Wedding Photographer Case Study
- [Colby] We're going to talk about Jose Villa. Now, Jose is an exceptionally talented wedding photographer. He's a photographer and photo instructor so he does teach workshops as well, which does bring in revenue for him. He specializes purely in wedding photography, but I have seen other images of him that do some portraits, some publications, and some kids. Total followers throughout both of his main platforms is 383,000. Give or take. And he's active on Facebook and Instagram. Instagram is his baby. That's his focus. That's the most important network to him. He does have stuff going on on Facebook, but it pales in comparison to his Instagram page. His online personality is fun. He likes to keep it engaged, but he definitely is mostly business. So he'll make sure that he's tagging people he's working with. He's talking to the point. He's trying to be engaging and fun, and he does a good job at doing so. But, again, you're not going to see a ton of the stuff of his backstory. He's ha...
ppy to share with you, he's happy to engage, but that's just not necessarily his style. It's mostly business with a little bit of fun mixed in. Now, Jose has been featured in some of the bigger bridal magazines around the world. So he's been featured in The Knot, Brides, PDN, American Photo Wedding, Go Weddings, and probably more that I have obviously forgotten to write down. So, recently, he was named as one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the world. And he uses Instagram as one of his main portfolios to showcase all that and generate business, which is pretty big. So Jose's revenue streams are mostly weddings and mostly photography workshops. But also, he does portrait work and does some editorial assignments. So you can see some of his work and a handful of publications and then they're beautifully done. And he teaches interesting wedding photography workshops around the world in different places, helping other wedding photographers learn the business. Learn how to pose people, learn how to get people to relax, how to create beautiful images, and some of the business side of things as well. Now, the turning point for Jose. Now, for Jose, social media was really not involved when he figured out what was going to make him unique or at least what was going to help him take things a bit to the next level. And what he did was, he spent the majority of his time and any money that he was thinking about using for advertising and instead invested that in collaborating with third-party vendors, the best vendors he could find. The best decorators, the best wedding planners, interior designers. Anyone. Anyone that was tied to weddings, he wanted to work with. And what he did was he spent that time working with them, sometimes for pro bono, sometimes on projects not tied directly to weddings. And ultimately, what happened is that his name started getting out there. His name started growing and started building. And eventually,
Martha Stewart Weddings magazine approached him and he got their attention. And things started to spiral from there. But it was all because of his ability to network that allowed him to take his name and his brand to the next level. Social media generally came after the fact. It was still important getting to where he is today, but it was his ability to network that he has taken into his social media world that has allowed him to be as successful as he is. So building his following. As I mentioned, most of it was done similar to how he had his turning point to turn his career into a success, was about the idea of working with clients. So in social media, what he does is as he's posting clients for all of his weddings and his clients, is he takes extra time and makes sure that he mentions, tags, comments, and engages with every single company that he works with, from people that were doing wedding shoes to people that were planning the different weddings, to all the stuff. He gives as much love as he can throughout his large social channels to all of these third-party vendors. And in turn, they do the same. So he was able to grow his following by using his networking skills that he learned before social media became onto the scene to essentially grow himself and the people that he works with to essentially build the audience that he has. So let's talk about Jose's Instagram page. Jose Villa is, again, his tag. If you guys are wedding photographers, highly recommend that you check him out. Study what he is doing. Figure out what works. His caption style, as I mentioned, it's business-minded. He's, again, tagging a lot of his clients. He's having fun and playful. But for the most part, he's to the point. He's sharing with you what you're generally there to see. It's no nonsense. It's kind of, "This is what you're seeing. This is who was involved. This is what I do." He uses hashtags and tags extensively. So hashtags he has found to be quite advantageous for him to find new clients. Hashtags that work for specific locations he likes to work in that brides are trying to find. Similar things that are happening on Pinterest that he does a little bit here and there as well. And the tags as we mentioned. The idea that he is tagging everyone that he's going to be working with, lifting them up so that they can lift him up as they grow. He averages one post per day. Every once in a while, he misses. But for the most part, it's a single post a day. Shares 95%, and that's probably more so 98%. I couldn't find one that was not vertical. So everything that he does is vertical. Every single thing on Instagram. And he does that because most people are viewing Instagram on a mobile phone. So you're getting more screen real estate when his images are shared. He averages around 7,000 interactions per post, depending on the photo. Depending on how bright it is or what the subject is about. Depending on if it's an actual bride or things that he's known for or maybe it's something that's more of the detail shots. But, overall, he averages around 7,000. Sometimes it jumps up to 10,000, to 12,000. Sometimes it's 5,000 to 6,000. Mostly it's around 7,000 to 8,000. So parting advice from Jose, Jose said that you are your brand. He wants you to shoot things that you love and that you want to be known for. This is sound advice. This is the idea that so many times I come across photographers that they're hard to set on, say, landscape photography, for example, or travel photography. But then they feel that they are forced to shoot other avenues because that's where they feel they can make their money. So sometimes that's portrait work. Sometimes it could be wedding work. It could be something else but their heart's not in it. And from a creative standpoint, if your heart's not in the work that you're doing, generally, it's pretty obvious and it shows at least to a trained eye. So finding something that you love to shoot and putting yourself into it and trying to get yourself so that you're known for it, people are going to want to hire you. Because they see that passion. They see that energy. They see it in your work and they see it in your eyes. They see it in the words you say when you speak to them, when you try to get these clients. If you're not really interested in getting a job for a marketing campaign or shooting a wedding, it's going to be obvious to people that you're trying to sell that idea to. So if you don't love what you're doing, there's a problem. He also recommends that you shoot every day. Shoot every day. Get out there and shoot. Practice. Practice. Practice. But make sure that you give love and give appreciation. And whether that's in tags or you work on your networking skills in terms of sending out physical cards or thank-you letters to every single person that you work with, especially as a wedding photographer, to sit there, write back, put in physical letters to write back brides, florists, everyone. Treat people like gold. Business-to-business communication has been huge for Jose. And he hopes that everyone understands that value of networking, that value of treating people like they are gold. It is huge. And most people don't take the necessary steps to show that appreciation. It's not saying that you or myself or other people that happen to maybe forget to do it means that we weren't appreciated or appreciative. But the idea that you aren't showing that, you aren't going that extra mile can mean the difference between that company, that individual, that vendor coming back and saying, "Oh, yeah, I know of a wedding photographer that we can use for this project that just came across my lap. Let me recommend them." It's huge. Networking is massive in the photography industry as a whole but definitely in the wedding world. That's how he's made a success and that's what he recommends that you guys do as well. - [Man] We did have one comment from somebody saying, "Why are you showing us all these? These are the top...maybe the top 10 guys on Instagram." But I think it's important to understand for people that all of these people built their social media followings themselves. - Absolutely. - That's what's significant about it. - Well, I think it's a common question that happens when you're talking about social media. It's like, "Why are you showing us people that we feel we can't attain to?" And the reality is that all these people all started exactly where everyone in this room is. Everyone that is watching right now, everyone, myself included, started with zero followers at some point in time. So the lessons that we have learned have value and merit to them. Now, a lot of the practices, things have changed. Some of us have been doing this for 10-plus years. So take things certainly with a grain of salt. But there is a lot of bits and pieces that you should be able to take out of learning from all these type of photographers and apply them to yourself, regardless if it's from a different genre. I didn't want to do this section when we talked about these case studies and say, "This is specifically for a wedding." Before, when I initially was putting this workshop together, I was going to say, "Okay, wedding photographers, we're going to talk about this," show a couple different wedding photographers. But the reality is I don't like doing that because it pigeon-holes the information. It makes people feel like this stuff doesn't matter to them if they're not that type of photographer. There are lessons in here that, just from me doing these interviews and talking to people, reminded me of the importance and the significance of things. Talking to Chris Burkard and seeing just his passion for storytelling reminded me of the significance of paying a little bit more attention to the captions that I use. Talking to Jose and realizing where he's found success in the networking reminds me of the significance of being appreciative for all the clients that I've worked with in the past. Now, I do quite a bit of networking on my own but the way that he does it is to a next level. So I want to learn from that. Everyone can learn from these different things. - While we're talking about it, we do have two good questions. Eric asked, "How can it be beneficial to post vertical images in Instagram if it's a square format? What does vertical mean in this context?" Can you explain? - Okay. Interesting question, Eric. So essentially, Instagram used to be in a square format. Technically, it still is. But what they did is, a year and a half ago or so, is that they opened up that format and allowed vertical images. Not full 3 by 2 ratio but a vertical formatted image to go onto the screen as well as 3 by 2 proper widescreen. So essentially your standard photos that you shoot in landscape orientation, not a landscape subject but a horizontal orientation, can now be put into Instagram and it doesn't have to be in that square format. Now, when it comes to the vertical images, that vertical ratio, the reality is, is that most people are viewing things from their mobile phone. A mobile phone generally is used like this, which means that it's vertical in nature. So vertical images get more screen real estate. Yes, you're seeing a little bit less caption, but you're letting your image speak for yourself. So on Instagram, as a general rule, statistically speaking from millions of accounts being studied, is that vertical images do better. You get more engagement because more people are able to see more of your image. When you do a horizontal image and it's that side crop, things get squished down. And that doesn't work for a lot of photographers. And some people still share it. But for the most part, and myself included, I like to share either vertical images or I'll share the square crop. I won't share landscape images in Instagram because it just shrinks things down too much. Question. Keep going. - One more, yeah. Sarah wants to know, "I just recently found out that Instagram also has the ability to do business profiles but I'm under the impression that most accounts function under normal profile settings. Any insight on to whether to...or better to make your Instagram profile a business one or a personal one?" - It's a good question. So I think most established photographers are going to be using Instagram on default. By default, you're just using a standard that's considered just a personal profile. And what they did, Instagram, is they allowed last year for people to begin to create or convert their personal Instagram pages into business accounts. Now, down the line, there might be some added benefits that open up different features and I imagine they will elaborate a little bit more on what they've already done. But so far, the only difference is essentially that you can take one of your images in Instagram and turn it into an ad. So in Instagram, underneath your photo when you have a business account, there's a little Boost Post button. Click on that button and within Instagram, you can turn that post into an ad that can direct people to a website or you can ask people to come into wherever you are locally. It's a little bit limited right now, but I imagine that feature is going to grow. And in addition, you also get insights, it tells you what your reach, your impressions, and your interaction rates are per image. So you can sit there and say, "How many people actually saw this? How many part...what percentage of my following are seeing the content that I'm pushing out there? What content's doing well? And how many people, total, have interacted?" So it's adding up your comments and your likes. So it's good information to have. You don't get a ton of insights compared to Facebook or a lot of the other platforms, but it's something. I converted my own the day I was allowed to. I haven't seen any drop in interactions or anything. I think it's great. Like I said, most of the time or I feel that moving forward, Instagram will only allow for more features to come in because they want more businesses to come in because they want more money, to be honest. So I recommend you check it out. It's worthwhile at least looking into.