It appears. that "going after the business" takes a back seat to waiting for it to come to you.  If business has to find you, you are in the HOPE part of the business, you hope the phone rings or you get an E-mail.  Lets look at the way business finds you.

•  Hoping your Website does the job.

•  Your ads placed in the local paper.

•  Showing at a Wedding Show.

• Networking through co-workers, friends and relatives.

•  Just being asked to shoot a Wedding because it's a friend or relative is more of a favor than a career. We all understand that.  

•  Promoting yourself with Wedding Gown sellers, Hairdressers, Wedding Stylists and Consultants, Flower Sellers, Catering Halls, Church Planners and other people of position that might help you.


So, what are you doing to promote yourself?  It appears that you are having to go after the business.  So here are some ideas I gathered.  First, contact all the local vendors in your area and invite them to take a look at your work on our website and have offered to come and meet them to find out more about what they do. Networking face to face.

For those you like and who's style of business products fit your own ideas offer a reciprocal website linking, 

You can also  your couples with an 'approved Vendors pack' which contains cards and brochures from all the vendors in our area that we'd have no hesitation in recommending, so also offer to include their information in this pack.

When attending wedding fairs make a conscious effort to meet and introduce ourselves to the other exhibitors...even competing photographers/studios.

I think it's important to appear friendly and professional. It helps networking and build invaluable contacts, and you might meet nice competing wedding photogs and studios who you can recommend to future clients for days when you are already booked.  What goes around will come around, so hope that this is something that will benefit all in the long run.

I work with a photographer who has a pretty established business in the San Diego area. He is a good photographer and an even better businessman, and I am learning a lot from working with him. We do a lot of referral work for him now.


As a side effort, one of my Black Box users, started aggressively targeting the ethnic South Asian community; as he and his spouse are both of South Asian descent.  To my Indian friends it makes sense to target their contacts as their Weddings are long, complex, and require an understanding of the sequencing and rituals.  They are tough sometimes to deal with, not as tough as some Jewish Weddings I have done,  but very loyal customers.

Leave business cards at various ethnic shops, formed informal referral rings with LA based videographers and DJ's, and also designed posters to be hung in shops and ads to be printed in countywide publications that reach various ethnic sub-communities. 

Referrals are a great way to get business, so you have to strive most importantly to aggressively secure weddings through people you know, and to then work at a level that exceeds client expectations. In so doing, you will generate a lot of buzz in the community.

Florists:  What I have done for florist is to shoot their entire stock of flowers and create a slide show for them to give away to their potential client, hoping that if they get a potential client, that they will recommend me. 


These are all solid ideas one promotes on a reciprocal basis and another makes a strong point about staying on keel with the competition. Some times you get a double billing for one date and a good referral fee is better than nothing. Also it might just come back to you if the other photographer gets in a bind.


Working a niche or specific ethnicity or group. Large extended families area great referrals and usually those large groups "literally take you in" as part of and that can build a very successful following. 


A really goods source of referrals if you give away a couple head shots. My partner has two stylists who send him a good amount of business. Women talk a lot at these places. They know who is and who is not getting married and many women listen to their personal hair dresser more than their personal psychiatrist.


Love or hate relationship, the bridal shows will bring you a few clients if you stay out of the cat fights. Many will steal your ideas or badmouth you. Bridal shows are also designed for the wholesale bride, looking for a bargain, maintain your stance, your personna and offer pricing stressing quality not quantity but you do have budget arrangements.   Only 60% of a cow is usable meat, the rest they call hamburger.


I tried the hair dressers, churches, bridal dress shops, caterers etc. The only vendor that ever seemed to have any serious influences were bridal planners and DJs. Either a caterer's opinions don't carry much weight-- OR brides tend not to ask certain people about who to hire for photographers.


Once I get a bride as a client, I keep her contacted and excited. I get her to talk about me. Once she gets her stuff, I find as many ways possible to keep her excited about the pics to show them off.


I shoot all sorts of things. Kids soccer, the local newspaper, charity dinners. It is the NUMBER ONE way I get clients outside of my website. The occasional 8x10 or 4x6 given out to a mom, works into "Hey my niece is getting married, do you have a card?"


Finally, the best marketing device you have, is you. This is your mantra. Believe in it and it will come true. Some people just have that certain "it" quality that makes people want to hire them. Promote as much as you can. Make sure your name is in the top local magazine, at local bridal shows and charity events. As a full time photographer you have to have shoots. It is your business and I treat it like a business.

Now I'm against money, that always comes back to haunt you but a Gift Certificate for a referral that pays off is always welcome. I usually give a 35 dollar dinner at a casual place like Outback, Bennigans, T.G. Fridays, with a cute thank you card. Listen 35 dollars won't get the filet mignon and champagne but it will get you at least two burgers with all the trimmings. Nothing too fancy, just a thank you they'll remember every time they are hungry.

 © copyright aljacobs Stardate 10-18-2012