December 22, 2008

Fine Dining Style Photography

Last week Thursday world renowned wedding photographer David Ziser wrote a post about how photographers, specifically wedding photographers of course, present their work to their clients.

His point was that too many photographers worry about quickly getting their just shot pictures up on their website so that the can quickly sell them to their clients. It's all about getting the quick turn around sale on a stack of prints and then moving on to the next event.

In the post Ziser is having a conversation with a friend about their work flow. The friend comments that: "It's not the time it takes to photograph the subject that takes up most of our time at my studio. Most of our time is spent editing the images and then creating our list suggestions for how the client might use and enjoy the photographs."

This got me thinking about customer service in general.

It's true, most bride's don't dream in wedding albums, they dream of the pictures that they see in bridal and fashion magazines. Crazy editorial setups that show them feeling and looking their best at a moment in time. So after you've determined which are the best 300 or so images to show the couple, then what.

Ziser's friend's suggestion of conducting a presentation session that shows off the couple and your work makes sense. Setup that presentation room. Set the mood, turn down the lights, offer a glass of champagne and a platter of tapas and show off their photos set to music. Then, sell them their options.

Maybe this means not showing them all 300 or so images. Maybe this means showing them the best 50 or 80 pictures of the batch in different frames at different sizes. Show them what a potential wedding album can look like in a leather bound and embossed book, or as an 8x10 framed in mahogany.

So why put in all this work in the first place?

Well, because you should, because it's what will differentiate yourself from every other photographer that's out there. Because wedding photographers are sometimes sleazier then a used car salesman, it's important to make the couple feel like they're the only client in the world that matters to you. It's very likely that they're not, but in that hour time slot they've bought into the idea of your photography and your artistic skills, so sell them on the best options you can give to enjoy what you've worked so hard on.

Caring about everything that happens after you've shot the photos is where you make your money and generate repeat patronage. Shooting and burning your images is the photographic equivalent of standing on the street corner hooking for your dollars. It takes some effort but being the high class full service photographer will bring more business and more money in the long run.

More soon...


  1. A very interesting post Kat. I've read an interview before witha similar ascertion. This wedding photographer catered to a very high end market. His sales workflow included a very nice setting in his studio well appointed reception office where his potential clients would be given the same sort of treatment that has come to be expected in high end designer clothing boutiques.

    The after event process is much as you described it here. If nothing else it does put the clients in a receptive mood to splash out on the photos.

    If I am not mistaken there was a paragraph or two about how to deal with the overweight bride who wants to look like a model on the front of Bride Magazine.

    Great post Kat ... I'll look forward to seeing more of your thoughts.

  2. Thanks James!

    I think this applies to more than just wedding photogs too. If you're going to do any sort of presenting of your work, I think it needs to be done in the best possible way. Allowing clients or even potential clients to watch at home or office from their computer screens leaves a lot to chance: bad lighting, uncalibrated screens, distracted viewers, that sort of thing.

    Bringing them into your studio/workspace, allows control over lighting and atmosphere and at least allows them to focus on the task at hand.

    So my dilemma, if I'm going to set up a profitable photography business is how do I do that. I have some ideas, but it's taking those next steps that needs some planning I guess.

  3. Interesting about the overweight bride thing too. Suggestion #1: wear black it's sliming?