Wedding Photography Soft Skills | How to Amaze and Impress Your Clients
The wedding day can be complex because there are so many variables involved, but as a photographer, you want to make sure you are not only providing superb imagery, but stellar customer service as well. Make it your goal to amaze and impress your clients and their guests throughout the wedding day, so that they will rave about you long after the day is done. Here are 10 ways you can do so.
This is an excerpt from our Wedding Workshop Part One | Communication, Planning, and Ecstatically Happy Clients. To see the entire workshop, join Premium.
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1. Use Their Names
If you want to impress people and make them feel important just remember to call them by their names. It seems like a simple thing, but it makes people feel like they are important enough to remember. Remember the VIPs (mother of the bride, father of the bride, bridesmaids, groomsmen, siblings, etc.) and use their names throughout the day and night, letting them know that you know who they are and are an important part of the day.
By the time we start doing bridal prep, I want to have memorized all the names of the bridesmaids, and the bride, and her side of the family. By the time we start photographing the wedding party, it takes me a few minutes to get the groomsmen’s names and by then, I’ll have everybody’s names memorized.
2. Your Clients = Bride & Groom + Family & Friends
During a wedding, your clients are no longer only the bride and groom, but their group of family and friends, the VIPs as well – these are the people we want to make an effort to amaze and impress.
Make sure you are getting images that they love and are resolving their concerns as best you can throughout the day. Although the bride and groom are your first priority, they aren’t the only people you want to make sure to please.
3. Give Continual and Genuine Praise to Everyone
Make sure you are praising whomever is standing in front of your camera and make sure that the praise is genuine, that you genuinely feel. While you’re taking their photos, tell them how beautiful their family is, how great they look, etcetera.
Don’t give this praise falsely. If you don’t feel that way, don’t say it because it’s going to come across as disingenuous. If they’re incredibly kind, tell them that. If they’re incredibly smart, tell them that. Whatever it is, give genuine praise to those that are in front of your camera, and they will love you for it.
4. Show Off The Awesome Images You’ve Captured
When you capture some awesome images, show them off. Got an amazing shot of the bride’s dress? Show someone around you. Got a great shot of the bride and her mom? Show the bridesmaids that are standing there watching. Show the bride and her mom, too.
When you’re showing the images in the back of the camera, otherwise known as chimping, you are also helping to identify concerns that you will be able to resolve. Once, I showed this amazing detail shot to the bride that I thought was fantastic. She loved it. I showed it to Mom. She said she loved it, and 2 seconds later she said she hated it. We identified a major concern that completely shifted the way that we shot for the day. It made us look like we were heroes to every single person involved.
One of my favorite things to do is on the dance floor during the reception. We do all sorts of fun and dramatic dance floor shots things like whip pans and twists. People will see us doing all these crazy things and they’re like, “What the heck are you doing?” We’ll show them. They are amazed and we look like rock stars.
5. Be a Calming and an Uplifting Anchor Throughout the Day
Wedding days are crazy and stressful, and emotions run high. If you come in, bouncing around, exclaiming, “Oh my gosh, we’re running 30 minutes late. We’ve got to go. We’re not going to have enough time for this,” it just adds more stress to an already stress-filled day. Don’t add to the stress. Be a calming and uplifting anchor.
When the bride is struggling and stressing out because she’s 45 minutes behind, tell her, “Don’t worry, we’re going to get every single thing done. We’re going to do our best with the time. It’s going to be fine. They’re not going to start your ceremony without you.”
Be okay talking to your clients. In certain ways, you need to be like a therapist. Be that anchor that can bring them back to the moment, that can help them to become present again and to not focus on all those stressful elements that are around them.
At a recent wedding, the mother of the bride was stressing out while I was trying to take a photo of the Mom, Dad and the bride. The bride’s mother was upset at the coordinator that certain things were not done, and so I stepped over to Mom and I put my arm around her. I told her, “Mom, I really want you to relax right now. The coordinator is going to take care of that. Don’t worry. It will be handled. What I want you to do is to have fun and just forget everything right now. Come back and take a picture with me.” She smiled at me. She had a completely different countenance. She came back, took the photo, and it was fantastic. This is what we’re striving to be, the calming and uplifting anchor throughout the entire day.
6. Address Concerns But Stay Confident
When someone has a concern, don’t blow it off; acknowledge it. If it’s the bride or somebody being critical about themselves, address it, acknowledge it, say that you understand but play it down. Build their confidence and praise them. Tell them that what they’re seeing is not nearly that big of an issue as what they’re perceiving it as.
Even though you think that they’re perfect, you’re going to address that concern through the shots. If Mom says she doesn’t like something, don’t dip your head and walk away and think, “Oh no! I can’t believe Mom doesn’t like my photos!” This is your chance to shine. It’s your chance to acknowledge, address and resolve the concern going forward.
7. Incorporate the Family and The VIPs
Before the wedding, ask for the VIP list and the formals list so that you’ll know who these people are. When you have down moments, grab those VIPs and say, “Hey, what kind of photo can I get for you? Do you have family or friends here? Do you have somebody that I can take a picture of? You know what? Mom, let me just get a picture with you solo.”
I actually had this where on the last shoot where the Mom was stressing out. I was walking by the ceremony on my way to go shoot the Baraat. (The Baraat is basically the groom’s processional before the ceremony). I saw Mom who was talking to some friends and I said, “Mom, you look gorgeous right now. Your sari actually matches the colors in the Mandap. Did you plan that? It looks amazing. You look incredible. Let me get a quick photo of you.”
It took literally 30 seconds, and I got some beautiful portraits of Mom, which I showed her. She loved them and felt special that I took a few seconds to photograph her alone. I still went to the Baraat and was still there on time.
Throughout the day, look for ways to incorporate the family and the VIPs. Always, always, always, make your priority the bride and groom, make sure to look for ways to make others feel special, too. There will be moments during the day where you can show everybody that’s close to the bride and groom some affection and love as well in the giving of your time for photographs.
8. Be Helpful, Be Wise, and Be Respectful
Basically, what we want to do on a wedding day is to be available to lend a hand throughout the day. If someone needs a boutonnière pinned, offer to pin it, but be wise. Be wise in that, when it’s a big deal, when it’s something that could potentially go wrong, do not step in if it’s not your responsibility.
For example, I’ve seen weddings where the Mandap (the alter piece), is literally falling over. My second shooter says, “I’m going to help and fix this.” No. That’s not our responsibility. If that Mandap falls, and the second shooter is trying to get the pole out, and he’s the one that takes it down, we are going to be blamed for that. Likewise, I was at a wedding where someone spilled something onto the dress. My assistant says, “Let me go and help with that.” I said, “No. Let her bridesmaids help her with that,” because if you get a napkin or a paper towel, and you wipe it on the dress, and it smears all over the dress, who’s fault is that? It’s your fault. Be helpful, be friendly, but be wise to that. If you try to help too much, and something goes wrong, you may end up being blamed for it, and it may become a liability.
9. Be Respectful And Professional
Look to help the people around you. How can you make someone’s day a bit easier? Step out of the way after you’ve set up a shot so the cinema team can get in there and get their shot too. Show respect to the coordinator by doing your best to follow her timeline.
We have so many amazing coordinators who have become great friends of ours and their #1 complaint about photographers and cinematographers is that they don’t respect timelines. This is one of those areas where we have an opportunity to be helpful to the coordinators throughout the day. We have an opportunity also to be respectful of them and to make sure that they’re able to do their jobs just like they’re helping us to do ours.
Remember one thing, be friends with your clients, but there is a line. Make sure you are always professional. I love getting close to my clients. I love feeling like I’m part of the day. I love all of that stuff. Your clients are going to tell you things like, “Have a drink with me.” They’re going to tell you things like, “Sit down and relax. Do this and do that.” They want you to enjoy, and they want you to have a great time at their wedding because they like you, but they’re still paying you.
This is the problem. Let’s say that you sit down for a moment to relax, and you happen to miss a major shot because they told you to relax and you sat down. Later on, they’re going to say, “Why didn’t you get that shot?” They’re like, “You said to relax, so I put my camera down.” They want you to relax; they want you to have that good time; they want you to have a drink, but if it affects the images in any way, it’s going to be your fault. We maintain a very clear line of professionalism. Yes, we’re friends with you, but on this day when we’re getting paid, none of our team drinks. None of our team sits down in front of clients to relax and chat. We’ll chat when we’re walking from a location to location, but we’re working and we maintain that professional boundary.
10. Say Goodbye to Everybody
At the end of the wedding reception, before you leave, make sure you say goodbye to everybody, especially to all of the VIPs. This is an opportunity for us to show that we know the VIPs by name, make them feel special and acknowledge them. “Hey Brian, thank you so much for your help today. Samantha, oh my gosh, you helped us so much with the bride. Thank you so much in helping her carry her stuff. Tom, dude, you held my reflector; That was so amazing of you.”
When you do that and after you leave, everyone is going to be talking about how they’ve never seen a photographer like you. You made everybody feel important. You captured amazing images. You did this, you did that.
You will literally leave as the hero of the entire day. These people are going to rave about you. They’re going to talk about you, and you are going to be the first photographer that they think of when their friends, their family, their relatives are getting married.
These 10 things are easy to do but go a long way in creating clients that love and rave about you. If you want to learn more about wedding photography and how to create ecstatically happy clients, check out our Wedding Workshop Part One here. Gain access to this workshop and so much more by becoming an SLR Lounge Premium Member here