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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Marketing and positioning your wedding photography business.

My photography started off as a hobby as I am sure it does for many people. After doing several weddings and getting good results the temptation was to try and make some money. Initially I never even thought of going full time in wedding photography until I was facing redundancy in my government job and a friend suggested why don't you try wedding photography. That is a skill that you have.
Well between jobs I did start do weddings full time but the going was hard work. I was in demand but felt I could not charge high enough amounts to make a decent profit. Also photography and running your own business from home is 24/7 thing.Any self employment can be very stressful even though you are your own boss.
After 9 very busy months the opportunity came to go back to full time govt. Job so I took it and continued with my weddings part time.
I also had begun to develop and teach a course in wedding photography through a popular training organisation. This was successful and I unearthed some very good photographers.
Some went on to successful full time careers.

In Marketing your wedding photography it's not necessarily about how good a photographer you are but how you have pushed yourself into the limelight by winning industry run awards.
My favourite wedding photographer(Australian) from times gone by, Ian Hawthorne, used to criticise these awards saying  they were not real in that mostly they are not judged by customers.
The more of the awards you display on your shelf or your website the higher the price you charge is how it goes.
People use this quite successfully to get their name out there very quickly even though they might be short on actual years in the business.
There work is usually of  a high standard but does not necessarily mean that is the person you would want to do your wedding.
I used to say you must like the work, the price and the photographer.
As a photographer you may decide that the "chemistry" is wrong in your potential relationship with our clients.
Some photographers are probably confident enough to say that up front ie. "I don't think this will work out."
Sometimes your marketing ideas can come unstuck though.

I have recently read some Bride's forums where they were criticising some noted local photographers.
Some of the criticisms, "a different photographer turning up on the day", "sitting around drinking while he should have been taking photos."

On the same forum I thankfully got a good mention.

The higher your price the higher the expectation and if you don't deliver quality to the level of your hype or behave in a professional manner, then years of hard work can start to go down the drain.

You are only as good as the next wedding you are about to do. It doesn't matter how good all the others have been if you make a mess of the one you are on.

Word of mouth has always been my main method of marketing and would still be working for me if I had not spread around I was retired or about to be.

Nonetheless it is important to use modern technology to now help you with your marketing.

It's important to respect your customer's opinions and feedback.
A family member recently had some portraits done of their son.
They loved the photos but when they ordered prints and enlargements they found that the photographer had his large brand name emblazoned in gold on the bottom of the print.

When they pointed this out and asked that it be removed because they didn't like it interfering with the prints they were not given any joy from the photographer.
He said that's how he marketed himself and in effect too bad.
This was not spelt out in contracts either.

So he has probably lost future work from this family and their friends through recommendations even though the work is very good.
He still has their son's photos prominent on his website.

 Rembrandt signed his work but most of us have not reached that stage with our photography.

So think about your marketing and positioning.

You do need some form of advertising.

Michael Warshall prominent Australian Photographer and Lab owner says " He who doesn't advertise is like one who winks in the dark. He knows what he's doing but no one else does."

I was on a wedding service referral website for a couple of years  but I found that this, while getting lots of email enquiries, rarely resulted in an actual interview/consult.

Word of mouth was lot's more productive.

Think about your ethics and whether you just want to make a buck at all costs. That sort of approach usually comes back to bite you somewhere along the way in my opinion.

Technology wise there has probably never been a better time to start wedding photography but in terms of  how many people you are competing with, established and emerging photographers, it may not ever have been harder.

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