Marketing for the Wedding Business
Okay, we gonna start with marketing. So, marketing is the number one important thing. How do we get our business? Years ago, we used to heavily advertise in magazines, bridal magazines. Now it's gone, and I'm glad it's gone, because we used to pay 30,000, $40,000 a year just for advertising. Now, the new generation girls don't buy magazines. They won't, they go on internet, and they decide what they like on internet. But, that's secondary. Our most important client are the recommendations. Keep a client happy, the brother's gonna come, the sister is gonna come, or the bridal party who I show the wedding, they're gonna come. So if I keep my clients happy, I'm gonna get recommendation. Recommendation is the number one business. Unfortunately, in our industry, I don't know how it is here, but in Australia every now and then we get photographers who took the money and disappeared. You know, I've heard one in U.S.A. a few years ago, took money because the wedding was in Hawaii, and in somew...
here in the north of U.S.A. She took the money, and then there was no money left during the travels she-- Because the person bought a ticket for Hawaii, but the airline collapsed. They don't have any more money. The person was left with no airline ticket to fly to Hawaii. So basically, she was planning to go off on a, on a holiday in Hawaii, and it didn't happen, and the person was writing on Facebook or internet to say "please help me, I need to go" and why should other photographer help this person? Because that's not right, if you need to make money so you can enjoy what you do, and going to do. So please remember, traveling and taking photo weddings is great: I've done it before. But sometimes, you'll say it's not as much as you think what it is. Because you go there to work, you get tired, you have to, it takes you a week to recover, so it's not a real holiday, and it's not a real business. So you may, should more concentrate on your location, make money there, and travel wherever you want with the money you have. I'm not sure how to go where I want to go tomorrow, then be traveling. So we've decided to shoot less overseas unless it's a good package, and concentrate more in Melbourne. So my, most of my weddings are in Melbourne, sometimes Sydney: Sydney is an hour away from Melbourne, so it's not a big deal. You must be establishing these: who is your target audience? So it's very important, like I said. What you show is what you're gonna get. So if you show a bride jumping up and taking the Toyota shot, that's fine. If you want to do a very serious traditional shot, it's good, but try to be specialized in something. Try to have a style, then you start targeting to the right person, that girl who likes the style you're shooting, she will come back to you. And that's what I started to do about 20 years ago. I started to have a style, although other photographers were criticizing "This is not real wedding, "this is not this, this is not that." But I didn't care, and the client came to me for the right reason. These days, I'm enjoying even better than what I used to do 20 years ago. Now the girls are coming to me, and they're even changing their dates so I'm available for their dates, because they are respecting me as an artist, and not as a photographer. So they're saying "Oh, Yervant, "if you're not available this day, "I'll change the date, I'll look for "what dates you're available." So it's a good feeling. I'm not saying I'm a superstar. No, it's not: I'm a good photographer, and I deliver what the girl wants, and that's what it is. And if she likes my work, she'll be happy to change details. So style, fashion, decor: this is also very important when you have the studio, or if you're working from home or wherever, everything to match with your style, with your look. I have a big studio in Melbourne. When I say "big," it's a big shop, but not big, because we don't do many weddings. It's me and Danny shooting now: Danny just started. So we shoot, I shoot about 50, and Danny will shoot about 20 to 30 weddings a year, and that's it. We are specialized, we attract a high market. I'm lucky to be there, because the high market, there's not much competition. Everyone is killing each other in the middle market. So, the low market is always low. It's always been around, and they're the part-timers. Let's not blame these guys: they're trying to make a living. The middle market is where it's the problem. You know, everyone is fighting for a price instead of results. That's so important: show images, show results. Okay, to start when you're new, you don't know where to go, so you start somewhere. But when you're established, you're in the business more than five years, it should not be anymore about price. People should book you because you are amazing. So that's what you have to look for. Example, where to promote your work, where your studio. I don't, like I said before, I don't do too much promotion, but also, we deal with good reception halls. In Australia, we don't have wedding coordinators. It's more straight to the reception place. Even priests recommend us, weddings. Even, you know, because there's a Greek priest there who likes me, and he always gets the good weddings. He likes the way I work, and he says "Book Yervant," you know? If I'm lucky, they're gonna come, but at the end of the day, it's the recommendation that's gonna give me the good business. In my studio, no is not in my vocabulary. We say yes for everything, even if they want discount, yes, but then we try to work out around it, so no is a negative work, word. So we don't say no to anything. We always find a solution. Give her something, do something. If you need to book this person, the girl say "Okay." This is good wedding, her budget is lower, not our budget: but we might get good sales out of it later on. So how do we do it? We don't discount, but we will give you something instead, a value print or something, so to lock that, because you have always to predict a wedding. If it looks good and you think this is gonna be good sales, try to get it as easy as possible. So give a little goes a long way. So give a little, then on the end, it goes long way. But this is the secret: if you shoot for files, what's next? Here is the disc, bye bye, and that's it. There's no more sales. And if we don't create more sales after the wedding, how are we gonna survive? How we're gonna reach our standard of living? We need to make money. So we go and work part time? No, that's not how it's done. This is a real business, like a dentist, like a doctor. I make money, I need to make money, so I need to have products to sell. If I give them the file, first of all, I'm giving them a .RAW file, for example. And how do I know how they're gonna print it? How do I know how it's gonna look on their paper? A paper is a paper, printer is a printer, but the person behind the printing and the person producing is the one who finishes it: and that's so important. Photography is picture, and I'm selling picture, I'm not selling files. So please guys, it's still happening: don't give away files. Print the picture, then sell the files. It's okay, I do sell them after. But don't give them the file. You should be proud of your work: show them on a picture. Specially, don't forget, our client is the female. And I know, my wife, when she goes to a shop, before she buys a dress or thing, she tries every dress in the shop before she decides which one she's gonna buy. When you go shopping, girls, you love to touch, and pictures are touching. Yeah, it might interest a guy more the file, because he puts in his computer, or maybe he will look at it once in his lifetime, and that's it: whereas the girl will watch it with her mother, with her mother-in-law, then with the kids. It's a story of her life, it's the best time of her life. So books are much easier. We're gonna go through this later on. The true secret of a successful business is to respect. It's very much respect everything when you're photographing. Respect the locations, respect the reception, respect the priest, respect-- Because everyone will say, like I say, the Greek priest sends me a client. If you respect them, they'll return good things to you. In Melbourne, it's very traditional to go on the streets and take a lot of photos and go to a bar. What I hear, many photographers go to a bar, they trash the place, they take their own drinks, and they leave: so many bars in the city now, they say "No photographers, please." Why no photographers? Because a bar is there to make money, like we are making money. So if you go in a bar, buy a drink. Buy a drink, enjoy the drink: that's why they are there. So then, they will let you take pictures. If you trash the place, same Melbourne University. I'm going to show you the shoot I did was at Melbourne University. It's a beautiful university, it was free to go there many years ago. Everyone used to go there, and when they left, it was all trashed. And they, now they ask money to go in there. So if we respect our industry, like profession, don't say "Oh, he didn't do it, so I won't do it." Always respect so that you get respected. It's so important: we are artists, and we need all these things, so respect so we get where we want to go. Respect our craft: you know, we shouldn't be based on pricing. We shouldn't try to kill your price so I can get the business, because what's gonna happen? Lower and lower and lower, and no end to it. So be proud of what you're doing, and say "This is what I do, this is how much I charge. "You like it, book me: if no, "I'm sure there's another customer coming." So it's important not to kill each other, because we are a family. This is such a small industry. I nearly know photographers all over the world. I know 20 more here today. You know, it's a small, small industry, and if we look after it, it's better than being a doctor, believe me. A doctor opens the body, takes out the gooey stuff, and you know, (audience laughing) and closes it, and sad person "Please save me, doctor." Whereas, we go to a wedding, everyone is happy, everyone is cheer. How better can you get this? I've had so many doctors attending my class, they want to be wedding photographers, so. (laughs) (audience laughing) Work like a pro and give 100 percent service. This is very important. You know, every pictures should be treated perfectly. Crop it, clean it. When you give, when you deliver something, it needs to be something that you want to have. Every album I build myself, I want it myself. It's like a book, it's a thing, so... I'm very critical with my stuff, also. I say "You haven't done this right." Don't do it quickly: do it patiently, because this is an investment. You do it right, you're gonna get the customer to like what you want. So finish images: finishing is very important. Yes, Lightroom is good, but if you go to Photoshop, you can do even more to a picture. These days, pictures have so much information, you can work certain areas in Photoshop is much easier to do that than Lightroom.
I love you already. Sorry, I'm like anti-Lightroom.
Go, go, good on you. Yeah, I'm not anti-Lightroom. Culling, culling, I do it in Lightroom. I do a bit of soft correction. You see, I am a film photographer, and when you print film, it doesn't come perfect. You have to work on it to get what the results. And Photoshop is exactly the same, unless you want to change everything. That's a different story. I use Photoshop like I used to use Lightroom, sorry, darkroom. It sounds the same, anyway. (laughs) (audience laughing quietly) So, so Lightroom, yes, it's important, but Photoshop is as important, even more for me. You know, details, contrast and everything, you see much better in Photoshop and get great results. So if you don't know Photoshop, Lightroom is okay. But if you don't know it, sometime it's also good to employ someone or give it to someone to finish your work. Because this is the most important part other than the capturing. We don't sell pixels. What's a pixel? It's only 20 years old. And most probably, I was one of the first one in the world to start it, because I was from a darkroom. I started to get poisoned in the darkroom, because no, all the fumes, no air conditioning and everything. But I used to love 'em. I didn't even wear gloves, so my fingers were all yellow from the fixer and everything, but it was my life: I lived in a darkroom. But when I started to become back brace, stress on my chest, I said "It must be wrong." And a big company in U.S.A., I contacted them and said "Look, I'm having this problem." They said "It's not our chemistry: it's something else." So I have to find another way of, and I discovered Photoshop. The first Photoshop was a demo I bought, $6,000. I'm not joking: and it was in a brown box, because it was a beta one, $6,000. And the guy who I bought for, he didn't think anyone will buy it. So he was not gonna send it back to U.S., I bought it, that thing which was not for sale, but he did sell it to me. So that's how I started. So when I opened my first studio outside my partnership, I said "The first digital studio in the world." I claimed it: I don't care if someone else in the U.S. was first, but I claimed it. (audience laughing) No one else claim it, so I claimed it. There was a lot of things happening: "What's this guy talking about?" from other competition photographers. "What's he doing, what's this all about?" And I did workshop, they were coming, 100 people in the room, silent, not one question or "Am I doing bad, or they're not--" And eventually, I worked out that they don't know what I'm talking about. So they were all silent. So that was the revolution, and I moved to digital quickly. The first years, it was, I was booking a lot of weddings, but post-production was a disaster. By the time I do something in Photoshop, the computer collapses. Eight meg RAM, you know? Eight meg hard drive. By the time I do something, it was finished, so I had to wake up again and try to do it again. But I learned, and when I learned, I learned the traditional way, because I wanted the darkroom to come to my computer. So that's how I learned. Up to this day, I use the same, similar techniques. In darkroom, I used to use first density, make sure the exposure is correct; then color correction. So I still work the same way. I learned from a master of color printing, so he was so precise about those things, that was in Africa. And I learned from him how exactly to print a beautiful color, and it was always the levels, which is now: those days, it was density. And then color-correct the colors. And then you got a beautiful print. We used to do strips, process it, and then decide which one was the better. So when Photoshop came, it was a miracle. Would I say I will go back to film? No, why? Many people think it's fun. I don't think so, but every now and then, I use film. My little boy, because he's new, and he holds this film camera, and he says "Dad! That's so beautiful! "Turn, what are you doing there with that?" So he loves, and when I have my Rolleiflex, he looks down in the screen: he says "Whoa, that's so sharp." He thinks it's digital, initially, he was thinking it's digital, but it was not. It was a mirror, but it was, it's so exciting for him to discover, so with him, I shoot some film to have fun, but I will not do it for my business. There's no reason. But yeah, eventually, it has to be scanned to go in an album or something. There's no point, really. Yeah, it's good, but it's gone, it's passed: let's move on. That's how I like, I like to move with, so I'm quite a geek: every new laptop, everything new comes up, I buy it. And then I say "Oh, why did I buy it?" So I have to find something to say to my wife. So, you know, henpecked, "No no dear," you know? So I love, I love my equipment. But at the end of the day, like I said, I only need a camera, and then I only need a computer. And that, that's what it is. Change is what makes me keep on going. You know, if I don't change, if I get stuck in the same thing, it's gonna be boring. Let's face it: Melbourne is a big city, nearly five million population. There is good streets, there is good buildings. But if you do once, you're gonna do it 10 million times. It's the same location, it's the same thing. So what I love to do with the clients, I love to work with them, just park somewhere, go for a walk with them, and discover things that I haven't seen before. Because if you go past the place with a car, you will never see it: but when you walk, you see good things. So I make my bride and groom and the bridal party walk, have drinks and tea, and then I capture, it start to happen. They start to become alive. That's because they forget that we're posing. So we don't go in a park and everyone standing up, "Okay, next." I remember when I used to take films, we used to, we used to stand in a garden. There was 20 photographers behind me, waiting their turn, because it's a beautiful area of the garden. You take 10 pictures, and "Next please." So that was, there was no creativity there. So these days, it's more creativity. So you, for your business, it's very important to be creative, also: what you display is what you gonna show. Keep re-creating. Don't get stuck in one style. You know, be adventurous, you know, do your traditional shots first, the one that mum is gonna buy: and then you have one hour to shoot do it for yourself first. That's when you're gonna get the results. That's when your bride is gonna say "Wow, you've done something different." Yeah, sometime the bride comes to me, it's a business, she's gonna book me, but she brings me a list of pictures. "Can you do this, can you do this?" Sometimes, she brings all my pictures in and says. "Yes, sweetheart, I'll do it, but don't worry. "You're a different person than this bride. "So let me take beautiful pictures, "something new of you." Then another bride will come and say "Can I have the same as that bride's picture?" So "Let me be creative with your work: trust me. "Because if you trust me, I'm gonna deliver "the Yervant experience." Eliminate negative and positive thing, always be positive in your life. You know, in the studio, there could be the negative. A bride rings and says "I'm not happy with the picture. "You did this," and you go out and say "What have I done wrong?" Negative comes. or it can happen with the staff, or it can happen-- Always try to have a positive. Put the music up, dance in the middle. "Wah!" You know, have fun and bring happiness. Because if you bring happiness, you become creativity. So that's why I love this drink. I can't show what it is, but... (audience laughing) It gives me energy. So it's very important, it's very important to be positive about it. You know, some people come in, say "Oh Yervant, "you've been in the industry so many years. "When are you gonna retire?" I say "Why am I gonna retire? "I still can walk." (audience laughing) "Why am I gonna retire?" Retirement for me is waiting for, to die. So you go home, sit there with your wife, and say "When is the time coming?" Why am I gonna do that when I enjoy what I'm doing, taking pictures? So why should I retire unless, god forbid, something bad happens to me, you know? Let's go for it. The passion keep me young. The passion keeps me young, you know? I'm, what I've selected as a business is photography, taking pictures of, photography. So it's important that we... We take and enjoy-- Sorry, there was a sign there: I, okay. So it, because I'm a photographer, I enjoy doing that, so why retire? Simple as that.