This post is one in a series about how I went full time with my wedding photography business. Check out this first post before reading, and keep following along for continuing advice over the next few weeks!
Any marketing professional or business coach is going to tell you this right off the bat – you have to define your brand! In the wedding photography world, there are a few key components in making yourself stand out and creating a unique, identifiable brand.
If you haven’t already, you should to start establishing a consistent look to your work. Any successful wedding photographer will tell you that having a consistent style is necessary to being successful in the wedding photography industry. Consistency will mean that your work is unique and identifiable – other people recognize your photographs without being told that you are the photographer. This includes the way you shoot, the way you edit, and the way you stylize. I’m going to focus on editing, as this seems to be the most common difficulty amongst new photographers trying to figure out how to be consistent in their work.
In digital photography, editing can be a huge part of what the final product looks like. So many photographers don’t know how to effectively use programs like Lightroom, and, as a result, edit each session (or even each photo) totally different. It’s incredibly important to learn how to use Lightroom effectively! This will help you work faster and create better, more consistent work. I suggest creating a preset that you can use upon every import as well as using the “sync” feature for sessions. You can even start out by purchasing a preset from any number of companies and tweaking it to make your own (like VSCO or BeArt-Presets).
If you’re totally lost or you want to learn more about this subject, I highly recommend Katelyn James’ Consistency Course.
As you figure out the style and look that you want to establish as “you,” I encourage you to play around with different ideas and looks. There are so many different types of editing styles, and you might just find that you want to completely change yours after you’ve seen the wide array of possibilities.
The second important component in defining your business brand is the literal branding – your logo, your website, your marketing materials, etc. It’s not a huge time investment, and it makes your business look so much more legitimate and professional.
I absolutely recommend investing in a company to design a logo suite for your business. This is the simple first step to creating a cohesive brand. It immediately makes you more recognizable when your business cards, website and social media all have the same logo branding, which makes it easier for potential clients to remember you!
I also recommend spending some time creating a website that you are proud of. Honestly, it is relatively easy and inexpensive to design your own, especially if you use Squarespace. Find a layout that you love and customize it until you’re proud to share it with family and friends. In a year or two, when you’ve further established your brand and have a clearer idea of what you want from your website, consider investing in a web designer. I wouldn’t spend a ton of money on a website right away, because your needs and style may change in your first year or two of business. I made the mistake of investing in a designer before I really knew my style. I hated the site within 6 months and had to go back to the drawing board, having wasted a ton of money on a design I ended up scrapping.
It’s kind of crazy how much a client’s experience influences what they think of your company, and a lot of photographers don’t really think twice about this! I noticed this early on, when I’d have clients saying the nicest things about my work BEFORE they had even seen their wedding photos! I’ve had clients write reviews before they’d seen a single image from their wedding day. They loved the way I treated their family with kindness and respect, the way I made the groom laugh and feel at ease, and the professionalism and promptness I had for each part of the wedding day. This is totally a part of branding!
Your reputation is going to get out by way of your clients, but you can help guide their enthusiasm by focusing on specific aspects of your customer service as quintessentially “you.” Put these qualities in your “about” section on your website. Mention them at the consultation or remind them in your welcome email. Highlight reviews that mention these qualities. By directing client’s attention to these qualities, you are branding yourself as the photographer that has a great customer service, and honestly, this is more important to the majority of couples than your actual portfolio!