What Happens if your Wedding Photographer is Sick?

What Happens if your Photographer is Sick?

How We’re Adding Layers of Security:

A 2023 Promo

Despite what’s in (or not in) the media right now, it’s evident that Covid is once again ripping through the population. The crazy thing, though, is that it’s the summer right now. Historically, the summer months have had lower Covid risks because people are outside more. Not this year. On top of that, our provincial “leadership” has removed all public health measures include indoor masking. As a result, a hell of a love of people have Covid right now – including wedding photographers. Even outside of the Covid pandemic (or whatever other looming pandemic may be in our futures) photographers can get sick. It’s a reality. So what happens if your wedding photographer is sick?

This article is not meant to scare people – until Covid happened, the odds of a wedding photographer getting sick enough to miss a wedding were incredibly minimal. We’re tough cookies; we know that weddings are once-in-a-lifetime events and that it would take something big for us to miss a wedding. I remember shooting a wedding only 3 weeks after having my son! Yup… 21 days after having a baby and I was back in the saddle for a 12-hour wedding day.

I’ve frequently said to clients, during consultations, that “It takes a lot for a photographer to miss a wedding. It would need to be something so serious that if the same thing were to happen to you (as the people getting married), you’d miss your own wedding.” But the reality these days is that the likelihood of your photographer to be sick enough to have to miss a wedding has increased and the amount of backup photographers isn’t as plentiful as it once was.

…and we can thank Covid for that. So what happens if your wedding photographer is sick? It seems more relevant now than ever before that people should be talking openly about this.

The Partner Program

Sarah + Erika:

The scary thing about hiring a photographer, is that there’s only 1 of them… until now.

Starting in 2023, we’re implementing our Partner Program. This means any Full Story package that’s booked with Sarah will automatically reserve Erika as a backup photographer.

This means that Erika will not book any clients that day so that in the *knock on wood* event that Sarah is unable to be available due to illness or emergency, Erika will seamlessly fill in and you’ll stay stress free throughout all of it.

Why the Partner Program?

Covid has changed the game for photographers – there is so much more illness (and substitute photographers) needed than there used to be. But we’ve got a plan to help keep your investment in your photos extra safe, and to save you from any last minute stresses that unforeseen illness can cause.

What if I’m not booking the Full Story package?

The investment into the Full Story package includes the cost of having Erika as part of the Partner Program. Special rates are available for our other packages:

  • 8-Hour Package: $500
  • 6-Hour Package: $750

Anything else I need to know?

We can only guarantee Erika’s availability at the time you’re booking your wedding. If you don’t opt for the partner program, Erika will open up the dates to other clients. If you wanted Erika to be the backup and a second photographer, details can be discussed and we can make that happen.

What Happens If Your Wedding Photographer is Sick

If a photographer has experienced an emergency or is sick, there aren’t a whole lot of options as most photographers are not large studios with an excess talent pool

#1 – Look to others within the company

#2 – Look to their colleagues and network of peers to step in as a substitute

#3 – Refund the client

Looking Within the Company

This is going to be the first option for people who work in pairs of 2-primary photographers (like what Sarah and I are doing for 2023). If you are working with a team where both individuals are strong, talented primary photographers, the odds of both of them being ill if they do not live in the same household is quite low; so at least one of the 2 will be there on your wedding day. Another way to look within the company is when there are multiple photographers on a team, there’s a chance that one of them hasn’t been booked and will be happy to step in.

The only exception to this is partnered or paired photographers who are spouses have a much higher risk of both being ill at the same time, especially if you’re facing something super contagious like Covid.)

Finding a Substitute from a Network of Peers

If it’s not an option for your photographer to look within the company, the next thing would be for the photographer to look to their network of peers and see if they can find a suitable substitute.

When we do this, we look for someone who has the experience, style and approach as close as possible to our own – but we also have to keep in mind that beggars can’t be choosers. If you have an extremely limited pool of available colleagues to choose from (because most of them are booked or otherwise unavailable) you take the best option you can find.

The important thing for clients to understand is that a substitute from outside the company will never be comparable to the original photographer. Photography is not a recipe, where you follow certain steps and get a predictable result. Photography is an art. Your primary photographer will only send a substitute whose work they feel is an acceptable alternative, but the substitute will never be the primary and expectations need to be adjusted accordingly, because the only other alternative is…

Refund the Client

When the primary photographer sends a substitute photographer they’re taking a risk with their business that could result in legal consequences.

Liability: If this backup person totally messes up and doesn’t provide anywhere near the quality or product or experience that the original photographer thought they could provide, it’s the original company’s reputation on the line and could have legal consequences too.

If the primary photographer cannot find someone who they think can do a good enough job and would be too much of a risk to be operating under their business, or if they simply cannot find anybody available – they will refund the client and the client can choose a substitute photographer of their choice from there. Nobody wants to have to resort to this; it’s the absolute worst-case possible scenario and (thankfully) is a very rare occurrence.

Can the Second Photographer be a Back-Up?

You may be wondering “But I hired a second photographer, can’t they just be the backup?” and the answer to that one is a bit complicated…

  • Not all 2nd shooters want to be the main (primary) photographer. Some exclusively second shoot because they have no interest in being 100% responsible for all of the ‘must-have’ images and they prefer the low-key, artistic angle of things. Even if they have lots of experience and are super talented – it’s not always a job they want to do.
  • Not all 2nd shooters have the skills to be a primary. Let’s be honest here – people with 10+ years of experience as lead photographers don’t spend their weekends taking on second shooting gigs at a fraction of the value they’d make had they taken on their own clients. Most second photographers are newer talent and are still learning how to make beautiful images in a variety of spaces, lighting conditions and with different clients.

Is it always possible for photographers to find backups?

It’s much harder than it used to be.

Before Covid, there were more wedding photographers than there was demand for. But Covid changed that. Many photographers lost their businesses due to Covid – the events industry is an incredibly volatile industry. Other photographers realized that events were no longer their passion and moved to different types of photography and some decided to just hang up their cameras entirely and make complete career switches.

On top of that, those photographer that are left are extremely heavily booked. And they will be for the foreseeable future. Many of us are still serving our 2020 clients and 2021 clients who had to reschedule while also accommodating those clients who are recently engaged and wanting to marry ASAP.

Finally, those photographers who are still in business and who happen to have a few free weekends here and there don’t want to be a substitute for others because they don’t want to risk getting Covid and getting sick before their own client’s weddings.

It’s a very tough position to be in right now.

What can Clients do to protect themselves if their photographer is sick?

If you’re planning a wedding and find yourself worrying about what happens if your photographer is sick, you have a few option for adding layers of protection

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