As an avid lover of wedding photography (thanks to my job at Two Bright Lights!) picking my perfect photographer for Charlie’s and my wedding was a huge priority. I knew that I needed a photographer who could do an engagement shoot in Colorado and who would travel to my home in Templeton, CA. But I did not know photographers in either area. We decided it made the most sense to find a photographer in Denver because as a bigger city there were more photographers to chose from. So while the selection process was still daunting, at least that narrowed it down a bit! But now the big question:
So how do brides (and grooms:) go about finding photographers?
To answer this, I want to walk you through my thought process of how I found my photographer. I want to give you some insight on how brides find photographers in hopes of giving you some food for thought on how to reach prospective clients.
Problem: I don’t know anyone my age in Denver to ask for referrals so how do I find a photographer?
Step 1: Find vetted lists of photographers.
How? I started by looking at one of Two Bright Light’s Colorado focused editorial partners, Colorado Wedding Style. I was looking for a preferred vendors list, which they did have. Though it was a small list and I recognized nowhere near comprehensive, it was a good place to start. At least I had a few names. I then Googled “Colorado Wedding Style Best Photographer” and came across a contest they ran asking readers which CO photographer was the “best.” They provided a long list of photographers, and readers shared their opinion. To decide which photographers I would add to my list, I looked for the photographers who had the most people’s vote, and those who received the most enthusiastic response. I also looked for photographers whose advocates said specific things about why they loved the photographer. Of all of the photographers in the contest I picked three or four who really stood out based on my criteria. At this point I had 8 potential photographers.
Step 2: Narrow down the list even further
How? I took the preferred vendor list and my list from the contest and I looked at all of their websites. I was not attempting to choose at this point, I just wanted to narrow it down to about 3-4 photographers I wanted to reach out to directly. I did not spend more than 3 minutes on the website. I was looking for four things:
- Layout: Did the structure of the website reflect an understanding of what a bride is looking for? (namely did they do weddings, engagement shoots, editorial shots, documentary shots? Did they capture a wide variety of emotions and moments? Did their photography reflect multiple styles – which was indicative that they had creative flexibility? —-More thoughts on what brides are looking for specifically in Part 2)
- Professionalism: Was the site professional – clean, clearly worded, well branded, well designed, and up to date?
- Clarity: Was it easy to find the info I was looking for e.g. contact, portfolio, blog, referrals, pricing, about, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
- Quality: Were the images highlighted artistic and realistic rather than too stylized through photoshop?
(NOTE: My next post is going to be on the specifics of the ins and outs of what worked for me in websites and blogs and what did not. Think of this list as a teaser!)
I trimmed the photographers who did not have all four of the qualities I was looking for and with the remaining three I sent them an email to set up a call!!
Insight for you:
- Pretend you are a bride and try to find your business online.
- Do your best to get on blogs preferred vendors list.
- Focus on web design and highlighting images that will appeal to a wide array of brides (styles, budgets, etc)
- Get your name onto as many websites and contests as you can.
- Pay attention to your Search Engine Optimization.
- Make sure client’s thoughts on your work are easy to find on your website.
- Set up a place where people can give perspective on your work, such as Yelp. A
- If there are venues for user feedback e.g. local and regional blogs and magazines, etc., try to get some of your favorite clients to advocate for you on them.
- Pretend you are a bride and figure out how they would find you online. Search google, search Yelp, search databases, etc.
- Be entrepreneurial and creative! Here a just a few ideas: be a guest blogger on local blogs, create lists of your favorite vendors to work with and refer them when asked, blog, tweet, Facebook, host promotions and give-a-ways, try to get interviewed in local publications and host workshops.
Image Courtesy of Jessica Claire Photography