Sunday, March 22, 2009

Attack of the Bridezillas!

So I just wanted to chat with everyone about a topic I frequently see come up in forums that kind of irks me: Bridezillas. There are some photographers who never seem to get them, and some that seem have more than their share. So what can you do to avoid these creatures from the black lagoon?

1. Do you attract them?
I'm a believer in Like-Attracts-Like. Brides hire photographers they relate to. If you want relaxed brides, make sure you're sending a "relaxed" vibe. Not a "walk-all-over-me" vibe, but a "I'm not going to freak out over every little thing because I'm not a drama queen" vibe. If you find yourself at a consult saying things like "I absolutely must get fed at the wedding, it's in my contract, and if I'm not seated with you for dinner, I will leave right then"....then a relaxed bride might be turned off, and a control freak bride might fall in love. I'm not saying that you can't have a policy like that, but tone and attitude are very important.

Also, what kind of clients are you targeting? I highly prefer couples who are in their 30's/40's, who are professionals. Why? They are running the show (not their families), they know who they are, and they have learned a little more about organization/responsibility/management. I target a client base who is less prone to teenage-style breakdowns. But when I have a client outside of my target demographic, I try to be extra sensitive to their potential lack of experience and/or added pressure from family and friends.

2. Cut 'em some slack.

Orchestrating a wedding is a full time hard core management gig. With no training, and no warning. Few people are naturals, and only a small percentage of the rest of us have Harvard business degrees. And lets face it, it really truly is all about the bride. She will be the one who gets kudos if it goes well, and cruel cruel gossip if it doesn't. So when your bride doesn't know how to handle the finances, scheduling, organization of the wedding, or isn't fully knowledgeable about contract negotiation and people skills and suddenly has a nervous break down from the stress....cut her some slack for heaven's sake!!! Offer your patience, and your assistance. Guide her through the process instead of expecting her to know how it works. If things get emotional, stay calm and be a solid rock she can trust.

I have a theory that at least 60% of the "Bridezillas" out there are really just normal women reacting normally to an extreme amount of pressure during an emotional time. Sure, there are some real ones out there...but a lot of photographers label brides as bridezillas too quickly.

3. Don't be a photozilla!

You are a photographer, a vendor, aka, .....*the paid help*. Ouch.

But you needed to hear it. Yes, you're an artist and can be a friend, and you get to be with the bride & groom more than any other person on that day...blah blah blah... But don't go thinking you're special....just yet.

You're special ONLY if you make your time with them special. If you're giving of yourself and you have a fun and gracious personality. But if you go in assuming *you* are special and that *you* should get special treatment and the day is all about **YOU**....congratulations, you have become the dreaded "Photozilla". The Photozilla isn't as rare a creature as you might think, and they have a natural tendancy to label normal brides as "bridezillas" at the first sign of an issue or power struggle.

Are you a photozilla? Check for these symptoms: High blood pressure, dilussions of granduer, fits of rage, impulsive behavior, scaley skin, deteriorating client relationships.

So to recap: Zilla's. Don't attract one. Don't mislabel one. Don't be one. Lets be kind to our brides, and get out of this witch-hunt mentality.

All the best,
Jillian

JILLIAN
Jillian Kay is a wedding & portrait photographer from San Jose, CA. By weekday, she is a mild mannered software engineer. By weekend, she is a joyful and energetic force behind a camera! Jillian enjoys tackling the tough questions about client relationships and helping others see win/win solutions. When not working, she loves taking walks, blog-stalking, visiting with friends, and enjoying life!.

16 comments:

  1. Ha! People always ask me if I've encountered bridezillas. The thing is, they would NEVER want to hire me. I'm way too laid-back to get sucked up into drama. d-:

    And you make a great point about stress. Saying that weddings can be stressful is the understatement of a century. (:

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  2. very well said!! I think the photozilla is probably more comming then a genuine bridezilla anyday!!

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  3. Glad you guys agree. :) But I'm open to hearing opinions otherwise?

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  4. Too true that it goes both ways!! I've been told multiple times "the photographer at so&so's wedding was a photo-nazi." I guess that's a step above photozilla? :)

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  5. I love the photozilla part. ;-) I've met a few of those and all I can do is shake my head and think... if your grocery store clerk doesn't know who you are, than you really aren't THAT special!! HA!

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  6. I got one last year, she booked a really long time ago, when my price was much more affordable. She wanted everything very traditional, like really old times. The second photographer got into the room with her before the ceremony and the bride started to scream: " I hate those type of pictures, get out". At first I was very confused on "haven't she looked at my work? there is a lot of candid, non traditional picture on my website" but then I understood that she did booked me because of the deal she was getting, and not for my style or my personality. It was a long day, but I certainly learned my lesson.

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  7. Nice, reflective post that had me looking in the mirror. I'm probably worse than I'd like to admit but have been fortunate to focus mostly on baby photography and do weddings only by referral. So my fun photography experiences/clients probably have more to do with that, than any positive personality traits of my own.

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  8. I've never heard of a photozilla, but I love the description. Too funny! I totally agree with the like-attracts-like, as long as you show them your personality, you should attract similar people. Unless they are high strung brides who want a calming influence on their wedding day...

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  9. *applauding* I agree! I agree! I see people all the time jumping to the conclusion that someone is a bridezilla just because they asked one question. Uhm, no, they just need your guidance. Because *gasp* you are the hired vendor

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  10. I think a simple "Amen" says it all. Great post! I always enjoy your insights! Haven't actually encountered a "bridezilla" yet - perhaps I should see that as a compliment to my relaxed manner?

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  11. Great post. Never heard the term photozilla.. but now that you mention it.. it does kinda fit some people ;=)

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  12. Kacy Jo, Erin, Cruelphoto - I have to admit, I totally made up "photozilla" just to fit with the theme. It was between photozilla and photogzilla, but either way it's for people who think they put the "god" in "godzilla" (lowercase intentional, greek mythology style)

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  13. I think you're spot on with the like attracting like bit.

    I always used to be amazed by all the people on DPR who got camera after camera that "back focused" while lots of others had better luck. Just like some people attract Bridezillas.

    So your client has a "moment" on a highly stressful day. So what? I reckon whether they turn into a big green monster depends a lot on how you react.

    But then, what would I know? I've never had a bridezilla as a client :)

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  14. A lot of people forget that they are just, as Jillian said, "the paid help."

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  15. THAT was fantastic, Jillian - and so true :)

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