Like other artists, photographers build reputations for their unique interpretations of the subjects they capture. Look at the posts of popular photographers on Instagram or Facebook or check their blogs, and you’ll likely find imagery of familiar places shot in unfamiliar ways.
PROBLEM: NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
When researching venues online, a quick image search of particular venues often results in pages of photos that look somewhat similar. For example, there’s a hallway in the Langham Pasadena Hotel that photographers regularly use for couples sessions, and they often shoot the scene from the same angle. In the image above you can see one of Lin and Jirsa’s shots from 2014 and one from one of our recent weddings. It’s one thing to shoot in a popular spot at a given location and it’s another thing to shoot it the same way as everyone else. How is your work going to stand out when it’s indistinguishable from the competition?
SOLUTION: SHOOT AND MARKET DIFFERENTLY
It’s worth the time it takes to find creative new angles. For the Langham hallway, I positioned the couple so that I could shoot the image facing the window. The small shift in perspective allowed me to use warm, natural light, creating a knockout image that stands out from other photographs from the same venue. It’s a very simple setup, but the resulting image is far more dramatic than those shot from a standard angle.
Once you’ve taken an amazing shot, the work of sharing that image effectively is only half finished. You can spend money to advertise online or in magazines, but your image stops getting shared when you stop paying for the ad space and time. Effectively using SEO marketing, however, will allow for longer returns regarding exposure with minimal financial investment. For an in-depth understanding of photography marketing strategies check out our Photography SEO & Web Marketing E-book!Join Premium
Here’s how to shoot differently and be seen differently:
STEP 1: ONLINE RESEARCH
To get where we’re going, it helps to know where we’ve been. A quick online search of images taken at a given venue should help get you up to speed on how a particular location has been shot. It also helps to look at the work of your peers to know what has been done and for inspiration on how you might approach your next session.
[REWIND: 4 WAYS TO MAKE ANY LOCATION WORK]
STEP 2: SCOUT LOCATIONS
Arrive early to the venue and explore the grounds, considering standard and unique angles from which to capture each location. Using apps like Sun Seeker will allow you to map out where the sun will be at any given time so that you can plan on where to position your subjects based on the available light in the scene. We stress this heavily in the first installation of our Wedding Workshop Series.
STEP 3: SHOOT DIFFERENTLY
Be sure that your images match your client’s expectations in terms of style (light and airy vs. dramatic lighting, whimsical vs. editorial posing, etc.), but allow yourself to experiment with unique angles at each location. Also, maximize the potential of each location by playing into its strengths and avoiding its weaknesses. If the location is not overly appealing, shoot tighter on the subjects to highlight their expressions and shoot with wider apertures to transform the background into a pleasant bokeh backdrop.
You might also consider stopping down the ambient light in camera and using a strobe to draw focus to your subject. Again, this depends on the style of imagery your subjects prefer. On the other hand, If the scenery is ideal, shoot wider and showcase the environment.
STEP 4: BE SEEN WITH STRONGER SEO MARKETING
Use SEO keywording to determine how to title everything from your blog posts to the images on your website. While ranking well is often the goal for sites who benefit from site visits, the goal of sharing your photography is to get more clients. You can use keyword planners like Google AdWords to help you better plan which keywords to use. SEO marketing is only one part of structuring your online presence to bring in more business.