This week, we are dedicating our posts to the new people in the wedding industry. This week industry professionals will share with us 10 lessons for new florists, new invite designers, new wedding planners, and new photographers. Most of these tips will be helpful for any trade within the wedding industry, so take note!
Barbie Hull is one of my favorite people in this industry. She is one the most generous you will find. So, it was no surprise to me that when I asked her to share her life lessons with new photographers, she jumped at the chance. I’ve been fortunate to work side-by-side with Barbie on Get Hitched Give Hope for the last few years. My wish for all of you, dear readers, is to be lucky enough to have these sorts of relationships that I have had and continue to have. Thanks Babs!
10 lessons for new wedding photographers…
by Barbie Hull
Barbie Hull Photography, Seattle WA
9 years in the biz
When I first started my photography business in 2001 I knew close to nothing about running a business. What I did know was that I loved photographing people and that I wouldn’t be happy unless that was a BIG part of my life.
Every day I learn something new & I think to myself (often aloud!) – MAN I wish someone would have told me that 10 years ago – it would’ve made my life SO much easier. So here are my 10 tips for all of you new photographers thinking about starting your business.
1. Create & Control Your Online Presence :: Your website, your blog, your advertising – together all of it represents you. This is what your potential clients will see; make sure it sends the right message. Post only your favorite images – the ones that represent you the work you’d like to do more of.
2. Networking :: Its all about who you know. Networking is my favorite thing, I could go on for days on this topic – It is about getting out there, learning about people & their unique businesses and best of all learning how you can help them. That’s right folks, a lesson we learned in Kindergarten – treat others how you want to be treated. If you help them, they’ll help you! (A natural response)
3. Be Yourself :: There are a MILLION photographers out there – and its becoming harder and harder to stand out, the best way is to just be yourself! Let people know you love photographing shoes, or you grew up in an ice village or even silly things like you only eat popcorn with parmesan cheese & hot sauce – these are fun ways to relate with your clients – it gives you things to talk about (because they love it to) or things to laugh at, (because you were ehem… joking about that one on the site. =)
4. Say No :: Saying no is HARD to do. Specially when you are a new business and you would REALLY like that check. But, if what they want is outside of your realm… Lets say you are a people photographer and your client wants you to photograph a building (architecture). Sure you could do it, but if you are honest and say, “That isn’t my specialty, but here is the website of a great photographer who can help you.” – They will not only receive a better end product, but will forever be grateful that you helped them. They will remember that and continue to send business your way. (Plus that architectural photographer will most likely send you their wedding referrals as well – an added bonus!)
5. Say Yes :: (the opposite of saying no!) There are businesses out there who thrive off of saying no – (the post office!) but if you really want to do something, find a way to say yes! You can increase your business (and ultimately make more money) if it fits into your business plan. So you’ve booked a date and someone else calls – you will generally refer this out. BUT is this an opportunity to hire an associate shooter? You could potentially grow your business. Or – are there a ton of new photographers calling you for advice on what to do & where to begin – Hello Workshop!! Don’t limit yourself but instead give yourself the option of saying yes.
6. Share :: Thankfully sharing is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the wedding photography industry. Here’s what you do: Find a few friends who are near your level of business & meet once a month to talk shop. Share ideas – help with pricing, packaging, swap client stories to learn from each other & grow together. Here’s what not to do: Cold call an established photographer to ask for a coffee date & pump them for information. (It is MORE than okay to call established businesses, but take some time create a relationship and get to know them before asking for industry secrets)
7. Advertising :: This one is complicated – you have to spend money to make money. BUT there are so many free ways to get advertising, word of mouth is the BEST marketing tool, so be good to your clients – make them want to tell everyone about you. Choosing where you do spend your money is also very important don’t advertise everywhere just because it is cheap/free – but do what it takes to get on the sites you are proud of – the ones that will attract your dream clients. (In other words, know your target market & how they spend their time online – that is where you want to be)
8. Personal Projects :: You became (or are thinking of becoming) a photographer because you love it. (Not because its easy money, because easy money my friend… is a myth) So be sure to remind yourself why you love it so much by taking on personal projects. (some ideas – art shows, blog projects, book projects or art for your wall)
9. Pricing :: This is a struggle with all photographers – new & experienced. My advice is: Do what is right for you. Add up your costs, consider the industry standards, do your research – learn your dream client and price for them. ** If you are a hobbyist photographer with a full time day job – price as if you do this for a living – because someday you will. OF COURSE when you start out you may be a little lower, but as soon as you get a few weddings under your belt you’ll get some confidence and raise those prices. You’ll find that when you work for a decent wage, you’ll produce better work and will feel better about it.
10. Play Nice, Don’t Steal :: Once again something you learned in Kindergarten. =) It sounds so obvious – we’re in a creative industry our work is unique and personal but you would be SO surprised of how often this happens. Although there are a MILLION photographers out there, it turns out it is a small world. People talk, and google’s search tools will find you if you “borrow” text without permission. Be honest, be yourself and if you can’t find the best words to describe yourself, your packages & why you do what you do – hire a copywriter. It is worth the cost of saving your reputation.