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The list of why we don’t like checklists… list.

Checklist.   It’s a word that makes many wedding photographers cringe.

I’m not talking about the list of family members that clients want portraits with-  we love that list!  We also love knowing the important details of the wedding day that are “must haves!”.  In this post,   I’m referring to the dreaded wedding magazine checklist for photographers.  I’m sure you’ve seen it.  It’s published in many wedding magazines.  It includes things like:

___ Wedding dress lying over a chair
___ Zipping up or buttoning the wedding dress

___ Mother of the bride fastening the bride’s necklace
___ The bride’s garter
___ The bride’s veil
___ A close up of the bride’s shoes peeking out from under the dress
___ Bride looking into a mirror
___ Bride looking out window
___ Bride and bridesmaids putting on makeup
___ Bride pinning corsage/boutonniere on mother/father
___ Mother/father handing bride bouquet ___ Bride hugging parents
___ Bride touching up
___ Bride and parents leaving for ceremony
___ Groom tying tie
___ Groom looking into mirror
___ Groom looking out window
___ Groom pinning corsage/boutonniere on mother/father
___ Groom hugging parents
___ Bride and parents leaving for ceremony

I could go on,  but you can see more examples of this dreaded list here:


Why we dread it.

1.  The wedding becomes one huge script.   It becomes very unnatural, and somewhat painful.

2.  Photographers are stuck reading a list and setting up cookie cutter shots (that everyone else does at their wedding), rather than capturing moments as they naturally occur, moments that make each wedding unique!

3.  We’ve shot hundreds of weddings.  We have a good idea of what’s important.

4.  A list could mean that the client really doesn’t trust us to do our job.

5.  We know the client will be much happier without having to pause every few seconds for another set up shot.

6.  Dear wedding magazine,  1981 called, they want their list back.

7.  We put lists on our I phone, which means we have to face the urge to look at facebook more often.


What do you think about lists?  Like them?  Hate them?    Leave your input in the comments, we’d love to hear your thoughts!



The list of why we don’t like checklists… list.
  1. Kim Spears: I have been following your blog for a long time now and I don't think I have ever commented .. sorry !! I HAD to on this post. THANK YOU !! I could not agree more with everything you said and point #6 made me crack up! Keep up the amazing work :) March 15, 2012 at 9:31 pm
    • Mark Eric: Thanks Kim! March 18, 2012 at 11:49 pm
  2. RobyFabro: What's the point of spending time and energy looking for the right photographer, going through hundreds of photos, when you have to tell him/her what to photographs!! If you don't trust the guy to be capable of doing a good job at your wedding, you should not hire him/her then. March 10, 2012 at 9:29 pm
  3. Sue Broderdorp: Hate, hate lists!!! I had a MOB give me a THREE PAGE list once, including (and I kid you not) mother crying. March 6, 2012 at 10:09 pm
  4. Edna: Yes, that list takes away from the natural shots of the wedding. When you have to stop for those you miss others. Your pictures are always awesome, really like your photography. March 5, 2012 at 7:11 pm
  5. Susan: So true! I ask for the "must have shots" like Bride with her Grandmother but I don't like the script. I normally tell my brides that all of those shots on those lists are covered by good coverage or something that is old and outdated. (Prom pose anyone???) Thanks for sharing! March 5, 2012 at 11:43 am
  6. Stephanie HIckerty: Great article! I met with a bride recently that had a similar checklist & was reading it off to me. I was dying to ask her where she got the I know! lol Seriously, I don't have time to look at a list when I'm shooting a wedding...besides, I really don't want all my weddings to look the same...and truly, I imagine my brides don't either. March 5, 2012 at 9:31 am
  7. Julie Paszczykowski: Too funny, I think I like #7 the best! LOL I love when a bride and groom let me now their MUST HAVES, what is really important on their wedding day that doesnt happen at every other wedding. But, since I take the time to get to know my clients before the wedding day I have have a good feel for what they want and as a WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER, we know how to watch the day unfold naturally and capture THOSE moments, not the posey, posey . Like you said, the list of those family members, yes.. the rest is capturing memories! Great post! March 5, 2012 at 9:03 am
  8. Rebekah: Something like that? HATE it! So stiff! March 5, 2012 at 6:56 am
  9. Chris Lin: I make fun of shot lists. March 5, 2012 at 12:54 am
  10. Katey: Soo true!!!.. I agree with you 100% !..I mean, you can be inspired with new ideas with each wedding that goes by. Why read off a checklist??...I think you should ask the bride and groom what specific kind of pictures they would like to have no matter what, but make it your own style with a splash of creativity!! This coming from a amateur photographer. . . God Bless! March 4, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Michelle is married!

Wedding pics coming soon from Michelle and Mark’s wedding.  She was a stunning bride!

  1. Katey: Thanks!.. I'm trying to decide whether I should buy a 25-70 or 70-200... What do you get most use out of? I need it for my brothers wedding.....Any suggestions?? January 7, 2012 at 1:14 am
  2. Katey: May I please ask what lens you used to take this photo??. . .Awesome work! January 6, 2012 at 10:41 pm
    • Mark Eric: Hi Katey, This was shot with a Canon 70-200 on a 1D Mark IV January 6, 2012 at 11:32 pm
  3. ainsley: Stunning to say the least! I love following your work. December 15, 2011 at 10:48 am



Ramsey and Brent :) Just a few …

Ramsey and Brent are a complete HOOOOT !!!!  These two are such a perfect fit for each other .  Mark crammed a few engagement and bridals into a whirlwind afternoon about a week or so prior to their Vegas wedding  (next to hit our blog ) !

Here are a few of my favorites from their session ….

Can’t wait to share their blast of a wedding next with everyone !



From a photographers perspective, 5 things that could cause a photographer to turn down your wedding

Edit:  This post is in no way meant to be condescending towards clients.  I love my clients, and anyone we’ve worked with will tell you that.  This post is simply intended to give couples a peek into the business world of wedding photography so that they are better prepared to secure the right photographer for them.  I was fairly transparent in this post, and as you can overwhelmingly see by the comments- most people in the wedding industry (not just photographers) agree with me (and some even added more points).  In the end, the most important thing for clients is that they secure the best vendors they can afford for their wedding, and hopefully this post will help put clients in a position to do that a little easier.    Some vendors only care about securing a retainer so that they can meet a quota or have the security of a booked date.  However, most of the better vendors will have a qualifying process to ensure that they are booking clients who they feel comfortable entering into a working relationship with.   This is a good thing for everyone involved….Cheers!

This post is part of our “From a Photographers Perspective” series of blog posts.  A series of posts designed to help clients make more informed choices when it comes to making important decisions about their wedding.  You can view the other posts from this series here:

People always ask me if I’ve ever had a “bridezilla”.  The honest truth is that most of our brides have been really great!  We love our clients, and based on feedback- they love us!  Occasionally, we will meet a Mother, Sister, or Bridesmaid that doesn’t quite understand artistic wedding photography, so they get a little confused when we gently tell them that we don’t shoot off of magazine checklists.  But in the end, they all love the images, which is why the couple hired us to begin with.  Part of the reason that we do have amazing clients is because the interview process is two ways.  When a couple contacts us about shooting their wedding, we are just as interested in finding out about them.  Of course, we don’t bring them into a windowless room with a swinging light bulb for a full blown interrogation, but we do try to get a feel for their personalities.  We want to make sure they are hiring a photographer that is a good fit for them.  At the same time, we are also trying to make sure that we don’t book a job just because the date is open, we want clients who love our style of photography, and who are comfortable putting their wedding day memories in our hands (which means the magazine checklist doesn’t apply).

We have turned down clients in the past, based on a variety of reasons.  Like I said earlier, we want to make sure they find a photographer who is a good fit for them.  If that means that we don’t book the job, that’s ok!  In the end, they must be comfortable with the decision they make, and they should hire a photographer that will best capture the vision for their wedding day.    For brides and grooms searching for a photographer,  here are 5 things that would cause us to recommend another photographer for your wedding day.

1.  Availability. This is an easy one.  If we are booked, we will recommend photographers  that we trust.  We actually share calendars with several photographers for this reason-  when we are booked, we are happy to recommend trusted photographers who we know are available.     The big thing to keep in mind is that good photographers book up fast.  One of our good friends (who is an amazing photographer) is already booked entirely for 2012.  We are booked for several dates in 2012, but we still have some availability.  Why am I telling you this?  Because when you find a photographer that you like, and they are open for your date, don’t drag out the booking process.  Chances are that they are receiving several other inquiries for your date, and they will book soon.   One of the worst feelings is for us to develop a great relationship with a bride, but have to tell her that someone else booked her date before she could make a decision to pay the retainer.   When you find a photographer you trust and like, don’t delay the booking process, you’re date will get snagged by someone else.  Remember, wedding photographers only have 52 weekends a year to earn a living, those dates go very fast.

2.  Personality. Again, this one is pretty easy to recognize, but we do turn down jobs if we feel like the personalities just aren’t a good match.  For example, we had scheduled a meeting with some potential clients recently.  When I called to finalize the details, the groom was very short with me.  As he passed the phone over to his fiance, I could clearly hear him raising his voice towards her.  I brushed it off as a stressful day, then waited  for her to come to the phone.  When she came to the phone, she sounded very annoyed and short.  I knew that they were probably having a bad day, but based on this brief conversation- I realized that they just weren’t clients that we would want to enter into a working relationship with.  We want clients who love each other, and are excited about the wedding process.   The way you talk to the photographer may make the decision process easy for him or her.  Remember, dates book up fast- and most photographers realize that if a client isn’t a good fit, the date can likely be filled by a better fit.

3.  Time invested in the interview process. We’ve chatted with some clients who we absolutely loved.  Eventually, we realized that we weren’t a good fit simply because we couldn’t afford to invest any more time to their questions and phone conversations.  We have literally spent seven hours (split up) with some clients answering questions, giving consultations, and getting to know different members of the family.  There comes a point when the amount of time committed simply doesn’t make business sense for the photographer.  If we have to spend more time in the interview process than we will spend on the wedding day,  then obvioiusly the client still isn’t comfortable with us for one reason or another- and it’s simply time to move on so that we can devote our time to our actual paying clients.

4.  Budget.  Photographers should be upfront with all of their pricing and package information.  We understand that we may not fit into everyone’s budget, and that’s ok.  Most of the time, we can help you find a photographer that will fit into the budget if we are asked.  However, some clients seem to believe that photographers are open to a negotiation process.  I’ve never really understood this one.  Of course, we may be able to customize a package to fit your needs, but asking us to reduce our pricing because of budget issues is more of an insult than people realize.  People don’t go to the cashier at Macy’s and offer $100 for a jacket listed at $250.  Maybe it’s the fact that photographers are self employed.  Maybe it’s because people don’t understand that photographers charge what they do for a reason (equipment, insurance, taxes, family income, employee wages).  Whatever the reason, when a potential client asks us to reduce our pricing because of budget issues, we simply send them a list of other photographers, then move on.

5.  Shopping Photographers.  Today, we received an email from a potential bride that was addressed to several other photographers besides us.  It simply asked for pricing on wedding day coverage and a DVD.  This told me that she was simply shopping photographers based on price.  Honestly, if you are shopping photographers based on price- we really shouldn’t be on the list.  There are plenty of photographers who are cheaper than us, and we know this.  There is no reason for us to get caught up in a bidding war (see above).  We want clients that want to hire us for our talent, experience, and personality.  This is the main reason that we have never participated in a bridal show, because we realize that by nature, most bridal shows are set up for brides who are shopping based on price.  Fortunately for us, we receive our business from word of mouth, which means our clients love us!

If you are serious about hiring a particular photographer (whether it’s us or someone else), I hope these tips will help you see things from a photographers perspective.  Perhaps they will help you avoid some of the red flag issues that may be a turn off for the photographer you love.  More than anything, I hope they help everyone realize that wedding photography should be based on great personality matches.  The wedding photographer will be documenting the biggest day of your lives!  Having someone with a personality that you can trust and get along with is critical to producing great images that you will love.

Hope this helps!  Please feel free to add your thoughts or questions in the comments, I would love to chat more!


  1. John Blair: I recently had a potential client ask for a discount if they only wanted a "shoot & burn" wedding package. It seems that clients honesty do not understand that a shoot & burn package should cost more since there will be NO after sales to help keep our doors open. The DVD of images is practically EVERYTHING and the kitchen sink. Great bit of writing. jb April 7, 2011 at 11:58 am
  2. Carolyn Scott: Completely agree! Everyone I choose to work with is fabulous, because I choose to work with them. :) If I have a consult with someone who is overly negative or has strange demands that don't match with my personality, I suggest another photographer. It's very important that everyone is on the same page. March 25, 2011 at 10:36 am
  3. Freida: As a wedding planner and a bride-to-be, I applaud you for gracefully articulating the dance between potential client and vendor. This can actually apply to catering, venue, make-up, etc as well. But I think many people can take photographers for granted and I will use this article with my clients AND potential clients. Sometimes, it can also come down to chemistry too. . . the chemistry/energy I feel with the clients really lays the foundation for our working relationship. Thanks again. . . February 10, 2011 at 10:07 pm
  4. Kelly Jordan: How beautifully put Mark! Thank you January 31, 2011 at 1:54 am
  5. stacy sullivan: Right after reading this I had an inquiry that started off with "I would like you to cut me a deal because...." And then "here is what five other photographers are willing to do for me...." And I felt empowered to say no instead of getting caught up in a bidding war. So..thank YOU!! So very insightful! January 28, 2011 at 5:57 pm
  6. from a photographer’s perspective » Jessica Smith Photography: [...] a Photographers Perspective” and all of his posts have been dead on. His most recent post is “5 things that could cause a photographer to turn down your wedding” and I thought it was worth reposting. You can click here to check out his gorgeous blog and the [...] January 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm
  7. Brynn Rogel: even opened my eyes a little bit as a photographer and I realized what's ok to not accept; i never really thought of it as being a choice until now. thanks mark. January 26, 2011 at 10:48 pm
  8. Robert Bromfield: Great article and I definitely feel the 5 points you make definitely saves us our sanity and time. January 24, 2011 at 2:16 pm
  9. Colleen Donovan: Dear Mark, I have loved you for a long time. Now I will love you for forever. :) Thank you so much! Now to get the WORLD to read and understand... January 22, 2011 at 8:06 pm
  10. Jim Hilgedick: Very well thought out and equally well written. I can't imagine for a moment why you would get negative feedback about this post. January 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm
  11. Frances Matteck: This post is really great! It brings an interesting perspective that as a new photographer I hadn't really considered. Right now my partner and I are still new enough that we accept whatever comes our way and make the best of it because we need the business. We are growing slowly but growing nonetheless and I get a happy, tingly feeling inside imagining the day when people come to us based on our portfolio and reputation and we can take those clients rather than taking anything that comes our way. Thank for your words. =) January 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm
  12. Katie: I love this, and I really think it needed to be said. I am not a photographer, but my fiance and I are both self-employed writers. When I hear about people asking for discounts or to have their date held without a deposit, I cringe. We knew which photographer we wanted to work with, so I got his pricing and started budgeting for him as soon as we decided to get married. I expect my clients to pay me promptly, without haggling or dragging their feet, and I respect the work of my fellow self-employed professionals too much to do that to them. I think more people need to realize that you will actually get a better end result (and everyone will have more fun) if you are pleasant, respectful and polite. Really, that rule applies to pretty much every situation in life. January 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm
  13. Brian Miller: good article, but you mention; People don’t go to the cashier at Macy’s and offer $100 for a jacket listed at $250. Services are ALWAYS negotiable, whether you choose to negotiate is something different. I recently had to undergo surgery, the Dr's fee was $11,000 after a discussion and informing him what my insurance would cover he accepted just over $8,000. Even with what insurance would cover it was still $2k less than what it would have been had I not asked. It's human nature to bargin January 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm
  14. Marc Pagani: Well put, sir! January 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm
  15. David D: How many times can I hit the "Like" button for this post ? January 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm
  16. Lisa B: I loved this, I did not find it condescending at all. I'd love to repost it or link to it on my blog. I think you addressed some very key points! January 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm
  17. Salwa: Fantastic post - ver well put! January 21, 2011 at 11:54 am
  18. Veronica Passalacqua: So elequently put! I have wrestled with these same issues for years as a makeup artist. I think it is safe to say your words ring true for artistic wedding vendors across the board. Thank you for posting! January 21, 2011 at 11:46 am
  19. Dawn McGrath: I love this article - every bullet is right on-point. I will never understand those that ask for a cheaper price - would they work for less?! Many wedding professionals have similar issues. The one thing I disagree with is the wedding show comment. I am not a photographer so I could be incorrect here, but I've chatted with some great couples at shows that say they are looking for a photographer. They come to a show to look at work and meet the photographer one-on-one to see if there is a connection. It avoids committing to a consultation where they might feel obligated to hire. January 21, 2011 at 10:15 am
  20. Ashleigh Jayne: Mark, I think topics like this should be discussed and brought up... I also think it's good for bride's to hear these things. I think you said it in a very tasteful way and I couldn't have agreed more!!! YOU ROCK!!!!! January 21, 2011 at 9:44 am
  21. Natalie Wells: As a portrait photographer and recent bride, I could not agree more! This was a great post full of insight for clients and photographers. Thanks for sharing! January 21, 2011 at 7:46 am
  22. Krystal: Thank you for such an excellent post. Many of us are going through hard times and it's easy just to accept the next booking because we are grateful for the work as opposed to making sure that the client is going to suit us and we are going to suit the client. The above just reminds us that we do need to be smart about our business and our clients. January 21, 2011 at 12:31 am
  23. Dan Zynda: Much of this blog applies to other wedding vendors. Thank you for putting many of my thoughts down on "paper". January 20, 2011 at 10:54 pm
  24. Stephanie: Well written. I totally agree. Perfect fit for me is just as important...after all, I want to enjoy shooting my brides! Love your article :) January 20, 2011 at 10:16 pm
  25. Kathryn: Perfectly written. I could not agree more. January 20, 2011 at 9:01 pm
  26. maggie henriques: This was an extremely well written article! Kudos to you for being able to put this up! It makes me proud to be amoung such a great group of talented photographers that stand up for what they believe in! January 20, 2011 at 8:14 pm
  27. Beth Kukucka: Great blog post, and spot on, for the most part. I did feel that your decision to not book with the cranky clients was a bit hasty, but maybe their bad day wasn't the only instinct you had about them. I probably would have at least met with them, but maybe you did, and knew right away that they weren't a good fit. Thanks for sharing a good post! January 20, 2011 at 5:59 pm
  28. Are You a Bride? « jerryfrazier: [...] [...] January 20, 2011 at 3:33 pm
  29. Trent Spann: Nice job Mark, I always enjoy reading your thought and post. Your always spot on. Great Job January 20, 2011 at 2:35 pm
  30. Addie: As always, your wise words are so well spoken! You make sharing the cold harsh truth... not so cold and harsh January 20, 2011 at 2:30 pm
  31. Lisa Tilley-Newman: Wow Mark, you said what I've never been able to put into words. I have a hard time telling a client (and the paycheck) 'no.' But in the end its really for the best. I love this! January 20, 2011 at 2:05 pm
  32. Catherine Guidry: Mark, great article! :) I think that staying true to yourself in the end will keep both you and your clients happy! January 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm
  33. Ann Short: Excellent post! Thanks for sharing this info. Great job! January 20, 2011 at 12:58 pm
  34. Kristin Guin: WOW!!! So well written!! And so very true.:) January 20, 2011 at 12:58 pm
  35. Cecilia Flaming: Great article! Well put and you have some great pointers that will help me with my clients. :) January 20, 2011 at 12:35 pm
  36. Joe Mackenroth: I recall a Groom who kept wanting to change our contract and we kept trying nicely to tell him no. He kept consulting with his friend however who was in law school (funny) in order to try to place changes to our tried and true contract. The demands were lame and so was the Groom. We told him that our contract was staying the way it was and that we were not interested in his business. In this instance we were dealing with an individual who for some reason or another did not know how to deal with people using common sense. The implications of his bringing up legal issues gave the impression that he would sue anyone for any small reason at the drop of the hat. Believe it or not he was so clueless of his actions that he was shocked when we turned down his wedding. I was left wondering what the poor Bride had to sign in order to marry this guy. January 20, 2011 at 11:42 am
  37. Brandy Rose: You. Just. Get. It. Thank you!! January 20, 2011 at 11:10 am
  38. Melanie Talley: Very well put Mark January 20, 2011 at 10:50 am
  39. Elizabeth Jayne: THANK YOU January 20, 2011 at 10:44 am
  40. Phil: Brilliant January 20, 2011 at 10:38 am
  41. Candice Cossel: Amazing. I will be re-posting this. Exactly what I've always wanted to say. January 20, 2011 at 10:31 am
  42. Corey Ann: Brilliant!!!! So many valid points that brides need to think about - especially the fact that they aren't the only ones vying for a date! January 20, 2011 at 10:11 am
  43. Chelsea LaVere: Beautifully stated! Thank you for this! :) January 20, 2011 at 10:05 am
  44. Amy Drouet: Great post Mark! January 20, 2011 at 9:59 am
  45. April Henke: Loved this article. Very direct, but not offensive. January 20, 2011 at 9:38 am
  46. Robin: Can I add? Style. I cannot tell you how many times potential clients say they want something artistic and different and then hand me a list. It's a little heartbreaking. I am happy to comply, but if you like my style, lose the list. I've been doing this a looong time now - I know to take a picture of you with your parents. :) January 20, 2011 at 9:37 am
  47. Beebe: Mark, Thanks for sharing this post. I am dealing with 2 potential clients now that are just not a great fit for our studio. A father and a wedding coordinator. They have made things so complicated in our emails to one another, it's just not worth the headaches for all the work that has already gone into it. I agree with Courtney and I may have M.E. write my blog post so I don't offend anyone! Haha. Beebe January 20, 2011 at 9:11 am
  48. Courtney Dellafiora: I need to hire you to come write all my blog posts for me. I feel like I have SOOOO many things like this to say to the world, but I'm not a good writer and don't want to offend or step on toes. You're sooooo good at wording your feelings without coming across offensive. Thank you Mark for always saying what all of us photographers think and feel all the time. You seriously rock hardcore. :) January 20, 2011 at 9:05 am
  49. Lindsey: Great, great post Mark! And spot on. Way to educate your clients. :-) January 20, 2011 at 8:02 am
  50. andria fontenot: lots of good pointers. If only some brides new "I'm not available" really meant "I'm open, but I refuse to work with you" hahaha January 20, 2011 at 7:58 am
  51. Kate: Mark, thank you for sharing this! Some brides aren't aware that it is working relationship. I feel more confident working with brides who are aware that we are in it together for their memories, not just a transaction. January 20, 2011 at 7:28 am
  52. Ashlin: Thank you. You always manage to say things without hurting anyones feelings. I have people try to haggle me all the time and it's insanely insulting. I admire your work and I will be recommending you to my sister who will be engaged soon. <3 January 20, 2011 at 7:28 am
  53. Hannalee Photography: Great article! I am posting this to my Facebook page and hoping prospective clients will read and think about this. Thank you for sharing. January 20, 2011 at 6:51 am
  54. Austin Curtis: BAM! You nailed it Mark. I hope you don't mind, but I will be quoting this entry on my blog and linking to this as a resource for our brides. I wrote something similar called "5 Reasons not to hire us", but it's never seen the light of day because it didn't quite come across in the right way. This however, is exactly what I was trying to say. Way to go, Mark - high five! January 20, 2011 at 3:46 am
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