After reading another blog post about wedding photography being ‘dead’ it really got me thinking about my peers and what is happening to wedding photography as an industry. It’s completely unregulated and yet every week there are news snippets of photographers not showing up to a wedding, loosing photographs, photographing specific ‘body parts’ and just generally leaving brides and grooms upset. Yet I know as wedding photographers we say ‘Do your homework’, ‘See lots of albums and complete weddings’ and of course some couples do this and still sadly get let down.
I do think the sad thing is, is that the new photographers coming into the industry are putting a squeeze on the industry as a whole. Let me clarify before I get flamed that this is no bad thing and we need new ideas and new blood in the industry, but there are some couples who book a photographer based on a name, on a recommendation or on a specific style. Then there are others who by having nothing to gauge the good and bad against will quite rightly sometimes choose the cheaper option. Now at the cheaper end of the wedding photography market (and I’m not finger pointing at anyone here – we all have a budget to keep to) you are likely to find (in general but not always) those with a lack of experience, not necessarily in using a camera (although there are a frightening number) but in shooting a wedding. In the whole of the photography industry it’s probably the most pressured of all the photography skill sets to have. You can’t repeat the bride walking down the aisle or the first kiss remember! It’s not a case of an easy option to make money that you can do with a cheap DSLR from your local electronics shop. I’ve seen quite a few who have taken this approach come and go and become very unstuck due to it.
So where does it leave the seasoned professional who works shooting weddings full time? Well, it’s a constant need to re-invent yourself, to keep up with the times and provide the bride and groom with what they want. Now if this is a romantic photo shoot in the woods then great, or, the bride and groom being chased by a unicorn then again, great (I’ve done that by the way)! If you are stuck in your ways and you have your ‘art’ first and foremost then, I’m sorry. Having your ‘art’ is great, but it doesn’t always give the couple what they want, or pay the bills! Take a different look at your business . What is there to differentiate yourself from the cheaper photographer shooting weddings for a hobby? What makes you so unique that a couple need to book YOU!!!!
The easy answer to this is YOU! You are your business, more than your photographs.
Let me explain. I have clear pricing on my website, I have lots of photographs on my website, five star reviews on Facebook and again more images. So if a client contacts me regarding their wedding photography they already know what the investment is and that I can take a good photograph. So what’s left? It’s for me to sell me as a person. Many couples come along and see me and it’s only at the end of the conversation we get around to looking at albums. Sometimes even that’s not important as I get couples saying can we book to which I follow up with, ‘Yes of course, but would you like to see some albums first?’.
From a bride and grooms perspective they need to know that you as a person are a good fit for them and their guests. Now my approach is quite laid back and relaxed, lots of candid shots, some beautiful bride and groom shots and as one guest recently said ‘ You get into more places than water. How on earth did you manage to photograph that?’. But that’s just me. A couple of photographers I know take a more brash approach. I know one photographer that pretty much likes to be the centre of attention himself on the wedding day, a true larger than life character. The couples that book these photographers would probably never book my services. So how you are as a person is vitally important!
So to sum up, keep re-inventing yourself, keep up with what your clients want, exceed their expectations and be YOU!