What If A Photographer Has Never Shot at My Venue?

You have the ring. You found the perfect venue and you secured a dreamy date.

Your magical wedding day is coming together piece by piece.

Now you have started the search for the perfect photographer to capture your dream day. You are in love with a certain photographer’s style, you enjoy communicating with them and you’re pretty sure that you’re ready to be their client. Should you wonder or care if they’ve ever shot at your venue before? Is that a deciding factor?

It’s really common in our industry to lose the opportunity to work with potential clients over one simple thing. I’m sorry but we decided to go with another photographer because they have worked at our venue before. I’m here to tell you that this should not be a deciding factor for you - ever.

For some reason, clients think that their photographer having shot at a venue before makes a huge difference in their ability to serve their couple (spoiler: it doesn’t). So much so that some couples will choose not to work with a photographer (regardless of how much they love them and their work) simply because that photographer hasn’t ever set foot at their venue.

DON’T DO THIS.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I often find venue site visits to be fruitless. But I also don’t want to start this post out with a negative tone. So let me leave you with this overarching statement: Long story short… we work at venues sight unseen literally all the time with no issues whatsoever. However, if you have an extremely unique venue situation or your photographer expresses interest in doing a venue site visit, then yes, they can be very helpful. Be prepared for your photographer to charge you for their time if you are the one to request they visit the site. But… read on!

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For my 2018 season, I was at a different venue for each wedding - some of which were private properties I had never seen or venues I had not had the chance to work at before. Yes, I definitely have my favorite venues. Every photographer does. There is a comfort level of returning somewhere you have shot and loved before but that never changes how I do my job. So, I know, you’re still waiting for me to explain… why does it NOT matter if a photographer has shot at your venue before?

Time, Day, Month, Year, Weather

I make portrait location decisions along with nearly every other photograph-related choice based on light. What settings I use, where I stand, the angle of my lens, what lens I choose and a dozen other little factors are all things I consider before take a picture.

I think we all understand the earth’s axis and how our planet’s distance from the sun causes seasons. Right? Well, a wedding in June on a sunny day where the bride gets dressed at 11 AM will look completely different than a wedding in November on a cloudy day where the bride gets dressed at 3 PM.

Heck, if we’re getting technical, even if both days were blazingly sunny and both brides got dressed at 11 AM… light moves differently through cold and hot air. Therefore even just the temperature will change the light.

All three of these dress shots were taken at the same venue within a 50 yard radius of each other. All three shots are very different but were created with intention.  Dress #1: The getting ready suite was crowded and hectic, leaving me limited options within the space. However, this wall was just outside and also allowed the videographer to capture wide shots of the dress unobstructed. We ended up doing the first look in this location as well creating consistency throughout the couple’s gallery.   Dress #2: It was a very overcast day and was extremely humid outside. The couple had a very light and airy style so I wanted to incorporate a light-toned backdrop with the dress (ie: the door and the wall) to create gallery consistency. The getting ready suite was very calm and I had this entire room to myself.  Dress #3: It was POURING. This bride had a very etherial, hippie, boho style to her day but a more traditional, formal ball gown. In order to create an image that pulled her style into the dress shot and blended in with the rest of her images, I thought it was really important that we shot the dress outside with greenery. However, it was raining so heavily that my best option was the porch.

All three of these dress shots were taken at the same venue within a 50 yard radius of each other. All three shots are very different but were created with intention.

Dress #1: The getting ready suite was crowded and hectic, leaving me limited options within the space. However, this wall was just outside and also allowed the videographer to capture wide shots of the dress unobstructed. We ended up doing the first look in this location as well creating consistency throughout the couple’s gallery.

Dress #2: It was a very overcast day and was extremely humid outside. The couple had a very light and airy style so I wanted to incorporate a light-toned backdrop with the dress (ie: the door and the wall) to create gallery consistency. The getting ready suite was very calm and I had this entire room to myself.

Dress #3: It was POURING. This bride had a very etherial, hippie, boho style to her day but a more traditional, formal ball gown. In order to create an image that pulled her style into the dress shot and blended in with the rest of her images, I thought it was really important that we shot the dress outside with greenery. However, it was raining so heavily that my best option was the porch.

What this all equates to is that photographers make the majority of their decisions completely on the fly based off of experience and knowledge. Prior exposure to a venue can mean absolutely nothing. That beautiful window where I got the bride dressed last time might have terrible, harsh light coming in when it’s your turn to get dressed. It’s vastly more important that your photographer is skilled in any lighting situation than if they can replicate the same images time after time. Your wedding is unique. Your images should be too. Which leads me to my next point…

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Wedding Design and Style

You’ve heard it again and again. Every wedding is different.
It’s not untrue… every single wedding I shoot is different. I even had a bride who saw one of my former bride’s bouquets and wanted the exact same one. She got a very, very close recreation but you would never be able to pick those two weddings out of my portfolio. Everything else about their days was different.

Just like I make decisions based on light, I make decisions to create images that fit my clients’ wedding style. Regardless if the venue is the same, I would never shoot two weddings in the exact same way. Everything from the couple’s personalities down to their floral colors guides me to make decisions on the fly that suit the couple I am working for.

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All of this is just the long-winded way of explaining that if you’re hiring a professional, it won’t matter one tiny little bit if they’ve ever been to your venue before. I could shoot at the same venue 10 times in a row and do something different every single time out of both choice and necessity. I think most other photographers would agree.

If you’re making the decision of who to hire based on if they’ve shot at your venue before, you could be making a big mistake and losing out on both gorgeous images and an incredible experience.