Here at ShootDotEdit, we specialize in wedding photo editing. We also partner with industry leaders to bring you valuable tips and tricks on the most relevant topics for your photography business. Today, we’re diving into how to get photography clients.
In your wedding photography business, referrals are key to your longevity and success. How can you make sure to delight clients every time? We connected with Darren of Reality Photography to discover his tips on how to get more photography clients through excellent customer service. Plus, we added a bonus section with additional tips to help you get more wedding photography clients.
How to Get Photography Clients
We all love that feeling when we hear, “You shot my friend’s wedding and we love your photos, are you available for mine?” – not only because it’s another potential booking, but you also know you must have done a great job.
There’s a secret part missing from that question, something that happens behind the scenes: “Our friends didn’t have anything negative to say about you.” That statement is just as important as any photography you can produce.
How many times have you heard horror stories about the behaviour of other photographers? Probably quite a lot. That is, after all, one of the reasons they’re looking to book you. So, you can be the photographer who found out how to get photography clients fast or you can be the photographer who is getting negative word of mouth. Here are a few steps to help you increase wedding photography referrals through positive customer service.
Master Customer Service
You cannot survive on great images and marketing alone. Without conscientious customer service, those referrals won’t come knocking. Our job is to make people “feel.” How can you make couples feel positivity if they are chasing you because you are late for a promised deadline, or if you have spoken out of tone to a member of their family during the wedding shoot?
So, you provided some award-winning portraits of the bride and groom. Great. But, are they going to remember you by those photos or will they remember all the times they had to email or call you? You can hear it now: “Oh our photographs are amazing, but Mr. Smith Photography was such a pain to get hold of.” Get your customers talking about how great you were, not just your work.
“People recommend people.”
Related: Simple action items you can do today to skyrocket your bookings and grow your photography business – get them here!
Set Expectations from the Start
Don’t make silly promises. Ever waited for a delivery and it didn’t arrive on the day the website promised? Whose fault is it, how can I complain and where are my damn batman socks? (Ok, the socks might just be me). But, you get the point. Now compare the importance of the socks you ordered to the photos of one of the biggest days of your life. That referral is dead in the water.
Things happen and with all good intentions, you may miss a deadline. That’s fine. Your clients love and trust you. So, when you tell them about the delay (because you will tell them!), they’ll be a lot more understanding and their frustration is avoided.
Perfect your listening skills
Let’s go back to the beginning. After all, that’s where the first impressions are made. You can get referrals from clients who haven’t even paid their deposit yet. Be prompt, be polite, and be consistent. The clients already love your work, so now you need to get them to love you too! Listen to them. People want to be heard. They do not care how many weddings you’ve shot, they only need to know that you care about theirs.
Don’t let your own prejudices stand in the way. We all have opinions and when a couple gives me a list of group shots that are as long as my arm, I cry inside. I know they’re not going to actually want that many, I know they’ve booked me to document the actual day, and I also know that if I don’t accommodate the request then I’m not going to live up to their expectations.
This is where you need to be prompt, polite, and consistent. Thank them for the list, don’t reject it. Give them some ideas that work around how you shoot and explain to them the reason you’re offering these ideas.
Assumption makes an… well, you know the phrase. Does your client know that unless they actually spend time with Uncle Roger during the wedding shoot, there won’t be any photos of them together? Does your client know you’re completely unreachable when you’re shooting a wedding? Give your clients an FAQ pdf when they book or make everything clear when you meet them. Better yet, do both.
Let Clients Be Heard
Some people just want to be heard. “It’s a shame that we didn’t get any photos of me with Uncle Roger!” Your reply doesn’t have to be apologetic. She didn’t mention it before and she barely even spoke to him, but here’s your response:
“Uncle Roger is a legend. He was telling me about the time he went camping and got completely lost. It’s a shame there’s not any of you two together. It did look like you were having an awesome time on the dance floor though and who am I to come between you and your breakdancing routine to abba?! I had a quick look at the group shots and it doesn’t look like we missed any?”
You’ll probably get a response changing the subject as it wasn’t a complaint it was just a comment.
Make Genuine Connections
How to get away with kicking a guest. A few months ago I was shooting a wedding and the couple was just about to cut their cake, a guest dived in front of me and positioned himself right at the end of my lens, so I kicked them (ok it was more of a tap with my foot, but it’s still a kick right?). How on earth is that good customer service?
Well, I’d made time throughout the day to chat to almost everyone and let them get to know me personally, so when I kicked this guy he knew it wasn’t at all aggressive, he laughed and moved, then I got the shot. Of course, there are some weddings I wouldn’t have dreamt of doing this, but I understood the crowd. Compliment dresses, tell the guys how smart they look, say anything that starts a small conversation.
One of the best compliments I’ve ever had was when I was handing a bride her USB box, she said: “I already know these are going to be amazing!” Yeah, she’s seen my work before but other than a handful of previews I sent to her, she really had no idea what she was going to find.
She trusted me, I’d kept my promises, replied promptly, and done everything I could to go above and beyond her expectations. She already loved her photos without even seeing them.
Eliminate Issues from the Start
“Urgh, she’s a total bridezilla!” No, she isn’t. She’s a bride who’s been let down. “I could tell from the start that she was going to be a pain.” So why didn’t you do anything about it? Why have you given her reason to complain? “She’s saying the images are terrible and she looks bad.” So why haven’t you built enough trust with her yet?
Complaints start with one small objection and if it’s left, it will continue growing until you defuse it. Stop complaints the moment they start. Don’t wait around thinking about it, reply and listen straight away.
You’ve not done your job, whether the photos are really good or not doesn’t matter if she’s frustrated and it falls solely to you to fix it. “I’m sorry to hear that, I pride myself on giving my clients beautiful images so to hear the opposite is really upsetting, how can we fix this?” This reply will work perfectly if they trust you. After all, you’ve been amazing up till now. Take enough action to kill the complaint and remove it from their opinion of you.
Create Rules for Your Process
I have a rule in my process. I don’t deliver images that aren’t complimentary to the bride unless I’m absolutely certain that she’ll see the funny side. A while back I had a bride that had one of the best receptions I’ve ever been to, the dance floor was packed, the guests were in great spirits, and the couple had an awesome time. I didn’t deliver many photos of the bride on the dance floor as they contradicted my rule. It sucked big time, but there were enough images of the couple in the evening that I thought it would suffice.
It didn’t. The couple wanted more of her in her evening dress. In this instance, do I break my own rule or do I let a client down? Well, the latter is out of the question so I explained my process, empathized, and awaited a response. It turns out she didn’t care, she loved images I didn’t include and left me a 5-star review. Now that’s been simplified a lot, but it was their trust in me that didn’t convert a comment into a complaint. Oh, and I got a referral from them too.
Acknowledge You Are in the Customer Service Industry
If you want to save money, time, heartache, and reputation, acknowledge you’re in the customer service industry. Listen to your clients, take note of what’s important, keep to your promises, maintain positivity throughout the experience, and make each client know exactly how much you care. Better customer service will give you a better profit. Simple.
Figuring out how to get photography clients doesn’t mean you have to work with just anyone who will book you. Getting photography clients who are perfect for you and your business can become a reality in just a few simple steps.
It may sound strange, but before you can figure out how to get wedding photography clients, you need to know who you are and what kind of photographer you want to be. Reflect on your passions, on the things you truly love. Imagine your perfect work day. Think about the details of what you love to do. Also, identify what you do and do not want to do. Think critically about who you want to work with and why.
Pro Photographer Example
Photographer Kellie Coughlin shares:
“I’ve found that I have to BE my dream client in order to attract my dream client. Whenever I am in the position as ‘consumer’ or ‘client,’ I make every effort to treat that vendor exactly how I want my dream client to treat me. And when I have a client who I find less than dreamy, I take time after our interaction to really meditate on what made that client someone who I didn’t want to work with.”
Author and specialism guru Jeff Jochum says in his book, Work Happily Ever-After:
“Anyone can copy what you do; no one can copy who you are. In truth, it’s not magic, though to outsiders it probably looks like it. The essence to making Specialism work for your business is that you must stand for something other than ‘making money’ to make this happen. Your WHO becomes your primary differentiator, and the real value of your business. We call this ‘YOUniqueness.'”
If you love the outdoors and love shooting adventurous clients, use this for how to find photography clients.
If you are an editorial city-lover, focus on that clientele. Avoid thinking of specializing as limiting yourself. Think of it as channeling your passion into what you do best. Doing so allows you the best opportunity to work with people and in places you love. When you enjoy what you are shooting, your wedding clients will notice and refer you to their like-minded friends and family. That is a surefire way for how to get photography clients for your business.
Once you identified who you are and what you want to photograph, advertise it to help you find photography clients. Have an “About Me” section on your photography website that discusses your passions. Talk about them on your blog. Reach out to other related sites to network.
If you love weddings that feature a dog as the ring bearer, perhaps do a guest spot on an animal shelter blog about how to structure the day to be best for the pet. Most importantly, show the kinds of images you want to shoot anywhere and everywhere. Becoming known as an expert in your niche will attract like-minded people into your life, which will make the process of getting photography clients much easier.
Pro Photographer Example
Sarah Roshan, wedding photographer, shared her experience of how to get clients as a photographer.
“I was booking great clients but not at the price point that I wanted. Specialism was key for me. I declared on my website I only photograph romantic mountain weddings for carefree couples. Sounds great, but it was real and authentic to who I was. I am a mountain girl who sees the world through rose colored romantic glasses. I changed my bio to state only what I stand for and who I am instead of what I do, and something amazing started happening. It started bringing me exactly the type of clients I want.
The game changer for me was understanding the only thing that makes me different than every other photographer in the world was that I am me. No one can be me. People generally want to work with people who are similar to themselves, so by putting myself out there authentically to the world, the absolute right people began to call me and book me, most of them in a twenty minute conversation over the phone.
I was [getting] such a specific client I ended up with 2 brides who had the same tattoo within the same year. The tattoo: the directions to Neverland—a perfect example of my ideal, romantic, carefree client. Both couples paid my fee with no questions or push back, and I had an absolutely wonderful time working with them.
Declaring who I am on my website has been life-changing. I have become more of who I want to be, and my clients help make me more of who I want to be too. I am working happier, with amazing people who appreciate me and my work.”
Still wondering how to get clients for photography? Here is a quick recap. These key concepts will help you to achieve your goal. Are you ready to get started? We have compiled some questions that will help send you in the right direction.
- Identify 5 features or traits that exist within your dream photography client.
- Determine 3 areas that are essential to who YOU are, the elements that construct your YOUniqueness.
- List 3 action steps that you can start working on immediately to personalize your brand that can help you find out how to get more photography clients.
We love talking about how to get more clients as a photographer so much that we added another bonus section. In this section, let’s talk about simple maintenance items to keep track of to help you achieve your goal of how to get wedding photography clients.
1. Update Gallery Photos
Because the wedding photography industry changes so often, updating your galleries is a crucial part of staying relevant. Who you are today as a photographer may not necessarily be who you were when you first started or before you began to improve your skills. Choose a few photos from recent weddings that represent who you are today and what your work will look like for clients. Place those photos in your galleries on your website and blog, and ensure you have the best images on your homepage.
When clients see the beautiful photos you have on your homepage, the chances are higher they will continue to look through your photography website. How to get photography clients becomes an easier process when you showcase the best work you have to clients who are looking for your unique style.
2. Create Clear Business Pricing
As visitors view your website and are interested in your services, they will look to see what your prices are. Your pricing page is one of the most important pages on your website and can make a potential client’s decision a quick one.
Simplifying the pricing for your photography business assists you in creating clarity for your clients, meaning they will be more likely to learn more about your services. Using specific pricing models, such as A La Carte or packages, will help you showcase your products and services in a way which helps you get more photography clients. Since much of the initial interaction a client will have with you is online, you must pay close attention to search engine optimization (SEO) for your website and blog. When a potential client searches for a wedding photographer, the goal is to have the search engine share your business on the first page.
If you only pay attention to SEO some of the time, you could lose out on clients who are actively searching. Place focus on properly using keywords for your website, blog, and images by discovering what a potential client types in the search bar. This is a great way to learn how to get photography clients fast. If you incorporate certain keywords on your website and blog, our ranking may increase and you can get closer to getting the photography clients for your business.
4. Showcase a Unique Brand
When you desire is to appeal to a certain type of client, showcasing your unique brand can help them decide whether they want to work with you. As a wedding photographer, you have a different style than others in the industry. Your experiences shape how you shoot and the images you provide for your clients. Because many photographers make branding mistakes, ensure you are sending the correct message to photography clients who are perfect for you. After you update your website and blog with unforgettable images, look at the rest of your platforms and communication methods.
Do your emails, social media platforms, and blog text represent you and your brand? When you meet clients for the first time, can they tell immediately what your style is and how you will shoot their images from the wedding day? Take the steps necessary to develop and showcase a brand which sets you apart from others in the industry.
5. Contact Past Clients
Just as you made your clients feel special during their wedding day, and made them happy with memories, treat after the wedding the same. Reach out to your clients when it is their anniversary, birthday, or when you find a photo you really love from their day and share it with them.
If it is a holiday or special occasion, you can send a card or gift that reminds them of their strong connection with you. When you keep in touch and remind your past clients of the experience they had with you, you stay top of mind for them when it comes to referrals for their friends and family.
6. Develop Connections with Vendors
While maintaining relationships with your current vendors is important, take an opportunity to reach out and meet new vendors who you have yet to work with. Perhaps there is a local wedding coordinator who you have yet to work with for the wedding day or a venue you have always wanted to shoot, but have not.
Developing connections with new vendors can help you expand your reach in your community, which also helps with your goal of learning how to get clients for photography.
7. Encourage Referrals from Others
One of the best parts about creating connections with clients and vendors is you create lifelong referrals sources who can help you continue to find photography clients. This is why it can be so important to follow up with your clients and vendors after the wedding day so they are reminded of the experience you provided them with during the shoot.
Because you spent the time getting to know your clients and vendors, they have a better idea of who the best clients are for you. And from the trust you built throughout the process, you can more easily ask your clients and vendors to spread the word about you and your services.
8. Create New Blog Posts
As a photographer, blogging is an ideal way to stay top of mind with your wedding clients. As we mentioned in the first bonus section, you can learn how to get more photography clients with your blog and the strategy that goes into it.
When you share content on your blog, it invites potential clients to look at your work, causing them to remember you when they are actively looking for a wedding photographer. With your images in the blog, you can use personalized text which tells the story of the wedding day and helps ideal clients visualize what their day could look like if they hire you.
9. Form Relationships with Other Photographers
Although other wedding photographers in your market might reach out to the same clients as you, it can still be beneficial for you to form relationships with them. You can learn a lot from other photographers in the industry who have different experiences than you, which can help you grow and improve your skills.
Not only can another photographer help teach you more about your business and shooting style, but they can also be valuable referral sources. If a photographer is overbooked or knows a client is a perfect fit for you, they may refer the clients to you. Forming meaningful relationships with other photographers assists you in spreading the word about you and your business.
10. Add Plugins to Blog Posts
Even with the best content on your blog, sharing can help you reach a larger audience than what you currently have. Adding plugins to your blog posts encourages your followers to share your content on social media or through email with their family and friends.
This is especially helpful when someone who views your blog is not a current or past client. They can share the content with their loved ones and place you and your business in front of a new audience. The more your blog followers share your work, the easier it can be to use it to help you get more photography clients for your business.
11. Recycle Evergreen Content
One of the best parts of sharing content with your clients through your blog is they can view it, share it, and comment on it as many times as they desire. When you create evergreen content, you are essentially sharing something that will stay fresh and relevant for clients years from now.
You may already have content which you can share with your clients at any point to help them with their wedding process. If you share content which helps solve your client’s concerns during the process, this is something you can continue to share with new clients you get.
12. Utilize Social Media
Although social media should not replace the face-to-face communication, it can be helpful to quickly answer a client’s questions or thank them for their comments. Because people can use social media on their phones, tablets, and computers, they have easy access to each program.
Showcasing your brand on social media as much as possible allows you to be front and center with your clients. Make your followers know your brand message is accurate by communicating regularly.
13. Offer Problem-Solving Solutions
Because you are the expert in all things wedding photography, your clients may rely on you to guide them through certain processes. Since you likely know other vendors that would be perfect for your clients, share your knowledge. For other aspects clients have to deal with in planning the wedding, create free guides, newsletters, and other helpful content. Also, you can eliminate stress with a pre-booking meeting and a full communication process throughout the experience.
Finally, think of questions your clients will ask and have thought-out answers prepared. This can help you in the long-run when your clients share their positive experience with you to their friends and family.
14. Enter Images into Competitions
As well as submitting your work for publication, entering your photos into a competition can help you achieve your goal of getting new photography clients for your business. When you learn from experts in the industry, you can fine-tune your skills and become a better photographer to present images to ideal clients.
Photo competitions, such as WPPI, allow you to share your work and get genuine feedback on what you did well and what you need improvement on. Constantly evaluating your work can help you become a stronger photographer, meaning your images also are more powerful to your target audience when you share them.
15. Write Content for Other Sites
Even though you are busy, writing content for other sites can help you exponentially when it comes to getting more photography clients. Guest blogging helps you connect with the vendors you write for, and you reach their entire audience.
You can share your brand message with new followers who have yet to read about you and get to know your work. Plus, you can share your ideas and knowledge with an audience who may be interested in more of that type of information. Sharing what you know can help others and can assist you in forming new connections and relationships.
16. Submit Images for Publication
Another way for how to get wedding photography is to submit images for publication. After the wedding day shoot and your images are color corrected by a wedding photo editing service, are you submitting them for publication?
Having your work published is similar to writing content for other sites, but it is directly focusing on your images. Because your images speak to who you are as a photographer, submitting them for publication can help you reach clients who are perfect for you.
17. Automate Workflow and Systems
As you work on your goal of learning how to get clients as a photographer, and you increase in bookings, your workflow can become overwhelming and sometimes stressful. When you get behind, your clients may suffer and that is something you do not want to spread to their family and friends.
Find ways to automate your workflow and systems so you are as fast as possible when it comes to communication, deadlines, and product delivery. As you get more photography clients, these are things they want to know you are dependable and accountable for in your business.
Okay, we said 2 bonus sections on how to get photography clients… but then we remembered an amazing Online Training we had with wedding photographer Jessica Hill that was filled with even more tips on how to get more clients as a photographer. Keep reading to discover Jessica’s top tips on how to stand out from others in the photography industry and continue getting photography clients who are perfect for you.
1. Learn to Say No
Regardless of where you are in your business, it can be easy to say yes to various opportunities. Unfortunately, saying yes to too many things can become overwhelming. It also takes you away from focusing on what is most important in your business.
If you take on every opportunity that comes your way, you risk not knowing exactly who your target market is and what time of photography you should be focusing on. When you start saying no, you free yourself up to only focus on shoots and projects that help grow your business to where you want it to be.
“It’s one of the most powerful things you can do as an entrepreneur, because you’re able to say yes when the right client comes along.” – Jessica Hill
Something you can take off your plate now is editing your own images. When you trust a wedding photography editing company with your post production needs, you eliminate hours from your workflow – hours you can spend on additional profit-generating tasks.
2. Create Separate Brands
If you do shoot other things outside of wedding photography, create separate brands. Rather than having each of the types of photography you shoot on your website (which should be dedicated to wedding photography), build separate websites for each.
Creating separate brands with websites allows you to use your time properly. If you get more clients for your wedding photography business than you do for your family portraits business, you know where to spend the majority of your time.
3. Master In-Person Sales
As an artist, the thought of in-person sales is often frightening. Instead of shying away from in-person sales, approach it from a different perspective. Think about it as showing your clients their images after the wedding day, and you happen to have sample wall art and albums available in your studio.
You can easily master in-person sales by simplifying the process and treating it like a service. This is just one more step in their experience with you and helps you continue the connection you created with them in the beginning.
“If you offer your clients the ability to see your images with you in person, you are really giving them an extra service. They feel more taken care of and listened to. It’s a great follow through to end the client relationship on a high note.” – Jessica Hill
Use in-person sales to sell products and help you secure more clients in the future. When you sell products to your clients, they have lasting memories of the wedding day to place in their homes or send to friends and family. Not only do product sales increase your profit, but they can help skyrocket your referrals.
Further Read: Top 5 Tips: Branding For Wedding Photographers
Knowing how to get photography clients through customer service is an essential way to increase referrals exponentially. The more you focus on the client experience, the easier it will be to create happy clients who cannot wait to refer you.