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Wedding advice from the professionals - Part 1 - Here on ePHOTOzine we see many posts asking for advice about wedding photography so we asked a few professional photographers for their thoughts on wedding photography.
Before you can take photographs at a wedding you need a wedding to go to and to get one of these you need to market yourself well and advertise what you have to offer.
"I have worked in the industry long enough now that clients come through recommendation but if you're not in this position yet there's plenty of other ways you can attract potential clients," said Mark Cleghorn, a photographer who is considered to be one of the major influences of technique and style in the wedding industry today.
Chris Hanley is a wedding photographer who began his photographic career 27 years ago and even though he's working successfully as a wedding photographer he still tries to increase is profile any way possible.
"I put signs on the car and I leave business cards where I can. Leaving them in nice cafés or even places you think would make nice locations is a good idea."
Advertising can also help but you have to be selective in who and what you target, otherwise it can be a waste of money.
"Be selective and watch to see how it progresses," explained Mark.
"Target specific places otherwise you will waste money. You can get advertising by supporting and working with other businesses. Bridal designers, florists and hairdressers all need photographs. They also credit the work and it also gets used in magazines," added Chris.
Photographer Annabel Williams on the other hand doesn't believe in advertising instead she thinks the key is good networking and doing bridal features: "Consider how many business people actually know you do weddings. Think about your network with regard to what they actually do as you should have good contacts with hotels, caters etc. included in the mix. Also bridal features are a must do for all."
Wedding fairs are popular events and if you can get in them they can be a great place to attract customers. The large fairs can be a bit daunting at first but there are smaller fairs around that attract less photographers which means less competition. Annabel also suggests you be selective, think about which and how many you attend.
"If your work is cheap and cheerful you will go down well at wedding fairs. If your not a great photographer or your work is too expensive you wont," said Mark.
Remember to re-book a place when you attend a wedding fair and if you can't get into one you could always organise your own.
If you don't want to spend huge amounts of money on advertising you could always attend charity events, school fairs, community events and join specialised forums where you can promote your work. Of course just talking to people will help, word of mouth is a great tool for any photographer and good PR networks and community contacts can go a long way.
"Networking - join a business group. It's the best investment you could make on behalf of the business," said Annabel.
Meeting potential clients is a must, a phone conversation is ok for first contact but it's vital you get to meet the couple and that they get to know you: "Meeting the bride and groom is all about relationship building and forming a trust. This can be achieved over the phone but the key to telephone is listening. The best form of communication in all aspects of life is face to face," said Annabel. It's also important that you make a good first impression and the way you present your work can help with this.
"Of course many people find us through the website, that's our new shop front if you like. But it's also important to have a good sales kit. My contains mounted and framed work, acrylics, canvas' and my 18x12 plastic sandwich portfolio and albums. I also have a projector and macbook pro which can be used if needs be."
Service is the key to being a successful wedding photographer: "What you will be remembered for is the care that you give the client and every little added touch that makes their experience with you amazing. If done right, it is this that will build you a fantastic reputation," said Annabel.
If you can't communicate then these photographers believe you need to quickly learn how to or give up on wedding photography. Communication and how you present yourself are key, it's not just about taking great pictures.
"You may be a great photographer but if the couple hate you it wont be a very pleasant day and as a result you wont get great photographs," explained Mark.
It's as much about people skills as photography, if you ain't got it you'll be quickly exposed.
Chris said: "Tenacity and technique are important. The pictures you sell are a product of the whole experience. You are carrying people through their big day, you are there to capture it all and you need to communicate to do this."
Knowing what to charge can be tricky but looking across the market at what others are charging should give you some idea of what your prices should be. Chris also believes you should charge what you think your worth, don't under charge just because you think this will win you some business.
"What you charge must reflect the service that you are delivering, the marketplace you aim to be in and the product that you supply, from Queensberry albums to Ultimat frames from Ultimat. These sales tools are a great investment for you and thus will be for the client," explained Annabel.
"Also you could put your prices up until your work stops selling," added Mark.
Once you have attended a wedding show, had your pictures put in a shop window and shown a potential client your market pack the next thing you need to know is what to do when they have said yes, you can be our wedding photographer and you can find this out in part two.