The Importance of Wedding Photographers
One of the other things really that we need to educate our clients on is this happens a lot pretty much in the interview stage in order for all of these moments to be captured, is essentially understanding the importance of wedding photography and who we are as wedding photographers. First and foremost, you know, photography I guess, accurately documents history, would you agree? I mean, photography is how we know about our history. We connect with our history through photographs. I alluded to this earlier, also, it memorializes our lives. So for a family, it is very important to have their pictures taken over time because we can go back and see these pictures and connect with our past once again. So, it keeps us in touch with the past but it's also a means to share our lives and our loves with the next generation. So photography folks, is generational, okay. We do get to pass down to the next generation the images that we take today, very, very importantly. And this next photograph re...
ally sums it up. There's the proud father, during the wedding of his daughter and all these beautiful pictures on the wall which is his family, isn't that beautiful? It would hardly be the same if he just had USB sticks taped to the wall, right? And we'll talk about this tomorrow as well, the importance of printing, printing, printing printing your work. (Ryan chuckling) Archival printing and that is what you pass down to the next generation, that becomes the family heirloom and it goes on and on and on. Recently I found images from my baptism, my christening. A long, long time ago, they were beautiful.
How long ago?
Well, let's not get into it, it was awhile ago. (Ryan chuckling) It was (mumbles) something like that, but it was a very long time ago but these, my parents took the time. They didn't have a lot of money back then but they took the time and invested in a professional photography to come and shoot images. Not a lot of images, there's literally a handful of images but they're these beautiful, black and white fiber based prints which are still beautiful today and I get an incredible, incredible feeling when my daughter looks at these and sees her father in that. And I know one day, she'll hold these images in her hand and she'll show her kids and that'll be her grandfather and then her kids will show her great-grandfather and this goes on and on and on. And that is the importance of what we do as photographers but most importantly as wedding photographers because the wedding really is the beginning of that family's history. Because that family begins there and then it goes on to that generation and they'll have kids and it goes on and on and on. So we're really documenting something very, very important and it shouldn't be taken lightly. We're given a great privilege I believe as wedding photographers to be able to capture these moments and capture the story.
We should have done this shot with him and USB sticks taped to it.
Yeah we should have.
It really wouldn't have been the same would it?
It would not have been the same. (Ryan chuckling)
So, what do our clients, what are our clients looking for in today's game and in today's wedding photography? Roc, what do you reckon, what are they looking for now?
I've think before we can answer that question Ryan we really need to assess what type of business we're in as wedding photographers. Is it a service based industry that we're in or is it about product? The answer to that is very simple. It is a service based industry that we're in. Even though the end product is tangible, it's a photograph, it's an album, getting there is all about service. You can be the most amazing photographer in the world, producing the most incredible images, but guess what guys? Unless you can connect with your couple and give 'em the service that they deserve to be able to achieve that end product, you're not gonna get any referrals. It's all about going above and beyond what everybody else is doing. The service part is so, so important Ryan.
Absolutely, couldn't agree more. And if you look at a few things of what they're after at the moment and first comes reputation. I think that has still a lot to do with what or how people find you and what they're looking for but further on than that, they're looking for experience. I don't know how many times I've been asked and because I'm a young, I'm still quite a young photographer, I think. I have got a lot of gray hair at the moment, but--
No need to rub it in Ryan.
They always question my experience and when I tell them, guys I've been in this, this is my 15th year being a professional wedding photographer. They kind of take a step back but they're still after some sort of experience. They often ask you have you worked at that venue before or have you seen that particular church before or whatever it may be. If I haven't though, I don't lie to them. I don't say to them, "Oh yes, I have been" and bluff my way through it. I just say to them, "Guys I haven't been there "but I'm sure it is amazing, I'm sure it's beautiful. "And it's gonna be amazing for your day." So, always sort of coming back at them in a really, really positive note.
Yeah, absolutely. About 95% of our business today is built on referrals. We don't do a lot of advertising anymore. I think the whole advertising space for wedding photography has change dramatically in the last 18 months. The amount of referrals we get literally just through Instagram is quite ridiculous.
It's huge, huge.
We'll talk a little bit about that tomorrow and how we get out our images and how we produce them and how we get them live on the Internet as we're shooting the wedding and so on and so on. It really does help.
I think above all though, they're looking for a personality, they really are. They're looking for someone to connect with because they don't wanna spend their day and if you think about a wedding day, you're to 14 hours on a wedding day with a couple. They don't wanna spend it with someone A they don't like, or B they've never met before or don't feel like they know. So I think it's really important to get along with who you're shooting and I say it for us as well at the moment, is that I don't necessarily want to be photographing people I don't get along with either. Because it doesn't make the job fun does it?
Even though yes, it pays the bills, I still wanna get some enjoyment from it and we're in a really fortunate position now that we've been in this for a long time and it's taken a long time to build but the clients that are coming through now, I love. I call them my friends. I text with them, yeah? Because I get a long with them and it's made everything so much easier, so personality has a lot to do with it. But, I think being sort of manual with your personality is important as well so you need to be able to reflect who they are and get along with them at the same time.
Yeah, never sort of feel that you're better than them or they're better than you. Be malleable as Ryan said, fit in with whatever they're, whatever their personality is I guess.
Yeah and then lastly, I think it's about presentation. It's presentation on a few levels. And as I say, tomorrow we're gonna go through a bit more in terms of client interaction but just to touch on it for a second. Even down to the way we appear when we meet them. I don't wear, I was about to say thongs but it's not thongs here.
No, it means something very different here in the U.S.
Flip flops, yeah, you get that.
Okay, flip flops. So I don't wear flip flops and shorts and a T-shirt when I first meet my clients so I like to appear basically how they want me. You know, at the end of the day, how they would want me at the wedding. So, not that I wear a suit to every meeting but I look presentable and then it's down to album presentation and the space that they're in as well so it all sort of comes together. But, I think as a list of things, that's what we need to come back to all the time and make sure that each of those is looked after in order to book wedding clients.
Absolutely. With presentation also, think about the products that you're selling and how they look. Sometimes we have albums in the studio which have been there for awhile and they're starting to look a little old and withered, yeah. Never assume that the client can see past it 'cause they won't. They will directly make a link between that album looking really tired and maybe has a little tear here and there saying, "Well, these albums "aren't very good and they don't really last "the test of time." Little do they know that that album has been to maybe four or five different bridal shows, and a thousand people have looked at it. And by the time their album gets that sort of punishment well, a 20 year span has happened.
Okay. So, just have your display work fresh and ready all the time so that it look pristine in every way really.
Absolutely, yeah. So, we come up with this quote in terms of "The difference between being a good photographer "and a great one is being able to understand "who you're photographing." And I'll bring it back to, knowing your clients. Understanding who they are and we do this through a number of different means. One of the most I guess, important ones, is actually meeting with your clients on a regular basis. I try and meet with my clients at least two or three times prior to the wedding happening.
And doing that in a few different scenarios, so one may be at the office but one may be out and getting a coffee or getting a drink together just so that I can understand exactly who they are, where they come from, what their values are, because these are all important tools that I can use on a wedding day in order to capture their day properly for them.
And what you gotta understand is that everyone's different. There's no cookie cutter bride and groom. Every single one of them is different because they're each different people.
Absolutely, and also building that repertoire is extremely important. Sometimes we offer engagement sessions or ring sessions or pre-wedding shoots. We do a little quick hour session just so that we start to understand what makes 'em click. What is it that makes them connect? But also, they start to understand that you're not this horrible person, stranger that just turns up on the wedding day and just points a camera at them you know, this is who I am, I'm the photographer. And they're, "Oh the photographer's here." By the time you end up arriving at the preparations of the bride, you're almost like an invited guest, if you like.
They know you, they know Rocco, they know Ryan 'cause we've had coffees, we've broke bread sometimes together you know, so it's important really to make that connection.
And really, it's all about developing that very important thing which is really trust. Because if people trust you they give you money. If people don't trust you it's very hard to make them part with money. At the end of the day, we are there to make a profit. It's not just for the passion. We need to be able to put food on our tables as well.
I always say, if we're making money then I've got one thing, it's a happy wife.
Happy wife, happy life.