We live in an age where anyone can pull out their phone and snap a (mostly) decent picture. With phone cameras getting clearer, sharper, and equipped with more editing tools seemingly every release, anyone who has an Instagram is a “photographer.” So how do you articulate the value you bring when marketing to people who aren’t fully on board with shelling out a few thousand dollars to hire a wedding photographer? How the heck do you market your wedding photography business like a pro?
The answer is simple: you show that you do so much more than click a button!
Most wedding planning couples just don’t understand that. Instead of getting frustrated by that gnawing fact, however, let’s educate them! Let’s teach them why what you do matters and how expertise behind the camera adds so much to a wedding photography experience. Better marketing for your photography business awaits!
PART ONE: WHAT PHOTOGRAPHERS OFFER
First, we have to make sure YOU understand what sets you apart and why. Many photographers believe that their photos should speak for themselves—and, don’t get me wrong, many times they do—but it’s important to be versed in the benefits you offer that expand beyond what a potential client can gather from your gallery.
Really focusing on these added benefits that others can’t provide will help you market to potential clients who aren’t quite sure about this whole professional photography yet. Marketing your photography business to people who don’t know the difference between a DSLR and a point and shoot is not easy.
Here’s what many clients don’t know you provide:
1. You invest hours upon hours of meticulous editing work
As a photographer, would you say that 10% of your work with images is taking the pictures and 90% is editing them? Or even more? Exactly—editing takes up a ton of time. And even though iPhones come with rule-of-thirds squares and brightness-adjustment in the Photos app, are friend-pseudo-photographers going to do much more, if even that? Knowing the ins and outs of editing software and then putting in the hours to edit every photo (Every. Single. Photo.) is something only a professional will do for the wedding day.
And many people don’t realize how much of a difference a good editor makes. We’ll get to how to showcase your editing expertise below, but it’s important to know that many people believe the glowing sparkler-send-off into the starry night really looked like that when you took it! Editing photos in less-than-ideal lighting is hard—like, really really hard—but many people don’t realize that.
2. You take crisp, high-resolution images
There’s a reason free photography sources like Unsplash and Pexels are so popular—getting quality, high-res photos that don’t lose their clarity when transferring between sources is seriously no small feat. And, even though iPhone cameras get better and better, they still don’t produce the consistently crystal-clear images couples want to display on their walls at 20x scale. And if a person doesn’t know what they’re doing with a DSLR, the pictures will actually turn out worse, not better.
Sharing the difference a high-resolution photo will make when blown up and hung over a fireplace is critical to marketing your photography business. Advertise this by showcasing the final printouts of your photos in your couples’ homes. How amazing does that sparkler send-off look when hung in the dining room? Couples need to see themselves in your past clients’ shoes, and showing how the final photos look when hung in a home is a great way to do that.
3. You offer heirloom creation assistance
Say your potential client’s iPhone-wielding-friend takes some good pictures for them. Great! But are they going to guide your potential client through the heirloom creation process? Do they even know what heirlooms are? A professional photographer walks couples through the steps to turn their photos into albums and framed prints to display in their home. I cannot stress this enough—advertise that you provide heirloom creation or vendor assistance, because it truly is a differentiating factor that will help you grow your client base.
Many photographers even include heirlooms in their pricing, so clients will have an all-in-one experience! Tell them this. It will only boost your advertising efforts.
4. You give guests the freedom to fully enter into the day instead of taking photos
Guests want to enjoy the wedding day just as much as your potential client does. (Okay, maybe not just as much, but they want to have a good time, too!) Burdening a guest with taking photos is a fast track to more stress and less fun for your potential client, so make sure they know that you, as a wedding photographer, alleviate so much of that stress!
Positioning your marketing in a way that says, “Your guests will remember your big day just as fondly as you will” can help attract potential clients who want their friends and family to truly enjoy the wedding day. No-phone ceremonies are also growing in popularity, so consider discussing how incredible a ceremony is when guests aren’t snapping photos the whole time.
5. You capture moments a guest won’t see
For potential clients considering having a friend take pictures, make sure they know that your lens witnesses so many more moments than a guest’s phone camera can. For example, would a bride bring a guest into the getting-ready area to be there for every moment, organizing flat lays and taking mom-zipping-up-the-dress photos? Or would the guest organize a first look and photograph that? Probably not!
It’s important to showcase the extra moments—both big and small—that go into the full gallery they will get from you. When couples plan their wedding day, they might not think about the full spectrum of photos they’ll want from their wedding day. Advertise that you provide so much more than the standard couple photos. From the quietly beautiful getting ready photos to the fun, wild dance photos, you capture moments guests cannot…or at least cannot do well.
6. You operate with professionalism
7. You do so much beyond take photos
From timeline creation to offering a helping hand on their big day, you are so much more than just a camera-clicker. This is not universally understood, nor is it marketed. It’s critical to show that you comprehensively plan timelines with your clients. You offer your expertise when it comes to picking wedding dress styles and bridesmaid dress colors. You are as much of a planning assistant as you are a photographer, and this is critical to showcase when booking clients who are wary of professional photography.
An easy way to show this is to ensure you touch on all aspects of your work on your website. Showcase everything you do between booking and delivery day. List out those extra features in the pricing section. Go into detail of how smoothly weddings run when the timeline is planned compared to weddings that don’t have great timelines. If clients see what can go wrong if they don’t book a wedding photographer, they’ll move down the booking funnel and get even closer to reserving their date with you!
Those are the things that set your work apart from Aunt Bertha with her point and shoot. So, how do you tell that story to potential clients? Nail this and you’ll be well on your way to learning how to market your photography business!
PART TWO: HOW TO MARKET YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS
1. Post “before and after” edits
This is a great way to increase engagement on social media, too. We all love a good before and after! Everyone loves clicking through to see transformations of your photos, and if you show exactly how much those photos have transformed, you’re on your way to having an army of loyal followers and clients right at your fingertips.
This could create some temptation to sell here! I see you eyeballing those photographers who sell their custom presets. Let me stop you right there. Remember who your ideal client is. You are a photographer, not a peddler of editing-ease (that’s Instagram and VSCO’s job). Make sure clients see the incredible transformations your photos undergo, then include a call to action so they’re more tempted to book! Highlighting particularly difficult photos to edit, such as anything taken at night or in less-than-ideal lighting, is also a great move.
2. Showcase great client testimonials
Word of mouth marketing remains the single most effective way to motivate a buyer. By posting client testimonials on your website and social media, you’re facilitating that word of mouth process. Clients want to be able to see themselves in one of your previous clients’ shoes and determine if you’re the right fit for them. Having quotes with links to the respective galleries/sneak peeks is a surefire way to inspire potential clients to become actual clients.
Just remember to keep the testimonials short (no more than three sentences), and never edit the contents of the testimonials to change what was said. You want to make sure people actually read what you share and that what you share is true!
It’s also a great idea to repost the photos your clients post on social media. This creates FOMO for potential clients, because they’ll see what gorgeous images your past clients are posting and enjoying! Don’t forget (or be scared) to ask clients to tag you in the wedding photos they post so you never miss one. You know this is polite protocol, but a first-time-photographer-hirer might not! Remember, don’t get frustrated. Educate them, instead!
3. Write blog posts showing your expertise
If you’re trying to figure out how to market your photography business, this is a must do! Build authority in your craft by writing blog posts that showcase your expertise on particular topics. For example, write about how scheduling a first look before the ceremony can make a couple’s wedding day go much more smoothly. Or write about the challenges of (and the ways you overcome them!) shooting a wedding ceremony held at night. Or interview one of your previous couples to get their feedback on why having a wedding photographer made their wedding day run so much more smoothly. By building authority—which people and the almighty search engines will recognize—you’re marketing yourself as a leader in your industry and an expert in your field.
If you’re not sure where to get started with blogging, read this comprehensive guide on how to write a great blog post. Or give me a shout! I offer blog post packages where I write five done-for-you posts, all of which are search engine optimized so you don’t have to worry about even a drop of SEO.
4. Talk openly about your process
Chances are, your process is way more involved than any non-professional picture-taker wants to take on! So, why keep all the hard work you do a secret? Hop on Instagram stories and talk about your editing process. Or post a photo of the client-appreciation gift box you’re getting ready to send. Or post a quick video of the custom, comprehensive timeline you’re working on for a client. Show clients that you run your business like a business, not a hobby. And you should therefore be treated (not to mention paid) accordingly.
5. Tell your full story
The more you open yourself up to potential clients, the more connected to you they’ll feel. Detail the full process of learning the craft of photography and the difficulties you faced when starting your business. Talk about when you first knew you loved photography and how you set out to make it your full-time job. Share the things you do for fun, the people you love, and how you spend your free time. Be specific, and invite others to connect with you over shared interests!
Clients will also appreciate reading about all the education you took on before starting your business. Talk about classes you’ve taken, workshops you’ve attended, and anything you’ve done to learn your skill. Advertise that photography is a unique skill set, and acquiring it was not a walk in the park.
6. Advertise what’s REALLY included in a collection
If you include timeline creation assistance, talk about that! If you have a built-in heirloom creation service, make sure that’s visible on your website! It’s absolutely critical for potential clients to see that you do so much more than take pictures. Because what’s the use in hiding it?
Even though something is industry-standard in your eyes, it likely isn’t in your potential client’s eyes. Consider asking a friend or family member what they think you do in your day-to-day. They’re probably missing over half of it! Don’t keep your expertise and skill set a secret—showcasing the difficult things you do only benefits your photography business marketing efforts.
And now that you’ve learned a few ways to market yourself to people who might not be fully onboard with wedding photography, here are some example questions you could ask that show that you’re so much more than a photographer!
But attracting your ideal client and walking them through the entire booking process is not easy! If all of this feels a little overwhelming, let me give you a hand! You don’t have to figure out how to market your photography business alone. Book your two-day website rewrite to nail the voice and tone you need to attract the clients of your dreams!