Your wedding photographer and your planner don’t have the same goals. They are both people you need to be dealing with directly.

I was browsing the sprawling message boards of Reddit this afternoon, answering questions for future married people and offering advice in some of their stickier situations. This was one topic that came up which I feel strongly about.

The question was presented because a bride had hired a wedding planner and had placed that planner as a buffer between her and her photographer. She reasoned that since the wedding planner was handling so much scheduling, it would make sense to have her sort out the photographer’s schedule for the day as well. This was a mistake. With only a few days before the wedding, she had yet to develop a trusting relationship with the photographer and when the wedding planner announced that the photographer would be arriving later than the bride had imagined, she went into full on panic.

At the time of the posting, the Bride was having difficulty reaching the photographer personally.

Whether it will get worked out so that the bride gets the coverage she was dreaming about, and who is at fault for the confusion and frustration is not clear. However, what is clear is that the bride shouldn’t have tried to consolidate her relationship with her photographer, into her relationship with the wedding planner. Although the photographer should’ve known better than to let that happen, too.

Here’s why:

wedding-photography-ringsWedding planners are focusing on the event unfolding according to plan, while wedding photographers are focused on you remembering the event according to plan.

If this distinction seems subtle to you, that’s okay. Most people have little reason to consider how this moment will feel later. But, that’s your photographer’s job. The photographer knows how missing photos feel in your memory. And, since their interaction with the couple extends weeks and months beyond the wedding date itself, they also know what sorts of things aren’t going to be very important in your memory.

For example, it’s not ideal to make the guests wait. But in six months, missing photos will still sting. Impatient guests will be a thing of the past. With your planner’s primary focus on the day itself unfolding perfectly, they are ill-suited to judge the photographer’s needs in preserving your memory.

Your wedding photographer needs to hear and see your excitement or hesitation.

There’s non-verbal communication, like body language. And there’s verbal communication, like like words. But I think another category is justified–and whose existence I can’t verify. I call it sub-verbal communication. How you say what you’re saying.

Let me give you an example. The majority of couples choose to forgo the old tradition of waiting until the ceremony procession to see each other. It simplifies the day and relaxes everyone, so I urge all couples to do this. But, it’s not for everyone, and if I sense some hesitation in your manner of speaking, I will try and draw that out in order to help you determine if that’s really what you want to do.

Lets face it, you’ve hired a professional photographer because you don’t know what to do. It can sometimes be hard to disagree with someone that you’ve paid to know something you don’t. By keeping your interactions with your photographer personal, you dramatically improve our ability to gauge what you want, even when you might have trouble expressing it yourself.

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The ability and working requirements of wedding photographer’s vary dramatically.

Today, wedding photography comes with a ton of options. You have newcomers who are barely charging enough for the gas to get them to your wedding. There are intermediate people who are still learning and don’t have the confidence to charge enough to support a living wage. There are experienced, well rounded professionals, such as ourselves, who deliver peak results and experience at a premium. The photographer you choose is going to reflect your priorities.

The trouble is, while a company like Petruzzo Photography is ready for almost anything, unseasoned photographers can be easily thrown off track. This isn’t a notch against them. We were there too once. But what it does mean is that if this is who you have hired, you need to consider supporting them through the experience as part of your job.

Let me give you an example. Lets say you really wanted to shoot your formal portraits inside a fairly dark theater. However, you’ve hired a photographer photographer without a lot of experience. You need to maintain a personal relationship with that photographer in order to discover that he or she might not be comfortable relying on off-camera lighting. If you relegate that relationship to your wedding planner, your photographer is likely not to speak up and you’re likely to be disappointed with the photos.

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Okay, so then what?

Your wedding planner is an extremely valuable and versatile individual to have working on your wedding. We recommend one to almost all couples, save for the most ambitious and organized. So please don’t construe what I’m saying as something negative about wedding planners.

What I’m saying is that the roll your planner plays and the roll your photographer plays are both ones that rub right up against your own personal experience on your wedding day. Each of them have a major impact on your perception and experience of the day. So, even though it might mean having an extra meeting or two, insist on having a personal working relationship with your photographer. That means in any meeting with your photographer, you should never rely on surrogates, like your planner.

It is good idea to Introduce your photographer and your wedding planner. They’re a team and will help each other a lot throughout the course of your wedding day. However, don’t allow your planner and your photographer to make decisions without you, and don’t make any decisions about photography without your photographer.