Last night's wedding was something else (Warning: possible self-righteous rant to follow) when I was hired to perform as DJ for a wonderful couple and had a grand time with them. They decided to hire a wedding photographer who was not us for photography service, and that's OK; our services are available independently and without obligation for others.
However, I believe that when the sales process is concluded, and all of the accounting and office paperwork is finished, and it's time to provide actual performance (also known as "execution") that it's time to set the marketing aside.
That's where this particular photographer was clearly a much different philosophy than us. Having worked another event in another capacity with them previously and recently, I immediately noticed a trend similar to before. From the moment they arrived at the event venue, she and her assistant (for ranting purposes and not naming names, I'll just write "she" and "he" and so forth) began methodically selling themselves to any and everyone they could, looking to get paid for their next event. Wow.
Seriously, at one point I saw her huddle down and compose a Gmail message response – kind of hard to miss – while her back was turned on the action that unfolded and concluded without her involvement.
At another point, I let her know, as event DJs are known to do, that something special was about to happen. I was absolutely shocked when she told me to hold on because she had something else more important to do right now at this very moment. As it turns out, she wanted to run out to her car and get some marketing materials to leave with the Director of Catering so she could work on her to become a preferred vendor at the facility. She had sensed an opening and was like a shark with blood.
Then there was her associate. This guy …
Just as before, he loudly announced himself upon his entrance and proclaimed his glory to all in the land. He made sure that everyone knew his name and the fact that, although he was "just the second shooter" he had his own photography company and would be happy to let you know about it. He spent a lot time standing around loudly talking (at highly auspicious times, such as, oh say, the Wedding Ceremony!) And "schmoozing", meaning basically extolling his virtues. During set-up, I was confronted with a particularly problematic technical situation involving poor Wi-Fi access at the venue, and was feverishly working to fix it. He felt this was the appropriate time to grill me about my business practices, starting with "how did I get hired for this job" and so forth. Both of them had previously interrogated me about my rates, marketing strategies, bookings, and more. I was wondering if they were going to ask me my social security number and Mother's maiden name!
Things really changed this time though, when I had the audacity to request that the associate quit "talking shop" and focus on the task at hand. You know, the Bride and Groom?
For the reminder of the evening, he pouted around me, which was fine because I certainly did not need his frivolous distraction. Unfortunately, he could not quite hold back and wait until the guests had all left when he exploded with "I did not like what you said to me!" and would not stop until he worked his way way through the script of the old Jerry Springer show in front of everyone. Fun for TV, but unbelievably inappropriate at someone's wedding.
Sales and marketing is essential to the success of any business. But there is a line that must not be crossed, when it becomes shameless and relentless self-promotion at the expense of the client. A wedding photographer owes a particular obligation to their client, often by now their friend, to give them their complete and undivided attention during this most important time in their lives. Please choose one who will pour their heart and soul into yours.