me to contact a photographer if I like other attributes of their work/personality. But that's just me. I'm trying not to get too crazy about this sort of thing, but it's one of two things that you'll really keep from your wedding for a long time (next to rings or other items exchanged during the vows).

        • I think it's just an attitude some people have, like my granny. She was a firm believer that if something cost more it was better, and if you (or she) didn't like it as much you just had to learn to 'appreciate it'. Everything from clothes to toothpaste. (Although strangely not cars.)

          It used to lead to arguments every Easter when she couldn't understand why we'd want "cheap" chocolate and my mum was trying to explain that kids don't like 70% dark chocolate with macadamia nuts in a box 3 times the size of the egg, they just want something that tastes good.

    • >>I wrote back and said I could charge her more if it made her feel more comfortable.

      Ha! What did she say?

      1 agrees
      • She did not respond, clearly sarcasm is a service that I should not offer LOL

        2 agree
  37. Can I just say that every single one should have a "how much this will cost" thing. It's heartbreaking to fall in love with photos and find out after the fact that you simply can't afford it. Especially in this economy. I don't care if you do "a la carte" packages. I need to know how much they freaking cost! If 4 hours is going to cost me $4,000 I don't want to waste my time e-mailing you to find that out!

    1 agrees
  38. I absolutely agree. I have been trying to find a photog and it has been such a pain to whittle down which ones I want to choose because of a lack of info. They have to realize that as busy people we don't always have the time to make a phone call. Also, I really don't want to call you so you can try and talk me into using your services. If your website is top notch I can definitely make a decision from there whether or not I want to contact you. Definitely it is not bashing but keep ing it real. Thanks OBB.

  39. If I had skipped every photographer who didn't list their prices, I wouldn't have a photographer.

    I just sent out one email to all the photographers. I BCCed all the photographers email addresses and asked about pricing, giving my general wedding info and location. I heard back from all of them by the end of the day, with their prices. Not time consuming or difficult in any way shape or form.

    Looking for a DJ has been a far, far bigger pain in the ass.

    1 agrees
  40. Personally, I LOVE it when a photographer posts blogs featuring their favorite weddings. It really helps you to get a feel for their prefered style and shows you how they would be most comfortable. I also enjoy it when a photographer posts something along the lines of "Check out this awesome couple!" and then posts pictures from awesome angles or in weird locations. It shows they aren't afraid to be challenged.

    1 agrees
  41. Agreed on all points. We're just started looking and this list is pretty much the base requirements for us to even consider getting in touch.

    I'd also add showing multiple photos from the same weddings. Sure you MIGHT have shot a heck of a lot of weddings and been forced to narrow your website down to one or two from each, you also MIGHT have picked the one decent photo from each shoot and I don't want to find out which it is when I get my wedding photos back. (Or even when meeting with you and asking to see whole albums.)

    2 agree
  42. I took a chance on a photographer who didn't have her prices listed and found out she was perfectly within my price range. She posts a lot on her blog, which is primarily how I judged her work, but I still had to navigate her website to find her contact info. Yes, she does has flash and music, but there was something about her work that I really really liked. I always keep the volume down on my computer (because at the time I was surfing at work) and here at home I always have my TV on in the background for noise.

    I did find a lot of really expensive photographers who had their prices listed whose work wasn't even that much better than anything else out there (I'm talking about you, $10k Chicago wedding photog).

  43. Well said Becca. I was thinking this for sure and thanks for putting it out there. Especially the music piece. I usually turn it off from my computer, it is more annoying than it is creative
    BTW LOVED the turq and red, just beautiful.

  44. Wow, I thought it was just us that had difficulties because we live in the middle of nowhere. Our photographer's website wasn't perfect, but it was a heck of a lot better than anything else I'd found in our area. She listed both her location and her prices, and responded within an hour when we emailed her every single time. We booked her right away, for these reasons and her wonderful photos!

  45. I hate hate hate the music. Its annoying beyond belief.

    Pricing can be difficult I guess, but I just want to know a ballpark. When I am not even shown a typical package I move on. It also makes me think that you want to get me on the phone and that you plan to mark up your prices on me.

    Question to Photographers: I will want to post my pics on Facebook (and my website), if I link to your site and leave your name in details section of each photo is that alright.. in lieu of watermarking?

    • For me, that would be totally fine. I give all my brides their high-res edited photos, and then they're free to take the lo-res ones and repost wherever.

      I'm pretty easy-going. Facebook captions are great places to link to your photog – as well as tagging. πŸ™‚

      1 agrees
    • For me, that would be fine. I ask my clients to give me credit on facebook… As much as our websites matter, we really do live and die by word-of-mouth stuff. And facebook is really just the digital equivalent of WOM.

      I actually don't even need a link, per se. Just some way that if Susie sees your Katies photographs… then a year later gets engaged, she can be like "Yeah, Katie's stuff was awesome… I gotta go back to her album and see who her photog was".

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