What’s your wedding photography niche? Who are your ideal clients? Are you into traditional weddings, destination weddings, or millennial elopements? Do you rely on natural lighting or portable strobes? Do you shoot with a digital camera or film, in color or in black-and-white? Do you include video? Do you have a second shooter? How does your photography differ from that of another wedding photographer? What are your deliverables? If the answers to these questions don’t come easily, perhaps it’s time for some self-reflection to figure out in what direction you want to go. Have your elevator pitch refined and ready to deliver confidently upon a chance encounter with a potential client. A photographer with a clear, cohesive style and aesthetic is a more reliable choice for a day that is (hopefully) only happening once!
“I’m basically a street photographer at a wedding. I look for interesting moments of people. I’m interested in their souls, not their surface.” —Mel DiGiacomo
“We’re very committed to being transparent. We want people to know we’re down to earth, we’re super fun, and that’s how it’s going to be when we shoot your wedding.” —Brian Callaway, Callaway Gable
“Understand what your brand and brand message is. How do you subtly get that across in easily digestible ways?” —Kristi Drago Price, Visual Consultant and founder of Editor’s Edge
Your Online Presence
“Having a strong brand means having consistency, owning your style, and posting photos and information that attract a particular type of clientele.” —Dawn Davis, Bob and Dawn Davis
“I was told very early on, ‘Show what you want to shoot.’ So if you want to shoot beach weddings, show lots of weddings on beaches. On the opposite end, if you don’t want to shoot a lot of weddings in dark churches, I wouldn’t blow up your Facebook and Instagram feeds of pictures in dark churches.” —Ben Elsass, Ben Elsass Photography
“What people should be doing is making the viewer feel. Home in on what your brand message is, find the signature images that represent that, and make your viewer feel something in three seconds or less.” —Kristi Drago-Price
Do you have a cohesive website and an effective social media presence? Does your website reflect your photographic niche? Regardless of the specific kind of wedding photography you’ve immersed yourself in, make sure you are representing yourself accurately to the clients you wish to acquire. Streamline your website, a blog, and your social media outlets of choice to continually reaffirm who you are and the kind of style you’re offering to any potential clients.
“Show your range without opening up your linen closet [everything that you’re capable of doing]. Show your range in a consistent form. —Kristi Drago-Price
If your website feels outdated or your material is older than you’d like, do an update! If you haven’t already started a blog, get to it! Blogging your shoots or a side project is an easy way to make your website current. Every photographer agrees: consistency is the key.
“Posting frequently is the key. Keep it exciting with an assortment of shots ranging from fun and spontaneous to more emotional and serious images. It’s also important to be consistent with your brand and the feel of your studio’s work.” —Brian Marcus, Fred Marcus Studio
“The more active you are, the more the algorithm changes. Also how fast you reply to messages on your Facebook page is important.” —Brian Callaway
“After years of building a social media following, clients from those social networks are starting to filter in… it is such a slow process because you need to build the following, then wait for them to become engaged, and hope they are near you or can afford to fly you out. You have to be open on their date; much harder than it would seem.” —Dylan Howell
If any of your social media accounts have languished, spring into action to delete the accounts you don’t have time for or don’t work for you. Set a schedule for the social media accounts that do work for you and get excited for the supplementary material you are providing for a potentially new audience. Don’t sweat it if you only have the time (or patience) for one account, just make the most of it by routinely posting content and engaging your followers. And, without going overboard, don’t forget those #hashtags! Review older posts and entries and add a couple of hashtags. This will not only polish your own records and workflow, but it will instantly circulate older material as if it were new.
“Hashtags are where it’s at! I do as many as I can think of. I’m not too worried about how it [the number of hashtags] is perceived, because we’re on social media to generate leads. If someone is looking up a Cabo San Lucas wedding, I want them to be able to find us through a location but also see that we do destination weddings through our use of hashtags. We’re not doing it for fun. It’s a very well thought-out process that we try to do once a day.” —Brian Callaway
Network! Network! Network!
“My go-to methods are all about cultivating relationships with event planners, venues, magazines, wedding vendors, along with our vendors on the business side of photography, as well. Those relationships have become the network of our brand.” —Dawn Davis
“Generally, when a potential client is meeting with a venue or a wedding planner, [at that point, early in the process] they haven’t yet hired their photographer. Relationships with a florist, makeup artist, caterer can all be important as well, but there is a higher chance of the client already having hired a photographer when they meet with these vendors.” —Ben Elsass
“One of my most powerful marketing techniques is looking after my existing clients. Make them love my work and my brand so they spread the love with their friends and family. It really helps me attract the clientele that I want. You can do this with over-delivering, sending thank you cards, first-year anniversary cards, Christmas cards and, of course, sit down and have a drink with them in your spare time.” —Jai Long, Free the Bird Photography
Relationships lead to referrals. Which florist, caterer, or makeup artist would you recommend to your friends and clients? Which venues do you love to shoot? If your go-to roster of vendors and venues is booked, who do you look to next? How does each one of them reflect you and your brand? Do you keep in touch with the couples you’ve already photographed? You just might score a new job by reaching out to say “Hi!” Do you know your competition? If you haven’t already done so, offer to buy another local photographer a coffee and introduce yourself! After all, no one is going to understand the grind of wedding photography like another wedding photographer, and they just might give you a call if they need a hand!
“I have great relationships with other photographers, but the nature of our business is that we spend far too much time secluded at the computer editing photos. We work when the people with day jobs are out playing and vice versa. Luckily, I have a few great local friends who are also photographers and share the same schedule. I'm pretty sure we all met through social media and have since become best friends.” —Dylan Howell
Take Advantage of Magazine Submissions, Contests, and Camps
“Getting published online and in print has great value to our clients. It might not always lead to getting a new client, but it does add credibility to our name when a new client walks in and sees our work in print.” —Brian Callaway
“When you submit to a contest, it winds up being worth it even if your work doesn't get chosen because you get all of these editors’ eyes on your work, especially when some contests take on guest editors from different publications. You’re getting multiple birds with one stone. A lot of photographers assume editors are too busy to look at submissions, but the truth is we do have the time, and if we like your work you’ll stick out! It’s so important to keep in touch. Even if you’re just experimenting with a photo project, you can still write about it on your site and share it, because you never know whose interest you’re going to catch and when the timing will be right.” —Libby Peterson, Features Editor, Rangefinder Magazine
“When you go to a trade show, you go from lecture to lecture and get a hotdog at a lunch cart on your way, but at CAMP you go from class to class and then you go to archery or horseback riding and then a business class. There have been a lot of steps made in education and specifically in how you learn, so why sit in a room for 8 hours when your brain can’t take it?” —Paige Denkin
You simply cannot lose when it comes to submitting an idea for a magazine article, or images to a contest, or reaching out to an editor. Junebug Weddings, Fearless Photographers, The International Society of Professional Wedding Photography (ISPWP) all offer highly competitive, yet easily accessible wedding photography competitions and exposure. Submitting to magazines or reaching out to specific editors may not guarantee exposure to the masses, but it will get your images in front of an editor or two at the very least. For the photographer seeking physical connections and hands-on learning, educational getaways like The Unique Camp and Photo Field Trip are gaining popularity for their authentic, adventure-filled, camp-like atmospheres that concentrate on empowerment and human connection in a world where most photographers spend significant amounts of time behind one screen or another.
© Paige Denkin
“For somebody that’s just starting out, you gotta pound the pavement a little bit and say, ‘Hey, I’m here!’ It might not happen this season, it might not happen next season, but some people do hold on to those names or photographers will ask other photographers and they’ll say this person might be a better fit for you.” —Kristi Drago-Price
To read more about these photographers and view their work, click on the links below.
Brian Callaway, Callaway Gable
Kristi Drago-Price and Editor’s Edge
Jai Long, Free the Bird Photography
Libby Peterson, Features Editor, Rangefinder Magazine