I joined this site years ago as a photographer and have recently had a very bad experience trying to hire a wedding photographer. My portfolio here is pretty out of date, I've done quite a few engagement shoots for friends of friends in the past few years with good results and I've been lurking in this forum for ages, so I think I have an interesting perspective trying to be a customer. I went with a larger company because I spent a lot of time speaking with the owner he really understands the craft, showed excellent samples, talked about how he maintains consistency among his photographers and is an impressive sales person. His prices are quite high, about $2500 for an 11 hour day, $300 more for a 90 minute engagement session. He's pretty clear he's making his money there, his enlargement and album prices are quite reasonable. He also agreed to sell me a DVD of raw images from all the non-culls for an additional $200 because I shared my own level of experience and made it clear I wanted to do my own editing. So we did the shower shoot about a month ago. I'd expected the turnaround to be about a week given they just had to do some culling. It took three weekend and a few emails from me to get the pictures, which turned out to be low-res jpgs, because they forgot I was supposed to get the raw, which they promised to get to me soon. They made a comment that the shoot went well because they're giving me over 300 pictures instead of the usual 75-80 for an engagement shoot. The pictures are absolutely awful. It looks like they were grossly over-exposed and pulled back down from the RAW file the highlights and most of the mid-tones were completely blown. We were outdoors near noon in bright full sunlight, and they were shooting with the camera in manual, iso 800, f5.6 at 1/200 - 1/800, so that explains why the look the way they do. Besides that, the framing is awful, the photographer cut half way through our feet, vertical along arms, missing elbows, etc. There's pictures with flags and things growing out of heads, etc. In all there's nothing usable. They included obvious culls, shots with eyes closed (they claim that's in case I can use elements to edit another shot) The camera angles, posing, etc is bad too, They look like candid snapshots which caught us at our worst (they claim this is a photojournalistic approach rather than "fine art" meaning posed shots), but they really are incredibly unflattering. My fiancee won't even show them to her friends or family. The photographer offered to refund my deposit minus $320 for the engagement shoot since that service was performed and walk away. That was interesting too since up front they said the engagement shoot is a trial run for the wedding and if we don't like it they'll do a free reshoot with another photographer to see if we click better. At this point I'm tempted to take it since there is no way I want them at my wedding. I don't like that idea either because it acknowledges the pictures have some value. I guess I should consider myself lucky they didn't do this with my wedding photos. I did bring my camera with and after the engagement shoot, my fiancee and I took some pictures of each other, these came out quite nicely but of course there's no shots of both of us which kind of defeats the purpose. I see so many threads here complaining about the craigslist hack for $500 taking away their business. Photographers are wondering how they can convince the client of the quality they offer over some guy with a camera. I'm in the opposite position, I know good photograph from badMy question is how do you separate the good salesperson with no photography skills like i ended up with from the great photographer who may or may not have sales skills? Thanks for taking the time to read this long posting.