It can feel overwhelming to try and stand out among a sea of talent.
Seriously though it can’t just be me that feels like everyone and their mother is buying a camera and calling themselves a photographer. Heck, that was me almost 5 years ago! This blog has been on my heart for awhile because this was a big year for me establishing my business. 2018 was amazing, and I want 2019 to be even better! This summer, while I was prepping for my busiest wedding season ever, I decided to take a good hard look at my business to improve my clients’ wedding photography experience.
Last year, I went through all the ups and downs and stresses and joys of planning my own wedding. That gave me a totally new perspective on what brides might be looking for. I started with branding; colors, fonts, a pretty website that would reflect the natural beauty I strive for in my images. I wanted a brand that felt elegant and romantic, but still joyful and natural.
My images had finally gotten to a place where I felt confident in delivering consistent imagery. YES! If you’re struggling with consistency, check out this blog here where I share the tips and tricks that helped me out!
So now, I wanted to refine my clients’ wedding photography experience. The experience a couple has is what will set you apart from the 237 other photographers in your town that also have good cameras, take pretty pictures and have an Instagram.
LIMITING MY BOOKINGS
By far, this has been the biggest help with providing my clients with an amazing wedding photography experience. I still work full time, so when my photography schedule gets busy, the attention I devote to my clients tends to suffer. Sure, being busy is a blessing, but I don’t want to be shooting a wedding every single weekend. Again, I already work a non-photography related 8-5, so my free time is precious.
By limiting the number of weddings I’ll take on each month, I can ensure that not only will my couples feel like they have my full attention, but my other clients will also feel appreciated and cared for. My job as a photographer is to serve my clients, not for them to serve me. Shifting that mindset makes all the difference.
This project was a complete labor of love! I noticed during wedding planning, my brides were always asking the same questions; Should we do a first look? What about the timeline? How many family portraits can we fit into the 15 minutes of time we have? What about travel? My groom doesn’t want to do an engagement session – what do I do? What do we wear? And the list is literally endless.
So I did some research and found an amazing template to help get me started. My #MHBride Magazine is 70+ pages of all the wedding planning info. Engagement outfit ideas, suggestions for the best times to shoot your session, a sample timeline to help you plan, explaining a first look, planning a destination wedding and so much more!
I purchased the Katelyn James template, and then customized it for my clients. The template has a lot of information pre-put into it which is helpful, but I really wanted the words, stories and tips to be my own so it took me a loooong time to put this baby together. I’ve already sent out copies to several of my 2019 couples, and now, every couple who books with me will receive a FREE copy of my Wedding Magazine packed with all the things you need to know! THIS is something that couples have been telling me they love, which in turn is enhancing the wedding photography experience.
Here is the link to the template I purchased. I know tons of photographers and graphic designers can create an amazing guide like this for you. Check out Etsy! And if you have a guide but don’t know where to print it, I use MagCloud!
This is something I wish some of my wedding vendors had done better. If you’re wondering, no my wedding planner was an AMAZING communicator. If you need a wedding planner that is on top of their sh…stuff 😉
So anyways, back to communication. I never want my clients to feel abandoned by me. I wanted a way to communicate with them from the moment they inquire and even after their wedding. It’s important to me that my clients not just feel taken care of, but that the way I communicate with them allows them to openly communicate with me if they have questions, comments or concerns.
You might have heard me mention Honeybook; this is the CRM I use to manage both wedding and lifestyle clients. They have an awesome feature called a “Workflow” and this is how I stay on top of communication with my clients. In my wedding workflow, I have all the tasks, deadlines, and e-mails already set. It will remind me to schedule their engagement session, automatically send check-in e-mails, keep a to-do list for me so I remember to send their magazine out, e-mail the wedding day checklists over, and send pre-wedding questionnaires. This way I am fully engaged in their planning process, and not just a vendor who collects a payment and shows up when I’m told.
I enjoy playing an active role in wedding planning, because I’ve done this before. Not just my own wedding, but for over 40 weddings! I’ve seen what works well, and what could be better. I’m here to help my couples, because weather it’s your wedding to your high school sweetheart or your third time’s a charm wedding, you want this day to be special.
REFINING MY WEDDING COLLECTIONS
Ok, this is the last time I’m going to bring up the “I got married so I know things now” schpeel. So I got married in 2017, and I just ordered our wedding album in fall of 2018. Yup – almost an entire year went by and I hadn’t printed any of our photos or made an album. Why? Because it takes FOREVER! It’s a lot of work.
I’m just now designing an album for one of my early 2018 couples. The only wedding photo they have printed in their home is the mini gift print I sent them (which looks super cute by the way guys). I refined my wedding collections to include prints and/or albums because it IS so important.
Your clients are spending thousands of dollars on their wedding photography investment. Digital image deliver is so in right now, which is great! It’s so easy for clients to access and they instantly can view and download any image they want. But what happens when that flash drive fails or their hard drive crashes? By providing a tangible product, you’re helping them not only protect that investment, but cherish it. You don’t need to design professional quality albums if you’re not there yet. Try sending your favorite 20 images as prints in a nice display box, or include their “Thank You” cards with your wedding collection.
I value prints and the tangible nature of prints, canvas, metals and albums. I want my clients to enjoy those items too. That’s why I’ve now included Heirloom Quality Albums with every wedding collection. I was dragging my feet on this because physical items in CA means sales tax (Uncle Sam will get you however he can right?) but your wedding photography investment is too important NOT to print.
This is for sure my FAVORITE part of the entire wedding experience because I adore printed images. I decided that I wanted to send every client a little thank you gift after the wedding! What better way to not just say thanks, but truly show your clients you care for them than by sending a thoughtful gift.
Usually what I do is purchase a print that I’ve either seen them share online, or that I just really like. I’m really into Metals this year, so I printed a lot of Metals for my clients and they are awesome. I love how vibrant and crisp the images are! Once I get the print, I package up their little “Thank You” box with their print and a few other goodies. To top it off, I also include a hand written thank you card for my couple.
Personally, when I get a hand written note it just makes me feel so happy. So I want to spread that joy and share it with my clients. They trusted me with such an important day, and it’s important to me that they know how much I appreciate them. Every gift is a little different depending on what goodies I decide to buy. It’s always a few cute little things to just really make this small gift feel special. It’s truly my favorite and one of the most important parts of the wedding photography experience for my couples!
So there you have it!
These are a few of the steps I took to revamp my business and improve my clients’ wedding photography experience. Wedding planning can be stressful and your clients have probably never done it before! It’s your job as their photographer to make things easier for them. I want to be an active part of your wedding process, not just the wedding day. It allows me to be better prepared to serve my clients and give them my very best.
If you’re not a wedding photographer, you can totally apply this to non-wedding clients! Create a style guide with outfit ideas and pre-session tips to send to your family clients. You don’t have to print it out, even a digital copy would be neat. I like the feel of print and it gives them something tangible to hold onto and plan with, but either way your clients will appreciate the effort you put into assisting them.
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Cover stock image provided by @katemaxstock