Groom Doesn't Like My Photography Style

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by highrisephoto, Jan 5, 2013.

  1. Hello!
    I have a wedding booked for this next August and as I was setting up the couples engagement session the bride said:
    We still want to use you for our wedding, but the first thing is that "Groom" does not like the off-centered style of some of your pictures. I don't mind it, but he does not want pictures like that.
    I'm feeling confused since I would imagine that I was booked because of my specific style and now this has me thinking that they did little to no research at all before booking me. I do not shoot in a very traditional manner and am nervous I will end up shooting in my actual style for the wedding due to habit ect. I don't really even know the best way to respond to her about the subject as to me this sounds like he wants more traditionally posed wedding photographs.
    Any insight would be appreciated. Thank you.
  2. There are MANY customers who are used to and prefer centered photos. Remeber that most novice clickers have center-
    itis and center almost everything, think "phone pictures" for Facebook. That said, a composition that is off center and yet
    well balanced should not set off alarms, but if they are weighted left or right for some artistic purpose and not that well
    balanced the customer will likely complain. Ask the groom to show you the EXACT type of shots that he likes and prefers.
    Then you can reassure him that you will do your best to accomodate his preferences and make them a happy couple.
    Otherwise, just shoot in the style you like and listen to the misery later.
  3. Thanks guys,
    The bride said that she doesn't mind off centered shots and I want to say that my photographs are well balanced :p Also, does it make a difference that I shot the groom's brother's wedding this past year, too? Saying that, I feel like he should know what my photography style is.
    I don't shoot every photograph off centered so maybe I'm just over reacting. It just felt awkward since I haven't shot their engagement session or wedding yet and they are already complaining. I thought about "passing" as well but they've had me booked since this past October with deposits and everything and I felt like it seemed more unprofessional to turn my back and say "good luck to you." So I'm going to see everything through.
  4. I don't shoot every photograph off centered so maybe I'm just over reacting.​
    I don't know the situation other than from your account, but my guess is that you are, in fact, over-reacting. Try to take the glass-half-full approach here and see that they're doing you a favor. They're not complaining. As you rightly observe, they have nothing to complain about yet. They're telling you what they want. I practically BEG brides to do this before weddings.
    We're not artists, at least, not in my opinion and surely not artists first. We're craftsmen hired to do a job. The cake maker doesn't make the cake and deliver it to the reception hall and say, "Surprise! Here's the cake and if you don't like the snakes, tough, that's my personal style!" The caterer doesn't show up with a buffet of Indian curries and say, "Eat it! This is my style of food." I understand that photography is different. But it's not completely different. I'd like to tell the bride, "My personal style doesn't involve shots of the guests and I only do black and white." But I never will. Instead, I shoot the guests and try to do my best making the shots interesting. I process a few shots in black and white and offer them, but I (almost) always provide a color treatment as well. Some people (like my wife!) just don't like black and white. I can't understand it but there it is.
    So, be a good craftsman and try to center the subjects a bit more. Or shoot a bit wider than you normally do so you have the option of cropping both ways. If you really tend to push the subjects off to the left, then shoot a LOT wider than normal. ;-)
    And don't worry about your style: it'll take care of itself.
    As I said, they've done you a favor. You could talk to the bride about it if you feel it would be useful, or even talk to the groom. But you can do it!
    Good luck,
  5. I have worked for several sibling weddings and one where I worked all three sisters. There is a "comfort zone" in that you
    have already dealt with that particular side of the family and that hopefully the brother has become at least enough
    familiar with your work to feel at ease, but obviously he has a concern and in the big scope of things I would just reassure
    him that you are aware of his concerns and that you will adjust your shooting some, but you still have a natural style and
    need to work in your comfort zone to create the best possible product.

    I can't say that any of the brother/sister, or three sister weddings I worked were all that similar. Even in preparing the
    couples ahead of time I explained to them how I treat every wedding as completely unique, and that the opportunities that
    are at one wedding may not be at all like another. They need to understand in some ways not to expect the same result,
    because some couples assume their wedding pictures will be just like their friends or sisters. Just my 2 cents.
  6. I am not a wedding photographer but when the bride and groom differ on what style of photo suits them, I would politely decline doing the wedding next August, telling them now, so there is plenty of time for them to hire another photographer! Just my 2 cents to avoid a problem down the road. Customers like this cannot be satisfied with products and services.
  7. Shoot straight, crop later, if needed.
  8. Linda, without seeing your photos, I suspect you style is of extreme off center. If you 1/3 you subjects, it shouldn't be that much off center than bulls eye dead center. To me, if the groom asks for dead center photos, I'll just do it as it is the easiest thing to do.
    Most clients don't know about photo style before booking the photog.
  9. I'm between Paul's and William's thoughts. If they don't like your style now, they won't like it when they see what you've done for them. If you try to alter your style, it's possible you'll get something that neither they nor you will like. Perhaps you're adaptable and you can veer in a bit of direction. If you're confident in that, then ease the groom's fears and change your mindset about the wedding.
    if you're in a position of power: you have the retainer, the contract is signed, you've got other events to bring in revenue, I suggest telling them something like: "I respect your concerns, but please understand that this is how I photograph. Every artist approaches things at least slightly differently, and in some regards, there is no right or wrong way. I assure you, though, that these off-center pictures are not mistakes; they conform to an artistic principle called the rule of thirds, which makes pictures more interesting when followed. They also help convey more of the environment you're going to great trouble and expense to create on your wedding day. I want to assure you that this will not the dominant look of the pictures from your wedding day, but there will be a representative sample of them - perhaps 30 or 40 out of 500. Still, if you're not happy with that, then I'll be glad to offer you half of your retainer, and you'll still have time to find someone else. I wish you well".
    This shows you're being true to yourself, but also very aware of their perspective.
  10. I almost always shoot straight, leave a bit of room for cropping. You can get several images out of shooting just 1 image straight. Cropped, tight, slighly in an angle, B&W, close ups, all with just 1 full length shot. Yeah photoshop!

    Often the groom doesn't really care. The bride blames the frustration on the groom, so she doesn't look bad. Grooms usually don't really care as long as the bride is happy.

    So you have a full length, and about 5 cropped images on just one shot.

    Think this through. The bride and the groom never realize it's the same shot.

    Don't go into some sort of catastrophic emotional fit, in which you can't sleep at night. Trust me, it's this easy. It's also why I only shoot about 600 to 700 shots at a wedding. You can do so much with just one image, however be careful here. The bride pays a lot for her veil. I pretty much NEVER crop off the heads and the veils. They spend a lot of money for their wedding attire.

    Cutting off heads is something new these past years and I won't do it. Why take what something they spent alot of money for. $300, $600, $1000, maybe more just on the veil.

    Spend your time shooting straight and getting perfect lighting. Then you have a lot to work with. Lighting is still the key for great weddings. Don't use just one flash.

    Again, shoot straight and crop later. This also covers your ass.

    Remember here, you were hired by the bride and the groom, sometimes the mothers. You work for them. Give them what they hired you for, regardless how creative you are.
  11. Why not sit down with them, bring your portfolio and explain your style. Make sure they understand that's they way you expect to shoot their wedding as well and get a reaction. Better get the bad news now than after the wedding is done and you have to deal with disgruntled clients.
  12. William,
    Thank you! I needed to hear that. I had already replied this morning and basically said that I heard their concerns and I will do what I can to give them a product they want. Reading your comment made me realize that it was in fact the right way to go.
    Thanks for everyone's help and insight. I think everyone brought up some really good points. I generally 1/3 or 2/3rd my subjects but it's mostly for posed bride and groom portraits and like I said earlier, it's not in EVERY photograph.
    Thanks again :)
  13. I personally would decline the wedding if they did not like the style. Ultimately, there is a real risk of getting on the wrong side of someone like this. It is a discussion that the couple have to have between themselves and come to a consensus on. Bear in mind currently, the bride to be likes what you do, so if you change things to suit the groom, you may end up disappointing her instead.
  14. I don't shoot weddings, but I have been in one ! :)
    The couple are hiring a photographer to capture their ( hopefully ) once in a lifetime event. They will be looking at these shots for many, many years. Unless the explicitly SAY , " We want a real artsy style with angles and cut off people and empty space .... " I would try to give them what THEY want, not what YOU want. Besides, I assume you are shooting digital. You can takes LOTS of shots they way they want and quite a few they way you want and show them the best of both.
  15. Considering photography as a art form, there's no need to explain to the clients what one's style is at the stage after the engagement session is over.
    Explanation of the style might do some good in the initial meeting. But this is after the engagement session, if the groom doesn't like off center photos, I would just give them dead center photos that he likes.
    If the clients don't like to put wasabi on the sushi, the chef should just oblige. There's no point explaining to the clients that the Japanese have been putting wasabi on theif sushi for 10 thousand years.
  16. You should talk with them again and offer to pull out and return their money if all 3 of you are not comfortable after talking.
  17. I'm with William, shoot wide to give option to crop (and show them both perhaps and see which they choose) and give
    them what they want as they are the clients.
  18. It's worth pointing out that clients often don't choose us for the reasons we think they choose us.
    Linda was surprised to learn, after having been booked for some time, that half the couple doesn't "like her style." We tend to assume people understand photographic styles and choose photographers based largely on style and image quality.
    I think it's more accurate to say these factors -- image quality and shooting style -- are relevant but peripheral. There's a certain quality and capability level that is prerequisite, and clients are able to discern extremely poor photography from generally competent photography. But if you asked clients to explain the term "photojournalism," or elements of composition, they would confidently offer wide-ranging (and often humorous) definitions of those concepts.
    It's disappointing and deflating to get the kind of feedback Linda received, but it should be entirely unsurprising.
    The next question is whether she can deliver a product that is palatable to both the bride and the groom. To do that, it would be most helpful to understand exactly what the groom's concern is, and measure his tastes. It would be a mistake to take his layman's term "off center" to mean the same thing you and I understand it to mean.
    I'd probably meet or skype with the couple and show a few images ranging from extreme off-center, to thirds-composition, to strictly centered composition. I'd spend considerable time listening, but I'd also be ready and able to explain generally accepted rules of composition in 10 seconds or less (you're not teaching a photography class, here; you're just helping a client to understand deliberate composition), and to discuss reasons why I composed certain shots the way I composed them.
    It's likely that some of your shots are "off center" because they should be, while others are "off center" because that's a whimsical artistic preference of yours. It may be enough to rein in your artistic impulses a bit, rather than robotically composing everything for the center. It's probably true that composing just inside the thirds-lines, rather than just outside them, will satisfy the groom, but you won't know that until you ask.
  19. Linda, do you hear the alarm bells ringing? If so, walk away. Do you have an image in your head of who your ideal customer is? What they look like? Their psychopathy and demography? If they don't fit your vision of an ideal customer. walk away as soon as possible. They are lots of other customers out there.

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