Photographer Frustration

I’ve been putting off writing a post about choosing a photographer, because honestly, it’s been the most stressful part of wedding planning. And I considered not telling the whole truth here, because it still makes me a little sick-feeling to think about the whole process. But life is not always perfect and beautiful, and even smart people make stupid decisions. And so”¦allow me to begin.

After we selected our venue (and thus, our date), I thought the next logical step was to find a photographer. I didn’t really know where to begin, so I found a copy of the most recent Knot magazine from Georgia. It lists the winners of the “Best of Weddings” ranking thingy (I don’t know what to call it”¦) in all of the vendor categories. In particular, there’s a list of about twenty photographers.

Image from Spring Lake Events

The first thing I’d like to do is make a request to all of you future brides: Please review your photographer! I don’t even know how The Knot decided to award some of these photographers the “Best of Weddings” award, because some only had like two reviews! Argh. So frustrating”¦

My strategy for searching for the photographer was to just look up each one on this list. If I liked the photos, I sent them an e-mail asking about their pricing. Second rant: Can you photographers please just list some of your prices online? Thank you to all the ones that do! You made my life so much easier. I hated thinking that I found a great photographer, only to find out they cost about $2,000 more than I wanted to spend. I know it’s probably some strategy to get people to fall in love with you and then decide that they actually can spend the extra money. But seriously, it annoying. Okay, end rant. (Can you tell that this photographer thing stressed me out?)

There was one photographer that stood out to me. And she posted her starting prices online (Thank you!!). Her pictures are incredible.

Liz Love Laugh

Image by Liz Yeakle

She takes beautiful couples shots and great candid reception photos.

great candids | Liz Love Laugh

Image by Liz Yeakle

And”¦she was already booked for our date. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I love you, Liz Yeakle. Why did you have to be booked?

And thus began the real stress. Looking for photographers takes TIME!!! So much time”¦Why? Because you see great pictures on a blog, then you contact the photographer, then you ask for a few full galleries of weddings, and then you have to go through all those pictures!!! And with many of the photographers, I would open up the gallery and discover that they didn’t just pull some of the really good pictures and put them on the blog. I felt like only the good pictures went on the blog and the rest were just, kind of blah. Or, if the photographer really did take great pictures, they were all about the vintage photo trend, which is not my style at all. Why would I want my pictures to be all faded? (Remember how much I love bright colors? Faded doesn’t really go with my style.)

rainbow bridesmaids dresses

Image from Green Wedding Shoes ‘ Photos by Tiffany Arment

This is not how I want our wedding pictures to look. I think the occasional vintage photo can be very beautiful. But an entire collection of photos in this style is not something I want. But because it’s trendy, there are A LOT of photographers who edit this way in order to satisfy the tastes of the masses. And that’s great for the brides who love this look. I just want there to be photographers who edit photos the way that I want.

Anyway, so it’s really difficult right now to find a photographer who takes artistic photos without making them all trendy and vintage. I finally found someone whose editing I did like, and they are very very highly rated on The Knot. But I felt a little hesitant about them. Some of the pictures were absolutely stunning, just the best thing ever. But most of the candid pictures were just kind of blah. Blah meaning the composition of the photos wasn’t very artistic. With all these criticisms, I’m going to shock you by saying that I ended up putting a deposit down with this photographer (in hindsight, I can’t believe I did it). Even as I mailed out the check, I just wasn’t sure if I was making the right decision.

The next few weeks were AWFUL. I would wake up in the middle of the night panicking that I’d chosen the wrong photographer. My brother got married during this time, and I loved his photographer. I started realizing that it is incredibly important that you like your photographer both as an artist and as a person. You spend soooooo much time with them on your wedding day. You’d better feel comfortable around them. Unfortunately, I wasn’t so sure about my photographer as either an artist OR a person. Their emails had all sorts of typos. Even the contract that I’d signed had several misspelled words. And like I said, I was hesitant about the pictures already. (I’m honestly not sure how they became soooo highly rated on The Knot. It makes me wonder whether those rankings are really worth anything”¦)

After a few weeks of this madness, Mr. Whale finally spoke up. He hadn’t had any input in the photographer decision, which had been fine with him. He hates photos, and so he just trusted me to pick the right one. But he saw how much I was struggling. So he said, “Why don’t you let me help you?” And it’s like a lightbulb went off in my head. Why was I trying to do all of this on my own?? I have a fiance who is half of the wedding. Sometimes it’s great when your fiance doesn’t have an opinion, so you can just do whatever you want. But I just hadn’t even thought to ask him for help! Which is ridiculous. I ask him for help when I’m struggling with anything else in my life. Why not this?

I explained my concerns and showed him the photographer I had booked alongside another one that I had liked, but for some reason I hadn’t fallen in love with at first. When I originally spoke with this particular photographer, I expressed my concern over the vintage photography trend. She had said that she did edit like that for a while, but she was moving away from it. Unfortunately, she just didn’t have a lot of recent weddings to show me, because it was the beginning of summer when we first spoke. And so, I was worried that I would get faded photos. But since it was now later in the year, she actually had a lot of 2012 weddings. I could totally see that she was editing differently. And I absolutely fell in love with her photos! Mr. Whale also thought they were much better than the photographer I had booked. Why couldn’t I have asked him his opinion in the beginning?? I could have avoided all of my stress and second-guessing!

beautiful | Brenda Upton Photography

Photo by Brenda Upton

beautiful! Brenda Upton Photography

Photo by Brenda Upton

Photo by Brenda Upton

As I’m sure you guessed, we booked her! Brenda Upton, I love you!!! Yes, it made us go a little over a our photographer budget. But are we going into debt? No. It’s coming out of savings, and we can afford it. And, if our original photographer books another wedding for our date, then we get the money back. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but if we don’t get our money back, well”¦that’s life!

Oh my gosh, I’m exhausted. Rehashing all of that madness was a little stressful, but I think it’s a realistic snapshot of some of the not-so-fun aspects of wedding planning. Things don’t always go your way, and sometimes you make mistakes.

Was choosing a photographer stressful for any other brides? I didn’t really have many tips to offer, so maybe there are other bees with advice for avoiding all of the madness I went through?


Mrs. Blue Whale

College Park, MD
Wedding Date:
May 2013
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  1. Member
    graywolf 725 posts, Busy bee @ 12:03 pm

    it sounds like you’re having a good attitude about all the stuff that went into the final decision!

  2. Member
    pinkmoon 10748 posts, Sugar Beekeeper @ 12:09 pm

    Well I made the same mistake. I booked a guy that I later changed my mind on, after seeing so many recaps where I liked the photography style better. And then I read a bad review from another bee so that sealed the deal and I went back to a photographer I always liked, but idiot me chose the other (cheaper) guy.
    Good for you for picking a photographer you will be happy with. I’m so glad I am making the switch because now I can relax and not worry about the pictures.

  3. Member
    shortbread 290 posts, Helper bee @ 12:17 pm

    You made the right decision to go with your gut on this one. The new photographer looks great.

    My fiance and I really struggled in making a photographer decision. His #1 choice was a photographer that very much did the vintage/instagram style photography. I like those photos but not for our wedding day. I didn’t want to look back 20 years from now and wonder why we made such a silly decision. The style of photography also doesn’t fit our ancient church wedding. After lots of searching I found a photographer we both loved. I spent hours reading his blog and drooling over the pictures.

    Long story short, we booked him and then he went missing. From what we’ve seen on twitter and facebook he’s been in and out of the hospital for mental issues. We started our search over and now are going to book someone new. We’ll never get our deposit back but on the bright side we’re not left without a photographer on our wedding day. Some brides that the guy we originally booked haven’t gotten any pictures from their wedding day.

    I can’t stress enough how important it is to ask for reviews and recommendations. We worked much harder to find the new photographer and have contacted all the references he gave us.

  4. Member
    Miss Care Bear 193 posts, Blushing bee @ 12:45 pm

    Um, I`m sorry, but do you like, have a secret window into my mind???

    This is so similar to what I went through to find a photographer! I was sooo annoyed everytime a photographer didn`t list their prices online. Like WTH, just be honest about it!

    We took forever to decide, and even had a little voting game with my family where people had to give different `finalist`photogs scores from 1-10. Ultimately, our photog was the clear winner. But even after we booked, I had so much anxiety for a while. What if we made a mistake? What if we should have gone with someone else? But finally, I realized that I really do love their style and we`re super happy with our decision :) Their photos are very timeless and not at all the trendy retro look.

  5. Member
    steph01924 308 posts, Helper bee @ 1:07 pm

    Sorry you had to go through all that! I haven’t started looking yet and I can feel the stress/anxiety creeping up my throat when I even start thinking about looking. I like pretty pictures, but researching photographers and figuring out what I intrinsically like more in one picture than another makes me want to jump off a cliff. Glad you found the right person!

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    thatredheadedsister, Guest @ 2:42 pm

    The whole photographer search (along with booking the vendors) males me so sick. I had a photog picked out (a great friend) and she had to back out BC of a family event. Now I am searching for photographers that are charging four times what I was going to pay her and it is so stressful. I’ve spent all weekend coming up with things to cut out of the budget to afford someone. I’m so glad you found someone. If the guy I am prospecting doesn’t work out, I will look at your list

  7. Member
    camel 703 posts, Busy bee @ 2:55 pm

    Sometimes we just really need to trust that gut instinct! Sounds like you did the right thing and that peace of mind is worth a LOT, especially when it comes to weddings when you have one chance to get things right (or capture that extra special moment).

    I also feel you on the vintage photo trend. I feel like so many people are running out and buying DSLRs and claiming to be professional photographers and masking their lack of traditional training with actions on Photoshop (like the washed out Instagram look). With Photoshop and limited training you can make all your own photos look that way with no help from a photographer! You need someone with classic skill and talent, which will always look timeless when all the Instagram type photos end up looking dated (which is ironic because they are meant to look 1970′s dated…)

  8. Member
    lealorali 4827 posts, Honey bee @ 4:31 pm

    This sounds awful, geesh!! I would never trust just The Knot (or any online source’s) ratings without word- of- mouth to go along with it.

    We went with a local, friendly, well-known photographer. I know like 5 couples who have used him. (And he was rated well on if that counts for anything lol.) Done!

  9. Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 7:25 pm

    I’m glad you were able to find the perfect photographer, even it took a couple of tries! Your photographers work is beautiful too, I think you made a great decision!

  10. Member
    mariewest 304 posts, Helper bee @ 8:26 pm

    After booking my venue and picking out my dress, I turned my attention to photographers and this is where I started to get stressed too. So many options and so many way out of our budget. I have yet to find one that I can afford that I fell in love with. But I’ll take your advice and not book someone if I’m having reservations about their work. Love your choice, they are beautiful.

  11. Member
    misscupcake2012 180 posts, Blushing bee @ 10:40 pm

    Wow! This makes me so happy that my mom has a good friend who is an AMAZING photographer. It would make me so sad to have to stress so much over pictures, because I ADORE pictures (I feel like I’m using caps a lot…)
    Your photographers pictures are absolutely gorgeous though. I’m really glad you found her!

  12. Member
    lisaelanna 530 posts, Busy bee @ 6:00 am

    I wish I’d had the courage to find someone else when I was having feelings about disliking the photographer we’d already put a reserve payment down on. Maybe if I’d had you as a good role model back then! – My wedding photos didn’t turn out at all like I’d wanted. Lesson learned – listen to your gut! If you’re really worried about something its probably a sign that you should take another look at it!

  13. Member
    newfiebullet 1480 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:50 pm

    I didn’t even bother emailing if they didn’t list any prices. To me that spelled EXPENSIVE!

  14. Member
    Red Poppy 22 posts, Newbee @ 7:40 am

    Congrats on finding a photographer! I agree with you about the vintage-y photos. It’s pretty, but I wouldn’t want all of my pictures to be shot in any particularly trendy style that might look dated in a few years.

  15. Member
    missgemini 616 posts, Busy bee @ 8:38 am

    You made a great choice! Brenda’s images look fantastic! And you’re so right, you need to be able to completely trust your photographer’s ability to capture your day AND you need to make sure you get along with them!

    I’m actually a wedding photographer myself, ( ) and let me tell you- looking for a photographer for my own wedding has been SO difficult. All my choices are around $6,000 and my budget is just not that high.

    From personal experience though, many wedding photographers don’t post their prices because there is SO so much competition and everyone undercuts everyone – so it’s quite tricky!

    Cant wait to see your photos, I’m sure they’ll be beautiful!

  16. Member
    bluewhale 638 posts, Busy bee @ 8:42 am

    @Shortbread: Oh my gosh! That puts my experience in perspective! It could have been a whole lot worse. Good luck with your new search.

    @Miss Care Bear: Haha! I’m glad to know there’s someone out there who shares my feelings!

    @lealorali: Yeah, the hardest part of having a destination wedding has been trying to find vendors without being able to get reviews from people we trust… I had always thought reviews on places like the Knot would be reliable, but now I’m not so sure.

    @mariewest: One thing I didn’t mention is that I had even started looking at photographers from other cities and thinking about paying them to travel. That’s how desperate I had been getting. If you can’t find anyone, maybe you could widen your search to photographers from a little farther away? Good luck!!

    @AngieGemini: I feel even better knowing that I have the approval of a wedding photographer! And I guess I understand the pricing thing a little. But I wish they all at least said, “Packages start at ____” I understand you’re trying to run a business…but it’s just frustrating :)

  17. Guest Icon Guest
    Serina, Guest @ 8:27 pm

    Man I totally feel you on this. Finding a good photographer was the most important decision for me after finding a venue and setting the date. I hated falling in love with a photographer, only to email them for pricing and find out they were way above our budget. I did rely very heavily on reviews from weddingwire and recommendations from friends. But in the end it came down to the photographers work on their blog. I think the blog gives you a more representative sample of their latest work. I would just recommend taking your time and looking at a lot of websites before you put down a deposit. I’m glad that in the end you found a photographer that you love cuz that is so important!

  18. Member
    MrsPhilly 1825 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:33 pm

    Omg yes! I had such a hard time!! I met with 4 different photographers and ended up choosing the one that my parents, in laws and pretty much every one else said they thought was best. About 2 weeks before we were supposed to do our e-session and pay the deposit, I started having doubts. I wasn’t sure if it was just nerves about getting our photos done, or about her. But I emailed her and asked for more photos bc I was having anxiety and I wrote on wedding bee about my doubts. Well, she quickly emailed me and said someone had sent her the link to here, and she was so offended that I had doubted her and she decided to drop our wedding.
    Well, I wasn’t too heart broken over it, although the lack of professionalism blew me away. But it worked out for the best because the photographer we ended up hiring is AMAZING and I can’t wait to work with him!

  19. Member
    mizjl 47 posts, Newbee @ 9:24 am

    This happened to us! Ultimately, we lost our deposit with the first photographer, but when we hired a new one, it was worth the cost of finding someone we trusted and whose artistic style we really loved. Yes, we lost out on a lot of money, but the trade-off was having photos that we don’t just feel “meh” about. Congratulations on finding the right photographer!

  20. Guest Icon Guest
    lexie, Guest @ 7:47 am

    The knot is a load of crap when it comes to vendors. Most vendors PAY the knot to be featured including photographers. The majority of photogs that are worth their salt don’t advertise with them.

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