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. Indeed to all of it. I especially agree about posting your location (and the locations you are willing to shoot w/o needed extra for travel) as well as a ballpark price guide. I completely understand that wedding take up a huge amount of the photographer’s time, both to shoot the wedding and reception as well as edit the photos, but it also takes up a lot of my time trying to find out these two basic pieces of information from your website. I don’t want to call someone that I am not pretty certain I want to hire. I have other things to do and I am sure that you do as well.

  2. Before I became a wedding photographer in Seattle, I looked at SO MANY different vendor websites. And ALL of these things irritated me. Once I began planning my wedding late last year, I saw these frustrations in earnest. And knew how most other brides felt.

    I loathe having to turn off my sound when I bring up a site – especially if the music is copyrighted and the photographer is in violation of copyright law by using it.

    Since launching last year, I’ve redone my website and gone to a WordPress format. I got rid of the flash. No music. My blog header is a bit big. Sorry about that. :/

    But I make sure to put my pricing easily accessible, including my hourly rate and what my packages start at. It’s frustrating to love someone’s work, email them and find out they’re WAY out of your price range. Planning a destination wedding in CA from WA – I needed those prices up-front. I didn’t want to email 30 photographers and wait for responses.

    I can’t believe wedding photographers not don’t put their location up! I think it’s expected that most photogs would travel – so launching with “destination wedding photographer” isn’t the best idea. I predominately shoot in Seattle and San Francisco – and make sure I say that.

    SO many good points. Thanks for going out on a limb and sharing what many of us feel. 🙂

  3. Everything…everything that was said is so true. When I’m looking at websites I never open multiple windows…I just sit here with my 27,000 tabs (maybe an exaggeration) open and scroll through them. I know it’s dumb but I get super aggravated when it pops out to a new window because a. it confuses my popup blocker and b. I am hardwired to instantly close anything that pops up so that I don’t have an adult friend finder window open at work or school.
    Plus, I hate love songs/adult easy listening. So the music they inevitably choose is like whiny nails on a chalkboard.

  4. As far as the watermarking images that are placed on Facebook, the reason I do it is not to pimp my business. I do it to protect both you as a shopping bride, the couple in the photo and myself. Unfortunately there are dishonest fly-by-night start up photographers out there that steal images that other photographers have taken and claim them as their own. This leaves you the unsuspecting bride who is shopping for a photographer to think this photographer you are considering on booking is really good when they have no idea what they are doing. Not to mention violating the rights of whomever is in the stolen picture. So just putting our studio credit in the comments section is great and we love you for it, but we have to protect all involved so we watermark.

    • Kate – I think that is perfectly fine! But there are a lot of photographers out there who get mad/don’t let brides put the photos on facebook at all! I think most brides understand the watermark thing and if you give us images that are ready for facebook/web then we will probably just use them!

  5. I totally agree with this.

    Huge picture files drive me crazy. It is a website, and there is a difference between the file quality you need on a website and the file quality you need to produce prints. Do not stall out my browser while I wait for your photos to load.

    If you are blogging, limit the number of pictures I have to load.

    It’s rare, but I have come across galleries that are so itty bitty in thumbnail size that they are useless. Keep in mind that people will be viewing your site at different resolutions.

    I agree with all the rest. Music is bad, huge headers are bad, not listing location or pricing is bad. Don’t make me hunt for your pricing.

    I agree with the labeling. Don’t try to beat around the bush, just have a page with “price” or “cost.” Equally, make sure I can ALWAYS navigate between the pages. I don’t want to have to go back to the home page to get to the pricing from your portfolio.

    Introduce me to who you are as well as how you photograph. I want to know whether I’m going to enjoy working with you and if you’re going to enjoy working with me. Email will take care of that, but it’s great to have an idea.

  6. As a photographer who does weddings, I’ve been struggling with this for YEARS. So much so I don’t have my own website up and running because, well, photography business websites in general suck, especially when dealing with the wedding industry in general.
    Some of us really do feel your pain, and understand. Me, I do so to the detriment of the weddings portion of my profit.

  7. I completely agree with the list of demands and wanted to add my own.

    Give me your pricelist and don’t title it “Your Investment”. How pretentious?! Presumably however great my photos are, as I’m not a celebrity, they’re not going to grown in value.

    If your photography is great, let it speak for itself. You won’t manipulate and guilt me inot handing over a great wodge of cash.

  8. This post and the comments are so helpful!

    It can be tough to know exactly what will be helpful to people when they are comparing photographers, so it’s great to get these insights.

    I’ll be editing my website to reflect all this input. I list my prices, but I didn’t list my location until pretty far into my website – now that I know how important that is, I’ll make it a lot more prominent.

  9. You mean I did something right? Not Guilty, on all counts!

    Some still swear by music and it drives me nuts!

    I know a lot has been said about it, but putting prices on a website is a HUGE discussion in the industry. In an ideal world, we would love to have potential clients fall in love with our work and us, but pricing does play a very important role.

    Thanks for the article!

    J

  10. Oh my gosh, I agree with EVERYTHING you said (and I’m a photog). The music especially DRIVES ME CRAZY and if someone doesn’t have a blog I never go back to their site. Anyway, yeah, I agree with you (and hopefully my header isn’t too big!).

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