What does award winning New York wedding photographer and ShootDotEdit customer Orlando Oliveira know about running a successful wedding business? Is is about selling your products or services more and more? Or ensuring the return of your clients each time they need a service like yours? Or is it about advertising your business and yourself in every possible way? When we asked him his secret to success Orlando said it’s all about a great client experience that compliments the amazing products and services you offer.
Orlando Oliveira: The Creative, Award Winning Wedding Photographer
Orlando Oliveira is an international award-winning photographer. He owns one of the premier wedding photography studios in the world. Industry experts have ranked—Photography by Orlando among the top 10 most popular wedding photographers in the world. Even though Orlando has set up his studio in Verona NJ, he accepts destination weddings from anywhere in the US, Mexico, or Europe. His style is contemporary and he doesn’t believe in posing his couples unnaturally.
Orlando’s work has been featured in notable publications as well as on The Knot and WeddingWire. Orlando also has expanded his services to offer the option of wedding videography to his clients. He has expert videographers working with him to give his clients the best package.
In this special ShootDotEdit Feature, we want to share the amazing story of Orlando — how he got started, and how he became the international success he is today. We hope it inspires you just as much as it inspires us!
How Orlando Oliveira Got Into Wedding Photography & Started His Brand
His wedding photography business started in a very unusual way — with Orlando’s funny urge as a young man to show-off a better camera to his friend at a get-together. His friend had recently bought a camera and Orlando wanted to outdo him in front of his other high school buddies as a joke (they had a friendly rivalry going).
“This is going back when digital cameras started coming out. My best friend bought a 6MP camera. We were very competitive with everything. So I said ‘I’m going to go out and buy a 7MP’ as a joke”. So Orlando and 20 of his friends got together for a Christmas party. “We were at this party and I was like, ‘Hey man! your 6MP camera is cute but mine’s a seven.’ So while we were goofing on each other, another friend of ours was secretly into photography. He showed us a bunch of his work. And I was like, ‘Bro! You’re really good.’”
Little did Orlando know, that moment would change his life.
“My photographer friend invited me to go out and take photos one day. We went to Ground Zero and took photos of the Freedom Lights.”
Orlando came back from that experience addicted to photography and decided to see where it would take him next.
In order to save up for a more professional camera, he began working with another photographer as a second shooter. “I worked with him for a year and a half and enjoyed it. Then one day, I thought — I’m gonna start my own company. And that’s what I did,” he says. “I started my own company. I booked my first wedding out of my kitchen. And it kind of went crazy after that. The domino effect — referrals, referrals, referrals. And every year, I kind of just upped my pricing as I got better.’’
Now, 20 years later, working from a studio instead of his kitchen, he doesn’t regret his career choice. He’s an amazing photographer. But his real secret? It all starts with the customer experience.
Orlando Oliveira’s Best Business Practice: Amazing Client Experience
As he continued to become successful, it wasn’t just his exemplary photography skills that brought Orlando the referrals. There was something special every customer who came to his doorstep experienced. It was the care and personable behavior that compelled them to book Orlando. Orlando always believed in making his customers feel that their big day was as important to him as it was to them. Even now Orlando focuses on making his clients comfortable and happy.
He always keeps a Starbucks order ready for his customers when they come in for a consultation. They get to choose what they want to have. Orlando has an order form on his website. His customers can fill it before they come in for a consultation. When they get there, they get their order right away.
Pre-COVID, when a couple booked with him, he used to send them gift certificates for movie tickets. Now he sends them “Smashburger” gift cards. These cards have a message from him, like— “Hey! go out. Eat some junk food and have fun during this stressful time.”
At the engagement sessions, Orlando gifts his clients little books. For example—“101 secrets to a happy marriage.”
When it comes to posing Orlando says— “I tell them, ‘We’re not going to mannequin-style-pose you.’ What I do is say, ‘Hey! you’ve been together for four or five years. You’re in love. You’re getting married. If I say hug, hold hands or kiss, you’re going to do it the way you naturally do it. I am just going to make adjustments to how you naturally do things.’”
Orlando makes his clients super happy by overdelivering. He tells his brides and grooms that they will get their photos in four weeks. But then he delivers them in two and a half or three. Also, he tells them that he will give them all their wedding captures he gets on his camera. He selects 800-900 for editing, but he actually gives them ALL of them. This way he impresses his clients and sets himself apart from other photographers who only deliver a limited number of images. For some photographers, this might not be a comfortable option to offer clients. But Orlando does ask that the clients only post the ones he shared that are edited (the 800-900) online. This is not to contain their joy, but because Orlando offers to edit any images they want to post before they go online with his name.
The best part for Orlando’s clients is that they get direct access to him. Orlando says, “I’m always making sure I’m available. And that’s again part of that experience, right? You’re paying for something. And we’re not the cheapest photographer. So you have direct access to me. How many photographers are providing that? I’m giving you my cell number. You can text me at nine o’clock at night and I’m going to get back to you.”
If you think Orlando does a lot for his clients — just wait, there’s more! On his past clients’ first wedding anniversary, Orlando puts up a post on Instagram. He selects one of his favorite images from their wedding and displays it with a nice message.
Orlando Oliveira’s Advice to Beginners
After the great advice on providing your clients with the most amazing experience, Orlando dropped in some more gems. He told us what he learned through the years to establish himself in the industry.
1. Begin by Second Shooting
Orlando feels nothing can replace the good old method of learning photography by second shooting.
“I second shot for two (years) for $75 a wedding. I was working with a guy who was more old school and an older gentleman, but I got the gist of the day. I learned kind of that stuff.”
2. Focus on Workflow and Processes
Orlando told us that since he did not have a business degree, he learned everything by trial and error. He also said that he wishes he knew more then and had his processes safe. He advises beginners to attend workshops to avoid this situation.
3. Set Yourself Apart
This is one piece of advice Orlando wants all beginners to follow. He says giving a little extra or being different than others in the industry does the trick. He says this is how clients identify you and come to you. Orlando sets himself apart by overdelivering.
4. Turn Over Images Quickly
Orlando learned the importance of turning over images quickly after some time in business. He realized how others who were delivering the images quickly had an edge over him. He realized he could cater to so many more clients if he delivered the photos faster.
5. Outsource to Succeed
Orlando believes if you spend time doing a thing which only consumes your time and energy and doesn’t bring you money, it’s a waste. He is a proponent of outsourcing all the work which doesn’t need him specifically. This way he gets time to shoot more weddings, supervise his business, and also have some personal time.
“If it doesn’t make you money, let someone else do it.”
“Why not give it to people who do it better.” “If I’m sitting there designing an album for a week, I’m not doing social media. I’m not out networking with other businesses or planners. It is really a waste of time.”
Why Orlando Oliveira Outsources to ShootDotEdit
Outsourcing photo editing was a tough decision for Orlando at first. He used to pay an in-house editor to edit his weddings for him, but quickly realized that “it was definitely more expensive”. He had to pay her hourly and have her here for hours and hours to get something done in a week or two. It just didn’t make sense financially.
Orlando then started looking for professional editing services available in the market and zeroed on ShootDotEdit (SDE). This made a great difference to his workflow and saved him lots of time.
He says, “It took me forever to get on board with you guys because it took me so long to let go of the editing. But now that I have, it’s freed up so much time for me. Also, the editing got way more consistent with ShootDotEdit. I can sit there and edit very consistently, but I can’t edit an entire wedding because I am the one out shooting. So definitely when I saw how consistent the editing with ShootDotEdit was, it was a no brainer.”
Fun Facts About Orlando Oliveira
- Orlando is a Canon shooter. The camera he uses the most is the 1DS mark ii.
- His favorite lenses are 70-200mm, 16-35mm, 85mm, and the 50mm.
- Orlando loves new gear so he often has to fight the urge to buy the new stuff.
- Orlando’s favorite lighting is Profoto and Jerry Ghionis Icelight
- Orlando admires Jerry Ghionis’ work. He attended Jerry’s weeklong NYC workshop.
- Orlando’s wife helps him a lot in his business. She handles a lot of managerial and admin work.
- Orlando takes his 12-year-old son to shoots and pays him for any work he helps with. This way he ensures his boy learns some photography tricks while having fun.
- Just like daddy, Orlando’s 7-year-old daughter already loves to photograph.
- Orlando’s favorite apps: Snapseed for IG story edits. He uses it to post quick images.
- Orlando’s go-to vendors besides ShootDotEdit: Lightroom, 17hats, Local lab Ken Color Lab (canvas, prints, acrylics, albums), Adobe Suite, Luminar, Sticky (marketing, website, and email services), Pass Gallery, JPEGmini to deliver images to clients.
Learn More From Orlando
There is so much you can learn from seasoned wedding photographers like Orlando who were once newcomers in the industry. They made their mistakes and learned from them. They are ready to impart their knowledge and save others from making the same mistakes. Also, you can gain so much by just looking at their work. We suggest you take a look at Orlando Oliveira more closely – his stunning line of work on his Facebook and Instagram handles.
Orlando — thank you so much for sitting down with us here at ShootDotEdit. We’re proud to call you a ShootDotEdit customer and we can’t wait to see more of your work to come!