Wedding Photogs

Discussion in 'Off Topic Chat' started by Luminosity, Feb 2, 2007.

  1. Luminosity

    Luminosity No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi guys,

    I have a question concerning wedding photographers and regular practices. Would appreciate some feedback from those of you who own and operate wedding photography businesses and anyone else can also feel free to chime in...

    Some of you know that my fiance and I were smack bang in the middle of planning our wedding in Hawaii, which was to be on May 31st this year. We had paid deposits and booked most of our vendors and really only had loose ends to tie up, like decorations etc.

    Our photographers were the first vendors we booked. They are members of the WPJA and we were really happy to have found them.

    Our package was this:

    2 Photographers (husband and wife team)
    10 hours of wedding day coverage
    Unlimited photographs taken
    Custom proof album
    Digital negative dvd with rights to print for personal use
    Complimentary engagement or day-after-wedding session

    This was costing us $3,600 (US dollars) and they wanted a 50% retainer, hence we paid them $1,800 USD.

    When we found out we were expecting a baby and that I would be in my third trimester by the time of the wedding, we contacted them and told them. We said that we needed to postpone our wedding and that we wanted to retain them as our photographers for our wedding day the following May 2008. We didn't want to cancel them AT ALL and we fully expected them to hang onto the retainer in the meantime.

    We communicated that if they wanted to charge us a little more $500 approx or whatever was fair, then that was fine by us.

    One of them got back and has basically said that we are going to lose our $1,800, regardless of the fact that we aren't cancelling, just postponing (we gave 6 months advance notice also). They said all that they could offer was to extend the 2007 prices to us, hence we'd have to pay $3,600 all over again.

    Josh called her and they went back and forth, eventually she said this is their final offer:

    We pay an extra $500 on top of our remaining balance, bringing the balance to $ 2,300 (meaning they are costing us $ 4,000 USD overall).

    They cut the wedding day coverage to 6 hours, not 10.

    No engagement session/day-after-wedding session

    Choice of 50 prints or proof album

    If we had the wedding on a weekday, we get a cd of our photos.

    So, I was wanting to know what anyone thought of this. Is this 'standard practice'? If you had a client call you 6 months before the wedding, from all the way in Australia telling you they were pregnant and needed to postpone their wedding but they wanted to retain you as their photographer and would pay any penalties, as long as they kept the package orginally offered and your services as photog....what would you do/offer them?

    We wanted to work with them on this but they have come back very businesslike and rigid and it has left a bad taste in our mouth now.

    Opinions?
     
  2. oldnavy170

    oldnavy170 TPF Noob!

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    I think what they are doing is wrong. If they were a so called "professionals" they would not be telling you that you had to repay them for another date.

    Do you have a contract? If so what does it say?
     
  3. Alison

    Alison Swiss Army Friend Supporting Member

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    I would look at the contract and see what it said. Personally I would have kept the retainer and just added you to our 2008 calendar. I might have asked for $500 extra to cover the added costs for the next year but I would have kept your coverage the same. I understand that when a photographer books a date and then it gets canceled they might not be able to rebook the date and they are out the money. I don't know what the market for them is like, it's possible the location weddings in Hawaii are all booked very far in advance and they know they will be out a wedding on your date.

    I'm not sure what I would do in your situation. If you really liked their work it probably makes sense to stay with them, but if not perhaps you can find someone else in the area and while you'll lose your deposit you won't be working with someone that you have hard feelings with. :hug::
     
  4. photogoddess

    photogoddess TPF Noob!

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    Tina,
    I was wondering about this when you mentioned changing your date. It's easy for people that don't rely on wedding photography to make a living to flame the photographers or call them unprofessional but as they say - until you walk a mile in their shoes.....

    This policy is actually common for wedding photographers. Once you set your date and pay your retainer, the photographers remove that date from their availability list. While your retainer is an advance on services, more importantly, it's $$$ guaranteeing that your photographer will be there.

    Policies vary but some photographers will refund or apply the retainer (or portion) to the new date IF they are able to rebook your original date. However, many photographers have found that it's easier and better to just have a set rule about cancellations/reschedules than it is to make exceptions. From their perspective, they locked your wedding down into their calendar and even with 6 months notice, if they don't rebook, they now look at not getting paid for a day that they've most likely had to send other couples away for.

    It seems unfair to you but this is standard with wedding photographers in general. They aren't trying to wrong you, they are simply running a business and have a policy to protect that business. You'll have to check your contract but my cancellation/reschedule policy is below. I have made a provision in mine for date changes providing that I can rebook the date but if I was unable to rebook a date, I would have no problem keeping a retainer like your photographer is doing.

    I know it doesn't feel like it but it's not personal, rude or mean. It's just how photographers stay in business. I haven't had anyone change or move a wedding date yet but let me give you an example of how cancellations have personally affected my business. I made the mistake of not getting a retainer for a portrait shoot in advance. So far the woman has canceled on me twice. The last time 5 minutes before the shoot was supposed to start. She literally called me when I was around the corner from our meeting spot. It was no sweat to her but to me, I had blocked out more than 2 hours on a Saturday right before Christmas. That was 2 hours (plus travel) that I turned away other customers. 2 hours that I couldn't spend with my family because I had stayed home to work while they all went off doing their own things. Needless to say that I won't be putting anything for her (or anyone else) on my calendar without getting a non-refundable retainer first.

    For you it's $1800 lost. For your photographers, it's more than just the $1800. It's the loss of the additional revenue they would have made from shooting your wedding on that day. I'm hoping that Cindy Crabb will weigh in here as well since I know that her policy is very similar to mine. Being a wedding photographer is rewarding but it's very hard work with surprisingly small profits. The dollar amount needed to be in business is not easily recovered considering the amount of time a photographer actually spends shooting a 10 hour wedding vs what they are paid for that "10 hour day".

    Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss this further. :hugs:
     
  5. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Alison touched on everything I'm thinking.

    This happened to me just once. My reaction was... If I can book another couple for the same day, I'll return the deposit. I suspect your contract states that in the event of cancellation or postponement, you forfiet your deposit. I'm really surprised at all the stipulations they have now attached. I wonder what the WPJA has to say about such matters. Maybe there's some help there.

    I can understand some of their reluctance since they dealing with someone from a different country. They have little remedy if you postpone again.

    But... like Alison pointed out, they've now created a situation that would be uncomfortable at best if you do decide to use them. I don't know if I would want to deal with that on my wedding day.

    I think you should continue to negotiate with them to recover as much of your deposit as possible. If it begins to look helpless, maybe a letter from a lawyer might get them back to reasoning with you.

    There is one more thought to consider.... keep your original date. Fat brides are cool too. I'm sure you'd have a wonderful day... just no drinking.

    I wonder if you could sell your contract to another couple. Somebody might be willing to pay full price to get your date, or... someone might buy your contract at a discount to save a couple of hundred bucks.

    Sorry to hear about your situation. Just remember this won't be the part of your wedding that you'll remember most. It will be an interesting story to tell from time to time, but it won't define your day.

    I truly wish you the best of luck with this.

    Pete
     
  6. Meysha

    Meysha still being picky Vicky

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    Lumi.... unfortunately... the realist in me would say check the contract.
    But the trashy "what am I going to watch on tv tonight" part of me says.... ring A Current Affair!
     
  7. Luminosity

    Luminosity No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hey guys,

    Thanks for all of your replies, I needed a little perspective on it (other then my "oh wow, $1,800 USD, which equals about $2,300 Australian dollars... is a LOT to us to lose *sob*"!) ...lol

    Their contract only says that they will retain the deposit 'upon cancellation', it doesn't say anything at all about postponement, at any point in the contract.

    Pete, I hated postponing the wedding as I was counting down the days but my doc advised me not to travel at that point (I have a history of miscarriages) and we went home and weighed the pros vs cons of postponing and eventually made the choice we did. Plus, I already bought my wedding gown and there was NO way I'd be fitting myself AND the baby into it lol!

    Originally, the photogs told us they only booked a couple of weddings a month but one of them told Josh last week they book 2 - 3 a week now. Our wedding was scheduled on a Thursday this year also.

    Josh and I offered to ask around on The Knot Hawaii board, that I am a member of, to see if anyone wanted to use their services on that date.

    Josh and I would have been willing to cop the $500 penalty, IF they kept the services the same as in our contract.

    Ah well, all I can do is advertise them on The Knot Hawaii board, hope that someone else takes their date and they refund at least SOME of our money back. I do know that photogs need to earn their bread and butter somehow, our situation is a 'sh1t happens' kinda thing.

    And LOL Vicky!
     

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