Planning a wedding is no joke. My proverbial hat is off to folks that plan weddings for a living, as they not only organize and multitask, but visualize someone else’s big picture and (hopefully) bring it to fruition.
With a small budget we set out with our close friends and family with a general rustic, shabby chic, theme in mind that evolved and became clearer as time went on.
However there were two categories that we weren’t willing to cut corners or compromise on: the perfect dress and the photographers.
After all, at the end of the day when the lights have been taken down and the dance floor disassembled what are you left with? A heap of thank you cards to send and the memories captured on film (digital or otherwise.)
At the end of this article you’ll hear about our story with our quest to find the perfect wedding photographer and you’ll be left with my 7 tips on how you can book more wedding photography gigs!
The Process of Finding a Photographer
Choosing the right photographer can be a daunting task – typically it is an expensive trade (and if it’s not, you’ll need to ask yourself why,) and can be a saturated market. The first step is to do some thorough research in your area, and reach out to trusted friends for their input or referrals.
Then you’ll need to decide your own likes and dislikes in photography. This can be accomplished by scanning wedding websites, various photographers, Pinterest, etc. to get a feel for what your style is. Then research local photographer’s style to find a few that fit your needs. Photographers should have a nice representation of their craft outlined in their portfolio.
Once you find a few that you like, check out review sites on line to get a feel for how they have performed at past weddings. This will also give you a feel for if they are just starting out and novice to photography or if they’ve been in the game a while.
Next step is to set up a meeting with them to understand your goals, they can work with you within your budget and most importantly to make sure that there is a good cohesion of personalities.
Lucky for us we are surrounded by talented photographers. Unlucky for us, they all seemed to be busy the weekend of our wedding!
After working our way through a series of unavailable photographers, we struck gold.
I had been voicing my wedding planning frustrations to my co-worker and friend Cole. Knowing he was a photographer-extraordinaire and probably well out of our price range, we asked him for his suggestions in the San Diego market.
We reached out to a few of his suggested photographers but after a few more discussions with Cole and hearing his firsthand passion for the art, and impressive online portfolio, it was clear to us that Cole Joseph Photography was the only way to go.
Cole was able to work with us on a plan that fit our budget and enabled us to have astoundingly beautiful memories of our big day. They had an amazingly fast response time to calls and emails, and he and his wife had an air of confidence about them that put me at ease.
On the day of the event, the photographers showed up prior to the agreed upon time, to go above and beyond to capture the bridal party getting ready. They were professional and efficient, but also obviously excited for us, and to be a part of our big day.
Due to the extensive planning beforehand, the day of the wedding was surprisingly stress free. The homemade picnic tables were perfectly placed with their lace table cloths and candles, the market lights illuminated the back yard and the giant black oaks, an our close friends and family moseyed about the yard commenting on how magical it had turned out.
Cole had us complete a list before hand of the “must have” photographs for the group shots, so we were able to cycle through each pairing of family and friends in record time. With time to spare, they were able to make it back to the venue to catch some guests shuffling in while the bridal party set up for the ceremony.
After the ceremony the photographers captured all the events of the evening without fail. They worked together effortlessly, each capturing the moment in their own unique styles.
When the party wrapped up, the dance floor had cleared and the limo pulled away from the house we discussed the day and trolled social media to see if any of our guests had shared any photos from the big day.
“Just goes to show that the right photographer is crucial to accurately capturing the “Best Day Ever.”
The next morning…. Seriously….. Less than 12 hours after the wedding we received the first few edits the photographers had taken the night before. We could not believe it. It was an immediate and amazing keep sake and memory from the day that had gone by in a flash.
A short time later we received the entire portfolio of photos which reflected the whole day more breathtakingly and vividly than I could remember on my own. Cole’s system even had a built in service for us or our families to order prints or book!
Months later I still find myself scrolling through the hundreds of incredible photos that our photographers captured that day. Just goes to show that the right photographer is crucial to accurately capturing the “Best Day Ever.”
7 Tips for Wedding Photographers to Book More Weddings
In terms of the photography for our wedding, we got lucky. We initially were going a different direction and we are so glad we ended up the way we did. That said, I learned a ton about what really was important to us in choosing the perfect wedding photographer and I have no doubt that these 7 tips will help you get more weddings if you put them into practice.
- Style matters – figure out what your wedding photography style is and own it. Make it your own and keep it consistent so prospective clients have a clear picture (pun intended) of exactly what your look is and what they can expect their photos to look like.
- Quick & clear communication wins – If I am going to trust someone to do a great job photographing my wedding, the first test they have to pass is timely email replies and communication. After-all, that is the “first impression” so make it a good one and don’t give us any reason to doubt hiring you!
- Meeting etiquette – We all know it’s a business deal but the thing I really loved about working with Cole & Nicole was how personal the whole experience was. That said, when you are meeting with the couple, keep it fun, lighthearted and show that you genuinely care about their big day. Don’t just hop right into your pricing and packages – that’s a big turnoff.
- Personality fit – Being a wedding photographer has all kinds of challenges, including dealing with intense personalities and dare I say “family drama” on the wedding day. Hiring a team with a professional demeanor and “easy going” personality is a huge bonus. We not only meshed with Cole & Nicole extremely well which translated into awesome photos for us but our families and wedding guests loved them too.
- Make it easy – Planning on wedding, for most, is full of stress. Do whatever you can to convince your prospective wedding couples that your priority is for a total stress-free experience. After meeting with Cole, we had no doubt that he has a process and plan that would get him all the info he needed upfront weeks before the wedding day so by the time the wedding week arrived, we were all done and ready with everything associated with the photography. This was such a relief for me! Especially since I wasn’t so lucky with many of the other vendors…
- Reviews really matter – If you don’t have any client reviews, get some. Start building up the library of reviews because, in this day and age, word of mouth is paramount and reading through Cole Joseph Photography’s 50 five-star reviews from past clients absolutely helped us make the decision to hire Cole, despite being significantly over our initial budget.
- Under-promise & over-deliver – Want to really WOW your clients? Figure out ways to surprise them. Maybe you leave a gift at the gift table with a framed print from their engagement session, maybe it’s the next morning sneak peek photo as Cole does. Just do something. That’s what’ll really get the word of mouth going and we all know – that’s the best way to build a business.
I sure hope that these 7 tips for all of you wedding photographers will help you book more weddings! There is no need to reinvent the wheel – these were the things that were most important to us and I have no doubt that they will help you with increased bookings!