So, I'm getting hitched, yada yada yada. There has been a huge photographer drama. my good friend let me rattle on about this for a bit. I think our conversation sums up my thoughts on the situation rather nicely. Here are some, excerpts. I expanded where I thought appropriate:
D: you are being educated about wedding photographers right now though
D: Did you find someone?
Me: : laughs:
D: I take that as a no, you can't agree on terms?
Me: Formally no. It's a very long story.
Me: The Photographer in question is one of T's grammar school friends. I think they reconnected on facebook about a year or so ago.
D: I've done my share of weddings myself
D: it's stressful
Me: So, they worked out a price--which is relatively cost effective--and I said send a contract, which they did. Apparently both T and the Photographer friend got seriously upset as I suggested alternate contract terms.
T is being wish-washy about the whole thing. She just wants two things. Her friend to come to the wedding and have fun and take pictures and give us the pictures. I'm fine with that. And she wants a professional photographer to create picture perfect pictures. I'm fine with that too.
Unfortunately, I don't believe that it can't be both ways.
If we want to invite her friend to the wedding and tell her to take pictures, awesome great. We'll tell everyone to bring cameras and pay no one for the privilege. Most of the guests will probably be taking pictures or video anyway.
But, if we want to hire a professional photographer, that's fine and dandy too. But, once money is changing hands, *I* need to treat it like a professional relationship; not as a "handshake deal" with a friend. By professional relationship, I mean getting a contract, defining roles of each party, defining the deliverable. I do this type of stuff every day. DotComIt has some serious troubles in our early years by not having a comprehensive contract.
The Photographer sent over a contract based on discussions with T and her had. I read through the contract and had one major sticking point. Payment was due in full a week before the ceremony. That means we'd be shelling all this cash before they do any work. As a business owner myself, I have serious issues with that, and had no problems saying it.
I know the photographers puts in time and I have no problems putting down a deposit. There is also a deliverable in the contract: Digital Copies of all the pictures they took on a CD [or DVD, I forget which]. That comes 4 weeks after the wedding. Why should we pay in full 5 weeks before the deliverable, and one week before they do any work at all?
If we pay in full a week before the wedding; what is their incentive to even show up?
I offered options, one of which was a 3 tiered payment plan (30/30/30) or even (50/30/20).
This conversation apparently upset both T and the photographer friend.
After much discussion, the photographer friend left 3 options on the table:
- Do it there way
- Pay "full price" (92% more), and get my preferred contract terms
- they don't come and it destroys the friendship forever
Quite frankly, anyone who puts number 3 on the table is not someone I want to do business with and is not someone I want at my wedding. What type of friend would say that to another?
I may have made things worse--as I sometimes inadvertently do. At some point early in the negotiation--before the poop was flying--T said to me "We may lose our photographer" and I said "Well, then we lose our photographer!" From my perspective, it is a business relationship and nothing I was asking for was unusual.
T is now worried that no matter what happens, that if this photographer is there, I'll be ornery in all the pictures; thereby ruining them all. I never thought of myself as one to hold a grudge until then. It sounds exactly like something I'd do. I wouldn't intentionally ruin pictures, but I'm just incapable of hiding my mood / feeling. Shame on the photographer who can't capture that on film. I believe I may be permanently tainted against that photographer.
I get the impression that the photographer's husband is giving her flack about the low cost she promised to do the photos for. And my requests just added stress to the process--although I don't understand why. Wouldn't a professional photographer deal with these types of negotiation all the time?
I was presented with various arguments that were completely unrelated to the root of my problem. Here are some of them and why I don't care:
- They'll have to pay for gas: I'll admit it's going to be a trip down from Boston area. But, transportation costs are just part of doing business. They'd have to pay for gas regardless of how much we are paying them.
- They'll have to take time of work: What work? I thought we were hiring professional photographers to come to photograph our wedding. They will be working our 'wedding' not the wedding of someone else. This is work!
- They have to rent a camera and other equipment: A photographer doesn't have a camera? Oh, I understand it is a special camera just for this event. But, even so that is the expense of the person I'm hiring and should not be used as an excuse to charge me more.
- They Deserve More Money: I'm not sure how to quantify this issue. The amount being paid out has come up multiple times in conversations w/ T. But, I don't understand why. It is not something I ever once tried to negotiate, or even complained about. The original number was also proposed by the photographer, not by us. I do have cash flow considerations as I'm trying to start a new business selling ya'll Flex Components, So, yes money outflow is a consideration. But, I never once tried to negotiate the cost. That was never a sticking point with me.
I have spoken to some people who hire photographers for their time; and any prints / pictures they want to buy are covered at a later date. In that case, I can rationalize paying in full on the day or week of the wedding. We have that type of arrangement with the caterer. But, that is not the case with the photographer agreement, which has a clearly defined deliverable 4 weeks after the ceremony.
Here is the finish up of my conversation w/ Dee:
Me: This has been a bone of contention for the past few days. :-) Did my words get heated when it came up?
D: HA, yes very much on fire