As a wedding photographer, you have a lot of considerations to make when creating your wedding packages and pricing.  Many prospective brides and grooms will come to you already knowing that they want an engagement session.  The question for you then becomes:

Should you include them complimentary within your wedding packages or should they simply be an available add-on?

From November to February, multitudes of couples are getting engaged, which means they will soon be looking for a wedding photographer. I am going to share with you the true value of engagement sessions and how they can boost your business.
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Practice for Client

Just about all of our couples, and most likely yours too, are not professional models and an engagement session is perfect “practice” for them to get comfortable being in front of the camera.  Not only will they be more comfortable having their photo taken, but they will remember how to pose themselves, what do with their hands and most important be familiar with your shooting style.  This works for you as well, you’ll get insight into how natural your clients are in front of the camera or how much coaching they need.  All this practicing really pays off on the wedding day when it’s not uncommon to have a very limited time for bride and groom portraits and you need to be able to get all your amazing shots quickly!

[REWIND: Couple’s Involvement During Engagement Shoots – Natural Light Couples Photography DVD]

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Social Media Buzz

One of my favorite things to do with our engagement sessions is post a sneak peek image from their engagement session to our Facebook page quickly after the session.  Posting a sneak peek capitalizes on the excitement and anticipation of our clients to be able to see the final photos and by utilizing Facebook, our clients are able to easily tag themselves, share the photo to their wall and, of course, comment – all of which help build social media buzz and help market your business!

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Building a Connection

To me, the most valuable part of an engagement session is simply getting to know each other a bit and help establish trust and build a personal connection.  When you are able to do so, you are only setting yourself up for success later on.

What kind of success?

When you show up on the wedding day and your bride and groom are super happy to see you and give you a big hug, that’s success.

When they are so comfortable and natural in front of the camera from the great time you all had at the engagement session, that’s success.

When the wedding is over and they want to hang out as friends to grab drinks, that’s success.

And when they buy a larger album or canvas print after the wedding because they love their photos so much, that’s success too!
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Bottom line – building a strong connection with your clients is never a bad thing.

Profit Potential

Making sales after the engagement session will wildly depend on what type of business process you run.  If you are offering a complimentary engagement session but only waiving the session fee but prints/files or products are extra, you can certainly make extra profits.  However, if you are including the entire engagement session and files, you won’t be able to count on as great of profits and likely will get some print orders from your online gallery from time to time.  Just as with weddings, how much profit you make on products is really up to you and based on how you manage your business.

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Word of Mouth

Everyone loves word of mouth referrals! Offer an engagement session and make sure your clients not only love their photos, but also had a great time and had “fun” with you on the session. Then you can count on your brides and grooms to help spread the word about how awesome you are!

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If you have good blogging practices and are blogging all your engagement sessions, you can get a lot of organic search traffic simply from people finding your engagement photos online.  If you aren’t into blogging, make sure to click here to read how you are hurting your business by not blogging.

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All of the items mentioned above are contributing factors that when pooled together, make up the true value of offering engagement sessions.   However, for my studio, the personal connections that we develop during the engagement sessions lead to more excited clients on their wedding day are perhaps the greatest benefit of offering engagement sessions.  In fact, many of our past clients have become great friends, something that I truly love about our job as wedding photographers!

Which of these engagement session factors do you feel are the most beneficial to your business?

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