I recently purchased billboard space for two months to promote my wedding photography business. We’re in booking season, so now’s the time for aggressive marketing — especially in today’s economy.
Fortunately, advertising rates have come down as a result of the recession, making the billboard a pretty good deal for us. We’re already getting positive feedback and I expect to get some bookings from it.
And now that I have a billboard, maybe a few more people will realize that I’m actually a full-time professional photographer — and that I don’t have a second job.
Hobbyists vs. Professionals
Yes, I’m kidding. But I say this because the other day I was asked what else I did for a living. It’s a question I’ve gotten more and more in recent months.
I can only assume that people ask this because today’s wedding photography market is overflowing with pseudo-professionals. Lots of hobbyists are putting up shingles online and charging a few hundred bucks to shoot a wedding.
Yep — at that rate, they would definitely need a second job.
So, for those who might be wondering, I’ll answer the question: What really separates me from the hobbyist? I’ll give you a hint; it’s not the billboard.
Here are four differences that come immediately to mind –
1. I work on my clients’ weddings for months in advance. I consult with the bride and groom to create a comprehensive game plan for the Big Day that keeps surprises to a minimum. This includes a minute-by-minute timeline and well-thought out list of must-have photographs.
2. I am prepared for any contingency. The other weekend, I was photographing on a secluded mountaintop and it began to rain. With my rain cover on, I continued to work without missing a beat.
3. I bring the right equipment. Lighting, lenses and cameras are expensive. But the right equipment and knowing how to use it goes a long way to getting fantastic wedding day pictures. My previous experience working with wedding couples is also key to a successful shoot.
4. I take responsibility for client satisfaction. This has to be the most overlooked aspect of my work. I attend to my clients’ needs in a way that no hobbyist ever would. I publish my wedding photographs online for my clients and their guests to enjoy. I create an album for my couples that requires professional design and assembly.
Getting It Done Right
I’ve worked hard to build a successful wedding photography business. I understand that we’re in a down economy, but a wedding is still a once-in-lifetime experience (hopefully) for the bride and groom, and it’s worth paying a professional rate to ensure the photography is done right.
In meetings with prospective clients, many explain to me that their financial situation has been affected by the economy, and then they ask me to make a deal. I’m happy to work with any couple based on their budget — I offer packages at different price points — but I also know when to politely say “no.”
I’ve heard about attorneys who keep a picture of their family in front of them to remind them of what’s most important when in a negotiation. This sounds like a good idea for professional photographers, too.