Nashville’s documentary wedding photographer
and headshot studio.
Lena and Ali are one of the wildly successful stories who met through online dating. The time came for the couple to make their commitments to one another, but 2020 happened. By this point, being 9 months into the Covid-19 pandemic, we’d all hoped things would have been better by Thanksgiving week, but to no avail. The couple and their families were very creative, flexible, and responsible; thankfully even with the 8 person maximum gathering ordinance, the event was perfect for the couple. The couple and Lena’s family stayed at The Russell, an East Nashville historic boutique hotel; incidentally having their wedding at The Russell! Shall we get started with some photos? Hair and makeup artist was done by Beauty By Kathryn.
After a brief prep at the hotel, I followed Lena to their home where the reveal happened, and she came together with Ali. Then we went on location to the Bicentennial Mall and downtown Nashville for them to enjoy some time together and get some photo documentation of their day. The day was lovely, and my documentary / photojournalist approach served the couple’s needs; as they just wanted to enjoy their day and have their memories documented, during an unprecedented time.
Once we made our way back to the hotel, we were closing in on the moments that the ceremony was due to start. The couple and Lena’s family in attendance set up live stream to Ali’s family could be virtually present, and even have some time to talk with them after the ceremony. Despite distance and time zone difference, it was the next best thing to everyone being together. Even among restrictions and a different way of life, this sweet wedding at The Russell documents a time in history.
The final destination was Ali and Lena’s home, where the small group gathered and a personal chef prepared fine Persian cuisine for the family. It was indeed a nice day with them, and congratulations to Ali and Lena!!
The practice of wedding photographer website pricing, and whether to display it or not, or even how to, it’s always a dilemma for many wedding photographers. Different consumers will feel differently about this subject as well. I will discuss three different ways to do it, and some pros and cons to these methods. I’ve tried all three over the span of 12 years.
I know that pricing professional services and hiring an artist are not always black and white, and there are variables. Discussing a client’s needs with them truly helps provide accurate and relevant pricing. However, shoe on the other foot, the consumers like to have an idea of starting point or range of services. The pros to this approach, you do have a chance for more engagement and can gather a little more information. The bad thing is you spend more time interacting with people who are often frustrated having no idea, and then ghost when they have sticker shock. Some consumers think you’re “hiding” prices and then hard selling, which is usually not true at all, but at that point all that is left is a disconnect. It is normal for consumers to get into defense mode when they’re shopping for services in industries they only know enough about to be dangerous. I personally think this option isn’t the best idea.
List a starting point or range –
This is my preferred option and what I have done for most of those 12 years. This way, it provides the consumer a basic idea of their potential investment, and it leaves room for discussion if they like your work and they contact you. There is still that chance for engagement. If your starting price is $1500 as a random number, the bride with a $500 budget sees that and moves on, which saves both of you time and frustration. The ONLY potential drawback is that some don’t even look, and they ask anyhow. You can make a website clean and efficient, but you cannot foolproof it for everyone. Also, some assume that their offering will be close to your starting point. But you’ve done your part by providing some transparency and yet inviting discussion. If a consumer doesn’t contact me because I don’t list “everything”, it’s not my client and they had no allegiance to my work to begin with. The goal is satisfying the average reasonable person. Once we discuss their needs, I provide detailed pricing information. This is also good because not all couples have an accurate idea of the package they need. For example, me being a documentary photographer doing minimal portrait work on the wedding day, it’s rare that a couple needs 10 hours of coverage with me. (Which many are conditioned to believe they need just by Googling)
Putting all prices out there-
This is certainly an option as well. It can save time answering emails, but also keep in mind that many couples don’t take into account that they may assume less coverage than what they actually need will suffice for them. Or they may assume they need your top shelf package and assume they can’t afford you. In reality, they may not. Once you put that out there, there’s no more need for you and your prospective client may make wrong assumptions; unbeknownst to you. Wedding photographer website pricing, no matter how you do it, it’s not foolproof. Pick your best option based on your needs and the experience of your client.
I visited The Russell boutique hotel in East Nashville for the first time on Thanksgiving week, to photograph a small intimate wedding of a local couple. I truly enjoyed my experience, and seeing the style / character of the hotel, completely unique from the standard branded hotel. The boutique hotel features 23 rooms, all styled uniquely from one another, and a large lobby common area. These features collectively make The Russell one of the most distinctive and remarkably styled travel / local destinations, and Nashville small event venues. I’ll elaborate a bit more after sharing some photos of the stunning venue.
The building was originally the Russell Street Church Of Christ, established in 1913. Over the years, the building’s vacancy caused it to fall into a state of disrepair. The Russell did a fabulous job restoring the building, while keeping many of its charming features such as the stained glass windows, ornate brick work, and bell tower. Incidentally, the bell tower is actually one of the rooms! The charm of the early 20th century architecture works flawlessly with the newly appointed modern vintage furnishings.
What’s different about The Russell, besides the styling? There is no on-site staff. The hotel has all the technology one could need, all while retaining the comfort and charm of the past. Staff is always available if needed, and does come on-site to do cleaning of the facility and rooms. The couple whose wedding I photographed had to improvise their plans because of restrictions with Covid-19, but the hotel was gracious to allow us to use the lobby with beautiful stained glass windows for the small intimate gathering. Hand sanitizer and a very clean facility was available to all. Not only is The Russell a charming boutique hotel and travel destination, but one of the most character-filled East Nashville small event venues. The Russell was accommodating. I look forward to returning soon. Hopefully by then the dust settles with the pandemic; then we can just celebrate health and life.
Perhaps the legal aspect of a creative arts business is the least fun aspect of it. However, it’s just part of being an adult and a professional operating a business. Wedding photography contracts are a necessary part of solidifying the agreement between the photographer and the engaged hiring couple. Without the contract, you have a verbal agreement which limits the legal recourse a consumer has, In a perfect world, everyone keeps their word. But things happen. There are also a lot of newer providers who bite off more than they can chew. Unforeseen emergencies can happen with anyone, but the contract is designed to protect the interest of both parties, and be fair to both parties.
Key points about wedding photography contracts being fair-
-It shows commitment for both parties and there is skin in the game.
-Timeframes of image delivery, and exactly what is included need to be concise, and not approximate. If this isn’t listed at all, you’re dealing with a joker.
-What happens in the event of a photographer’s absence / emergency? It’s unlikely, but the consumer interest and the liability of the photographer must be stated.
-Are photos delivered with post-processing? (I’d sure hope so, but if it’s not stated, it could be anyone’s guess.)
-I list liability insurance information and think that’s a good idea, but that’s a personal decision. But a pro has insurance, whether it’s listed in the contract or not.
-What are policies with an overzealous shutterbug relative or intrusion from other vendors, causing possible sabotage to the photographers’ efforts?
-When are retainers due, and final payments?
Just to name a few. Not everything belongs in a contract, but learning systems and processes is also key. For example, if an album or other print products are included in the package, what is the process and timeline? Getting it in writing over email is good for reference if needed. Efficient processes and systems drastically improve a customer experience, Questions from the couple should be encouraged and answered before agreeing to the terms of their wedding photography contracts. Naturally, in the interest of fairness, the contract should protect the business but also the interest of the customer. If it’s one-sided in favor of the business, that’s not a good sign. Once this initial anguish is over, it can be happy creating and less worrying.
I feel compelled to make this article about properly pairing wedding photographers and videographers. One odd misconception for couples who have not yet done their homework is that the skill sets are interchangeable or every provider offers both services. Some do, and many don’t, Nor do they need to, because it’s not the same service. Nor is it logical to think you can pair any photographer and videographer together and expect them to compliment each others’ styles and approaches. I know it sounds confusing, but I will elaborate the best I can to simplify the process.
What about hiring an inclusive company?
That’s an option. But you don’t always get your pick of a specific photographer or videographer. If a couple’s expectation is nondescript and they just want the services performed, it’s a sure bet. Not all inclusive companies are made up of staff, but sometimes hired help / subcontractors. A couple may not even know who their providers will be, and it may not matter to them. For couples that have specific tastes in a photographer’s work or style of work, it only makes sense to know what you like about it, hand pick their photographer, and pair the videographer accordingly.
Why is it important to properly pair a photographer and videographer?
I’ll use myself as an example. I’m a pure documentary style photographer. My approach on the wedding day is to work non-intrusively and document the natural human emotion that happens throughout the day. Group portraits are done in a minimal time, whereas many other wedding photographers spend a lot more time posing and orchestrating. That’s what I do best, and that’s what I am known for. I’m not saying what I do is right and others are wrong. The fact remains that my work and the work of a more traditional wedding photographer would attract different couples from the other. The couple who values natural human emotion and interaction would value a more understated presence from their wedding photographer. If the couple hiring me also is hiring a videographer, it’s a far more effective pairing when wedding photographers and videographers are similar in style, demeanor, and approach on the wedding day.
Not all of my couples hire videographers. When I am at the booking stage, I ask them if they plan on hiring a videographer. If so, I provide a short list of a few excellent recommended videographers. I make sure my clients know I am not just recommending them because they are friends, but they are true professionals, and we work well together. It can confuse guests if our approaches clash. Given that scenario, I can still provide the goods, in spite of the intrusive videographer. Some videographers flow really well with my photojournalist style and approach. Others take a more scripted, do things again, re-do moments approach that doesn’t pair as well. All I can ask is that my couples keep that in mind as they’re looking, and I provide my recommendations. A complete style mismatch or working with videographers lacking experience and professional courtesy is more problematic than it’s worth for me, It’s in my interest to provide my best work without being sabotaged, and have our respective products have continuity.