Now that off-season is officially here, you have the opportunity to take a step back and breathe. Although your business could always use adjustments and improvements, it is important for your well-being to slow down a bit. Busy season can take a toll on you, so this is the perfect time to regroup.
The off-season allows time for you to revitalize yourself as a photographer and business owner. One of the top qualities of a successful business owner is the desire to learn. During this time, you have the chance to attend photography workshops and seminars, network with local photographers and vendors, and read as much as possible. Because understanding how to approach the next busy wedding season is crucial, we put together nine books you should read during the off-season.
Written by Jon Acuff
With an ever-changing industry, you may feel as if you need to revamp your business and try a new strategy. After all, the same techniques you used years before may not be what gets you to the next level this year. Making large changes to your business can be challenging and frustrating at times, especially if you are not finding success right away.
Do you remember the first day you decided to take your photography hobby to the next level and start your business? Whether that was years ago, or you are just starting out, your first few years of business are crucial to your future success. As in any endeavor, your first year is likely to have speed bumps and issues as you learn the most efficient ways to be the best photographer possible.
Since everyone has a different story, we wanted to share some of the things some of the pros missed out on their first year as a photographer. Maybe these are things you can relate to, or they are items you may have not come across yet. Either way, take a look at 16 things that pro photographers wish they did during their first year of business.
1. Realize You Are Not Just a Photographer
When the bride and groom book you for their wedding, they may not realize all of the tasks you will perform leading up to the wedding day. Not only will you be a resource for your couple,but you will help them plan out their wedding day schedule. When the day of the wedding arrives, you will tell the bridal party and family members where to stand and how to pose through every shot.
“You are a photographer/customer service expert/book keeper/marketing director/social media whiz/branding dude/website creation person/secretary/treasurer/CEO/CFO/ and pretty much any other title you can think of.” – Lauren Lim
You are a valuable asset to your couple, so remember that when it becomes challenging to be a business owner.
As a wedding photographer, what is the one thing you spend the most time creating and delivering to your clients? Your images! The bride and groom seek you out and book you based on the quality of your images, and whether your style matches their vision. The images you provide your couples can help you meet your business goals by increasing your overall profit. Another way to reach your business goals is to create pricing that matches the quality of your images. How can you improve your images and make a higher profit off of each booking? Check out these eight methods and increase the value of your images starting today.
1. Shoot for your Ideal Client
Although there are thousands of couples who are looking for a wedding photographer, many of them are not in your target market. For instance, if a couple lives in a different state and you do not travel, you would not want to invest time in trying to book that couple. Or, if you are a destination photographer, but a couple wants to get married in a local location, that can also be a time-consuming process that will not help you define who you are as a wedding photographer.
If you take a step back and look at where you are in your wedding photography business, are you exactly where you thought you’d be at this time in your career? As a wedding photographer, it’s important to consistently reevaluate where you are and what you can improve on.
During your wedding shoots, how often do you test out new shooting techniques? Even if you are comfortable with the skills you have, it can be crucial to know how to use the most advanced and up-to-date shooting techniques. Additionally, understanding how to shoot in any situation can take your photography business to another level.
In order for you to grow your business and book higher-end weddings, it’s important for you to learn the science of lighting as well as the art involved in posing to deliver gorgeous imagery. If you want to stand out from other photographers in the industry, you must have all of the skillsets necessary to deliver breathtaking images, no matter what the lighting situation or subject is.
To help you master lighting and posing, we have the perfect free guide for you:
As a professional wedding photographer, you spend months helping your bride and groom prep for their special day. From the engagement shoot to the wedding day timeline, you take time to ensure that your couple is prepared for everything leading up to the wedding. Along with ensuring that the bride and groom are prepared, it is also crucial that you feel prepared as well, especially on the morning of the wedding!
Here at ShootDotEdit, we love to educate and help you find better solutions to growing your business. In order to feel your best before a shoot, it is important to have a consistent routine. Every wedding photographer’s morning-of ritual is unique, and we asked some of the industry’s pros to see what they do before their events. Their answers can help you better prepare yourself and have a more successful shoot.
Continue to Build Trust
Leading up to the wedding, you take time to develop a meaningful relationship with your couple. As the wedding day arrives, it is crucial to continue to build trust with them. Making efforts to reach out to them, or learning important family member’s names can make a large impact on the relationship you and your couple already have. The more they can trust you, the easier it is for them to become loyal customers!
Wedding photographer Terra Cooper has a morning-of wedding ritual that consists of reviewing the plan the couple wrote for the day, as well as making attempts to memorize names of the bride and groom’s immediate family and bridal party. She knows that the more she can talk to family members by using their first names, the more personalized the entire experience becomes.
“I go over the bride and groom’s questionnaires they sent me to make sure I have everything fresh in my mind, as well as their parents’ names. I try to use names as much as I can, because it is more personal and helps to nurture our relationship.”
Throughout every shoot you do with your couples, you coach them on the best ways to pose, ensuring that they look stunning in each image. When you receive your images back from ShootDotEdit’s photography editing services, you review to make sure that your clients sent a proper message with their body language that represented the wedding day. If they were slouching or leaning in the pose, the message is not as strong. Body language is the key to sending the right message, especially in photography!
This applies to you as a business owner, as well! One of the reasons your clients booked you is because they had a positive experience with you during the initial meeting. When you interact with your clients, it is crucial for you to begin creating trust. Not only does your body language increase your clients’ trust, it also boosts your confidence, which enhances the ability for you to book and sell your highest packages. Here are 4 tips for you to ensure that your body language is sending the right message.
1. Maintain Eye Contact
From the moment you meet your potential clients, eye contact is crucial! There is a balance to this, though – too much eye contact can make you come across as intimidating and even rude, and too little eye contact can give clients the impression that you are insecure or unprepared. So how do you find a balance to the right amount of eye contact? As a rule of thumb, keeping eye contact between 30%-60% of the time will help to create a comfortable atmosphere for both you and your clients! [···]
Inspiration. As photographers, we all draw it from different places. As business owners, we all look to different sources for motivation. Being inspired is at the very core of being an artist and entrepreneur.
While no list could ever be exhaustive, we wanted to give you a quick highlight reel of some of our favorites. To help sort through, we have created 5 categories for inspiration and chosen an artist for each that we feel best exemplifies the characteristics of that topic.
Jennifer Rozenbaum runs New York’s premier boudoir photography studio, Jenerations. She is known for working with her clients to help them feel empowered and sexy and then capturing that feeling in her images. Jen tells us:
“Empowering women with a renewed sense of femininity and fearlessness is the inspiration and motivation behind Jenerations.”
In the competitive world of wedding photography, your business must stand out from the rest. As a business owner, you should decide what unique qualities will set you apart from other photography businesses. Creating a focused message for your business will help to attract your ideal clients and set the stage for growth. With help from a wedding photo editing company, such as ShootDotEdit, you can take the time to discover who you are as a business owner and photographer.
Why exactly do you want to showcase your unique qualities to clients? The Internet is full of advertisements from competitors, who also use creative selling points to entice potential clients. You want to stand out—you want clients to remember you every time they hear about a photography opportunity. Here are some ways to be unique in your message and differentiate yourself from other photographers:
It’s easy to lament the rapid evolution of the photography industry. It’s a fact – the industry morphs quickly as droves of hobbyists enter the market. Meanwhile, technology constantly changes the accessibility of equipment, and iPhone photos inundate Facebook on a wedding day, mere moments after the event occurs.
But it’s important to remember that in evolution lies opportunity. There’s a silver—maybe even golden—lining for businesses that are willing to step up and respond.
So to encourage you to not settle for what worked a few years ago, but instead step up to the plate with new ideas, here are three companies who are doing just that: innovating. They came out of nowhere, changed the rules, and thrived against all the odds. Here are three lessons you can learn from them.
1. Amazon.com: Innovate in a Changing Market
In the mid 1990s, everyone said that e-publishing would kill books as we knew them. Amazon found a way to keep publishing alive by delivering books to your door. In 1995, it sold its first book, titled Fluid Concepts & Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought, and then quickly expanded to offer boatloads of products – products that they sell today to consumers around the world.
One of Amazon’s innovations is a single fee for unlimited shipping; another is rapid delivery times, even promising same-day delivery in some cities. Amazon turned the slow publishing industry into a fast-paced, at-your-fingertips model.
What Photographers Can Learn from Amazon:
As technology develops, photographers will make their clients happiest by embracing consumers’ desire to have their images quickly AND in a format that is easy to share. In addition to how quickly you deliver images after a wedding, examine all aspects of your business, from your pricing structure to your product offerings. Imagine what could make the overall experience better for your clients. These innovations within your company will point the way to a new success.
2. BuzzFeed.com: The Importance of Sharing
In 2006, before Facebook opened to the public and when Twitter wasn’t yet born, BuzzFeed realized that sharing was about to become big. If a story, image or video is going viral, it’s on BuzzFeed. They don’t feature traditional news; they track what’s “buzzing” in the social world and share it, while encouraging readers to rate and comment. It’s simple – they get you involved in current conversations. And something simple, like unapologetically sharing trending topics, turns the traditional news model upside-down. BuzzFeed harnesses the inherent value of participation, enabling readers to post tags on stories which then become searchable categories for future users. Sharing begets sharing – and that means a growing audience for BuzzFeed!
What Photographers Can Learn From BuzzFeed:
Socialbakers recently did a study of social sharing and found that 77 percent of shares are photos. Having an image-driven business gives professional photographers an advantage: people will want to share your images. Because sharing is a key component of generating social engagement, make your images easy to share, whether that’s on your website, a client proofing gallery, or in your social networks. If you prefer, watermark your images to ensure that every share is also a free advertisement for your business!
3. Toms: Stand Out by Doing Good
Toms started in 2006 as a way of introducing an ancient Argentine shoe to North America and helping the children of Argentina at the same time. The model was simply to donate a pair of shoes to a child in a developing nation for every pair of shoes that Toms sold. The section titled “Evolving Our Giving” on the Toms site showcases the company’s commitment to social responsibility, and is an example of how having an altruistic company cause can attract customers. More important, it’s an example of how companies can make doing good a core competency.
What Photographers Can Learn from Toms:
Use your talent to give back to causes that you care about! And when you do, don’t be shy about it. Consumers are compelled to engage with companies that do good – companies that stand for more than just generating profits. Remember, consumers are captivated by stories. And when they personally connect with a story, they’ll feel inspired to do business with a particular company. When clients connect with your values and the story you’re telling about your brand, they’re more likely to tell others about you. And that helps make companies like yours (and Toms) stand out in a crowded marketplace!
What’s unique about you as a wedding photographer is that you have the opportunity to outsource your wedding photography editing post processing needs! That means that you have more time to work on your business to make it stand out from the rest of the photographers in the industry.
Innovating, focusing on shareability, and aligning your business with a larger cause are three windows of opportunity. You have the chance to continue redesigning your business to evolve with the changing times. The question is simply, will you step up?
To learn more about what ShootDotEdit can do for you and your wedding photography business, download our free guide.
Here are just a small handful of quotes that our crew and customers have shared with us.
If you have any others, please share with everyone and leave a comment below! Enjoy and stay inspired!
“ You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” – Ansel Adams
“ Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
“ Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” – Imogen Cunningham
“ You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper.” – William Albert Allard
“ If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up.” – Garry Winogrand
“ Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” – Ansel Adams
“It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were hardest to get.” – Timothy Allen
“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” – Cecil Beaton
“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” – Ansel Adams
“Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.” – Ansel Adams