Open letter to wedding photographers about their websites

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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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Comments on Open letter to wedding photographers about their websites

  1. 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! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

    • 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

    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! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 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.

  7. 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ Four months until our wedding day and I have all of my vendors nailed down! The photographer was the first one.

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