Book your key vendors – without cutting corners!

“Planning ahead allows you more room to get vendors you want for your wedding day.”Image

I’ve had so many calls lately from people who had contacted me months ago about their wedding… and then call back only to find we have that date already booked.  My heart sinks, because some of them I would so LOVE to photograph their wedding.  I kindly hand them off to other photographers that I personally recommend – but hate the deep sigh I get from them when I tell them we no longer have their date available.

 I encourage anyone having a wedding to book your key vendors ASAP… especially ones that can only do one event at a time.  Wedding planner, photographer, videographer, DJ or Band… are mostly limited to one wedding a day – so make those your priority after you have your date & venue set.   This is such an amazingly important day and getting the vendors that you love can make a huge difference in how comfortable and carefree you feel on your wedding day.  Florists, catering, On-site MUAs, Stylists and cake should be next up – because although they may be able to do more than one wedding in a day, they still have limitations on how many they can do.

The “when to book” each vendor changes from year to year in your most loved wedding magazines (it almost changes as fast as your local weather forecast) and typically their ball park timeline only works if you have multiple choices that you love for each vendor.  If you have a specific vendor you want to work with, or an amazing vendor that does limited events to give you the best service and attention then you can throw all those timelines for booking out the window.   This is your wedding day – you deserve world-class vendors, and the memories of your wedding day are world-class important.

The DRESS… yes, that beloved dress that you want… can take months to get and even more time to get altered.  Many brides don’t realize how much time that can take… so find your dress with enough time – so you’re not cutting it too close to the wedding day!

Another great reason to book ASAP… is it gives you more time for financial planning for your event.  Many vendors will work with you on payment plans so that instead of “cutting” your budget and settling, it may allow you to get the vendor you want, the packages you want to make your day over the top amazing.

So get out a pen an paper and start making your priority list for your wedding day – make a wedding top 10.  Those top 5 vendors – book as soon as possible, and the the next five as soon as you can after too.

Don’t forget to follow our BLOG to get lots of great tips for your wedding day!

A letter on my door step: The follow-up

Ok – honestly, I had absolutely no idea what would happen over the last 24 hours.  Although I’ve been in professional photography for around 24 years – I did not set out to post something that would be passed along to so many people.  Today, my e-mail, blog & twitter were turned upside down with mass communication beyond comprehension.  95% of the voices I heard through Facebook, Twitter, E-mail as well as blog posts were a grouping of similar stories, people who could really relate, and thankful people that loved the reminder to give a little more love an attention to those that you love around you.  About 3% were questions about me, about the family, and about photography.  That left a very small 2% that found the blog post offensive and questioned my integrity in doing so.  Looking at the percentages – I will say that there will always be a few nay sayers and negative people, but the astonishing positive and thankful feedback actually has left me in tears over half the past day.  So I went to the studio with no make-up, hair in a mess and nice big puffy eyes – and am grateful for all of the stories shared from all corners of the globe.

Just because everyone isn’t rosy and positive doesn’t mean they don’t have a valid perspective, so I feel like I should address some questions in today’s post.  These are answers to only questions I’ve received up until now – and I apologize if I’ve missed something from any of you, and will try to go through and e-mail some people directly as well.

** Were you blocking a lot of negative comments so far?

Actually no. I have currently only “unapproved” 5 posts so far… all of which contained either foul language or I felt were bashing the feelings of sincere people that posted comments on my blog.  I e-mailed a response to each person that I “unapproved” explaining exactly why I had done so, as well as addressing their concerns or harsh words.

** Is Karen still alive? Can you post photos of her and her family?

Sorry to say that she has passed.  I do have images from past sessions and wedding; however I and the family do not feel it is the right place to put faces to her words – as her words speak for themselves.  They prefer not to be recognized, or contacted – especially with young children involved.  Morning and dealing with a sever loss is really a personal matter – and it is a very fragile situation.

** Was the post a marketing ploy or hoax?

No.  The only benefit I feel from this is that others can bond and feel some greater picture.  I have my own family, a full-time business and want to pass along how important loving relationships are or can be to my children.  Cancer has hit close to home in my family as well – and it was a very awakening experience for me.  A reminder of how quickly life passes, and how even I put off photos with my children.  As photographers, we are behind the camera – and the nudge that this letter provided me was to do more portraits with my husband and children…. and ME in the photograph.  It’s about setting aside the thought of a few extra wrinkles, or couple extra pound because you don’t feel like you look perfect and getting in front of the camera for sentiment sake.  Unfortunately I don’t think I could possibly convince some people of this – but I felt like I still needed to try to explain my actual intent.  I by no means believe this was her last “wish” as one so un-kindly put either.  I know her and I also know that she probably sat down and wrote a number of letters to people because that is the kind of person she was.  Loving.

** Do I expect people to spend thousands on photography?

That is quite a personal decision and really – with my own family and trying to support them on a photographer’s budget I have to tighten my belt too.   I am all to familiar with paycheck to paycheck.  So in short… NO… that isn’t something I would demand or expect – or force anyone into.  Many seem to be un-aware that photographers are small business owners – we are no different than anyone else with a job (except we rarely get a steady paycheck).  We have lots of bills, many of us have families, we pay our own insurance –  if we are pros and we also have increasingly large over head expenses with continually upgrading equipment & computers.  We work all hours day and night too.  It is as far from a 9-5 job as most will ever understand.  Many photographers (myself included) have actually lowered our rates or offer payment options or packages to make it easier if a client chooses to hire us for their memories.

I want to make it abundantly clear that at least 90% off all my photographs of my family and children are “candid” on the fly and “in the moment.”  And yes – these are prized by me just as much as the professional looking images.

** Guilt trip?

Well – I guess you can call it what you would like.  Some people have called it a real awakening, some have said thank you for the reminder, and some have said I was a awful person too.

Here is my opinion.. or view I guess you can say:

“Call it whatever you want!  I LOVE MY FAMILY.  I know now more than ever that there are hundreds of thousands of people that feel love for their families and friends.  If yesterday’s post made just ONE of you pick up your camera and take a family photo or a few extra shots of your children or parents/grandparents then that 2% that are disgusted with me, don’t matter – my love and concern is with those that the post touched in a positive way.  I would love to photograph as many people as possible in my lifetime, but it makes me happy just to know that others out there do see value in what a photograph IS.  It is beautiful memories of past lives, the building blocks of who you are today and who you will be tomorrow, and it is stories for  children and generations to come.”

I am very proud to be a professional photographer

I am proud to be in a profession that touches so many people in an amazing – astounding way for generations behind and ahead of me.

I am proud that I can see beauty in everyone…. EVERYONE.

For all photographers out there – professional or not – be proud that you record our history, love and our lives.  For clients or potential clients… we photograph people because we love the spirit and uniqueness of every person.

I wish everyone a beautiful and heart-felt 2012!!!!  My many thanks to everyone that has and will post about their experiences.  I enjoy reading and hearing about all of the amazing connections out there and have had many e-mails and posts stating how much they appreciate everyone posting and seeing all of the love and kindness!

Here is the link to the post that this follow-up refers to as well:

https://fototails.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/a-letter-on-my-doorstep-portraits-are-more-than-paper/

A letter on my door step. portraits are more than paper.

There will be no portrait photos in this post.  This letter wasn’t mailed – it was at my doorstep when I got home a couple months ago.  I read it, I cried, and read it again – probably a hundred times by now.  It wasn’t easy to read – and honestly, as much as it validates what I do for a living – I wasn’t sure I was going to share it either.  If you choose to read through the letter, you will know why I’ve finally chosen to share it.

July 2nd, 2011

Jeanine – 

Today I am writing for a couple of reasons.  I have some quiet time at the moment and need to get a couple of things off my mind.  I will leave this for my husband to deliver to you when he is ready.

You photographed my wedding, you photographed my first pregnancy and my first baby.  I contacted you awhile back to photograph my 2nd child and family.  After getting prices and realizing I would want all of the pictures as we love your work – I decided against spending $500+ – which is what I normally spend for portraits and prints with you..  Please know it is not because I don’t value your amazing eye, or how much we love the experience.

That week that I decided to NOT do a session with you, this is how I spent some money.

On Sunday I called and cancelled our session.  Monday I went out and got my hair cut ($39+tip), and colored ($65), Thursday I had my nails done ($24), my family went out to dinner at a somewhat expensive restaurant for no particular reason costing us $79 + tip.  This was just 4 days since canceling our session, already totaling over $200 for un necessary things.  My nails only lasted about 2 weeks, my hair is gone, and seven weeks passed when I got the phone call from our doctor.  It was not something I expected and the cancer has spread very quickly.  I will be leaving my husband, my 6 year old girl and my now 2 year old – not by choice.  It is very hard for me to talk about it which is why I need to write you.

I watch your Facebook page and your posts about the value of a photo and if I could give back all of those things that I purchased this few weeks after I cancelled my session with you, knowing what I know now, and have that session, well… I would do it in a heartbeat. 

Now my time is done and there are no more chances for me.  The next time someone cancels a session – my wish is that you forward this letter to them.  Time is fragile, it is gone before you know you had it.  If you charged $200 for one print it wouldn’t be enough for what it is actually worth.  I cringe to think that my priorities were a manicure over a memory to pass onto my babies and husband.

My love and thanks for what you have given us from past photos.  I am so sorry that I did not see it as more than paper until now.

Karen L.