The time between your wedding day and getting the actual wedding photos back can seem like forever. As the anticipation builds, you’re probably dreaming of gushing over the captured moments and using them for home decor, thank-you cards, or holiday cards. But what happens when you get them and are less than thrilled—or, worse, what if you hate them?
Wedding photos are the one souvenir from your big day that you’ll want to keep forever. Ideally, you’ll be one of the couples thrilled with the final product and display them proudly. However, wedding photos don’t always come out as expected. Even with all the significance riding on them, they may look different than you envisioned once the surface of the proof. And, yes, this can be true even if you did your due diligence beforehand and selected a photographer you trusted. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.
With so much access to beautiful imagery in today’s day and age, it can be a real let down to finally receive your wedding photos and find that the images aren’t what you’d hoped for. With all the expectations you put into the wedding photos, not liking how they turn out can feel devastating. Although you can’t have a wedding do-over, you can take a deep breath and figure out how to salvage the situation. Here’s how to deal if you don’t like your wedding photos.
Our photos look nothing like we expected.
Step one to figuring out how to deal with wedding photos you don’t like determines what’s wrong, exactly. If you can narrow down what exactly it is about the images you’d like to change, you may (not always) be able to salvage some.
- Are you unhappy with the photos because they don’t seem like what you saw on the photographer’s portfolio or social media? If that’s the case, you can probably work with the photographer to change some editing and lighting.
- Are you unhappy because the photos look nothing like your engagement shoot photos? Engagement shoots are tested drives for couples and wedding photographers. So, if you like your engagement photos, you likely assumed that you would like your wedding photos, too. In this case, you need to talk to your photographer—and you need to be honest. Be direct, come with examples of where the two works differentiate and figure out what happened. You may get a discount or another deal or a refund.
- Are you unhappy and don’t know why? Lighting, colouring, cropping—a lot goes into editing wedding photos. If you’re just not pleased with the way your pictures look, first of all, ask yourself if you’re nit-picky. Then, if not, schedule a meeting with your photographer. He or she is presumably a master photo editor and can maybe work with you to achieve a look that fits more with your vision. Consider compensating him or her for the extra time and work, though.
Never underestimate the power of switching a colour photo to black and white, too. Liking turning electronics on and off when they’re not working, a simple colour switch can do wonders. Check out our range of wedding photography for your wedding day.
Our photographer didn’t take enough photos.
Anyone who’s ever attempted to take a group picture knows that it takes about a dozen to get everyone looking the right way, smiling, and visible. Wedding photographers know this all too well. Most will overshoot weddings to compensate because many couples won’t like (for any number of reasons) a good chunk of the final product.
However, if you have the opposite problem and think your photographer took too few, get in touch with them ASAP. It’s possible they only sent you a sampling of the images, or they sent you a previously agreed number of edited photos. They may have tried their best to pick the photos they thought you might like, but they also probably have many, many more outtakes to share if requested.
If they did take too few photos, it’s time to crowdsource. Reach out to all your wedding guests and ask them to send all the pictures from their phones of different moments from the day. Even though these aren’t the same quality as professional shots, you can put together a supplemental album with your favourites. Plus, they may even feel more impressive if they are candid and taken by your favourite people.
Note: If your photographer underdelivered based on your contract, however, that may be grounds for a discount or a refund. Be sure to keep your agreement and read it carefully so you know your vendor’s expectations.
Our photographer went off the shot list.
Wedding photo shot lists are a gift for both the photographer and the couple. A shot list is the most straightforward way to articulate exactly what pictures you want your photographer to take. Many wedding photographers ask for them (some require them) because it gives them an easy-to-follow guide that they can’t mess up. OK, but yours went rogue. And now you’re here.
In this case, first, ask the photographer if some other shots or outtakes didn’t cut. You may find a photo dancing with your cousins you hadn’t previously seen and end up liking that more than the requested posed shot you initially requested.
While you can’t go back in time and get the shots you wanted, you can focus on what you do have. After some time, you may realise your photographer ultimately took the pictures they did because the lighting was better for your venue, or they had to work within space constraints.
Note: However, if your shot list was part of your contract or was otherwise outlined as an obligation for the role, you may be eligible for a discount from your photographer’s company.
I’m unhappy with the way I look.
In this seemingly always-filtered world, it’s easy to look at yourself critically, especially on your wedding day. Alas, the comparison is the thief of joy, and you’re your harshest critic.
If you’re unhappy with how you look in your wedding photos, take a step back and ask yourself if you’re fair. If you need to, close the images and don’t look at them for a few days or a week. You may come back with a different outlook and realise you were too harsh.
You can also enlist an honest friend and let them know you are unhappy with how you look in your photos. They will likely be able to provide some perspective and help you pick out some shots you love. We get it—pictures feel like they’re forever, and self-image can be wavering.
What to Do If You’re Unhappy with Your Wedding Photos
Rather than panicking and keeping this struggle harboured internally, here are a few key things you can do if you’re unhappy with the final photography results. And before you start stressing out, remember that this rarely happens in the first place!
While you, unfortunately, can’t go back in a time machine to re-create your day or hire a different photographer, there are some things you can do to try to rectify the situation as best you can. Here’s our advice.
Ask yourself if this is fixable.
First, determine precisely what you’re unhappy with and determine whether what you don’t like is fixable. Look at the images as a whole. You may be disappointed with just a few shots, which is making you second guess the rest of the photos, or maybe you’re noticing something simple like a blemish that pops out in a few shots. In that case, you can likely ask your photographer to make the change quickly. If there’s a simple solution, you should address your photographer directly and work through the problem.
Talk it out.
If you’re not a photo editor, explaining precisely what you do and don’t can be challenging. Talk to your wedding planner, friends, and family and get some other opinions about the photos. It could be a matter of you disliking the images because you find them unflattering, inconsistent, or just a bit flat. Talking through this with the people who know you well may help you figure out precisely what you don’t like to address the issue when you’re ready tactfully.
Check your photography contract.
Next, consult your photographer’s contract. There’s a possibility that he/she may include:
Some info about post-editing.
- The number of photos.
- The quality of pictures in their contract’s wording.
Before you address the issue with your photographer, you’ll want to know exactly what’s promised in the contract so you can handle the case accordingly.
Decide what you think the best solution is and make a plan.
Once you’ve pinpointed the issue, it’s time to call your photographer. Rather than calling and letting them know you dislike the photos, it’s usually best to take a solution-oriented approach, so your photographer has an option to fix the problem at hand. Let’s say, for example, that the photographer hasn’t provided enough photos. You may be able to request any outtakes if they’re available. There’s usually a reason your photographer has cut down the selections, but there may be a few shots in the outtakes that are valuable to you (i.e. a shot of you and your grandmother that didn’t make the final edit). Once you’ve talked it through with him or her, you can make a plan for how best to move forward and get what you want.
While hindsight is 20/20, one of the best ways to ensure that you’re happy with your wedding photos is to do your research before hiring a photographer. You’re trusting this person to capture the biggest day of your life in a professional and quality manner, so be sure you study his or her previous work, look for references, and are ultimately confident in your decision.
While every bride should be able to gush over her wedding photos, if you aren’t in love at first glance, be sure to evaluate your perspective. Make sure that you’re not overly critical of yourself or your look. If you hated how your hair came out or regretted your dress’ choice, that’s one thing. Unfortunately, there’s not a ton you can do there.
However, if the photos are not at all what you were imagining based upon your photographer’s previous work, and perhaps the ones you’ve seen on Instagram from guests are better quality than your professional’s, it may be an issue the photographer. Just make sure you’re not having a bad day before convincing yourself you hate the images.
So, you can’t precisely throw another wedding, but you can recreate your wedding-day look for a second shoot. While it may not have the same sentiment attached, and there are, of course, added expenses involved, it would give you another chance to try out a new photographer, style, beauty look, etc. Maybe you’d like to opt for a different setting or go back to the grounds where your wedding initially took place. If nothing else, it’s a second shot at having some images you can cherish forever.
Do Your Research
Reread your contract and find out about the specifics of printing, quality, and client satisfaction. Most of the time, you’ll most likely be stuck with what you get, but you may have some recourse if there is an issue with professionalism or editing. Try talking it out with your photographer first; perhaps some problems can be fixed with Photoshop or other professional editing tools.
Try Black and White
OK, hear us out. While you can’t recreate your wedding day, you can play with your photos yourself to make them a little bit better. If your images are discoloured or have lousy lighting, try putting a black-and-white or sepia filter over them. It takes out some of the issues to provide a cleaner photo, and, hey—black-and-white images are timeless. There are tons of photo-editing apps and software that are available with a few clicks, and it can’t hurt to try to play around. At the very least, you may end up with a framer or two.
Regardless of how you choose to proceed, keep in mind that even though it’s incredibly disappointing to be unhappy with your wedding photos, you still have memories and moments to cherish from the special day. While a picture is worth a thousand words, experiences, and a life full of happiness is worth much more.
Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
Avoiding a Photography Disaster
First and foremost, select a photographer whose work you love (there should be plenty of examples on their website) and whose style chimes with you as a couple and your vision for your day. Photography is a highly personal art-form, and every photographer’s style will reflect them personally; no two photographers are the same.
We would strongly suggest either meeting your prospective photographer in person or chatting via Skype before you book them – to check that you connect with them on a personal level. (Remember, they are going to be another guest at your wedding essentially and will be by your side for the entire day) Most photographers are more than happy to do this – and will probably suggest it themselves – as they will also want to make sure they feel that they’re a good fit for you.
Don’t get swept up by social media. Remember, five Insta shots are very different from 500 photos, and these are just a snapshot of a much larger story. Our advice would be to ask to see a complete album from at least one wedding.
Get everything in writing. It’s also essential to clarify everything before you book. Before we booked our venue, we visited it and combed through our agreement, checking all the details.
If you’re on a budget
Wedding budgets are always tough to balance, and it’s so hard to know how to apportion your cash. However, it is essential to keep things in perspective:
We understand that some couples will be on a budget. But we would urge them to think about what they prioritise and where they choose to spend their money. Ultimately, when all the delicious food has been eaten and the wine drunk, what you have left is your memories…and your photographs. Your wedding photographs are the memories that you can have-and-hold; they are the heirlooms that you will pass on through future generations of your family. View them as an investment. Could you not skimp on them?
And what about discounts and deals? Should you ask? Well, as the saying goes, ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get, but if you don’t get, it’s important not to hold that against your photographer.
Do be aware that photographers have to make a living just like everyone else. They aren’t getting a ‘deal’ on their mortgage or monthly bills. Is it fair to ask them to do a ‘deal’ on your wedding? How would you feel if your boss asked you to do a ‘deal’ on your wages because the company’s profits were a bit down this month?
Also, keep in mind that if you book a photographer for a ‘budget’ rate, you prevent them from being booked by another couple at their full speed on your wedding date. It doesn’t make good business sense for them to do this, and they’re fully entitled to say no.
Ultimately, with wedding photography, as with so many things in life, you get what you pay for. If photography is important to you, and you want a perfect photographer to capture beautiful images of your day, you will need to pay the going rate. If this stretches your budget, perhaps think about what can give – do you need those Jimmy Choo shoes for your wedding day? Or could you go for something a bit more budget-friendly and put the money towards photography, for example. Wild Romantic Photography has the best range of services of wedding photography Yarra Valley. Check them out here.
What to share with your photographer
It’s essential to keep your photographer in the loop about everything to do with your wedding so that they’re best placed to do an excellent job for you on your wedding day. So, make sure that you tell them, at the very least:
- Where you’re getting ready.
- If you’d like to do a ‘first look’.
- Will you be suggesting an ‘unplugged’ ceremony? ALL photographers would prefer this! So many otherwise beautifully poignant ceremony images are ruined by a guest with their iPad out taking a snap (that will probably never see the light of day) in the background!
- Have you allowed time during the day for couples shots? Half an hour before sunset is perfect!
- Is there lighting during your first dance?
Ask your photographer for their advice!
They have photographed many weddings before, so they are in a great position to give you tips on what works well and what works less OK – in every element of your day. They will be wanting to do an excellent job for you – and take lots of stunning images – and there are certain things that you can do in terms of your planning, which will help them do this.
Keep talking to your photographer as you plan
They’ll be excited to be part of the process and be happy to advise you along the way. We always feel that we arrive at the wedding as the couples’ friend, now ‘the photographers’ and we think this is reflected in the images we take. The team is then really relaxed in front of us, they trust us, and they know that we will have their backs, in every way, on the day. Starting to think about hiring a wedding photographer? Check out our range of Mornington Peninsula wedding photography here.
If you don’t love your photographs
So what do you do if you don’t love your photos? When is a complaint justified?
Every photographer wants their couples to LOVE their photos. Most photographers will have done everything in their power to get great images. Sometimes, this can be hard: if the venue isn’t that aesthetic, or has unflattering lighting, for example, or if the couple hasn’t allowed enough time within the day for couples shots, the photographer might have been faced with a challenging situation that they struggled with.
A complaint will be justified if the images you receive are not in line with those on the photographer’s website regarding style and processing. However, do remember that they will be showcasing their very best images. Not every single wedding will look the same. You’ve also got every right to be unhappy if the photographs are technically inferior (a lot of out of focus images, for example) or if there are a lot of unflattering photos. It is part of the photographer’s job to direct the couple and pose them flattering. (Shooting from under a woman’s chin, for example, is never going to be a good look).
This is absolutely what NOT to do if you’re upset with your photos:
- Tell the photographer that you’re happy because you don’t want to offend them or send a few veiled messages hoping they’ll read between the lines and see you’re unhappy.
- Get upset and angry.
- Send an emotionally charged message to your photographer after a lousy night’s sleep.
Instead, we suggest that you sleep on it, ask a couple of close friends for their opinion and then try to remain rational. Importantly, we recommend speaking to your photographer and explaining calmly how you feel. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.