I want to break this up into two sections- photography talent & business style because they are both very different and earn very different ratings from me.
Photography Talent: Bottom line is that Juan’s photography is breathtaking. The quality of his pictures is amazing and is very hard to outdo in my opinion. His photojournalistic quality was what drew me to his work and the fact that we didn’t take too many posed shots is what I preferred. We have so many great candid shots from our wedding day that we can’t decide which ones to frame! There are a few shots that I wish we had gotten- like a good one of just me and a full length shot of my dress, and a few more non-posed shots of me and my sisters and me and my mom- but that is as much my fault as Juan’s- I should have made sure that he was capturing more of those moments but to be honest I wasn’t really paying much attention to that before my wedding. Everyone was impressed with our pictures and I am very pleased with how they turned out. Overall I give Juan’s photography talent an (A) based upon his eye for pictures and the beauty of his photos.
Business Style: This is where I had lots of problems with Juan and to be totally fair to him I think he completely overbooked himself during June-July 2007 and got much further behind in his work that I think surprised even him so some of these problems may never occur again because hopefully he learned how to control his caseload a little better after this summer because he most definately “bit off more than he could chew.” But here is a small list of my complaints:
1.Juan is notorious for telling brides “You will have your pictures in a month or a month and a half” and then the pictures almost always take 2-3 months, if not longer. This has been happening for a long time with Juan but seems to be getting worse in the past few months. In all honesty I do not mind waiting 3 months for pictures- but if you tell me its going to take a month and a half then that is what I am going to expect. My suggestion to Juan would be to tell brides it is going to take 3-4 months so that they are pleasantly surprised when they get the pictures earlier.
2.Also, prior to this summer (when Juan got really busy) he almost always sent girls a “teaser picture” to tide them over until their pictures arrived. I have been a moderator on the BDW forum for over a year and I have seen him do this to almost every bride he has worked with. When I emailed Juan to request my “teaser pic” about 1 ½ months after my wedding he told me NO he was unable to do that for me at this time. I was irate because I thought this was a standard practice for him and I thought it was unfair that every other bride gets a “teaser pic” but I did not. I know it seems like a silly thing to be upset about but it is a perfect example of how Juan has a history of treating his brides inconsistently (one bride gets leather CD case, another gets plastic, etc.). My suggestion to Juan would be to make sure you treat all brides equally because this really upset me when it happened to me. Although it’s a small complaint it still made me feel less important and like a less valued bride. And brides talk and we know when we are being mistreated and I don’t think you should ever have to feel that way around your wedding day.
3.This is also a small complaint but I just feel like its poor business practice but at my wedding and almost the entire day Juan did not know my name. He kept calling me Monique. I am soft spoken so I had a hard time correcting him but I was so embarrassed. I just think its important to make a bride feel special on her wedding day and I felt like I paid Juan enough money that he could have gone out of his way to remember my name. This could also go back to the fact that Juan was overly busy at this time but it still irritates me.
4.In Juan’s contract he sends you 200 or 400 pictures- depending on how much time you reserve with him. I want to warn you girls that Juan picks the pictures he send you which is a con for me. He sent us some pictures where my eyes are closed and a few pictures where I was like “why would he send this one” and then he also didn’t send a few of the pictures that I would have chosen to print if I could have chosen. So I don’t know if there is a way to possibly work this into your contract but I just wanted future clients to be aware of this situation.
5.There was a situation where Juan finished editing my pictures before another BDW bride who had gotten married 2 weeks before me. To be honest- I think his assistant edited our pictures and just finished faster. Well Juan posted our pictures on his website (which is viewable to the public) when he finished with them but he asked me not to tell the BDW members. This put me in a very odd position because I knew the BDW check Juan’s site often and would know the instant our pictures were ready. Once everyone had seen our pictures Juan sent me an email stating “the other bride found out about your pictures and she is very upset. Did you tell the BDW?” I felt like I was put in a very weird position and I was a little offended that Juan put me in the middle like that. I though he handled the entire situation incorrectly and he should ALWAYS go in order of wedding date. I felt like he acted in an unprofessional manner and created all these excuses (hurricane, bad computer, family obligations, etc.) and really he should have just said “I am sorry. I messed up. It will never happen again.” The whole situation got blown out of proportion but once again I would remind Juan to be CONSISTENT in how he does things.
Overall I would give his business style a (D). Juan has a lot to learn about customer satisfaction. I realize he is still fairly new to the photography thing but if you aren’t making you clients completely happy then you are going to run into a problem. Juan is consistently making excuses for himself when I believe he just needs to slow down a little bit and take the time to make each and every bride feel like a valued customer. I also think Juan got a little “big-headed” from all the business he was receiving from the BDW forum and even stated to me that he doesn’t even have to advertise anymore because he gets so much business from us. I think he needs to realize that we expect the best from him and if we do not receive it then we are not afraid to speak up because we are paying for good service and beautiful pictures on our wedding day and I think that we deserve to have BOTH.
Overall if I had it to again I would still hire Juan because his work it truly amazing and unbeatable. I would just have negotiated our contract differently. I would have arranged a set time frame when the pictures would be done- like 3 months for instance- and then I would entail specific repercussions if he went over the stated time frame- like money back, free prints, etc. Also I would have negotiated to be able to pick the 200 pictures he orders from pictage. Also I would have been more organized and ensured that I got all the shots that I wanted from our wedding day.
Bottom Line: Juan is an amazing photographer and if you hire him you will be guaranteed to have amazing pictures from your wedding day and memories to last a lifetime BUT remember that vendors in Mexico work differently so prepare yourself and make sure to be VERY specific about your expectations. I just wanted future brides to be prepared with ALL the information when hiring this photographer.
OVERALL RATNG (C+/B-)
Good luck and happy planning and if you have any specific questions please feel free to ask or PM me.