What Makes A Photographer GREAT and Successful?? I Have A Recipe:
I am NOT a photographer - nor have I ever been one. But the last 12 years that I have been working in the wedding and event industry I have worked with HUNDREDS of wedding photographers. I've coached those just starting out - I've worked with the ones who are famous - and I've worked with all of the incredible gems in between. I know GREAT photography when I see it and I have seen 'the ugly' also ... My sensitivity and impulsive 'love or hate' decisions when I see a photograph are what made me a fantastic wedding blog editor and make me now a talented website designer. Images matter. Period.
If you are a photographer then you know that everyone with a cell phone thinks they can do what you do. Anyone who can pay for a workshop can do what you do. Anyone who buys a fancy-pants camera can do what you do. Right??? How discouraging is that!? How awful does it feel to lose clients to some newbie "photographer" because they charge less than you?
I feel there are a handful of things that make a photography company stand out amongst the 'crowd' of camera holding people. These things, when applied correctly, can create a buzz that will be hard to stop. I've seen it happen personally to my photographer friends, I've coached photographers from feeling like they should quit to being FULLY BOOKED, and when I started out as a wedding blog editor in 2008 I watched the names we all know today follow similar ideas to become the BEST out there.
Their personality shines beyond their work
I realize that personalities are typically 'what they are' and it's hard to just go 'get a new personality' ... but the photographers I know who are always booked are fun to be around. They create an experience that goes beyond the act of taking a photo. Their clients feel like they are all friends.
They work with the best and they know how to pick a great team to surround them
They network with their local industry professionals. They go to the 'social events' in their city and schmooze. They reach out to new talent in their area and plan projects with them. If there is a talented new wedding cake designer in your area REACH OUT! Maybe go to their studio and offer to photograph their work. Which brings me to the next point:
They say YES to things even when there might not be money involved
Whether it be styled shoots, photographing a bouquet for a local florist who wants it for their portfolio, or shooting the booths at a local bridal show the 'always booked' photographers I know don't shy away from 'non paying gigs' and in fact they EMBRACE THEM! If you are out there photographing with other professionals it does a handful of things: creates another relationship with someone who may refer you, gives you beautiful images to share and for other pros to share to promote you, and gives you an experience of practicing your craft and flexing your creative muscles.
They happily hand out images to the vendors who were a part of the wedding or event
The smartest and most savvy wedding photographers I know have ZERO issues passing out the images after a wedding, event, or styled shoot. They understand that the more their work is promoted across social media or in online portfolios of wedding planners on their websites THE BETTER for them! Of course, crediting is a must - and if a photographer has been burned by another professional or had their work misrepresented they will learn to not share with 'them' again - but overall sharing is HUGE for your company to grow! So pass out those images and you'll see how excitement rises quickly!
They are forever students
Even the photographers I know who are ALWAYS booked and busy are constantly learning - learning how to be better, keeping up with the current trends and styles - scouting new venues in their area and planning shoots. ALWAYS BE A STUDENT! The second you get comfy-cozy and feel you are good to go will be the second a new photographer with more energy will swoop in and take what use to be yours.
They take amazing detail shots
There are many WRONG ways to photograph shoes, invitations, bouquets ... if you want to always be booked you need to learn this. I am SO sick of seeing shoes photographed 'heel to heel' in a window ... EW. I am also super sick of seeing invitations photographed at an odd angle all over the place ... honestly, you need to study the top wedding blogs. What detail shot styles are the best wedding blog editors choosing?? How are the best and most sought after wedding photographers shooting their details? LEARN and DO. If I see one more bad shoe shot I may in fact puke all over my computer.
They only show weddings or events they want to do more of
This is SUPER important. If you are striving to reach a 'high-end' bride then DO NOT BLOG the images of the mason jars and burlap from your last event. ONLY show what you want to do more of - and this goes for social media too. But my clients will have hurt feelings if I don't share their wedding!! This is where 'how you take detail shots' matters the most. At each wedding style up the invitations beautifully for a photo or take an excellent ring shot ... always make sure you take someone 'shareable' to support the brand you want to portray - that way there won't be any hurt feelings.
Their website is current and supportive of the type of client they want to attract
The best photographers don't have sh*tty websites ... having a sh*tty website will RUIN you in this industry. You have to think about where brides are coming from ... probably some of the most beautiful wedding blogs in the world ... if they click in to your website and are immediately 'let down' you probably just lost a potential client. I say put money into your website BEFORE you put money into advertising - yes, I am a website designer ... I realize this seems agenda-driven ... but it's the TRUTH - you can't expect your advertising or online features to work for you if your website is a depressing pit of doom. You don't have to hire me, but take care of that before you think you can be BOOKED SOLID ;)
They get featured
If you are out there doing all ^^ that stuff then being featured shouldn't be a problem! But do it!! Submit your work and not just to 1 or 2 blogs ... try to make it a goal to be featured on at least 9 online publications ... there are so many great ones out there! Don't be shy! Build your press page with an impressive collection of badges so that you can create an emotional connection with the brides visiting your website.
Look, I've seen this work ... I've coached photographers using this recipe ... 'not getting booked' can destroy your confidence!! Don't let it! The above list will also help boost your confidence and give you purpose ... and in return, the phone might start ringing like crazy.