- More Print Sales – It doesn’t matter to me whether you do IPS (In Person Sales) or whether you sell online when your clients download their gallery. There’s always an opportunity to sell more prints. The sooner you can edit your photos the more excited your clients will be. I always want to hit my clients with their photos when they’re still in that euphoric week after their wedding. When they’re the happiest, relaxed and so much less stress. I love my clients, but I also know it’s the best time to end up making print sales too. If I chose to wait it out then my clients start emailing, calling and texting about their photos. They get impatient and are less likely to be excited and thus less likely to order through me.
- Happier Clients – If you’ve ever heard that saying ‘happy wife happy life’ I feel like this sometimes applies to clients too. A happy client is a happy business owner. The sooner you can get your clients their photos the happier they will be. Who doesn’t want their clients to be happy? I want mine to be as happy as humanly possible. Happy clients bring all kinds of advantages to there business owners.
- More Referrals – More referrals is a sign of a happy client. When I shortened my editing time a couple years ago one thing I noticed was how quickly my clients were to refer me, tag me on Facebook and let their friends and family know how soon they got their photos. That inevitably led to more bookings.
- Less Stress – Every photographer knows what it’s like to be suffocating under the weight of sessions upon weddings upon sessions to edit. It weighs down on you and it feels like it will NEVER end. If you can find and create ways to edit faster you get less stress. Less stress means you can take your life back. More time with family, with your kids, or spouse. More time for you.
- Create a marketing calendar. This is your first step. I don’t care how it’s done. Print out a blank monthly calendar, write it in your planner, write down the months in your Evernote or a Word document. Just create a calendar somewhere right now, or at least after reading this blog post. In order to create an organized marketing plan you need a calendar. This calendar will serve as a place to make notes on what you need to do to prepare in advance for different events.
- List out holidays and events. Tons of businesses plan holiday-related sales and events. I want you to go through your calendar for the remainder of this year (or next year or wherever you are in the future reading this) and mark down any holiday you are using as a marketing opportunity for business. If you’re a photographer and you do Fourth of July mini sessions, or Halloween Costume photo sessions you need to mark down the dates and set them aside in this calendar right now. The more you plan in advance the more successful you’ll be.
- Planning! That’s what’s next. Now that you have your calendar and your dates you are holding events or need to plan marketing events around you actually have to do the work. If you have Fourth of July mini photo sessions on your calendar then you need to go in and mark the date when you are going to start marketing and selling these to your customers. If you want to get really fancy, maybe make a few notes about how you are going to do the marketing. Email, social media, fliers…you name it. This is how you build your marketing plan.
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If you’ve never attended WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International), it might be hard to understand the scope of what I’m about to write about (and why it even needs to be written about). The thing is, Las Vegas is a whole bucket of cray-cray all on it’s own. Add tens of thousands of photographers to that mix, throw in a handful of photographer “rock stars”, and a ginormous trade show to boot? It’s like crazy took crazy pills. There is so much to do, so much to see, so many vendors and new gear and demonstrations and platform classes and that’s just the photography side! Add the parties, the casino floor, aaaaaall that cigarette smoke, the focus groups, the meals and meetups, the let’s-go-test-what-we-just-learned-and-have-a-photoshoot-in-our-room-oh-crap-who-can-we-get-to-model-forget-it-we’ll-just-shoot-each-other moments, the no sleep, the endless walking, the lights, the shows…. it’s seriously nuts.
And if it’s your first time attending, it can be really (REALLY) overwhelming. It’s easy to get lost in the fray and to feel truly starstruck as you walk around passing by your photography heroes and meeting so many people that seem to be doing all the things you wish you were doing too.
Now, I’ve been in this business full-time for over a decade now, and I feel like I’ve finally gotten the hang of this whole insane conference thing. I had the opportunity to not only room with a few people who were brand new to WPPI this year, but to observe several different levels of experience. I spent time with WPPI’s marketing team, with one of this year’s Grand Award winners, with various “famous” photographers, with a lot of the vendors, and with a whole lot of people just like me who spend their year day-in-and-day-out in the trenches of this business. One of the things that struck me was how people choose to let their conference experience go.
Hands down, the best advice I can possibly give to anyone attending WPPI (or similar conferences) is this: go up and talk to people.
It sounds simple, but let me expound for a minute here. I watched so many new conference goers “fan girl” and freak out about talking to someone (a photography hero, a vendor, etc). I’ve been that person myself. I’m watched people do the circling-to-land maneuver, flying around the periphery before finally working up the courage to say a simple hello. And I can’t tell you how much I’ve seen people leave the conversation at a simple “I love your work”, take a selfie, run away combo.
Whether you’re new or not, I would urge you to try to connect with people. Is it terrifying? Yeah. Of course it is. Even the most extroverted of people get a flutter of I’m-about-to-make-a-fool-of-myself when they open themselves up like that. But I’m telling you, there is nothing more inviting and nothing more rewarding than being vulnerable. It is the universal connector. It is the author of authenticity. If you see a photography hero in the halls, walk over, introduce yourself, tell them something you learned from them, and then listen. Ask them a few questions. Connect with them as a person. Smile. Be confident in knowing that you’re both just people. Give them the space to do what they need to, but acknowledging the vulnerability you both feel to be opened up to the world like that will allow for a genuine connection.
Don’t have time to talk one-on-one with someone (ps – after a class or presentation is a bad time to try to do that), that’s ok. Leave them a thank you note (scribbled on the back of an envelope if you have to, but if you bring cards, awesome!). Tell them something you’re thankful for in their presentation. You’d be surprised how many of the presenters never hear that stuff. Leave your email address on the bottom and let them know you’d love to connect.
But the bottom line? Choose connection. Choose to talk to people instead of skirt the edges. Choose to be vulnerable. Choose to put yourself out there not only with presenters and “famous people”, but with the people you sit next to at your classes, the people you bump into on the trade show floor. Go to lunch together in that lame food court and learn from each other through conversation and shared stories. Grab coffee or sit in the hallways charging your phones and really listen to what the people around you have to say.
The best moments at a place like WPPI rarely come from the presentations or the tech talk or the selfies. It’s the people and connections you make. I promise you won’t regret it.
* Brienne is a the snarky chick behind the camera and under the water for briennemichelle.com and hipeanut.com. Besides her love of sarcasm and wine, she also loves to connect with people, mentor, educate, and generally get her geek on with photography. Have questions? Want more input? Email her directly connect through the cool crowd on her website — briennemichelle.com/coolcrowd *
- Study hard and invest well. Never cut corners. Do you hear me? NEVER CUT CORNERS. A wedding is (hopefully) a once in a lifetime event. If you’re cutting corners and just doing the minimum amount of work to get by then you’re doing the clients a disservice. Be an advocate of their wedding day and do the best job you possibly can.
- Get that back up gear! When I started photographing weddings I couldn’t afford all the fancy lenses and camera bodies that all the big leaders of the time used. Sometimes it felt as though I could never be a real wedding photographer without all the fancy equipment. We know that’s not true. The talent comes from behind the camera and the equipment is just a tool you use to create. Back up gear is essential to making sure your clients are secure and you’ll always get the shot. Camera drops into a fountain? Falls and breaks? You must have extras! The problem is that we don’t all have the financial ability to run out and buy whatever we want. Make sure you build a budget into your business for renting back up gear until you can afford to buy it. That way you’ll never let your clients down.
- Contracts are essential! You’ve probably heard that before. I know legal agreements are daunting. You might be nervous about having clients sign one. Just remember contracts aren’t just for you. You’re not using this tool to hoodwink your clients into submission. This is a tool for both of you. It protects both them and you. It outlines and sets the expectations for the day. A contract makes sure that everyone knows exactly what is happening and precisely what their roles are.
- Be prepared! There are so many levels of preparedness that go into weddings. I don’t think it’s even possible to be prepared enough. Anything that you can do to prepare yourself for this big business step of shooting a wedding is something you should do. If you have the opportunity to go to a venue walk through, do it. The wedding rehearsal? Do it. If those aren’t happening schedule a time to visit the venue on your own. Read anything and everything you can find about photographing a wedding. Second shoot as much as possible or be an intern at a wedding. Take every opportunity to learn and you’ll become more prepared.
- Timelines are essential. A wedding timeline is something you can work together to create with your clients and their planner (if they have one). This timeline will help you prepare for any major lighting traditions and let you know when you have time for a quick bathroom break. You need a timeline. If nobody has created one, talk to your clients about creating one. Everything seems less stressful and rushed when there is a timeline, even if you deviate from it.
There’s this feeling the day after a wedding. The feeling I’m talking about is not “Oh, what a wonderful life I live! I got to photograph the best day of their lives! Rainbows! Unicorns! LiveLaughLove!” The feeling I’m talking about, is the one where you feel like you got hit by a truck. Your back hurts, your head hurts, your feet hurt, your eyes hurt. Your arms are sore. It’s like an actual hangover, with a lot less alcohol. I haven’t found a way to not feel like crap the next day, but there are ways to make it a little more bearable. Decompressing after a wedding is important. There are a LOT of feels and touches and talking on wedding day. So how do you decompress?
I walk into my house, barefoot (because the shoes come off in the car), and take my pants off. Yeah, I went there. It’s true though. I then try and drink a water or Gatorade and eat. Depending on the time I get home, I might also take a bath. And then I SLEEP HARD. I usually end up sleeping 12 hours the night after a wedding.
I asked a group of photographers what they do when they get home after a wedding. Here is what they said.
Sweats, messy bun, and wine
Tequila. Hands down.
Hot bath with one of those bath bombs, LOTS of water, Netflix, and comfort food.
Pants off, food, a drink, bath in that order.
Feed cats. Feed face. Pants off, Golf Channel on. Beer in. Stress out.
Drink lots of water and watch tv.
I take some magnesium, warm shower and relax a little with a cup of tea on the couch before bed.
What are your favorite ways to decompress after a wedding?