They say you can tell what matters to a person by looking at where they spend their money and their time. Unfortunately, sometimes, as photographers, we get requests that demonstrate our time and skills are not as valuable or important to those inquiring into our services.
Now, I'm not saying that photographers do not understand your budget or your timeline; we've all been on the other side, hiring someone to take our photos. However, we get some requests that you wouldn't ask of other professions. Not only have I been on the receiving end of some of these requests, but I've seen how other photographers have struggled to deal with them.
Below are three of the requests we photographers see a lot, and some ways to invest wiser while showing your photographer that you still value them, their time, and their skills.
1) "I don't need all fifteen photos that are included in your package. How much is it for just one or two photos?"
Why this is a no-no: Although my package may include fifteen digital images, during our hour long session, I may take anywhere from one to two hundred photos in a session. I never take just one or two photos. Between blinking, lighting, and numerous other factors, I always take more photos.
What you can ask instead: I understand being on a tight budget! I really do. I promise. If it's a budget issue, I offer mini sessions seasonally. Ask about mini sessions or payment plans instead. I want you to have photos that you love and your family will value and look back on with fondness.
2) "My wedding is coming up and we're on a very strict budget. How much would it be for the hour of the ceremony and then for you to come back about halfway through the reception for us to get some other photos?"
Why this is a no-no: Even though you think you've given us a "break" of several hours, we can't book anything else during that time. If we're traveling any distance to your wedding, it's literally impossible for us to do anything in the between time. More than that, the moments that my brides have loved to see captured are ones that happened when they didn't think anything would be going on. As someone who has been married, my reception timeline did not go the way I thought it would have. If I'd asked my photographer to come back "halfway through", then I would have missed most of the important moments.
What you can ask instead: Especially with weddings, we understand how expensive it can get. Ask your photographer about payment plans, or ways to limit the total cost of the package. If it's cutting aA second shooter, or an album that you know you'll probably never look at, there may be ways for your photographer to trim the package to your budget.
A word of caution: With wedding photography, I will give this word of caution to you. If someone has packages that start incredibly low, be aware that you may be getting what you paid for, which is little to nothing. I've heard horror stories from brides who paid $300 for their photographer, only to never see their wedding photos, or to have photos that do not match the person's portfolio. Please, do not be lulled in by the dollar signs. Photography on your wedding day is an important investment.
3) Any variation of a request for unedited or RAW photos. (This includes "I would love to just have you take the photos and I'll edit them.")
Why this is a no-no: I'm going to say this until I'm blue in the face, though I'm lucky that I've never had any of my amazing clients request this-- asking your photographer for RAW (which is a file type, not just an unedited photo) or unedited photos is like going into a bakery and asking for the baker to provide the cake batter and fondant. It's not going to show the best work of the photographer if they provide you with photos straight off the camera. While we can sometimes have amazing lighting, often what you see in the portfolio has been carefully curated to show you exactly what a photographer can do. We adjust lighting, weed out photos that have people blinking or are out of focus, and edit the photos to show our subjects in the best way possible.
More than that, any editing of the photos that your photographer provides you with without their express written permission is copyright infringement. I've heard arguments about "if no one else knows" or it's "just for my personal use", and it does not make it any less illegal.
What you can ask instead: If you are simply wondering if there are more photos that might be usable or you love your photos so much you'd like more, ask your photographer about the option to purchase additional photos. Be aware that they may charge you extra to edit any additional photos. It's a lot of work, and they have other clients who are also waiting on edited photos and galleries. If you're unhappy with your photos, please tell your photographer and give them the chance to right it before jumping straight to "I'll just edit them myself."
Please don't let this stop you from looking for a photographer or be afraid to ask us questions. We want you to love your photos, no matter what.