you're welcome here

the sherri barber photography journal

looking for bold, fun, and fabulous photography inspiration?

My own wedding photography experience made me a much better wedding photographer

June 27, 2018

Thank you Jerry Ghionis for capturing our love in the most amazing way!

This is an extremely hard blog post for me to write.  It is about me and me as the actual bride.  I tend to not get to personal with my blog as I love to speak of all things about my wonderful clients and their Cincinnati weddings, and beyond. But here it goes…

It was the 3rd weekend in March and I was just packing up my gear after wrapping up my 327th wedding. That fact along blew my mind but then it hit me. The next wedding I was going to be apart of was my very own. I was a mix of emotions that lead me to tears. Happy ones of course. I finally met the person that I was meant to be with. The person that I have heard all of my clients talk about. The one. I thought it was a myth even though I am surrounded around love and document it most weekends of the year. I felt like what my clients feel like. The joy, the worries of all the loose ends that have to be taken care of before the wedding, and a possible bridezilla moment here and there. Let’s be honest. I truly felt what is was like to be on the other side with my clients.

I LOVE being a wedding photographer. LOVE. I love to hear the stories of how they met and capturing two people at the height of being in love. I love capturing all of the details that they planned for just this one day. The attire, the decor, the love notes, the celebration. All of the little things that make the day perfect. It is a lot! There are two things that last beyond the marriage. The union and the photographs. So I take my job very seriously. As time passes, people tend to forget the little things of the day. A picture can bring back all of those memories. But beyond those details I am also documenting the start of their family and life together. One of my favorite things I see at most weddings is the table that has all of the photos of past family members weddings. Because of all these marriages, these two people are here to start their own. Then it always gets me when I realize that one of my photographs from that day will be placed on a table like this when the couple has children, grandchildren etc. I mean if that does not make you want to cry at the honor that is placed in your hands, I don’t know what will. I am not only documenting a wedding but the ancestry that is to become from just this one day.

When my now husband and I started planning our wedding, we wanted to have it in our home that we had just bought and were in the middle of renovating. It is where our lives were starting together in so many ways. In hindsight, this was a huge stressor but completely worth it. We were going to become husband and wife in the middle of our house becoming a home. So when we decided on this plan, I reached out to the best of the best that Cincinnati has to offer for wedding vendors. I have the honor to call some of them my dearest of friends. They know me better than ANYONE. Hell, I have even gone on vacations with these people. If you can go on an international trip and you are still friends when you return to JFK, you have a life long friend in crime. When I approached them with the idea, I told them “You know me, do whatever you want and I know that I am going to love it.” The only time that I pointed out that I may like something, it was to one of my best friend’s, Marti of Marti Heard Designs and she said “That is dumb. I know what you want just let me do it and leave me alone.” When I walked in that day, she was absolutely right. It was everything that I wanted my day to be. She knew what I wanted without me even really saying it. And this is how it was with all of the other vendors that I entrusted the day with. They all went above and beyond. This is why they all do what they do. It is why we all do what we do. We have all been given these amazing talents to create memorable days for what our client’s want. Not what we want. But what our client’s want. This was every vendor but one. And it was the most teachable, eye opening moment for me as not only as a very disappointed bride… But as a wedding photographer.

Being in the wedding industry, it can be pretty hard if you find yourself getting married. When I came to the decision of who I would hire for a photographer, I had a hard decision on my hands. Cincinnati is jammed packed with incredible talent. I wanted so many of them to photograph my wedding for different reasons. Everyone has a different application to their talent. I mean how could I have narrowed it down? And most importantly, I did not want to hurt one person’s feelings for choosing another. Yes we are all friends… The photographers that I am closest with, I wanted them to be there for the wedding! Not working! So I decided to think a bit outside of the box and hire a photographer from outside Cincinnati. Close to Cincinnati but not Cincinnati.

Let me honest really quick about something. I get questions sometimes from couples that I’m thinking in my head, “duh of course I am going to capture that!” Some of them look like the following:

-Will you take pictures of the details?

Please note, these photos were taken with an iphone and not by a “professional photographer”. These are the photos that were simply missed or was told was “not her thing” to document.

Studio 22 photography-Megan Allen Studio 22 photography-Megan Allen Studio 22 photography-Megan Allen

Studio 22 photography-Megan Allen Studio 22 photography-Megan Allen Studio 22 photography-Megan Allen Studio 22 photography-Megan Allen Studio 22 photography-Megan Allen Studio 22 photography-Megan Allen Studio 22 photography-Megan Allen Studio 22 photography-Megan Allen

-Will you take bridal portraits?

This is the ONLY full body portrait I have with my bouquet on the wedding day.

-Will you take pictures of my groom before I see him?

-Will you do room shots?

-Will you take pictures of candid photos with lots of variety?

-While I love your style for formal editorial photos, but will there be more classic ones that my grandmother will want a 5×7 of?

Sadly all these photos were the only ones that I have made with other peoples iPhones.

I will never eternally eye roll about these questions ever again. I now take these with stride with a ton of empathy that I may have lacked before. I admit I am guilty of that. Because all I have is iphone photos to hold on to.

Ask all of these questions. The one thing that I told myself is that I was not going to be the person that asks these questions because they drive me nuts. No one should have to ask them. So I did not. I had faith that it would all be done; as that is what a wedding photographer SHOULD do. It should be my job to document your whole day, and NOT pick and choose to only document that I feel is important to me. But sadly I have none of these photos.  When I received the excited news “Your gallery is available” I quickly opened it and was devastated. Devastated. I shared with fellow vendors and friends to gather their opinion just in case I was being irrational. All of those questions… The questions that I’m like “duh, of course!” I should have asked came because it came back to bite me in the tail. From not asking those questions of my photographer.

There were so many questions in regards to the lack of coverage, and simply a lack of photos.

Seriously… where are all the photos?? I simply got a small handful.

I was heartbroken. All of these details cannot be recreated. It is a glimpse in time. A glimpse that I wanted to remember. Every little detail that so much thought and time went into creating. A glimpse that I paid someone to document. To document it all, not to pay someone to get a handful of photos that only meant something to her that could possibly mean she wins some meaningless award that she could brag about.

I had the hard uncomfortable task to confront the photographer about my displeasure and what prevailed from that has altered myself for the greater good of my clients forever. My photographer actually let out an audible groan when my husband reached out to her to ask why. I was told details were not their thing. I was told that none of the raw unedited photos were not saved. They only saved the edited photos, which were poorly done and I simply got a sparse handful of photos. I was told there were no other photos. I was basically told that I would not have the images that I should have never had to ask for in the first place. I do not want to harp further on these discrepancies of the day but I do want to take this negative experience from my wedding and make the best of it. It made me so much a better wedding photographer. I would NEVER want my clients to have the experience that I had to endure. Sure, we are all human and we may miss some things, or their maybe slight hiccups.  It has taught me so many things and reminded me of the things that I do do right! It also taught me the things that I need to be better about.  Customer service, communicating that you will get a variation of photos, answering the no brainer questions with comfort, capturing every single detail that I can. Because it is ALL my thing. It is all my thing to capture your day the way that you want it… Your perfect glimpse in time that is so spectacularly special. I am by far no means perfect but I promise to go out of my way to capture the full scope of this one day in time for my clients.

The saving grace for my day in regards to the documentation was that of my videographer and my friends. ESPECIALLY THE VIDEOGRAPHER.  I am not going to lie, I never got the true importance of video until my own wedding. I will cherish this video for so many reasons. I can go back and look at the way we felt that day. I can see the tears of joy and I can hear them. Also, from Light Parades video, we were able to capture enough stills from the day to make up for the lack of coverage in regards to photography. And my next sentence will send cringes into many photographers. I am thankful a lot of my guests were jerks taking pictures with their phones. Who knew that I would be begging for these photos?!?! I did. And I am not mad about it one bit.

Click the image to see our SPECTACULAR highlight film

This is my promise to all of my clients: No question is ever too dumb. I will always save ALL of your photos; not just what is in your gallery. I will also save your photos prior to editing. I will always save multiple copies of all of your photos. I will answer all questions with arms wide open to comfort you so that you will never have to experience what I did. Also if there is something that you are upset about… I will do EVERYTHING in my power to resolve it.

You will get that edgy photo that documents the most beautiful and happy you will look as a couple. But you will also get the classic photo that grandma wants to show off to her friends. I will capture the details. You will be able to look through your coffee table book at every anniversary and remember this day with glee. Some of my best lessons that I have learned in business have come from a failure. I just never thought that it would be at the hands of my own wedding. But I would rather that I was reminded of these things to my own detriment and not my clients. The moral of this story is I want to thank all of my clients that have entrusted me with one of the most important days of their life and I promise to always remember that I was a bride once too. And I want you to walk away with not only with an abundance of gorgeous images, but with a wonderful personal experience with me.

I must say though, I had the worlds most amazing saving grace…

The stars simply aligned for me.

The day after I got my wedding photos, I did a once in a lifetime photo walk tour with one of the worlds greatest wedding photographers Jerry Ghionis, along side of all those amazing wedding photographers in Cincinnati. Jerry overheard me expressing my wedding photography woes to my wedding photographer comrades and he decided to use myself and my husband as the models of the day.  I was then gifted an amazing set of gorgeous wedding portraits by Melissa and Gerry Ghionis along with behind the scenes photos from all the other photographers. I cried when I received all the images, and Gerry and Melissa exuded not only world class talent, but a world class experience. Something that I truly strive for for my own clients, and it was amazing to be on the receiving end of this.  I had the unique experience of not only a poor wedding photography experience, but also a spectacular one.  I only want my clients to experience the latter from me.   I truly felt gorgeous and spectacular, and I feel truly indebted to Jerry, Melissa, Mandy, Laura, Brenda, and so so many more!

But most of all thank you to all of my SUPERB vendors.  They truly made my dream wedding come alive!

Venue – My home – Historic Dayton Street

Videographer – Light Parade Films

Bride and Groom Portraits – Jerry Ghionis

Event Planning and Design – Marti Heard Designs

Hair – Eros Salon

Makeup – Cincimakeup

Catering – Eatwell

Furniture – Queen City Vignette

Dress – Berta

Tuxedo – Romauldo

Rentals – All Occasions

Cake – Sugar Realm

Dessert Bar – Tres Belle Cakes

Lighting – Clear Lighting

DJ – DJ Toad (Joey)

  1. Elizabeth Barber says:

    Congratulations to the happy couple! I am beyond thrilled to see you with the love of your life and proud that you never cease to grow as a photographer and human being. You are an inspiration and I wish you and Matt all the happiness in the world!

  2. Sounds like you learned lot from your on experience.
    Also seems like your difficulties led to an amazing set of photos like no others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Its Mini session time!

it's more than just photography

Schedule Here