5 tips for working with a wedding photographer who doesn’t "get" you

February 10 2016 | Guest post by Carrie Swails
You want to wear Star Wars helmets for your engagement photos? Of course you do! (Photos by Carrie Swails Photography
You want to wear Star Wars helmets for your engagement photos? Of course you do! (Photos by Carrie Swails Photography
I would like to receive advice on what to do if a vendor (specifically, photographer) is less than thrilled about shooting an offbeat wedding — and is obviously not a big fan of you and your partner personally — but replacing them is just not an option?

Before I answer that question, I want to first lament that you have a photographer who is just not into you. It can be really difficult to deal with your photography situation when you feel like your photographer just doesn't "get" who you are and doesn't seem as excited to work with you as they are with their other clients. Your photographer is the one capturing your memories and you deserve to have someone who is excited to work with you.

As a photographer I can speak from experience that there are going to be clients who we click with like old friends, and clients that take us awhile to get to know. However, that's definitely not an excuse for making it obvious that some clients have become your BFFs and others still remain strangers.

Everyone's vibe is different and sometimes you're going to be stuck in a situation with a wedding photographer or vendor you don't love, but you definitely want to make the most out of the relationship. If you're stuck then the best thing you can do is try everything in your power to help them understand what you are all about.

These are a few tips to help you work with a photographer who doesn't get you…

Friend and follow them on social media

Friend them on Facebook so you can get to know them, and they can get to know what you're up to. Comment on what they post, and hopefully they'll comment on what you post in return. I believe advocacy breeds advocacy, so if you're following your photographer on various social platforms, and making an effort to comment and find something in common to have a conversation about, it's more likely they're going to do the same too. If they feel like you're invested and excited to work with them they will feel more excited to work with you.

Educate your photographer

Most photographers don't love getting Pinterest boards or emails full of exact photos you want to replicate. Photographers are creatives and the more breathing room you give them to do their job the more happy they are going to be. However, that doesn't mean you can't spend some time educating them on who you are, what you're all about, and what your expectations are on the wedding day. Include them in your planning, invite them to your rehearsal or walk through. Invite them out for a drink, or just to hang out and get to know you better.

when a wedding photographer doesnt get you

Get engagement photos taken

Engagement photos aren't just about practicing what it's like to be in front of the camera. It's also a time for the photographer to get to know you. Some of the best engagement sessions are ones where you plan something that's unique and special to you. Instead of picking an arbitrary location, try picking an activity you love doing together and tell the photographer you want to document doing one of your favorite things. It gives the photographer a lot of opportunity to be creative and gives them a ton of insight into your history as a couple.

I've loved photographing engagement sessions where my clients do fun things like go to the farmer's market and make dinner together, or take their dogs on a walk to one of their favorite spots. My husband and I dragged our photographer to the place we first met so we could have photos of us just talking over wine, which is still one of our favorite things to do.

Tell them all about who you are

If your photographer doesn't ask you to fill out a questionnaire about how you met, your favorite date nights, and other fun get to know you questions, then take the initiative to send them an email all about who you are and how you met. It's okay to be upfront and let them know that you think this kind of information will help them take better photographs of you both and feel more invested in your wedding personally. I can't speak for all photographers, but I love hearing about how my clients have met and their histories.

Consider re-booking with someone you love

I know, it hurts. You may lose a deposit, or upset family members because of various obligations that were keeping you with this photographer. Your wedding photos are one of the important things you walk away with after a wedding. Your photographer is also one of the people you will spend most of your time with throughout the day so it's really important to have someone that you absolutely love with you. It makes me sad when clients and photographers aren't a good match and things don't work out, but it's so much better when you feel like your photographer is your biggest fan and advocate.

It would be ideal if everyone involved in your wedding totally understood you and you felt a connection with them beyond vendor and customer. Sometimes it just doesn't work out that way, but at the very least you can put your best foot forward in trying to get them involved and feeling welcomed into your life. I hope these tips help, it may take some initiative on your part if you're struggling with your photographer, but that initiative could go a long way to making a great connection. Having a great connection with your photographer definitely helps them get better photos of you!

Have any other tips for helping your photographer 'get' you? I'd love to hear them in the comments!

They ♥ OBB; we ♥ themThis post features Offbeat Vendors! Check out their vendor listing to see how they cater to Offbeat Brides:

  1. I actually was okay with my photographer UNTIL she friended me on Facebook. I don't think it's particularly good for business to friend your clients on Facebook and then regularly share memes about how stupid liberals are or anti-gay marriage posts. And then when we did engagement photos, that sealed the deal. Her generic blog post about how my fiance and I were up to try any pose she wanted and the weather was nice, followed immediately by a post about another couple and how much fun they were and how you could see the love between them, really stung. She didn't send us some of my favorite pictures, and then a week or so ago, my fiance's mother, who is in the beginning stages of early-onset Alzheimer's (which our photographer knows) forgot to pay the installment, and we had to call and remind her. Our photographer was super nasty about it. My fiance refuses to even talk it over with his parents, because he doesn't want to ask them to forfeit their deposit and pay for another photographer. I feel sick to my stomach about it. I'm considering just giving them their deposit back myself, and hiring someone else. I'm going to discuss it with his mother next weekend when we visit.

  2. THIS!!!!! So. Much. This! I sat down at my computer just now to write a "break up" letter with our wedding photographer that I've been putting off, and decided to read some OBB articles instead (Woo procrastination!). I'm so glad I took this moment because this post just reaffirmed all of my feelings and everything we're going through with our current contracted photographer. She was nice enough in the beginning, but shot down every idea we had for our engagement photos including this eclectic beer pub where we had our first drink together after work. Our love of beer is what got us talking at first, and we wanted to take photos in a place that had special meaning and doing something we loved. Instead we took photos at a location she suggested because it was "pretty" even though I wasn't thrilled about it. But she knows what she's doing, right? Then the engagement photos came back. I cried. I'm a fairly average size and body type and so is my fiancé, but we both looked like cousins of Jabba the Hutt in most of our photos because of the angle she used. A friend even commented that she didn't recognize us at first in the photos we sent her to preview. And now that this article mentions it, I have definitely felt a little hurt that the photographer's blog is FILLED with other couples she has taken photos of since our engagement session without one mention of ours. I'm going to write this break up letter now with confidence. Sometimes people just don't click, and that's OK. But it's time for us to find someone who gets us.

    • I'm glad you read this today. If you need some help with the process or recommendations for an awesome photographer in your area let me know. Eclectic beer pub photos sound like an awesome and really personal idea. I know photographers who would love to do that!

      • Thank you so much, Carrie! I wrote her an e-mail from the heart. I stayed professional, but personal too. I would absolutely love any recommendations for Seattle photographers who can work in dimly lit venues (and excited about ideas like beer pub photos). Our wedding is going to be in a vaudeville theater with a speakeasy bourbon bar in the venue, so we need someone skilled in working in similar settings.

  3. I would personally prefer to make any sacrifice necessary (ie, lose a deposit) rather than work with a photographer who wasn't fan of myself or my partner. The alternative would be spending the entire day with someone I was not comfortable with, stressing all day wondering if the photos were going to be nice or a disappointment, and probably inadvertently ruining the photos anyway by being stressed about the whole thing.

  4. Good information! I am happy with the photographer we have contracted with – I found him through Offbeat Bride. I'm totally confident he gets our offbeat style, because he seems pretty offbeat and funky himself. I am, however, concerned about our videographer. We really really wanted a videographer, but there are very limited choices in our small town. The guy we hired is really our only choice, so we can't just rebook with anyone else. He seems super traditional through, and I'm worried he won't get us. There are so many elements that we are NOT doing in our wedding that he would be used to filming (no bridal party, giving away of the bride, no dances, etc.) that I think he will be a little lost in what to actually focus on instead. I plan on writing up a detailed description/timeline of what we are planning for him so that he will know what is important to us. I was even thinking of giving him a cheat sheet of "mugshots" of the most important people to make sure he can record them, since it won't be super obvious since they won't be standing up with us. Actually I might do that for our photographer as well.

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