How to behave with a photographer

I usually write for photographers but this post might actually be slightly different in the sense that it is meant more for the person on the other side of the line who is looking to hire the services of a professional photographer. As in everything else this is a two sided thing and as photographers you should also know how to value your work and what you bring to the table.

A creative talent is not a vendor

Not like in the editorial or the advertising world where a photo editor usually has more experience of working with different photographers and creative talents, a wedding client is likely to be looking for a professional photographer for the first time in her/his life. You are looking to purchase services from an artist and it is a mistake to confuse him with a vendor. It is a very easy mistake to make. In the day to day life you are used to buying services from the telephone company, your insurance guy, your local store. Maybe you work in the service industry, an investment banker, a travel agency. However, a photographer is not a vendor. He has a talent, a magic that a vendor does not possess. A vendor is there to sell something and many times it doesn’t really matter what they sell as long as there is a financial transaction at the end of the process. You can haggle, compare prices, make a bid, do what you want basically and as long as the contract is signed properly you will get what you ordered and the quality of the service or product that you purchase will not be affected by the negotiating process. The coconut water will taste the same. Not with a photographer. The quality of the work you get from a photographer changes based on how you work with him and this is the biggest difference between a vendor and a creative talent. If you treat a photographer like a vendor you are shooting yourself in the foot and are likely to get a mediocre result in return. On the other hand, if you treat a coconut vendor like an artist you’ll be wasting your time and money.

wedding photographers in India

The fact  is that vendors are easier to replace than artists

Vendors could spend the day in office cubicles under fluorescent lights and wait for that call to come and an order to be placed. They will be happy to fill out the forms and spend time negotiating the terms and conditions. They could stand all day in the sun on the streets of India and sell the same chai every day without a difference in quality. They could be indifferent about what they sell as the focus here is volume and continuity. While a photographer is also paid to take pictures he is not a vendor and is not motivated in the same way. The fact  is that vendors are easier to replace that artists.

Capturing the perfect moment is the magic

Getting the perfect moment, or creating the perfect picture, takes more than owning a new camera and having a website with pictures. Even if your wedding planner created the most beautiful setup and all the elements are there, it is still up to the photographer to make his magic. The next guy will be selling the same coconut but another photographer will not take the same pictures. The industry, every industry, is built on relationship and many vendors expect, and sometimes value, an impersonal nature of relationship. The flower vendor really does not care and many times not interested in who buys the flowers. The same goes for the catering and all other service providers, but not with a photographer or an artist. Yes, of course you should treat vendors with respect. All human beings deserve respect and will do their best work if treated fairly, but when you want someone to dig deep and bring something out that is beyond the number of pictures that you get at the end of the day, you’re going to have to respond in kind.

By Sephi Bergerson

Sephi Bergerson is a documentary photographer based in India since 2002 and is available for wedding photography in India, destination wedding photography in Udaipur, Jaipur, palace weddings in Rajasthan or a beach wedding in Goa or Kerala. Sephi is also happy to travel for wedding photography in Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, Maldives, Thailand and Sri Lanka. 

  • bhavesh bhati

    definitely , at that point of time both are havin same precious moments.. missin any moment can mak dem pay the price..!!! m/

    • Thank you for this comment Bhavesh. Regarding your twitter name: now is the time (when you only have a small number of followers) to find a more creative name for yourself than the one you chose . . thanks.

  • Dkhanna

    excellently written and great advice for clients to heed.

    • Thank you Dinesh. It is good that I prepared something in advance . . 😉

  • Anil

    Very true Sephi, in fact I plan to print some of the above observations and hand over to some of my clients as we keep facing quite a few insensitive people………..

  • Navneet_ahuja

    hi sephi this is navneet here the same person who asked u about your biography i did find something about u and submitted my presentation.
    i m back in india hope we meet some time
    your article on how to behave with a photographer is excellent one. the new generation does not know how respectfully  were  the previous generation photographers treated and all this has gone down after introduction of digital technology and every camera holder thinking himself as pro.  

  • Anonymous

    I completely agree, Sephi. Well said!
    I laughed a little at the irony of the Foto”wala” denouncing the idea that he is a vendor though haha:)

  • Excellent post Sephi;
    Yes, Some people do need to be educated on the process of hiring creative talent!
    You get what you pay for applies here! As artists we understand that our work is not about the all mighty dollar.
    I know from experience that some of my best work has been done for clients who appreciate the value of artistic talent and want the very best for their wedding.  They hire us then let us work our magic! They appreciate our talent, and are looking for quality over quantity. Keep up the inspiring posts! Hopefully we can change things around here!

    • Thanks for this comment Andrew, and for posting on fb. Of course I agree that in photography like in everything else “You get what you pay for” but I’m not talking about money here. Whatever the professional fee is, the issue here is the client’s expectations and approach. You may charge a huge fee or work for a token amount but the idea stays the same in differentiating a creative talent from a vendor. Cheers, Sephi

  • It is 100% true that an artist are different from a vendor who doesn’t or needn’t to know what he is dealing with on selling. Its a good informational post for all photographers to boost up their presentation or marketing skills while working with clients. Sometimes, it is inevitable to step on to a vendor’s shoe to reach out to more clients as an upcoming photographer than being an artist itself, i guess..

  • Navdeep

    well said will be an understatement

  • Gora Sandhu.

    thanks sir this is biggest problem for new comers like me im 6 years old iNn photography (gorasandhu555@gmail.com)

  • Very well said. I would also like to highlight that just the cost or charges of photographer does not showcase his ability but his creativity. I think that’s what most of the couples forget and haggle or compare photographers with. Its all about the photography style, the experience and his “magic” that matters.

  • Great juxtaposition Sephi. Vendor and Artist. Completely 2 different entities. Different Vendors can sell the same thing at different prices. All Artist can perform but the performance is not unique. Also Art is personal and each individual person has a different approach. Coming to photography every person with a Camera can take photos but if you want great photos then you should get a fine and experience photographer and for that you have to pay more. Yes you can settle for less and don’t expect much. 

    Here Fotowala is from pardesh 🙂 Bad luck Indian Photographers (including myself) missed a great twitter handle 😉

  • Spot on Sephi. Loved it 🙂

  • Your blog touch my heart ,even i am a photography. A photographer should never be identified by the cost.Photographer is an artist which capture the special day to be unforgettable in future.