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Business Tips

Wedding Photographers: Are You Ready For Booking Season?

By Hanssie on January 7th 2015

wedding-booking-season-3For the last few weeks, your Facebook feeds have probably been filling up with pictures of proposals and left hands adorned with sparkly engagement rings. If you’re like me, you probably do three things; first, you enlarge the photo and inspect the ring, closely and somewhat, enviously. Then, you go and read about how and where he proposed; and finally, you begin plotting ways to remind your Facebook friend that you, indeed, are still a wedding photographer and you still have availability for whatever date their wedding might fall on.

All this means one thing: you’re single! No, no. It means that booking season is just around the corner! The time between Christmas and Valentine’s Day is typically known as engagement season, where men are putting a ring on it, usually on Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day. The day after Valentine’s Day, the bling fervor dies down a bit and the soon-to-be-Mrs.’ are frenetically adding pins to their Pinterest boards and looking for vendors. This time period is known as booking season.

As a wedding photographer, this means if you’re looking to book more weddings this year, you need to make sure that you’re prepared for booking season and ready to meet with all the bride-to-be’s that will be calling you. Are you ready for them?

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Here are 5 things you can do to prepare your business for booking season.

1. Meet With Local Vendors

One of your best marketing tools is a referral from a fellow wedding vendor. Most brides will have no idea where to start looking for all the people needed to make her Pinterest wedding board a reality. Many brides will begin with the venue or a wedding planner and from them, they get a list of recommendations for photographers, florists, etc. This means, as a photographer, you should seek out the venues you want to work at and the planners you want to work with.

Some Ideas to Get You Started

  • Contact the wedding planner or banquet manager at a venue and set up an appointment for coffee or a meeting.
  • Plan a stylized photo shoot at the venue to build everyone’s portfolio (You’ll be able to network and work with a variety of vendors all at once – hair, makeup, venue, stylists, planners, etc). Then…
  • Make an album of photos (from the photo shoot or your favorite images) for the vendor to show prospective brides.
  • Go to vendor industry parties and make some new friends.
  • Figure out other ways to collaborate with your new friends.
  • Don’t be a pest.

It’s always more fun when you work with a team of people you like and it makes a wedding day go more smoothly when all the vendors are friends and are working together. Don’t forget to refer out your new industry friends to a bride that is contacting you!

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[REWIND: 10 WAYS TO BEAT BOREDOM AND GROW YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS]

2. Be Where the Brides Are

If you want to book weddings, you need to be where the brides are. I’m not suggesting that you should go hang out like a creeper at a bridal shop, just waiting to pounce on some poor unsuspecting bride. If you’ve done your work in the vendor networking area (see tip #1), hopefully, you have a physical presence in the form of a large canvas hung up at a venue or a mini portfolio book or post cards at a wedding planner’s office.

Some Ideas to Get You Started

  • Consider getting a booth at a bridal show. I would recommend you find a smaller, venue specific show to display at. You’re liable to get quite lost among the hundreds of other photographers at a huge bridal expo
  • Write informative articles about a wedding topic and submit it to a wedding blog site. You could write about how much time a photographer would need on a wedding day; should brides do a ‘first look’; what every wedding photographer wishes a bride would know; or numerous other topics that might educate engaged couples.
  • Participate in wedding forums – just don’t be a spammy jerk. I wouldn’t walk up to someone at a party and say, “Hey, I’m Hanssie and I shoot weddings. Call me so I can capture your big day!” Join in a conversation, offer advice and keep the commercials to a minimum.
  • Build your online presence – I think it’s safe to say that most brides are looking online for research. Study up on SEO, fill your own blog with helpful bridal tips, get some solid Yelp reviews, get your photos on Pinterest, etc. Make it easy for brides to find you in the jumbled mess of the world wide web.

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3. Referrals From Former Brides

People getting married usually have lots of friends that are of marriageable age. When your former bride’s sorority sister gets engaged, you want your client to rave about you, your photos and how sorority sis MUST hire you to shoot her wedding. Your job as a photographer is to not only make and deliver amazing images, but to provide a remarkable experience for not only your couple, but their families and friends.

Some Ideas to Get You Started

  • Refer-a-friend program – offer an incentive for brides who book you. It could be a print credit for both the former bride and her friend. Get creative.
  • Send out a surprise anniversary card/gift to your clients – remind your former clients that even after their big day is over and you’ve collected their money,  you’re still thinking of them and hoping they are doing well.
  • Host a thank you dinner and invite all of your former and current brides – what better way to get a group of ladies together whose only connection is YOU. Guess who they are gonna be talking about all night?
  • Encourage your brides to write a review online or share a blog post from their wedding. Offer an incentive if they do, or at least send them a thank you card.

wedding-booking-season-54. Update Your Portfolio, Albums, Website

Guess what brides want to look at? Your images, of course. Even before your winning personality, they want to see pretty pictures. So, take this time before booking season to update your portfolio, website, albums and blog with all the wonderful photos you took last wedding season. Now is the time to be very choosy. Make sure only your BEST images make it into the final cut.

Some Ideas to Get You Started

  • Create a “Best Of” album – who says a sample wedding album HAS TO be a complete wedding day? Sure that’s the traditional way of doing things and some brides do want to see that, but having an album with your favorite wedding photos of your career would be unique and would showcase your best work.
  • Check out the new offerings from your album company, or even look at new companies. Choose a fun fabric to showcase or a different style or shaped album. Be different, be remarkable.
  • Make sure your website or blog has been updated with all the new venues you’ve photographed in the past year. Some brides look for photographers that are already familiar with their venue.

wedding-booking-season5. Stop and Rest

You’ve gone from wedding season to family portrait season to the holidays and now are embarking on booking season which leads straight back into wedding season. When is the last time you stopped and took a little breather? Have you been able to spend quality time with your family and friends in the last few months? Have you taken out time for yourself – for fun, for reflection, for rest?

If you’re like me, the answer to all that is no. My face is always in front of a screen of some sort, be it writing or editing or social media-ing. To be ready for booking season and the subsequent wedding season, make sure you’ve stopped and rested.

Some Ideas to Get You Started

  • Shut everything off for a day and take your family out to the zoo. It will all be there when you get back.
  • Spend a day by yourself and reflect on your business the last year. Make plans, dream dreams.
  • Go get a massage, or a pedicure or both
  • Set aside those business books and read a fun book- like a murder mystery or something not work related
  • Just lay on the couch and watch Netflix all day
  • Go for a run, a hike, a walk and just be. Leave your phone at home.

I hope you have a great and successful booking season! What else do you do to prepare your business for booking season? Comment below!

CREDITS : Photographs by Hanssie  have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com and www.fittedmagazine.com. Follow her on Instagram. Email her at:
[email protected]

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joshua Curry

    I have moved to a new market and starting completely over, and expanding the wedding photography as large part of my business, I have been in working in commercial and editorial for the last ten years, with wedding work a small portion of my business and received most of my work from word of mouth. Really great info and it makes me excited about what I am doing. THANKS!

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  2. Eric S

    Pretty applicable to us videographers too, thanks for the tips. I just moved to a brand new market, so it’s a huge, new challenge.

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    • Rafael Steffen

      Moving to a new market and getting started all over again is really a great challenge business wise.

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  3. Sam Figueroa

    Love this post.

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  4. Brandon Dewey

    I’m currently trying to get my past brides to write testimony for my web site, google, yelp, Facebook etc. and i finally had time updated my portfolio with some images form this past year. Thanks for the tips.

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    • Hanssie

      Good idea, Brandon! Reviews are a great way to give prospective brides confidence in you and your work. You maybe should consider incorporating video testimonies into your website or video. Some people like to watch not read. :)

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    • Richard Bremer

      Getting to that same thing here. Also building a questionaire for my recent clients, asking them to describe what they enjoyed about working with me. I want to make my strong points even stronger and market on them more.

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    • Rafael Steffen

      I think that testimonials are great because it makes people really review your work.

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    • Rafael Steffen

      Thanks for the inspirational video as we can always learn a bit everyday about this amazing world of wedding photography.

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  5. Jamie Hosmer

    Great ideas Hanssie! I will be checking out a local bridal show for te first time later this month.

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    • Hanssie

      Enjoy Jamie!

      I’ve met some great people (not necessarily brides) at bridal shows. Because of that I’ve been able to collaborate on some really fun photo shoots and also have gotten some referrals from vendors I’ve met there!

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  6. Danny Caro

    Great reminder of booking season. I found out there’s a local wedding expo this weekend in Tampa Florida, I’ll be attending for the first time. Thanks.

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    • Hanssie

      Hey Danny,

      Expos can be fun and horrendous. I’ve always liked to go to the larger ones to check out the competition and see what they are offering, but also to see if there are any vendors I would like to work with. It’s a good info gathering mission!

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