In the past several years, the Pittsburgh wedding market has seen a lot of changes.
As the market evolves, the industry responds and adapts.
However, there are times when the industry’s response is not for the better. This article is about one recent industry response.
The first idea that is important to understand is that there are two types of vendors in the wedding industry. The true wedding professional and the individuals who think weddings are an opportunity to make extra money.
This article is meant to uncover the the myth, the lie, and the truth about 2 wedding photographers.
Please allow me to first provide some background information.
The True Wedding Professional
The true wedding professional does weddings as a full-time way of life. He/she/they are dedicated to their service and realize that above all else, an affordable and quality experience is crucial for them to continue serving others. The true wedding professional is 100% capable of delivering their stated promise and are confident of this because they’ve done it… a lot! A true wedding professional is full-time because they had years and years of experience and reached a point where their dedication and quality afforded them a steady flow of customers and the opportunity to continue offering their services to future couples at a full-time pace.
How can you spot the true wedding professional?
- Has been in business full-time for at least 5 years (not just doing it for 5 years)
- Years worth of quality samples
- Years worth of quality reviews
- Pricing that reflects professional service within a given market
- Ability to answer all your questions based on past situations
- Standardized customer service reflecting a business that works with a full season of wedding customers
The Not-So-Professional Wedding Professional
Unfortunately, you also have individuals who think… “I can buy a camera and start doing weddings for extra money!”
In some cases, these individuals are newbies who have to start somewhere, but keep in mind just because everyone has to get their start somewhere, does not mean they’re destined for greatness. Many of these individuals realize after a few weddings that they’re not cut out for weddings (and I feel bad for those couples’ weddings who was the proof to this realization). These individuals often realize too late that taking photos of their kids in the backyard is a lot different than photographing a chaotic, yet very important day with constantly changing circumstances.
Unfortunately, most couples have NO IDEA how easy it is for the not-so-professional wedding photographer to put themselves out there. I personally know individuals that fall in this category who legitimately have wedding websites with packages and information… but have never actually shot a single wedding… not ONE.
Sometimes these individuals simply ‘help’ a friend at a wedding who is a wedding photographer and then think, “I’m going to make my own website this week and start charging people to do weddings myself.”
You don’t want someone practicing on your wedding day. You can’t redo your wedding day.
How can you spot the not-so-professional wedding professional?
- Prices are too good to be true
- Packages include things that should cost a lot more
- You’re not easily finding reviews on the internet
- You can’t easily access an area that shows years worth of wedding galleries
Photographers Who Advertise 2 Photographers
It is a documented and statistical fact that 2014 and part of 2015 were busier than average years in the Pittsburgh wedding market. Because of this, something happened that altered the market.
Existing businesses and newbies took advantage of the situation. Specifically, I’m going to focus on 2 things that happened in response;
1. Existing Pittsburgh area wedding companies that did not offer photography decided to begin offering photography in order to benefit on the above average number of engaged couples. Ask yourself, “Who at this company trained the photographer(s), then? The DJ?”
2. Individuals who were not wedding photographers decided, “Why not get a camera, make a website, and start doing weddings to make some extra money.”
In both of these situations, the reality is that these new photographers were not actually wedding photographers, having little to no experience… but they were suddenly available to couples to hire as a wedding photographer.
The truth is that the overwhelming vast majority were not actually capable of professionally documenting a wedding day.
So how did these companies and individuals approach the situation? They advertised 2 photographers.
The main reason is these new wedding photographers understood that they themselves were not capable of shooting a wedding day by themselves, so they packaged 2 photographers so they essentially just had someone there to help them get through the day and take some extra photos because they knew they were in over their head and would miss things.
But you have to understand… the ‘second’ photographer, was no more experienced than the ‘main’ photographer.
I truly saw individuals who had NEVER shot a wedding, create a website and say every package included 2 photographers… even base packages at $500! $500!!! Wow. What a steal! More like, what a disaster. Basically, the photographer is thinking… “Maybe between the 2 of us, 1 of us won’t miss the shot.” Keep in mind, if the main photographer has little to no experience… how much experience do you think that second person had? Most of the time, this ‘second photographer’ was just their friend they were paying to come keep them company and hold a camera.
The Myth of 2 Photographers
Because of what was happening, it created a myth in the Pittsburgh wedding market that you NEEDED two photographers.
Let me assure you this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, all of the nation’s top wedding photographers do not have a second wedding photographer. The same is true of our region.
If I were to list the top 10 wedding photographers in our region, the majority do not automatically include a second photographer. Those few that do include a second photographer, charge a premium. Why? Because you’re getting TWO professionals and each must make a living off that package.
If you’re seeing a package price that includes TWO professionals for the same price (or less!) that most professionals charge for ONE photographer… this should be a red flag.
The idea that you NEED two photographers “just because” is due to the new and inexperienced wedding photographers that took advantage of a busy 2014/2015 wedding season. The real reason is because they simply knew they weren’t actually capable of covering the day properly and decide to pay a friend to come shoot additional photos in the hopes that between the two of them there’s enough OK photos. Not good photos. Just OK photos. Or sometimes, just photos.
The truth is that if a photographer truly is a professional wedding photographer, he/she should be 100% capable of shooting everything required in addition to being creative and candid as 1 photographer.
The Lie of 2 Photographers
Beyond the myth of 2 photographers, there is also the lie about 2 photographers.
Since our very first photography package ever, FINELINE has always been up front and honest with our customers.
Most of our photography packages include an assistant. IMPORTANT: An assistant is NOT a second photographer. We’ve never hidden this fact, and we make sure to define what an assistant does and does not do.
Earlier I mentioned that even the nation’s top photographers do not use second photographers… but many of them use an assistant.
Is there a difference?
Absolutely yes! AND any honest company should explain the difference… like FINELINE does and always has.
You see, many companies will simply state in their package, “2 Photographers,” when the reality is that it’s just 1 photographer with an assistant, but meant to be advertised in a not completely honest way so you think you’re getting a great deal.
An assistant assists the man photographer. A second photographer should be defined as another photographer, not an assistant.
So is that it? No. You see, in my experience, when a couple believes they are getting 2 photographers, they’re assuming (and I say correctly assuming) that they are getting 2 professionals and that they should be able to give those 2 professionals separate places to shoot and separate requests.
I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve seen couples’ hearts break when they literally find out the week of their wedding that they were mislead and now they won’t be getting the coverage they anticipated because the company they hired that said they offered “2 photographers” really just meant 1 with an assistant.
In fact, I actually just spoke with a bride last night who we are providing video service for (she had already hired another photographer prior to discovering FINELINE during her videography search). She falls into this category. She booked a 2 videographer package with us, so one of our videographers will start with the girls and one with the guys. When I asked her, “Will there be a second photographer with the guys?” she replied, “I booked a photographer that does 2 photographers so I’ve been assuming we’ll have 1 with the guys.” I asked her to check on that. A few hours later she emailed me disappointed saying that her photographer just informed her that her ‘second photographer’ was just an assistant and cannot go shoot with the guys. Furthermore, that assistant has never even shot a wedding before… at all. So much for that ‘2 photographer’ package she booked… and so much for her expectations.
The Truth of 2 Photographers
The truth is that there are situations when a couple NEEDS 2 photographers.
First, if a couple asks FINELINE for 2 photographers, I first have to understand if this couple is just buying the myth of needing 2 photographers, or if they do in fact NEED 2 photographers.
So when would someone NEED 2 photographers? 90% of the time this is simple. The bride wants a photographer with the girls while getting ready and one with the guys while getting ready. If the girls and guys are getting ready in 2 locations that are far apart and a timeline to have 1 photographer go and get coverage at both places just will not work… then this is when a couple may NEED 2 photographers.
Beyond knowing when you actually NEED 2 photographers, you should know that you’re actually GETTING 2 photographers. Meaning, this is when it’s important to be 100% sure the company you’re working with is giving you 2 photographers, and not just 1 with an assistant who can’t go to the other location anyways.
When a couple gets 2 photographers with FINELINE, they’re legitimately getting a second experienced professional with their own gear and their own transportation allowing them to shoot at a second location if required.
Our packages actually define the difference between a second photographer and an assistant so couples can feel assured that they truly know what they’re getting.
1. Don’t buy into the myth – Make sure you understand the most important thing; a true wedding photographer can capture your wedding day
2. Don’t buy into the lie – Don’t assume that a package that says ‘2 photographers’ truly means what you think it means
3. Know the truth – Understand when you NEED a 2nd photographer and if you do, make sure you’re actually getting a second photographer, not an assistant.