I hear from a lot of photographers who are new to weddings and looking for advice on how to grow their business. Their work is lovely, their style is desirable, they are networking, they are assisting other photographers – they’re doing everything right. But still missing a key ingredient. So what is it?
I tell them: “You have to be MORE than the wedding photographer.”
It’s the biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone who aspires to this career, and a super important part of my own business. Just showing up to take beautiful photos at a wedding is only part of the job. You have to use your role as The Photographer to do so much more for the couple.
Because we can.
Consider this: couples spend more time with their wedding photographer than with any other vendor on their wedding day (and no, I don’t actually have a stat for this, but I know it’s true). They hire lots of professional people to support them, but the photographer is the one who goes through the day right with them, documenting everything and seeing everything. And we do see everything. I’ll likely be the first to notice little things like if someone has food in their teeth or a hole in their jacket. And I’m almost always the first to see the really-hard-to-notice stuff, like if they seem trapped in a conversation they don’t want to have, or if they’re calculating how far away the bar is. Because I’m watching all the time and see everything, I think of myself as the couples’ eyes and ears on their day. If I see a problem, or one coming on the horizon, I either handle it or find someone who can.
Then consider this: most couples won’t have gone to as many weddings as their photographer has. I’ve been to over 250 weddings (including my own!). You can bet that I can bustle dresses, pin on boutonnieres, tie neckties, and set up a chuppah. I know when to expect (and help manage) traditional elements like cakes and toasts and dances. I know that some guests arrive a half hour before the stated time on the invitation, and some a half hour after, so we plan our photos accordingly. I know lots of photographers who, like me, carry in their bags sewing kits and safety pins. I know exactly what is coming. And again, I handle it or find someone who can.
And I do this while making photos the whole time. I really believe that this level of service, in addition to beautiful photos, is what couples are looking for when they hire a photographer. So I make it a priority to be there for the couple AND make photos. I’m in their corner, helping them navigate the day, helping them understand what is coming next and feel prepared to manage it.
My one piece of advice for photographers as they enter the wedding business: be more than a photographer. The clients will appreciate it and the assistance you give them will help them feel comfortable and relaxed, so they can be themselves and truly enjoy their party.