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.


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!


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Comments on Open letter to wedding photographers about their websites

  1. 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.

    • 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. 😉

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

        • 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?

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.)

  7. 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).

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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. 🙂

    • 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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