Welcome to Keeping it Candid – Wedding Photography Unfiltered for photographers who want to keep it real. I’m your host, Sandra Henderson, international wedding and family photographer and educator with a Marie Kondo-style approach to running a business – you know, keeping things simple and getting rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy!
More importantly, I’m a strong enneagram 3w2 who is obsessed with tacos, and my love for travelling plus navigating chronic illness life are just two of the many things that drive my passion for all things systems, workflows, and beating burnout as a business owner.
Join me twice a month for a candid, behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like working as a wedding photographer – where I’ll give you actionable steps to take your business to the next level. Absolutely no fluff here, friends! So grab your favourite notebook and pen, and let’s dive into this week’s episode.
Hi friends! It’s Friday and we are onto the final episode of the Local Vendor Series here on Keeping it Candid! If you’ve been here all week, thank you *so much* for listening in. It’s because of people like you that we’re slowly starting to see a shift in the wedding industry to be one that welcomes everyone to succeed!
Now let me tell you, over the last week I’ve learned that releasing episodes of the podcast daily is no joke! I’ll be honest – I’m really tired and I underestimated the work and energy this was all going to take. But I try to see things as a learning opportunity whenever I can, and it’s really been fun to push myself a bit more outside my comfort zone all week long. Which brings me to a little announcement –
Starting in January 2023, I will be releasing new episodes of Keeping It Candid WEEKLY!
I have so many incredible interviews and topics lined up. I’m way too excited about everything that’s coming your way to stick with a bi-weekly schedule! And since I’m officially in my off-season, I thought, what better time?!
I’ll be back in two weeks with a regularly-scheduled episode, and then there will be one more episode in December before I take some time off for the holidays, which, I’ll be totally honest with you – I can hardly believe Christmas is a month away. Like, I’m fairly certain last week was September.
Over the last week on the Local Vendor series I’ve had the chance to connect with some amazing vendors to talk about how we can support one another on a wedding day and start building a stronger wedding industry through community-based thinking.
There were a two common points that came up in every interview:
- Mutual respect and open communication are the keys to success.
- It really all comes down to simply respecting the vendors in your community
Simply put, if you want something to happen, you need to ask for it, but you also need to respect that every vendor is there with a job to do and may not be able to accommodate every single request you have. We all need to come together to both give and take to be able to make the wedding day the best day possible for the couple!
Another thing that we talked a lot about was how photographers can photographically represent the work of other vendors, and I know this sparks a bit of controversial subject for a lot of wedding photographers out there.
If you’re listening to this episode and aren’t familiar with who I am when I’m not podcasting – I’m the owner and head photographer at Life is Beautiful Photography, an international wedding and family photography business based in London, Ontario, Canada. I’ve had the chance to photograph more than 150 weddings over the last ten years since I first started my business – which means I’ve worked with more than 150 different vendor teams, too. Some days have been the most amazing, collaborative, fun weddings beyond anything I could have imagined… Other days, I can’t wait to go home for reasons that have nothing to do with the couple and everything to do with the vendors I’m working with.
I’m going to be talking about this topic over on Instagram today, too, and I’d love to hear your thoughts over there! Should we be obligated to freely give out photos to other vendors we’ve worked with at a wedding?
My short and sweet answer is, no. We should absolutely not be obligated. BUT, do I think there’s a huge benefit in doing it? Yes! Absolutely. It’s unfortunately not that simple, though.
It’s important to start off by making it clear that a photographer’s main priority is to the couple, not to the vendors. The couple are the ones who have hired us, and it’s their memories and their story that we’re there to capture.
Our tangible product comes in the form of photos, and yes, we’ve already taken them. More work isn’t necessarily required in order to share said photos with the vendor team. But, just like you, as another vendor, created a bouquet or decorated a room for the couple – we also took these photos for the couple. The idea that we wouldn’t have these flowers or that décor in our photos if it wasn’t for those vendors may be true, but it’s also a ridiculous statement to make because again, it wasn’t done for the benefit of the photographer. It was done for the couple, and paid for by the couple.
I say this because I think it contributes a lot to the idea that photographers SHOULD be obligated to provide photos, for free, to anyone on the vendor team.
This year, and every year going forward from here, when you are looking to collect some photos from wedding season, here are some things I want you to consider:
- Don’t go directly to the couple to ask them for photos! Many photographers have a clause in their contract that prevents the couple from sharing photos with other vendors. So, when you bypass the photographer and go directly to the couple, you may actually be putting them in a position where they are breaking the terms of their contract, and honestly, I just don’t think that’s fair for any vendor to do that to their clients.
I can’t speak to the specifics of anyone else’s contracts, but personally, mine states that the couple may share their photos with friends and family and use them for any personal purposes, but they’re not permitted to share the photos with third paties, like other vendors, or use them for commercial purposes.
ALL of this spells bad news!! And I don’t really understand why it’s a thing that happens so frequently.
It all comes down to respecting the vendors you’re working with and creating an open line of communication with them. If you’re looking for photos from a wedding, the LEAST you can do is reach out to the photographer directly to ask them.
- The next thing I want you to keep in mind is the time of year you’re asking for photos. For example, I had a florist reach out to me in early October asking me to send them photos from a wedding I photographed over the summer. October and early November are my BUSIEST times of the entire year every single year. There’s a saying in our industry that “October is to photographers what April is to accountants” and it’s honestly one of the most true statements I’ve ever heard.
I completely understand and respect that most wedding vendors are done for the season at that point and they’re starting to do things like prep their marketing for engagement season, but the reality is that a huge part of a photographer’s work is done AFTER the wedding, so in October, most photographers are:
- Editing wedding photos from the summer
- Taking photos at fall weddings and editing those in time for the holidays
- Potentially also taking fall portraits if they offer other services than just weddings
- Designing albums and placing orders for prints to arrive in time for the end of the year and in time for the holidays
- Hosting consultations and booking next year’s couples
- … and none of that involves all the day-to-day backend work they have to do like marketing, accounting, or even just taking some damn time off so they don’t burnout at the end of the year, every single year.
- ALL of that is happening within 31 days.
During those peak busy seasons throughout the year, I know I speak for all photographers when I say my clients are my top priority. Getting their photos edited and sent out on time, prepping albums and print orders, and preparing my OWN marketing for engagement season all come well ahead in my list of things to do before I can take the time to start digging through my archives to prep galleries for other vendors.
Now – our calendars don’t look like this all the time… In May, for example, I’m photographing weddings and spring family portraits, but I’m just coming out of off-season so I don’t have months worth of editing in my queue, album orders have all been delivered, and it’s just not a super popular time for booking new wedding clients. So I have a lot more time, and a lot more mental capacity, to be doing some extras to support the community I work in.
- The third thing I want you to keep in mind, honestly shouldn’t really even need to be addressed, but I’m going to say it anyway: Remember that just like you, wedding photographers are human beings. They get busy. They forget things. Again, their priority is to the couple, and they may not remember a conversation that happened in passing on a wedding day where they said they’d send you some photos. It doesn’t matter what side of the wedding industry you’re in, you know that a wedding day takes a lot of mental energy and when you’re on-the-go for 10 to 12 hours, it’s impossible to do your job and remember every single little thing that happened along the way. The photographer could also be like me and dealing with things like ADHD and brain fog related to chronic illnesses that make it even harder to remember. Or they could be a sleep deprived new parent or dealing with anything else from a list of a million different things that could cause them to forget. Don’t assume that you’re not receiving photos because of some negative intentions the photographer may have towards you!
If you’ve had a conversation with a photographer and they’ve said they would send you photos but you haven’t received any yet, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with following up, as long as you’re following up in a respectful way, and in a realistic amount of time. If the wedding just happened on Saturday and you’re already following up with the photographer on Tuesday, that’s too soon in my opinion. You need to give the photographer some time to take a break, edit photos, and look after the needs of their client and their business first and foremost.
- Lastly, I want everyone to be open to the potential of having to pay for the photos you’re receiving. More often than not, a photographer won’t charge another vendor for photos. BUT that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It also doesn’t mean that photographers who do charge don’t have the right to do so – they do. Just like you would charge for your venue to be used, or to design and create a bouquet, a photographer has every right to charge for their product. Yes, we’ve already taken the photos. But a florist has also already purchased flowers. And a decorator has purchased their own backdrops. And a DJ has the music to put together a playlist. Everyone, no matter who you are, is coming to the table having already put in some work. So it’s unfair, and kind of a slap in the face to photographers, to have every other vendor assume they are entitled photos and that they should be given for free.
When it comes to building authentic, dream-team relationships with the wedding vendors we work with, mutual respect needs to be at the foundation of all of it, and the give-and-take aspect of the relationship comes into play here, too.
So next, let’s talk about one major do and one major don’t for when a photographer does give you photos:
Do – credit the photographer whenever and wherever you can. ESPECIALLY if they’ve given you the photos for free! Credit should be given in social media captions and by tagging the photo. Whenever possible, it should also be given on your website.
I’ll tell you all straight up – if I share photos with a vendor and they regularly don’t tag me or credit me for the work, I stop sharing photos with them, no matter how many times we may work together again in the future. One of the biggest companies in the wedding industry in my area is notorious for this, and it may be great exposure for my photos, but at the end of the day, it’s ultimately not serving me because no one knows who took that photo. I’ve mentioned a few times that there needs to be a mutual give-and-take, and if you’re a vendor who’s using photos without giving credit to the photographer… There’s nothing mutual about that. You’re just taking and not giving anything in return.
Ok, now onto the Don’t – don’t edit the photos in any capacity. The only exception to this is cropping the photo for social media! We all know that Instagram forces a crop onto all vertical photos, and sometimes Facebook does for profile photos, too. That’s ok – that’s something we as photographers know and expect in advance of giving you the files. But things like adding filters, placing text over the images to use in your advertisements, intentionally cropping certain elements out of the shot – this all compromises the integrity of the work the photographer has done. They’ve put a lot of time and effort into creating these photos, and just like a florist doesn’t want anyone snipping flowers out of their arrangements, and a DJ doesn’t want anyone adjusting their uplighting or taking over their tables, a photographer deserves that same respect.
Lastly, for all the photographers listening, I haven’t forgotten about you! Let’s talk about the benefits of sharing photos with other vendors, and why I think it’s something you should consider.
Emphasis on – should consider! Not “must do” or “are obligated to do!”
The most obvious reason is for exposure. It’s a great way to get your name out in front of other audiences, and I know it’s no secret to you that from the photography aspect, that’s why it’s so important for vendors to tag you in their photos.
It’s also a great way to network and build relationships with other vendors in your area. This is especially important if you’re newer to the wedding photography industry! Referrals don’t come from strangers. They come from vendors who trust that you know what you’re doing and that you stand by the quality of your work. No vendor wants to recommend someone that their clients may have a terrible experience working with. Making connections on a wedding day, having open and respectful lines of communication, and mutually benefiting from sharing photos is the best way to start gaining for referrals from other vendors!
If you feel that charging for your photos is the right fit for your business – then that’s great, too! I fully support that decision. It could be a great way to generate some new income for your business! You’re bound to ruffle some feathers, though, from vendors who have the expectation that they’ll be given for free, but you can’t please everyone. You need to do what’s right for you and your business first and foremost!
I hope this has shed some light on a somewhat controversial subject and like I said at the beginning of the episode, don’t forget to pop over to my Instagram account, @simplysandrayvonne, because I’d love to hear your thoughts and have you join in on the conversation, too!
AND, before I go, you’ve still got a few days left to take advantage of this year’s Black Friday sales, if you haven’t already! Today in the Show Notes you’re going to find a link to a blog post that’s going to be your one-stop shop for what I KNOW are going to be your new favourite business tools. Everything I’ve shared on the podcast this week, like 40% off contracts from the Legal Paige and 8 months of Honeybook for $8, will be there – but you’re also going to find deals from Aftershoot, Imagen AI, Pic-Time, Tonic Site Shop, and so many more amazing companies. Head to simplysandrayvonne.ca/keepingitcandid and check out today’s show notes for all the details!
Thanks so much for listening to Keeping It Candid: Wedding Photography Unfiltered with Sandra Henderson! You can find full show notes from today’s episode at simplysandrayvonne.ca/keepingitcandid. In the meantime – let’s connect! You can find me on Instagram @simplysandrayvonne, and on Facebook in the Wedding Photography Unfiltered community! If you’re loving this podcast, I’d be so honoured if you’d go ahead and hit that subscribe button and leave me a review!
Until next time!